In 1949, C. Douglas Ramey established a theatre workshop called The Carriage House Players, named for the building at 310 W. Kentucky in which it found a home. The following year, the troupe relocated to 1011 South Fifth Street, and in 1960, it gave its first summer Shakespeare performance in Louisville’s Central Park. A program called “Students for Shakespeare” was begun in 1962, bringing the plays of the Bard to area schools.
Ramey died in 1979, but his work was carried on by the company’s succeeding directors. In 1984, Shakespeare in Central Park was designated as the official state Shakespeare Festival by the Kentucky legislature. The park’s amphitheatre was redesigned and seating capacity was increased in 1988. Three years later, a permanent stage house was built.
The Festival’s growth continued despite periods of financial instability. KSF created the school program “Shakespeare Alive!” In 1991, a program titled “From the Page to the Stage” was developed in conjunction with the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, D.C. Other major initiatives include “Shakespeare Behind Bars,” a drama-in-education program for inmates of the Luther Luckett Correctional Complex in LaGrange, Kentucky; and the “Shakespeare Youth Academy,” a series of summer camps running concurrent with the Shakespeare in Central Park performances.
Kentucky Shakespeare Festival Information
- Public Transportation: Good
- Handicapped Accessibility: Yes
- Performance/Programs: The festival runs in the summer.
- Admission: Productions are presented free of charge.