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  • Writer's pictureJenna King


If you’re looking for a night out in the City of Trees, there’s no better spot to be found in the summer than at the Idaho Shakespeare Festival. Soak in the sounds of nature while enjoying the performances of professional actors with the foothills as a backdrop. And don’t forget your favorite snack or drinks! There’s a reason why the festival has become a can’t-miss event for so many Boiseans.

The History of the Idaho Shakespeare Festival

Boise can thank Dave Copsey for bringing Shakespeare to the Treasure Valley. Copsey, a Boise native, returned home after graduating college to perform as a guest actor in a Boise State production. He was impressed with all the talented artists he met and determined that it was time the city had its own professional company.

“The First Annual Main Street Bistro Summer Theatre Festival” performed A Midsummer’s Night Dream in 1977 with a cast made up of Copsey’s fellow actors, friends, and enthusiasts.

The original stage was located in the sunken area of the One Capital Center in downtown Boise, where residents now know the location of Art Haus Bar. By 1980, the festival was a local institution and had officially become the non-profit known as Idaho Shakespeare Festival.

It wasn’t until 17 years and two other locations (at the Plantation Golf Course and on Park Center Boulevard) that the festival settled at the gorgeous Idaho Shakespeare Festival Amphitheater and Reserve it now calls home.

A Night at the Idaho Shakespeare Festival

When you attend the Idaho Shakespeare Festival, you’re in for more than your usual performance experience. Patrons often bring in their own food and drinks, carrying picnic baskets on arms or wheeling in coolers. If you’d rather not pack your own refreshments, you can purchase a wide range of items at Café Shakespeare, including ice cream sandwiches that size of your face!

If you purchase a ticket for reserved and general admission lawn seating, then bring a blanket and low-backed lawn chairs with seats no higher than 6 inches from the ground for seating.

Don’t forget to take in nature’s beauty either before the show or during intermission! The Festival operates under an agreement with the Idaho Foundation for Parks & Lands and the Idaho Department of Parks & Recreation. You’ll be able to spot wild animals like deer, heron and perhaps even a fox.

More than Entertainment

The mission statement for the Idaho Shakespeare Festival is “to produce great theater, entertain and educate.” This is evident in all the ways that the festival gives back and educates the community—from hosting summer camps for young aspiring thespians to putting on professional performances for middle and high school students.

Idaho Shakespeare Festival’s 2020 Season

While there is some uncertainty about public events, the Idaho Shakespeare Festival’s 2020 season is currently scheduled to begin May 22 with Much Ado About Nothing. Even if you aren’t a Shakespeare fan, you’re likely to find a performance to your taste. Whether that’s Ain’t Misbehavin’, a musical dedicated to the sounds of jazz, or Jane Austen’s Emma.

You can purchase tickets from the Idaho Shakespeare Festival’s website. I hope to see you there this summer!

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