Shakespeare Festival Returns with 47 Performances

Six new and old classics come to the Kilgore College stage for a total of 47 performances in this year’s Texas Shakespeare Festival (TSF) set for June 28 through July 29.

TSF began in 1986 as a part of the college’s participation in the Texas sesquicentennial celebration. The festival continues to audition and employ professional directors, actors, designers, and technicians, as well as giving many university students from all across America their first summer theatre experience. 

The festival offers something for everyone, Shakespeare plays as well as plays in the tradition of the bard. Of the six productions, two are specifically by Shakespeare:

King John

King John, known best for signing the Magna Carta and opposing Robin Hood, ruled England during a time of social and political unrest. Shakespeare’s play deals with John’s unfortunate decisions, his human shortcomings, and the royal infighting over the heir to the throne. Although not often produced, King John contains memorable characters and emotional intrigue. Performances are June 30 and July 6, 8, 12, 14, 19, 21, 27 and 29.

Love’s Labour’s Lost

The King of Navarre and his three friends swear to avoid female company in favor of more intellectual pursuits – until they meet four beautiful young women. Set in the 1920s, and including popular songs from the period, Love’s Labour’s Lost is a youthful, musical delight for all ages. Performances are June 28 and July 5, 7, 13, 15, 20, 22, 26 and 28.

The other four are:

  • Tartuffe by Molière
  • The Belle of Amherst by William Luce
  • 110 in the Shade by Tom Jones
  • The Lovely Stepsister by Grace Abele

Tickets range from $8 to $33, depending upon performance and dates. Season tickets are $99 each. Tickets are available at the box office at the Anne Dean Turk Fine Arts Center, Highway 259 South and Brook Drive on the Kilgore College campus, Kilgore. Other options are purchases online at or by calling 903.983.8601.

A best-kept secret about the major annual festival is the “sideshows.” This year’s options include pre- and post-show discussion, a behind-the-scenes perch, a Chinese theater night and more.

Pre-show Introduction

Attend a 15-minute introduction before each Thursday and Friday evening performance starting promptly at 6:30 p.m. in the theater lobby. Admission is free.

Post-Show Talk Back

Stay after each opening night performance for an informal discussion with the company. Admission is free with purchase of opening night ticket.

Open Changeover

Watch the changeover of the set and lights after each matinee. A TSF company member will informally narrate each changeover. Admission is free.

Backstage Tours

Call the TSF Ticket Office to schedule a guided backstage tour of the festival shops. Tours are available Tuesday through Sunday at $5 per person.

Panel Discussions with the Artists

Join a panel of TSF artists for a lively Q&A session at 11 a.m. on Saturdays to discuss the previous evening’s play. Panel discussions take place at The Coffee Cherry, 1012 Houston Street, directly north of the Van Cliburn Theater. Admission is free.

  • Saturday, July 7, King John
  • Saturday, July 14, Tartuffe
  • Saturday, July 21, Love’s Labour’s Lost
  • Saturday, July 28, 110 in the Shade

Tea with Miss Emily

Enjoy a personal visit and catered tea with actor Jennifer Burke following her 2 p.m. performance of The Belle of Amherst. Tickets for the tea are $20 and seating is limited. Wednesday, July 11.

Chinese Theater Night

Since 2009, TSF has hosted a group of theater artists from China who attend a three-week workshop, taking classes, rehearsing, and premiering an original theater piece. A light reception follows the performance. Tickets are free for the treat set for Tuesday, July 24.

TSF Company Talent Showcase

Filled with humor and surprises, the program features TSF Company Members performing some of the most popular songs from each decade of the last century. An ice cream social is included. Tickets are $25 for each of the two performances on Wednesday, July 25.

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