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Cedar City’s Mr. Shakespeare, Fred Adams: Complete Documentary | Shakespeare in Utah

By December 19, 2015 No Comments

“I’m Fred Adams, with The Utah Shakespeare Festival and we’re right here, in front of the beautiful Randall L. Jones Memorial Theatre.

“We are truly at the construction site right in the heart of this entire 38.6 Million dollar project.

On my right we have the skeletal beginnings of the Southern Utah Museum of Art. This will be a world class art gallery, one of the first and only in the United States that will be totally manned by theatre graduate students.

Which I think is going to be kind of exciting because it will house not only the extensive collection of the university and the community, but it will also bring in national and international exhibitions throughout the year. It will be a wonderful place for William Shakespeare’s patrons to come and do something else of an artistic nature.

Directly behind me you see the beginnings of what will eventually be the Greenshow and the Seminar Grove of the Utah Shakespeare Festival.

And then, to my left over here, camera right, we have the beginnings of the gorgeous Engelstad Shakespeare Theatre. It will be a magnificent structure similar in style to our beloved Adams Memorial Theatre, that we will be producing in again this season for the last time.

But it will have all of the added things that are so meaningful. It will have, of course, elevators, all ADA compliant, it will have wonderful restrooms, and a beautiful outdoor lobby. And our actors will have, finally, will have sufficient dressing rooms and showers to accommodate them.

So it’s really going to be, I think, a marvelous advantage for us and will give the festival patrons something a little better, a little more special than we have been able to supply for the past fifty four years.”

Adams on financing a theatrical company:

“Underwriting from the local Lions Club, nobody else kind of caught the vision of what we were doing…

But the Lions said, ‘How much of the thousand dollars do you think you can raise in ticket sales?’

And I, I explained to them that I thought we’d be able to raise it all.

So they underwrote the Utah Shakespearean Festival, this fledgling organization for up to a thousand dollars that we did not achieve in ticket sales. Well, it was–it was a dream because we never used any of the Lions money, we didn’t need to. We had almost, over four thousand patrons that came to the play. We had paid off our thousand dollar bills in the community and we had sufficient money to begin a second season.

And that’s been the process with the Utah Shakespeare Festival ever since.

We never have gone into debt. We have never borrowed money or taken out a loan. We have spent the money we raised the previous year. It’s meant we grew small. We grew slowly. But, we grew. And no chance of bankruptcy or some financial disaster closing us down.

Fifty-four years later, the Utah Shakespeare Festival hires over three hundred and fifty employees. We have a company of three hundred and fifty drawn from all over the English speaking world here to work in the summer on the Utah Shakespeare Festival.

In addition to that, we have thirty, about thirty, full time staff members. Our budget of a thousand dollars back in 1962, has grown to a budget of about seven million point two.

It’s totally self generated. We are not subsidized. We do not have money from the legislature, we don’t have money from the university; we are a department in the university, but we are totally self-funding.

Which of course, is to our liking, because it gives us some autonomy and it also means that we have to deliver. We have to do the very best work possible because we have to make next year’s budget.

It has grown a patron base. This year, I would venture a guess that we will be over a hundred and twenty thousand–above, even a hundred and thirty thousand people–drawn not only from every state in the union but also from eleven to twelve foreign countries.

So we have become a gigantic economic engine for Southern Utah. Where Christmas is the only big retail time in most communities, Utah Shakespeare Festival has given Cedar City a second Christmas season, and we generate in tourist dollars for this community, over thirty six million dollars annually.”

To Read Part One Click Here.

To Read Part Two Click Here.

Jenny Hatch

Jenny Hatch for shakespeare standard

Need a show reviewed in the US Southwest? Contact me on the web here.

To view all of the footage filmed for this documentary click through this playlist on You Tube

Editor’s Note from Jenny

*I wish I had caught this moment on film, but I will share it as an addendum.

As I was interviewing Fred I asked him if he knew in his heart that his dream was going to become a reality and that it was going to be a total triumph.

He paused and looked at me like I was about three years old, and believe me, I felt like I was three years old with that image on his countenance.

He witheringly emoted, “Of course I knew it was going to be a success!”

We then went on to the next topic, but I will never forget that moment of a visionaries schooling of a lowly regional editor for the Shakespeare Standard.

I would like to thank Mr. Adams for his time and willingness to be filmed for this documentary. It was pure joy to meet him and spend an hour talking about his Festival at the construction site during the summer of 2015.


Here are the 14 movie clips that I uploaded in the making of this documentary…

Jenny Hatch

Author Jenny Hatch

Jenny Hatch is a professional Wordpress Designer and Blogger. Jenny has a passion for Natural Family Living and raised her five children holistically. She spends most of her time in her Kitchen cooking with whole foods and washing dishes. As the Utah Editor for The Shakespeare Standard she looks forward to sharing her passion for live theatre with readers all over the globe. She lives in Cedar City, Utah, home of the Utah Shakespeare Festival, with her husband Paul, their little Silky Terrier Samwise Gandalf, and her children who are at varying levels of independence.

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