In a move that stunned the Dallas-Fort Worth theater community, Texas Christian University announced on July 2 that it would no longer fund Trinity Shakespeare Festival. The well-regarded summer repertory theater program has played the campus each summer for the past decade.
A statement from the office of Strategic Communications Management says: "Trinity Shakespeare Festival was created in 2009 and originally funded through a generous grant from the Vision in Action initiative at TCU. The university has been proud to provide performance and rehearsal spaces, scenic and costume studios, and major underwriting for the festival these last 10 years. As TCU moves to a new stage of growth, we look forward to exploring new opportunities for future professional theatre festivals hosted on our campus."
TheaterJones first reported the story, noting that this blow removes one of the 13 Actor's Equity Association Small Professional Theatres in DFW. Each summer, Trinity Shakes provided full-time, paid jobs to actors, directors, designers, and stage crew for six weeks, as well as gave TCU students the chance to work with professionals in the two shows that were performed in rotating repertory.
Funding from TCU and the use of two theaters on campus made the festival possible. TCU faculty members T.J. Walsh and Harry Parker, who runs the theater department, served as artistic director and managing director, respectively.
Actors, directors, and designers who have worked with Trinity Shakes left their thoughts about the decision with TheaterJones, and a comment from actor Branden Loera was particularly poignant: "If TSF is to be discontinued after this year, that will leave maybe one other Equity Shakespeare festival nearby (Texas Shakespeare Festival in Kilgore), the professional Shakespeare Dallas, and the non-Equity Stolen Shakespeare Guild in Fort Worth. That will leave the occasional professional Shakespeare show at Stage West or Amphibian, but no dedicated Shakespeare in Fort Worth! How does that not scare the community?
The current — and now last — season of Trinity Shakespeare Festival continues through July 8, with Twelfth Night, or What You Will ending at the 2:30 pm matinee, and Romeo and Juliet closing with the 7:30 pm evening performance.