New collaboration Huntsville Shakes will offer innovative theatre to Valley

Huntsville Shakespear

Huntsville Shakespeare, also known as Huntsville Shakes, is a new collaborative venture between faculty in The University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH) Theatre program and the UAH Department of English to bring innovative and boundary pushing theatre to the Tennessee Valley.

Co-founded by Associate Professor Chad Thomas and Assistant Professor Amy Guerin, Huntsville Shakes will have its inaugural season this summer in residency at UAH.

Opening in July 2018 is a full production of Shakespeare’s cross-dressing comedy "Twelfth Night" and a staged reading of his revenge tragedy "Macbeth." Both productions will feature the same company of actors, and Huntsville Shakes is reaching out into the community to bring actors, designers and technicians from the Huntsville metro to join its ensemble.

The City of Huntsville is currently without a summer Shakespeare performance series, which is one of the reasons why the co-founders developed their idea for a professional company that could fill this need for the community. Huntsville Shakes also comes from the co-founders’ shared love of theatre, Shakespeare and unexpected, yet informed, approaches to theatre that include looking at his plays through a contemporary lens.

"At Huntsville Shakes, we will offer Shakespeare the way it's supposed to be done - with sweat, spit, tears, and occasionally even blood," Thomas says. "We hope audiences will be surprised and delighted by our visceral, emotional and irreverent approach to Shakespeare."

Guerin agrees.

"What I love about Shakespeare is that there is no wrong answer. During his time, Shakespeare wrote for everyday people who wanted to see a good show, have a good beer, and join in community with their neighbors," she says. "While having a good beer isn’t in the cards for this year – but, next year, look out! – we want Huntsvillians to enjoy the theatre and their neighbors in the same way with us this summer."

"Twelfth Night," directed by Guerin, will be set 2018 and focus on the way the characters work so hard to be above falling love, yet can’t resist each other, even when they are girls dressed as boys, and boys dressed in shockingly yellow pants.

"Macbeth," co-directed by Thomas and Guerin, is a staged reading, which means that the actors will be seated with their scripts on music stands. Staged readings give an ensemble the chance to focus on the text and also find innovative ways to interpret the play, in this case based on imagery, ideas of gender and power, and relevance to the present day.

All Huntsville Shakespeare performances will happen at the Wilson Theatre on the UAH campus. "Macbeth" runs just one night, on Saturday, June 30, at 7:30 p.m. "Twelfth Night" runs Thursday, July 12, through Saturday, July 14, at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, July 15, at 2:30 p.m.

Tickets will be available in mid-June through the Huntsville Shakes website. For further information, email the company at and follow on Twitter at @HSVshakes.


Amy Guerin

Jim Steele