Scranton Shakespeare Festival offers free professional theatre to the public.
Scranton Shakes is a nonprofit, government-recognized 501(c)3 organization founded by a board of local community members and theatre professionals hailing from the Northeastern Pennsylvania (NEPA) region.
It all started in 2011, when Scranton native, Michael Bradshaw Flynn conceived the idea to organise a free public performance of A Midsummer Night's Dream in Scranton's historic Nay Aug Park.
Nearly 1,000 people made their way to the park to enjoy an afternoon of theatre. The production team was thrilled with the response and determined to continue, thus, the festival was born.
In 2015, after a few successful summers, Jonathan Stephens, Rebecca Azenberg, and Joseph Daniel joined Michael Bradshaw Flynn to form the festivals first official Producing team. Their combined expertise in the arts industry allowed the organization to expand its programming exponentially and move into a new phase of free theatre-making.
Since then the festival has continued to grow year by year. The annual summer programming has an emphasis on Shakespeare as well as a specially picked variety of contemporary plays, musicals and even immersive productions like Damn Yankees at PNC Field, How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying at The Marketplace at Steamtown and Cabaret at Madame Jenny's Speakeasy.
Scranton Shakes also proudly provides an opportunity for artists and company members to develop original work. The festival has acted as an incubator for a wide variety of new works, including dance pieces, one act plays and even a TV pilot! Offering a supportive community for its artists as well as unique opportunities for audiences to see developing work is incredibly important to the organization.
Many productions have been conceived, developed and programmed at Scranton Shakes before enjoying further development and performances elsewhere. We're also extremely proud of the fact that a number of our company members have also gone on to achieve success on Broadway, TV and film. It is an honor to see our alumni excel in the industry, and we are overjoyed to have played a role in their professional journey.
Today, Scranton Shakes is thrilled to have taken up residency in The Marketplace at Steamtown where we have been gifted a 7000 sqft unit to utilise as our brand new multi-use theatre, The Shakes Space. Theatre-making is more challenging than ever, but we are excited to bring an expanded program of performances and events to the public all year round.
Michael Bradshaw Flynn has served as a co-founder and the artistic director of the Scranton Shakespeare Festival since it’s premier season in 2011. Michael is a Scranton native who is based out of New York City. Michael served as the associate director for the Broadway productions of It’s Only a Play and The Front Page. Most recently Michael worked on the National Tour of Roger’s and Hammerstein’s The Sound of Music. Michael also served as the associate director at the prestigious Lincoln Center Theatre and their production of Dada Woof Papa Hot and as the assistant to the playwright for LCT on TONY nominated production of The Nance.
Michael has directed a number of new off Broadway productions:
Camel, the new play by Charly Clive and The First Man. Michael has also directed at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts.
At SSF Michael directed a number of productions: The Pirates of Penzance, Romeo and Juliet, The Tavern, Much Ado About Nothing, Damn Yankees, Footloose, Troilus and Cressida. Michael is currently directing and adapting a Shakespearean comedy for this upcoming season’s production of The Real Merry Wives of Windsor.
WHAT PEOPLE ARE SAYING
"I had never been to anything like this before, so when we walked in the room and it was just an empty floors with chairs around it, I was skeptical. Once the show started, I was hooked. The cast was so so talented. They were so engaging with the audience. We cheered, we boo’d, we sang, and we laughed so much that honestly my cheeks hurt when we left! Snow White and the Seven Scrantonians was a show I’ll never forget. I think this was my favorite style of show I’ve ever seen, it was so much more fun than watching people on a stage. Can’t wait to see what the future holds for this group!"