Susannah Rose Woods and Peggy Juve co-founded Island Shakespeare Festival with the goal of bringing the language of the great classics, notably the works of William Shakespeare, to the South Whidbey community. They felt that a “Pay What You Will” model would make Shakespeare affordable for everyone.
Woods selected As You Like It for the inaugural production to take place at StoryHouse Stage in the woods of the Whidbey Institute. All involved were astounded when approximately 800 people arrived over the course of two weekends, through rain and shine.
After the success of As You Like It, Woods, Juve, and a few others realized there was interest and potential in creating a Shakespeare Festival in our community. 2011 and 2012 saw great success with Romeo and Juliet and A Midsummer Night’s Dream and ISF outgrew our first home at StoryHouse.
We commissioned a vintage-style circus tent as a new home in 2013, which allowed flexibility as we found the right spot. By 2014, we added a second production and realized our dream of rotating repertory. In 2016, we added a third production to our rotation, as well as educational and outreach offerings.
Associate AD Olena Hodges stepped in as Interim AD before later accepting the title Artistic Director. ISF’s growth continued as we honed our 3 show summer season and explored more shoulder season offerings. These years have also seen a shift from primarily local talent to inviting artists from across the country to spend the summer working with us on the island. This growth has coincided with an iterative commitment to intersectional and inclusive representation in our company.
2018- Shakespeare’s Other Women