Main Content

Abilene Shakespeare Festival

The Abilene Shakespeare Festival, which takes place annually in June, provides an excellent opportunity to expose West Texas to the major works of Shakespeare and other classical literature. Our audiences have been made up of young and old, blue collar and white collar, cowboy and executive. We continue to introduce new patrons to Shakespeare who have little experience in regular theatre-going, and we are committed to bringing them high-quality, exciting new productions of classical works for little to no admission price.


Much Ado About Nothing

This 1960s out-a-sight take on Shakespeare incorporated music by your favorite sixties’ groups such as the Supremes, the Beatles, the Shirelles, Tina Turner, and many more! Shakespeare’s template for the modern romantic comedy hit all the right notes with witty repartee, fantastic tunes and more than a hint of romantic attraction. This production showed the Bard at his fun-loving best in a raucous musical comedy.

The Comedy of Errors

In this 2011 production, director Gary Varner took a completely fresh approach to Shakespeare’s funniest farce about mistaken identity using only six actors and inventive staging. Audience participation made this an especially fun evening for patrons and actors alike.


In a groundbreaking production celebrating the Abilene Shakespeare Festival’s 20th anniversary, the ACU Theatre collaborated with ACU’s mobile initiative to engage audiences in a startling and innovative way with Shakespeare’s classic text. This new, contemporary interpretation offered a creative and interactive experience intensifying the thrilling story of Othello and Desdemona as they are caught in the wicked, fiendish web of Iago’s vengeance.

History of the Abilene Shakespeare Festival

The Abilene Shakespeare Festival, which began in 1990, is located in Abilene, Texas on the Abilene Christian University campus. Each year we are excited to take advantage of the theatre spaces in ACU’s Williams Performing Arts Center. This venue offers an exciting challenge for artists, and stands as an integral part of the life and culture of Abilene. The 2000 Festival was our first time to produce two plays simultaneously, and it proved to be a great success both with audiences and with cast/crew.

Abilene Shakespeare Festival Becomes an Actor’s Equity Small Professional Theatre


After 30 years of producing Shakespeare, the 2021 Summer Season marks the Abilene Shakespeare’s first as an Equity Theatre, the only Equity Theatre in Abilene. ASF is designated as a Small Professional Theatre (SPT) level Equity House. This formal commitment to professionalism was another step in creating first-rate productions of Shakespeare each summer and continuing our mission of providing free performances for this community.


Actors’ Equity Association (“AEA” or “Equity”), founded in 1913, is the labor union that represents more than 49,000 Actors and Stage Managers in the United States. Equity seeks to advance, promote and foster the art of live theatre as an essential component of our society. Equity negotiates wages and working conditions and provides a wide range of benefits, including health and pension plans, for its members.


An Equity Theatre is considered to be a fully professional theatre in the theatre industry. We pay union actors and stage managers a base rate as well as other benefits (health, pension, etc.). Equity Theatres can offer union membership, through an AEA contract, to any actor. Equity houses can also offer non-union actors Equity Membership Candidate (EMC) “points”.

After a certain number of weeks working at an Equity Theatre, a non-union actor can then enter the AEA union. For the Abilene Shakespeare Festival, the EMC program will begin in 2023. It also means that the Abilene Shakespeare Festival will operate according to the AEA rulebook (which regulates everything from rehearsal lengths and breaks to the washing of costumes).