The Garfield Shakespeare Company

"The People's Shakespeare" in beautiful Garfield Park

A Message from the Artistic Director, Joe Cook:

"In 2004 I moved into Indianapolis near Garfield Park. By this time, I had more than 30 years experience doing community theater in Central Indiana and had started two theater companies that are still in operation. My specific area of interest had already centered on Shakespeare and the classics. As I looked at Garfield Park, I was reminded that back in the 1980s, it had been rather famous for an annual Shakespeare in the Park program, but as far as I knew, there had been no theater in the park for 10 years or more.


I had been pondering for some time how Indiana is one of the few states in the nation that does not have a permanent, ongoing Shakespeare Festival. Since Garfield Park was already associated with Shakespeare, it seemed like the appropriate place to start a company that might in time grow to fill this need for Indiana. I also felt it was important that the company would always welcome people of any age or experience level who wanted to participate in classic theater, no matter how professional we might eventually become. I would also insist that our performances be done on a free-admission basis, so that families could attend regardless of their financial status.


With these ideas in mind, I approached the Garfield Park managers about the possibilities of bringing in a new Shakespeare Company. The idea was enthusiastically received, and a partnership with Indy Parks was eventually worked out that would allow us to use the Garfield Park Arts Center and the MacAllister Center for the Performing Arts amphitheater for rehearsals and performances. We started with an introductory program called SHAKESPEARE’S LOVERS, a collection of scenes from various plays. Finally, in 2008, we presented our first full-scale production, THE TAMING OF THE SHREW. We had already done the show as an “out of town” tryout in Franklin, Ind., where it was a great success. Bradley Jones received an Encore Award for Best Costumes, and many of the actors were nominated for their performances. We have since produced ROMEO AND JULIET, MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING, TWELFTH NIGHT, AS YOU LIKE IT, MACBETH, HAMLET, Bernard Shaw's PYGMALION, A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM, a reprise of THE TAMING OF THE SHREW, Thornton Wilde's THE MATCHMAKER and THE TEMPEST. In addition to our two-show seasons, we performed a short version of A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM for the summer camp children in several of the Indy Parks two years ago. We are now in our seventh full season and planning two "firsts" in 2014 -- a full year of modern, non-Shakespearean performances, beginning in the spring with ANTIGONE, the Jean Anouilh adaptation of the Sophoclean tragedy, followed in late summer by the other "first" -- GSC's inaugural musical, Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe's CAMELOT.


We are very proud of the quality of our productions, especially since they must be done as economically as possible. Currently we have no outside funding; our only source of income is audience donations. We use the income from one show to produce the next. This is possible because we have built a collection of furniture, props, costumes, and building materials that we can re-use. When we acquire new items, we try to make them things that could possibly be used for different purposes in future productions."