A Brief History

Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival was founded by Melissa Stern and Terry O’Brien in September 1987 with an outdoor production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream at Manitoga, home of industrial designer Russell Wright, in Garrison, NY. The following year, Boscobel House and Gardens agreed to host HVSF’s mainstage season on the estate’s expansive grounds, and that summer’s production of Shakespeare’s As You Like It was performed under a tent overlooking the Hudson River.

Under O’Brien’s leadership, and with the enthusiastic support of our Board of Directors and community of patrons, HVSF grew dramatically. In 1994, we added a second show to our season. That same year, HVSF deepened its impact on the region by offering hands-on, performance-driven education programs to area schools. In 2004, we began to tour innovative Shakespeare productions to middle and high schools. In 2006, HVSF acquired a spectacular, custom-designed, open-air theatre tent with seating for 540, establishing a performance venue unlike anything else in American theater.

HVSF has served more than 500,000 patrons since our first season in 1987. Terry O’Brien led the theater for 27 years, directing more than 30 productions. O’Brien stepped down as Artistic Director in December 2013. After a nationwide search for his successor, HVSF’s Board appointed Davis McCallum as Artistic Director in May 2014.

Our Future

In 2022, the Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival moved to a new 98-acre permanent home, gifted by philanthropist Christopher Davis. Our new campus offers HVSF the long-term stability of a secure foundation and will serve as a year-round resource for theater artists, audiences, and the entire Hudson Valley community. Since 2022, we have been performing in our familiar Tent on our new location, and we will continue to do so during the construction of a new permanent open-air theater, overlooking the Hudson River.

For the last several years, we have been collaborating with the renowned architects at Studio Gang on our new theater, which is slated to be the first purpose-built LEED Platinum theater in the United States. We expect to break ground on the new facility in the summer of 2024, and look forward to welcome audiences for performances in our new theater in the summer of 2026.