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.
In 2022 the Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival will begin its next chapter with a permanent home gifted by philanthropist Christopher Davis. The gifted parcel of land will offer 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.
The theater will rebuild its iconic tent as a permanent open-air structure and plans to commence performances at its new location in the summer of 2022. HVSF will perform its final season at Boscobel House and Gardens in Garrison in the summer of 2021. More than just a home for the theater company, HVSF envisions the campus as a gathering space for the community, a model for environmental sustainability in the performing arts, and a resource for other non-profit organizations. Read more about this incredible news for the organization here.