Arts & Culture

UWF assistant professor brings “Shakespeare lite” to campus

Don’t be surprised when you see William Shakespeare on the University of West Florida Main Campus this summer. Kevin Kern, UWF assistant professor of Theatre, has started the Pensacola Shakespeare Company.

“People are responding to the idea of Pensacola Shakespeare Theatre being fun and fresh, not old and stodgy,” Kern said. “Plus, we’re not limited to only Shakespeare: ‘The Complete Works of Shakespeare (Abridged)’ isn’t a Shakespeare play. It’s a contemporary farce. It’s fun and fast and never misses a chance to make fun of bad Shakespeare stereotypes.”

Some might question the wisdom of starting a new theater venture in the midst of economic unease.

“But that’s when theater resonates the loudest — when times are tough,” said Kern. “When people need inspiration, hope and purpose, the arts are there for them. Who needs inspiration when they have a job, and their 401(k) is safe? Who needs hope when the economy is robust? Who needs to be shaken into action when everything is perfect? Good theater doesn’t exist in a vacuum, it responds to what the people need.”

The Pensacola Shakespeare Company’s first production in August at UWF will be proceeded by a fundraiser May 13 at Sanders Beach Community Center featuring friend TV star Julia Duffy and her husband Jerry Lacy in a production of “Love Letters.” Kern hopes to raise $25,000 so that he can keep show prices affordable.

“Pensacola is blessed with a professional opera, ballet and a symphony. Pensacola Shakespeare is the final piece of the puzzle; the last jewel in a very impressive crown,” he said.

The Pensacola Shakespeare Company is preparing to stage its first production, “Much Ado About Nothing,” at the UWF Center for Fine and Performing Art Mainstage Theatre Aug. 12-14 at 8 p.m. and Aug. 15 at 2 p.m. Next up is “The Complete Works of Shakespeare (Abridged)” – a fast, funny look at the playwright’s most famous works – Aug. 19-21 at 8 p.m. and Aug. 22 and 2 p.m. Tickets are $25 general admission and $20 for students, seniors and the military.

For more information or tickets, visit or call (850) 462-8880. Tickets will be available at the CFPA box office the day of each performance.

Tickets for the May 13 fundraiser presentation of “Love Letters,” starring TV’s Julia Duffy and Jerry Lacy, are $125 and include dinner, beer and wine, the performance and dessert. Sponsored tables are available, which include invitations to a special actors’ reception May 12. Cocktail hour begins at 5:30 p.m. with dinner at 7 p.m. For more information, visit or call (850) 439-2289.

By Susie Forrester, University Marketing Communications