Arts & Culture

UWF Center for Fine & Performing Arts hosts Shakespeare Theatre

For years, Pensacola has successfully supported a professional ballet company, opera and symphony. Now, many in the region believe, the community can support a professional Shakespeare theatre as well.

The goal of the Pensacola Shakespeare Theatre is to give Pensacola a professional theatre, performing the classic works of Shakespeare, as well as modern classics from playwrights like Miller, Williams and Inge, and even musicals.

“We want the Pensacola Shakespeare Theatre to be to this region what the Montgomery Shakespeare Festival is to that region,” said Kevin Kern, the brainchild of the Pensacola Shakespeare Theatre, referring to the festival that attracts more than 300,000 people annually. “It’s great for the city and enriches tourism.”

The Pensacola Shakespeare Theatre had its first stage production, “Much Ado About Nothing,” at the University of West Florida’s Center for Fine and Performing Arts in August of this year. They also produced “The Complete Works of Shakespeare (Abridged).”

“For our first year, we got very close to where we want to be,” said Michael Jasek, the associate dean of students, who has had a hand in developing the program. “The audience was very pleased, and we look forward to next year.”

The company plans to return in the summer with “Twelfth Night” and “Forever Plaid.”

“We try to do a little bit of everything,” said Jasek of the variety of shows the company produces.

The company is currently using UWF’s Center for Fine and Performing Arts main stage for all of their productions, and Kern is pleased with the location. “It’s a great venue to do shows in,” he said.

Kern also believes the theatre is as important for the campus as it is for the city of Pensacola. “When theatre-goers come, they don’t just see theater; they stay in local hotels, shop in local stores and eat in local restaurants,” he said. “It’s also great for the campus. It brings a lot of people here who have maybe never even ventured onto campus.”

One of the unique aspects that the company offers the community is the talent of local theatre majors, as well as professional actors from cities across the country.

“We get actors from Los Angeles, New York and Chicago to participate,” said Kern.

The company offers the community many opportunities to participate in the show itself, such as open auditions, and to help fund the project.

“We thrive on donations, sponsorships, ticket sales and silent auctions,” said Jasek. “I invite people to come see what we’re all about.”

For more information on the Pensacola Shakespeare Theatre, visit