THE SUMMER SHAKESPEARE FESTIVAL IS EUROPE’S OLDEST AND BIGGEST OPEN-AIR THEATRICAL EVENT FOCUSED ON PRESENTING THE WORKS OF WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE.
The festival runs from the end of June to the beginning of September at outdoor venues inPRAGUE (at the Supreme Burgrave’s House at Prague Castle and the courtyard of the Music and Dance Faculty of the Academy of Performing Arts at Malostranské náměstí), BRNO(Špilberk Castle), OSTRAVA (Silesian Ostrava Castle) and BRATISLAVA (Bratislava Castle).
The establishment of the festival was initiated by President Václav Havel, who opened Prague Castle to artists at the beginning of the 1990s in order to attract the public. The first performance of Shakespeare took place here in 1990 and the festival has been held here regularly since 1998. In 1999 and 2000, Václav Havel lent his personal patronage to the festival. In 2004, the festival was held under the auspices of then-President Václav Klaus and it has actively collaborated with the Livie and Václav Klaus Foundation since 2005.
Investment group PPF is a major benefactor of the festival, of which it is the general partner. This domestic company at the summit of the financial market has been supporting the festival since 2000. Thanks to its initiative, the theatre festival has been complemented with prestigious photography exhibitions and charity events (benefit performances, special projects to assist performing artists in distress, etc.), as well as projects focused on young theatregoers.
AGENTURA SCHOK, spol. s r.o. has been the organiser of the festival since 1998. Under the agency’s leadership, the festival has enjoyed extraordinary growth continually in terms of both content and the quality of performances.
The festival’s traditional co-organisers – the Prague Castle Administration and the City of Prague– also play an important role in organising SSF. Even Buckingham Palace once acknowledged the existence of the Summer Shakespeare Festival when Prince Charles wrote a personal letter expressing his interest in the continuation of the festival.
The popularity of the Summer Shakespeare festival is evident in the strong demand for tickets, record numbers of attendees (up to 87,000 per season) and the general high quality of the event as reflected in the extraordinary media response and positive reviews. During the summer, approximately 150 performances are staged and the open-air venues with 600 to 1,000 seats are regularly full. Over the course of its existence, the festival, which annually features premieres of new productions of Shakespeare’s plays, has established itself as an event that the culture-loving public cannot afford to miss.
All plays are performed in the Czech language.