Idaho Shakespeare Festival (2007)

Idaho Shakespeare Festival (2007)

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On the evening of the 2007 annual mid-summer gala, Producing Artistic Director Charles Fee stood on the Idaho Shakespeare Festival (ISF) stage to announce the final opportunity of the evening’s live auction. Costume pieces, weekend packages, and tickets to next year’s gala had already brought in over $100,000, and gala attendees were looking forward to their $150-per-plate dinner catered by the Festival’s Shakespeare Cafe. “We’re announcing a special naming opportunity that we wanted to offer especially for you this evening. As many of you well know, this stage that I’m standing on hasn’t been replaced since our amphitheater was first built ten years ago. In order to do it right, we estimate the cost is going to be about $50,000 because these boards that I’m standing on are made of Alaskan yellow cedar.” Managing Director Mark Hofflund appeared with a polished five-foot-long two-by-four with the name “Shakespeare” etched into it, and held it up to the crowd as Fee continued. “So we’re offering a naming opportunity to replace the individual boards of the stage. Now the planks that are going to be replaced can’t really be visible to the audience here, they will have to be engraved on the back, upstage boards at the top of the stage. What this opportunity really is, is it’s for the actors to see who in the community has paid for this stage. And I just know they’ll appreciate it so much, I’ve been promising that I’d replace it for years.” Fee paused while Company Manager Hannah Read and Development Director Donna Law joined him onstage. “If you’re interested in supporting the Idaho Shakespeare Festival playing stage on which our actors perform, Hannah and Donna will take your paddle numbers down for this very unique and special naming opportunity.” Paddles shot up into the air, and in no more than ten minutes, 33 people pledged $66,000 to build a new stage for the Idaho Shakespeare Festival.

But while Fee basked in the enthusiasm of the audience and donors, he also was thinking about the extent to which the 2007 season was stretching the Idaho Shakespeare Festival’s company and staff. Some of them had the feeling that the Festival might implode. ISF was producing shows to near capacity at its outdoor site, whose finishing touches had been completed only recently. However, the prospect of weather-related performance cancellations burdened audiences with uncertainty. And just as the Festival was paying off its construction costs, the community began to discuss whether or not the Festival should consider an indoor facility to produce shows in Boise during the winter months.1 The administrative staff, though loyal, was experiencing burnout. Staff people performed several jobs at once in modest rented office facilities, and turnover had been high for the last several years. Ever since ISF had entered a producing partnership with Great Lakes Theater Festival in Cleveland, some staff members in Boise felt that its Artistic Director “had a second wife.” Key members of the acting company, some of whom had been with the Festival for 15 years, were considering leaving. Charlie Fee could feel the strain.

Publication Date: 2008-05-15

Suggested Citation: Katherine Perdue, "Idaho Shakespeare Festival (2007)," Yale Theater Management Knowledge Base Case 09-02, May 15, 2008

Keywords: Idaho, Capital Campaign, Organizational Direction, Scale, Small Organization

Teaching Notes: No

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