DCPA expands partnership with DPS Shakespeare Festival

by John Moore | Apr 12, 2016

The 2015 Denver Public Schools Shakespeare Festival drew more than 5,000 students from 70 schools in grades kindergarten through high school who performed more than 640 short scenes, dances, soliloquies and sonnets at the Denver Performing Arts Complex. Check out these video highlights from DCPA Video Producer David Lenk.

By Suzanne Yoe
For the DCPA Newscenter

The Denver Center for the Performing Arts is expanding its involvement in the 2016 Denver Public Schools Shakespeare Festival. Held Friday, April 29, at the downtown Denver Performing Arts Complex, the 32-year-old festival now will be a co-production of the DCPA, Denver Public Schools and the Denver Public Schools Foundation.

To complement the day, the DCPA invites students, parents, educators, residents and the downtown Denver business community to its all-new “Shakespeare After-Fest.” The community is invited to sample a variety of Shakespearean acts, scenes and vignettes accompanied by live music and on-site painting — all for free.

DPS Shakespeare Festival Under the leadership of President & CEO Scott Shiller, the DCPA’s expanded role will serve teachers and students in all 80 participating schools through in-school workshops, professional development, audition adjudication, and financial support — both in-kind and through fundraising — to produce the event. Under the leadership of Acting Superintendent Susana Cordova, DPS’ Arts and Physical Education Department will align all activities with the Colorado State Standards, provide professional development opportunities to participating educators, solicit school participation and manage logistical coordination of both the audition process and the Festival itself.

DPS Shakespeare Festival“The Denver Center for the Performing Arts is delighted to be a co-producer of the nation’s largest youth Shakespeare Festival,” said Shiller. “We know that children who are exposed to a live performance are 165 percent more likely to receive a college degree, so we are more than tripling our in-school workshops in order to ignite a passion for theatre in as many students as possible.”

“The DPS Shakespeare Festival is an opportunity for 5,000 K-12 students to perform scenes from the works of William Shakespeare,” said Karen Radman, Interim President and CEO of the DPS Foundation. “These students will fill every inch of the Arts Complex with dance, singing and music of Shakespeare’s time. We’re delighted to welcome the community to this free celebration.”

“The DPS Shakespeare Festival has been a centerpiece of our commitment to arts integration throughout the District,” said Susana Cordova, Acting Superintendent of Denver Public Schools. “The event is open to children of all backgrounds and uses literacy and the creative arts to boost student achievement and develop critical thinking. Plus, it’s just fun!”

2015 DPS Shakespeare Festival

Photos from the 2015 DPS Shakespeare Festival. To see more, click the arrow on the photo above to page through the full gallery. Photos by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.


In an effort to encourage connections between downtown businesses and residents with the Shakespeare Festival, the Denver Center for the Performing Arts is launching an all-new Shakespeare After-Fest.

Held from 4-7pm throughout the open-air Galleria at the Arts Complex, this free event will include a string quartet featuring Tom Hagerman (DeVotchKa, DCPA Theatre Company’s Sweeney Todd); live, on-site canvas painting of Shakespearean-inspired art; scenes from Romeo and Juliet by the DCPA’s Shakespeare in the Parking Lot, and performances by the Colorado Symphony Orchestra, Cult Following, The Catamounts, Stories on Stage, Black Actors’ Guild and Phamaly Theatre Company, among other arts groups. Shakespeare After-Fest is supported by the Downtown Theatre District.


10 a.m.: Opening Ceremonies in Skyline Park at 15th & Arapahoe streets

10:15 a.m.: Elizabethan Parade down 16th Street and Curtis streets

10:45 a.m.: Student Performances begin on more than 18 stages at the Arts Complex

Noon: Challenge Bowl school competition begins and student performances continue

4-7 p.m.: Shakespeare After-Fest, open-air Galleria at the Denver Performing Arts Complex

  • 4 p.m.: Quartet performance (Tom Hagerman of DeVotchka) outside The Ellie
  • 4:15 p.m.: Shakespearean-inspired painting begins throughout the Galleria
  • 5 p.m.: Scenes from Shakespeare are performed outside the Bonfils Theatre Complex
  • 7 p.m.: Festival concludes

For information on the DPS Shakespeare Festival, visit shakespeare.dpsk12.org
For information about the Shakespeare After-Fest, visit denvercenter.org/after-fest

NewsCenter coverage of the DPS Shakespeare Festival:

DPS Shakespeare Festival returns with DCPA as new partner
Photos: 2014 Denver Public Schools Shakespeare Festival



Leave a comment
  1. Robert | Apr 21, 2016

    I, too, am pleased that the Festival will continue and that DPS students will continue to have the opportunity to experience this amazing event. Thank you Denver Center for the Performing Arts!

    But, I must also say that I'll bet current acting DPS Superintendent Susana Cordova is toasting with a glass of champagne given that I believe that she has wanted to rid the school district of the Festival for years. With Tom Boasberg on leave, she got her chance and made her move. Well, played, Susana - well played. 

  2. elm | Apr 17, 2016
    Pleased to hear that the Festival is continuing but as a past volunteer Guild Master I am very disappointed in the way that the reorganization was handled. No communication from the "new management", shabby treatment of the previopus director and volunteer coordinator and sad that I haven't been contacted about helping again this year.

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    John Moore
    John Moore
    Award-winning arts journalist John Moore has recently taken a groundbreaking new position as the DCPA’s Senior Arts Journalist. With The Denver Post, he was named one of the 12 most influential theater critics in the US by American Theatre Magazine. He is the founder of the Denver Actors Fund, a nonprofit that raises money for local artists in medical need. John is a native of Arvada and attended Regis Jesuit High School and the University of Colorado at Boulder. Follow him on Twitter @moorejohn.

    DCPA is the nation’s largest not-for-profit theatre organization dedicated to creating unforgettable shared experiences through beloved Broadway musicals, world-class plays, educational programs and inspired events. We think of theatre as a spark of life — a special occasion that’s exciting, powerful and fun. Join us today and we promise an experience you won't soon forget.