The Alabama Shakespeare Festival (ASF) is the seventh largest Shakespeare festival in the world. Each year, it attracts more than 300,000 visitors from throughout the United States and more than 60 countries, to its home in Montgomery, Alabama.
ASF operates all year, its professional repertory company producing 12–14 productions annually, typically including three works of William Shakespeare. Other plays sample various genres and playwrights, classical and modern, sometimes with an emphasis on Southern works. ASF's Southern Writers Project nurtures the creation of new plays that reflect Southern themes.
ASF began in 1972 as a summer-stock theater project in Anniston; its first performance was at the Anniston High School auditorium, before a single critic and his wife; the critic considered the performance very poor and predicted that ASF would not survive. Eventually, the Shakespeare Festival grew to garner critical acclaim, but lacked the financial support to keep it afloat. In December 1985, ASF moved to Montgomery, as the result of Mr. and Mrs. Winton Blount's $21.5-million gift of a performing-arts complex set in a 250-acre (1-km²) landscaped park, the Winton M. Blount Cultural Park. The Carolyn Blount Theatre houses the 750-seat Festival Stage  and the 225-seat Octagon Theatre.
ASF operates a Professional Actor Training program leading to the M.F.A. degree in cooperation with the University of Alabama Department of Theatre and Dance. Tony Award–winning actor Norbert Leo Butz and Emmy Award–winning actor Michael Emerson are two of the program's most successful alumni. On April 25, 2008, ASF announced that its relationship with the University of Alabama will be phased out after the current class graduates in August 2009.
Since 1998, the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts has also been in the Blount Cultural Park.
- Alabama Shakespeare Festival website
- ASF Graduate Programs
- The University of Alabama Department of Theatre and Dance
- ↑ Festival Stage, Blount Theatre, Alabama Shakespeare Festival. Artec Consultants Inc.
- ↑ The Octagon, Blount Theatre, Alabama Shakespeare Festival. Artec Consultants Inc.
- ↑ University of Alabama News.