Our History

Our History

We’ve been at it for over a decade, bringing the works of Shakespeare to local audiences and searching for a place to call our own. 

Founded by Damond Morris, the Western Washington Shakespeare Festival began performing at Mount Vernon’s Edgewater Park in 2001. Its motto: “outdoors and under the stars, the way it was meant to be.”

Truly, it can be magical to create and experience Shakespeare outdoors. The Bard set numerous scenes from several of his plays in private gardens, wooded thickets and forest glades. These were places of unpredictable possibilities and the haunt of fairies. However, for an itinerant theater company, magic and reality can often collide. Being seasonal tenants entailed essentially building a theater from scratch each summer, requiring the rental and installation of lighting and sound equipment and demanding hundreds of hours of volunteer labor, much of which came from the actors and crew, who were simultaneously committing enormous time and energy to the individual productions.

In 2008, SNW shifted its main stage productions to local indoor venues such as the Phillip Tarro Theater and McIntyre Hall at Skagit Valley College. Our vagabond company continued to bring high quality productions and Shakespeare’s stories to audiences and continued to long for and seek a home.

In the fall of 2009, representatives of Shakespeare Northwest were guided into an overgrown and secluded rock-walled space on the property of the Rexville Grange. The old, former quarry had once provided material for dikes along the Skagit River but had long been reclaimed by nature. Despite the brambles and tall grasses and the soggy, rock-strewn ground, its soaring rock walls surrounded by trees immediately sung of amazing potential. Several months of systematic hacking, pruning, raking, leveling, and clearing have only reinforced that impression. 2016 will mark our sixth season at the Rexville-Blackrock Amphitheatre. SNW is working with the members of Rexville Grange to develop the Rexville-Blackrock Amphitheatre into what they believe could be one of the premier outdoor performance venues. We have found a home.

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