In 1925, the eyes of the world focused on Tennessee as the teaching of evolution went on trial. Eighty-four years later, in Nashville, the teaching of the plays of William Shakespeare will now go before the court. The Nashville Shakespeare Festival presents Shakespeare’s Case, an original play about an author’s defense of his legacy.

In response to news in the U.S. that it is possible to achieve a degree in English without studying the world’s most quoted playwright, The Nashville Shakespeare Festival is giving William Shakespeare the opportunity to prove the relevance of his poetry to a modern audience.

In this courtroom drama, the complaining witness, an English professor, wants the works of Shakespeare permanently stricken from the curriculum, claiming that the plays have become irrelevant and inaccessible to his students. In a surprise appearance, William Shakespeare takes the stand to defend his works. Shakespeare pleads his case using his own language, characters and plays, with props and costumes he pulls out of his traveling case. He seeks to convince the jury he is innocent of being boring, confusing, and irrelevant in the 21st century.

The Nashville Shakespeare Festival summons you to jury duty as Shakespeare argues his case for the first time May 29 and 30.

The 60-minute humorous production, written by Nan Gurley, Denice Hicks, and Claire Syler, is the newest educational program developed by The Nashville Shakespeare Festival starring Nan Gurley as prosecuting attorney, Jon Royal as complaining witness, Denice Hicks as judge and Brian Russell as William Shakespeare.

“This is designed to be a fun event, whether you love or hate the Bard,” says Denice Hicks, artistic director for Nashville Shakespeare Festival.

Tickets for the May 29th world premiere party and reserved seating performance are available for $100. The event, beginning at 6:30 p.m., includes a red carpet reception sponsored by Whole Foods Market, VitaminWater10, PM and ChaChah, pre-show entertainment, and a door prize drawing.

Two public performances of Shakespeare’s Case will take place on May 30 at 2:30 and 7:30 p.m. Tickets are priced at $15 for adults, $14 for seniors and$8 for students.

All performances will take place at Belmont University’s Troutt Theater. Tickets are available for purchase at The box office opens one hour before curtain call for on-site sales and will call.
The production is funded in part by The Metro Arts Commission Creation Grant program and The Tennessee Arts Commission’s Arts Build Communities program.

The proceeds from Shakespeare’s Case ticket sales are vital support for the 22nd annual Shakespeare in the Park productions scheduled for August 13 through September 13.

“We know this community values our year-round programming,” said Nancy VanReece, executive director of the Nashville Shakespeare Festival. “We know we can count on the support of Nashville and its residents. Grassroots support by individual donors has sustained our work since the Festival was founded in 1988.”

For more information about Shakespeare’s Case or the Nashville Shakespeare Festival, visit

This article has been republished from Out & About Nashville, and was part of a series of first-person pieces written by the late Bobbi Williams.

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