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Idaho Shakespeare Festival grows from small downtown production to world-class theatrical showcase

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This story is an excerpt from our new book Boise: City of Trees, available for purchase NOW! Order here.

Each summer since the 1970s, Boiseans have packed a picnic, a bottle of wine, and maybe a low-back chair and headed out to see live theater in the great outdoors.

In 1977, The Idaho Shakespeare Festival first started producing dreams on midsummer nights with — well, A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

From that first play performed on a grassy hillside next to a downtown office building to today, thespians have performed more than 200 different productions. From all of Shakespeare’s great works to plays as diverse as Little Shop of Horrors, The Crucible, Steel Magnolias, and Disney’s The Hunchback of Notre Dame, the festival is a highlight of summer evenings in Boise.

After moving from downtown to a Garden City golf course to ParkCenter Blvd., the festival settled into its current home — a unique amphitheater in Boise’s Barber Valley. The Idaho Shakespeare Festival Amphitheater and Reserve is anchored by an outdoor theater said to pay homage to Shakespeare’s own Globe Theater in London. It sits just a stone’s throw from the Boise River, surrounded by cottonwood trees, chirping crickets, and maybe even a passing fox.

The 770-seat amphitheater is surrounded by lush grounds managed by the Idaho Foundation for Parks & Lands and the Idaho Department of Parks and Recreation. Though still inside Boise’s city limits, watching a play in this setting feels a bit like being transported to a far-off place, enjoying live performance art while experiencing Idaho’s great outdoors.

Shakespeare wrote, “all the world’s a stage” – and at the amphitheater, you feel like you might just be at one of the best stages in the world.

You can pre-order Boise: City of Trees, due out this fall.

Don Day - BoiseDev Editor & Founder
Don Day - BoiseDev Editor & Founder
Don is the founder and publisher of BoiseDev. He is a National Edward R. Murrow Award winner and a Stanford University John S. Knight Fellow. Contact him at [email protected].

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