Thursday, April 10, 2008

Seattle Shakespeare Company and Wooden O Theatre

to create state-wide, year-round resource

for Shakespeare

Programs to include indoor subscription season, free outdoor theatre in the parks, regional touring productions, and education programs

SEATTLE, WA, -- Seattle Shakespeare Company and Wooden O Theatre Productions announce mutual board approval to merger their two organizations. Wooden O will become the outdoor performance arm of Seattle Shakespeare Company retaining its distinct identity of free, outdoor summer performances. Seattle Shakespeare Company’s programs will now include: main stage indoor productions, education programs for students and adults, regional touring productions, and free, outdoor summer performances.

Seattle Shakespeare Company will continue to be led by Artistic Director Stephanie Shine and Managing Director John Bradshaw . Wooden O Founder and Artistic Director George Mount will transition to Director of Outdoor and Touring Performances functioning as Artistic Director for the free, outdoor summer performances for Seattle Shakespeare Company.

“I’m inspired by this endeavor!” says Shine. “Both companies are doing so well and the time is ripe for us to re-imagine how we can create exponential participation and exposure to Shakespeare. It will be great to bring what we do al fresco, and with the unique strengths and assets of both organizations we have a tremendous opportunity to achieve even greater community and statewide impact not previously possible if both companies were operating separately.”

“Audiences will experience the same artistic integrity that they’ve come to expect from both organizations,” says Mount. “In the Puget Sound region, audiences will now have a year-round resource to turn to for quality Shakespeare and classic theatre performances. People throughout Washington will now get to experience professional Shakespeare productions through the company’s expanded touring efforts.”

“Both companies come to this merger in a strong financial position,” says Bradshaw. “Through streamlined administrative efforts and shared resources we are creating a stronger, unified organization that can redirect resources into community programs and performances.” Leaders of the combined organization expect to:

· Expand touring in both the number of performances and geographically in audiences served

· Evolve into a year-round resource for Shakespeare and other classic plays for school districts and others interested in expanding their knowledge of Shakespeare.

· Increase opportunities for artists in terms of lengths of employment contracts and increased pay scale

The merged organization will begin operating as one immediately and will strategically add positions based upon the emerging needs of the company. Since October of 2007 K&L Gates has lent their expertise on a pro bono basis to assist with merger process.

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