Shakespeare Festival at Penn State Fayette celebrates 50 years

Performances, workshops and exhibits are free and open to the public, Oct. 31 to Nov. 4
Production photo of Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing performed by the National Players.

William Shakespeare’s "Much Ado About Nothing," performed by the National Players, will be free and open to the public on Nov. 1.

Credit: The National Players

LEMONT FURNACE, Pa. — Penn State Fayette, The Eberly Campus, will host its 50th annual Shakespeare Festival from Oct. 31 to Nov. 4, featuring public workshops and performances by the National Players.

The National Players, based in Olney, Maryland, is America’s longest-running touring company. Since 1949, the company has performed in 45 states and 10 countries.

The group will perform William Shakespeare’s "Much Ado About Nothing" and August Wilson’s "Fences." In addition, they will present two acting demonstrations including “Acting and Improv” and “Speak the Speech: Shakespeare.”

Exhibits will be on display in the campus library and the Hardy Auditorium lobby throughout the week, featuring creative student projects, pop culture items and a “Shakespeare’s Stratford” photo display.

“In 1972, my students wanted an opportunity, which most never had, to see a live performance of a Shakespeare play,” said Dennis Brestensky, professor emeritus of English, who founded the Shakespeare Festival.

“For 50 years, I have found professional acting groups that could bring Shakespeare alive, free of charge, for my students as well as our campus community, public and private school students, home-schoolers and the general public," said Brestensky.

He added, “I am proud that the festival has become a long-lasting cultural tradition at Penn State Fayette, and I am thankful for all the support I have received over these five decades. Without it, the festival would not have lasted all these years. I have enjoyed my mission of helping others understand, appreciate and enjoy Shakespeare — the best poetic dramatist who has ever lived.”

All events are free and open to the public. Reservations are suggested for performances. To reserve seats, contact Barry Pawloski at [email protected].

Workshops (Hardy Auditorium):

  • “Acting and Improv” — Wednesday, Nov. 2, 11-11:50 a.m.
  • “Speak the Speech: Shakespeare” —Wednesday, Nov. 2, noon to 1:15 p.m.

Performances: (Hardy Auditorium, Q&A to follow):

  • William Shakespeare’s "Much Ado About Nothing" — Tuesday, Nov. 1, 11 a.m.
  • August Wilson’s "Fences" —Wednesday, Nov. 2, 7 p.m.

More information, including multimedia, can be found at