It was one man’s dream launched in a circus tent in 1990, but Bell Shakespeare’s epic journey in the intervening 23 years has been no less dramatic. In less than a quarter of a century, it has firmly established itself as Australia’s only truly national theatre company, specialising in the immortal plays of William Shakespeare and peers such as Marlowe, Jonson and Molière whose masterpieces bear comparison with the man acknowledged as history’s greatest playwright.
Under the guiding hand of founder John Bell AO, and the backing of an enlightened philanthropist, the late Tony Gilbert, AM, the Company has become an indispensable pillar of the Australian arts pantheon.
Over the decades, some of the greatest directors, actors and artists in Australian theatre have proudly contributed their talents to the company, helping to produce an unrivaled body of work that has engrossed, inspired and stimulated audiences across the entire nation.
Through its tours, school productions and various learning programmes, Bell Shakespeare has spread its message from our largest cities to the most remote communities in Australia.
Arguably, no other theatre company in the world devoted to the classics has reached such a wide audience within a single country, especially one as large and relatively unpopulated as Australia.
Since 2012, Bell has shared the title and duties of Artistic Director of Bell Shakespeare with Peter Evans, whose own career spans 20 years working in some of the country’s leading arts organisations. Evans shares Bell’s passion for classic texts and his determination to engage an ever wider talent pool through innovations such as Mind’s Eye, the Company’s creative development arm that supports new works being written, rehearsed and performed.
Bell Shakespeare’s core mission remains the same as it was in 1990; to reinterpret the beautiful words, complex themes, raw emotions and profound ideas found in each Shakespeare play and show their relevance for modern Australians - wherever they live and whatever their background.