The Stanford Shakespeare Company recently received a donation that doubled its annual budget from the Werdegar family who was impressed by the Company’s performance of “A Winter’s Tale” last spring.
“[The donation] was spurred on in part by the daughter in the family who is 15 and loves Shakespeare,” said member Nora Tjossem ’15, who directed “A Winter’s Tale.” “One of the most exciting parts of receiving this donation is that it’s not from a relative or acquaintance; it’s someone who came and saw our work and thought it was great. Realizing that we could affect people who have no obligation to us and are only connected to us through our work itself was exciting.”
The Company has been around for over 10 years and is the only Shakespeare Company in the South Bay Area.
“We have people from all the Bay Area who come for our shows…what we are hoping to do is reach farther than the limits of the campus,” said Tjossem. “We are trying to expand our outreach to be even more extensive.”
The Company coordinates an outreach program in which it runs Shakespeare workshops at local middle and elementary schools.
“[With the grant money] we want to improve the quality of the shows for people on campus and trying to expand our reach in terms of the South Bay area,” said member Louis McWilliams ’16, who played the part of Antigonus in “A Winter’s Tale.” “We want to focus on reaching the local community, not just on how to improve our shows, but how to give this [donation] back and how to return it to the community.”
In addition to expanding the Company’s presence, McWilliams and Tjossem hope that the donation will allow the Company to make long term investments in securing its budget.
“Renting lights alone used to account for half of the budget for every show,” McWilliams said. “We wanted to make sure we made some investments in things like a light board which we can use for 10, 15, 20 years out. Now it’s a one-time sunk cost and that money can go to other parts of the process, like having a little more wiggle room in terms of costumes.”
For Tjossem, the most rewarding aspect of the grant is the new sense of opportunity and creativity it inspires.
“Everyone in StanShakes has been spending their time and energy without compensation — this donation will allow them to design big,” Tjossem said. “Our goal looking to the future is to get even crazier, more creative and more ambitious with our projects. This donation expands opportunities for people to dream.”
McWilliams echoed this sentiment.
“The greatest and most exciting show is the one that we haven’t come up with yet,” McWilliams said. “This donation just makes that possibility of creating something that we haven’t thought of that much more tangible.”
Contact Pallavi Krishnarao at pallavik ‘at’ stanford.edu.