History of Lancaster Shakespeare Theatre

Lancaster Shakespeare Theatre (LST) is a non-profit organization that aims to foster a profound understanding and appreciation for the works of William Shakespeare through performance and performance-based instruction. The organization believes in the power of active, personal approaches to the material to make Shakespeare’s work accessible and enriching for students and audiences.

Founding and Early Years (2006 – 2010)

LST was founded as the People’s Shakespeare Project by Laura Korach Howell and incorporated as a 501(c)3 non-profit in December 2006. By July 2007, the project had already produced three main stage performances of As You Like It at Elizabethtown College.

The following summer, in June-July 2008, the first summer of Camp Will was held in The Green Room Theatre at F&M. This involved performances of an abridged Two Gentlemen of Verona by campers and three mainstage performances on the steps of the Shadek-Fackenthal Library at F&M College’s campus.

In 2009, TPSP moved to The Rafters Theatre on Millersville University’s campus. Here, the Camp Will students performed an abridged version of Much Ado About Nothing, followed by three main stage performances at The Swan Pond and The Rafters Theatre.

The organization continued its growth in 2010 with four main stage performances of A Midsummer Night’s Dream at The Rafters Theatre and The Swan Pond.

Recognition and Expansion (2010 – 2018)

From 2010 to 2018, the company’s work was recognized by The Pennsylvania Council on the Arts with a Project Stream grant. This was advanced to the PCA’s Program Stream grant level in 2014, and the funding from the State continued.

During this period, the organization continued to perform a variety of Shakespeare’s plays annually at different venues, and in 2014, it became an official partner with The Winter/Ware Centers of Millersville University. Additionally, the company began hosting two sessions of Camp Will and started participating in The Extraordinary Give through the Lancaster Community Foundation in 2014.

In 2017, the group celebrated its move to Binns Park with a performance of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. February 2018 marked the beginning of a new winter production series at The Ware Center, starting with The Merchant of Venice.

Recent Developments (2019 – Present)

In 2019, the main stage production was The Comedy of Errors, performed at a new venue, Lancaster History. The following year, the inaugural high school Shakespeare festival, ShakesPeers, was held at The Ware Center, with 37 students representing seven schools.

The COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 brought significant changes. The organization began to host “ShakesCheers” events, which were live online performances of abridged Shakespeare plays, with the donations split with various COVID-19 relief funds.

Despite the challenges, they managed to hold an online Camp Will in July 2020 and continued the ShakesPeers festival in March 2021.

In the fall of 2021, TPSP produced founder Laura Howell’s play “Witch: Love, Loss and the Mystery” at Historic Rock Ford.

The following year, the company produced Much Ado About Nothing at LancasterHistory and Julia Caesar at the Ware Center.

During the same season, Laura Howell announced her retirement and Jeremiah Miller, who had played the title role in 2016’s Hamlet, became the Executive Artistic Director.

Miller had produced five productions for the company and overseen its rebranding as Lancaster Shakespeare Theatre. He sat in the director’s chair for 2023’s The Winters Tale and 2024’s Cymbeline.