The Rome Shakespeare Festival is looking to expand, while keeping its roots local and its players from inside the community.
The festival’s executive director Julie McCluskey and artistic director Drew Davidson, a professor at Shorter University, want to keep the talent local but said they’re also looking to institute some professional standards for directors and actors
The festival, which has performances of Shakespeare’s “The Tempest” scheduled on Sept. 22-26, is also looking to organize a troupe of players to perform regularly — and they’re wanting to take some shows on the road regionally.
A small scale version of the idea took place recently with the production of “Ain’t Misbehavin’,” which was performed at Summerville’s Jazz Festival in August.
Think of the idea as a festival, which it has always been, that’s also looking to become a full time theater company.
Paying homage to all the work Rome Shakespeare Festival founder Gail Deschamps did to bring the festival to life, Davidson said they’re looking forward to expanding her vision.
They’d like to keep the focus on Shakespeare’s varied plays at the start of what Davidson described as a 3- to 5-year plan, but they also would like to work in performances of other works as well.
Referencing the now defunct Georgia Shakespeare Festival, Davidson said he feels Rome is in a good place to take on that role.
“I can see this thing becoming a draw for the entire region,” he said.
However, they both emphasized that they want to keep it local. Often, as regional theaters grow larger they begin to hire professional actors instead of grooming and training local talent. McCluskey and Davidson don’t want to go that route.
“Broadway is just a street in New York,” he said. “We have a Broad Street here.”