All The Summer’s A Stage: Your Guide To Shakespeare In Colorado

Photo: Makeshift Shakespeare Denver
Makeshift Shakespeare actors perform at the VooDoo Comedy Playhouse in Denver.

William Shakespeare’s “Sonnet 18” reminds us: “And summer's lease hath all too short a date.”

No matter the season, his themes -- from love to loss to race -- still prove relevant today. But summer especially suits Shakespeare. Most states in the U.S. have a festival dedicated to his plays during the warmer seasons.

“The most famous of the playhouses in Shakespeare’s day, the Globe, had no roof. It still doesn’t,” Colorado Theatre Guild general manager Gloria Shanstrom says. “Performed during the summer and under the stars is a most authentic way to see the Bard’s work.”

The Colorado Shakespeare Festival in Boulder largely reigns supreme in the state during this time of copious sunshine. Tune in to Colorado Matters on Wednesday, June 24, to hear a conversation with actor Peter Macon. The Emmy Award winner stars in the title role for “Othello” during the Colorado Shakespeare Festival this year.

Other theaters and companies around Colorado are putting on productions by the pre-eminent playwright as well. They range from the traditional to the improvisational.

“Most people read Shakespeare at some point, so we bring all these pieces together by taking bits from different plays and incorporating them into a new story,” Shannon Wood Rothenburg, who founded Makeshift Shakespeare in 2010, says.

The Shakespeare-inspired improv troupe performs in Denver on Friday nights at Voodoo Comedy Playhouse and Saturday nights at the Atlas Theater.

Makeshift Shakespeare starts with a title suggested by the audience -- like “Titus Androgynous.” From there, actors improvise a full sonnet that loosely outlines the night’s ensuing production.

“The funny parts in Shakespeare are so smart and he loved wordplay and innuendo so much that we feel like we are paying tribute to his humor and love of language,” Wood Rothenburg says. “But some of our best moments have been moving or sad too. It’s engaging in a way that isn’t just funny.”

More upcoming productions written or inspired by Shakespeare:

Shakespeare in the Sangres
June 18 - July 5
Westcliffe Center for the Performing Arts, Westcliffe

Shakespeare in the Park: ​"A Midsummer Night's Dream"
July 18 - 25
Town Park Stage, Telluride

A Midsummer Night’s Dream
July 30 - Aug. 22
THEATREWORKS, Colorado Springs

So Long, Shakespeare
Aug. 8 - 16
Spark Theater, Denver

As You Like It
Sep. 25 - Nov. 1
The Space Theatre at the Denver Performing Arts Center, Denver