Wellington Summer Shakespeare was first staged in 1983, with a production of 'A Midsummer Night's Dream', featuring punk fairies and other facets of early 80s Wellington student culture. Produced originally by the Te Herenga Waka - Victoria University of Wellington Drama Club and since 2000 produced by the Summer Shakespeare Trust, Wellington Summer Shakespeare is now celebrating more than 35 years of performance.
Over the years Wellington Summer Shakespeare has seen well known national and international artists (both on and off stage) and has been a springboard for many up-and-coming creatives. We’ve also moved the Bard into various, mainly outdoor, environments; from the University Quad, the Dell in the Botanic Gardens, the steps of the Sacred Heart Cathedral to Gladstone Vineyard and twice even into carparks: the carpark at Te Whaea: National Dance & Drama Centre in 1999 and the Reading’s car park in 2018.
Following the closing of the Drama Club, the Summer Shakespeare Trust has taken on a much greater governance role in the organising of each production. A permanent administrator has been appointed to provide more effective and direct continuity between each year’s production and to maintain an ongoing relationship with the many organisations who have supported the productions over the years.
While the Summer Shakespeare has always been primarily a student-driven, university-orientated event, the last few years have seen Te Herenga Waka - Victoria University of Wellington’s more formal involvement as the principal sponsor.