Naked Shakespeare began in the fall of 2004 as a way to continue working with actors who had been a part of the production of Twelfth Night at the Stage at Spring Point. From the beginning, the company has explored techniques of presenting short snippets of text through innovative and accessible productions, by mingling actors in and around the audience, delivering sonnets and soliloquies conversationally and in unexpected ways to allow listeners to find new meaning in the text.
Over the company’s first few years, we performed a series of scene nights at SPACE Gallery that gradually morphed into a monthly series of Sonnets and Soliloquies that were presented first at Meritage Wine Bar on Preble St., and then during a five-year run at the Wine Bar on Wharf Street. Naked Shakespeare has also produced a number of adaptations and shortened versions of full-length plays, including The Life and Times of Falstaff, The Merchant of Venice, Richard II, As You Like It, Antony and Cleopatra, The War of the Roses, and Hamlet. These plays have been mounted in a variety of venues including One Longfellow Square, Riverbank Park in Westbrook, the Portland Museum of Art, and the St. Lawrence Arts Center.
Naked Shakespeare has also created two performance installations: Cymbeline Underground at Battery Steele on Peaks Island, and All’s Well on the Waterfront at the Portland Yacht Services Building 11. In addition to these performances, Naked Shakespeare regularly toured hour-long productions to high schools, retirement communities, libraries, and colleges.
In 2014, Naked Shakespeare took up residence in Mechanics Hall in downtown Portland. The First Friday performing series was born, and continued with two full seasons (from October to May) of hour-long adaptations in the historic ballroom. Naked Shakespeare has also appeared twice in PortFringe: Dark Rooms (2016) and The Cursed (2018).