Dubrovnik Shakespeare Festival was founded in 2009 by American playwright Michael Lederer, whose family roots hail from Croatia. After buying a home here in 2006, Lederer quickly saw that while the long standing Summer Festival and the Julian Rachlin Music Festival provide the city with wonderful cultural activity for a combined two months of the year, that still left Dubrovnik with the rest of the year during which visitors and residents alike would clearly welcome more to do and see. Even in the warm spring the evenings here were quiet, and so the idea for Dubrovnik Shakespeare Festival was born.
Also most theatre produced in Dubrovnik was in Croatian language only, with no subtitles, and therefore not available to the millions of visitors who pass through the Old Town every year. DSF’s aim is to extend the cultural season of the city, while also developing a theatre available to both visitors and residents alike.
President of Croatia Ivo Josipovic
with DSF Artistic Director Michael Lederer
Even as plans were being laid for the new Festival within the Old Town itself, in keeping with its added goal of “bringing the world to Dubrovnik, and Dubrovnik to the world” DSF's first production was Lederer's own play Mundo Overloadus produced at New York City's PS 122 theatre in 2010. That attracted the attention of, among others, the President of Croatia, Dr. Prof. Ivo Josipovic, himself a composer by training. Meeting with Lederer in New York, the President pledged his full support for DSF. That quickly led to further support from the City of Dubrovnik - and Dubrovnik Shakespeare Festival was on its way, growing from a dream...to a plan...to reality!
An international creative team for “DSF One” was assembled: the director Irina Brook (daughter of Peter Brook) with her company of actors from Paris; the actor / director / theatre teacher Daniel Foley of Performance Exchange in London; the artist Genia Chef from Russia; media artist Gianluca Baccanico from Italy; the scenic designer and Drzic expert Marin Gozze from Dubrovnik itself; from Germany, the conductor and former Musical Director of the world famous Berliner Ensemble theatre, Alexander Frey; the rock group Just Floyd from England; and many others.
In October 2010, Mark Thomas, the founding editor of Croatia’s first English language newspaper, The Dubrovnik Times, joined DSF as its first General Manager. Under Mark's direction, the administrative team has grown quickly, and support continues to gather.
DSF is committed to being a resource for the community it seeks to serve and promote. As a first step in this direction, in July 2011 DSF mounted an exhibition ”The World of William Shakespeare” at the Marin Drzic Museum in Dubrovnik’s Old Town. This exhibition of rare Shakespeare-related books, manuscripts and artifacts runs through September 2011. A second exhibition is planned for April - May 2012 to coincide with the Festival itself.
Extending Dubrovnik’s cultural season...performances by renowned international theatre artists...theatre education programs for local and visiting students...support for local museums and other institutions...promoting Dubrovnik at home and abroad.
For visitors and residents alike. Welcome to Dubrovnik Shakespeare Festival!
Cast of DSF's first production, Mundo Overloadus
DSF press conference, Dubrovnik, April 2011