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Festival Theatre Ensemble is a public benefit corporation providing regional professional theater productions of Shakespeare and related classical plays to several Northern California communities, as well as ecucational outreach programs to local schools.
Festival Theatre Ensemble was founded in 1994 by Artistic Director, Bruce De Les Dernier. Bruce has taught acting, and directed various stage productions for over 20 years at West Valley College, and has directed numerous main stage productions around the San Francisco Bay Area. The initial three-show season was created largely for touring, much as in the 16th century, when travelers might have been treated to a performance of a play or pastoral during their stay at a roadside inn. In those days it was usually performed by actors who had no theatre of their own, but would travel from village to village, using whatever stage was available.
Festival Theatre Ensemble has evolved along much the same lines since 1994: To bring Shakespeare to those communities which could not support a year-round repertory company. The community could sponsor a Shakespeare Festival, with Festival Theatre Ensemble providing the season. FTE is dedicated to being "Your Shakespeare Festival", enriching those communities with the arts in a collaborative effort.
The name of the company was also carefully chosen to reflect the philosophy behind its operation: Festival Theatre Ensemble. Ensemble in the sense of teamwork and dedication to the purpose: Telling the story, and making live theatre more accessible and enjoyable. Like all theaters, FTE depends on a talented core company, and whose many talents often include many non-performing functions of theater. A road show must be prepared for anything!
Festival Theatre Ensemble also performs interactive theatre for schools around the Bay Area with The Shakespeare Connection . These school touring shows are tailored for elementary, middle, and high school audiences.
- Mark Pickens
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