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Orlando Shakespeare Theater Collection

Identifier: UA24D

Scope and Contents

Series I: Performances, 1989-2012 contains programs, playbills, tickets stubs, brochures, pamphlets, newsletters, and other ephemera.

Series II: Publicity, 1986-2013 contains reviews, newspaper clippings, and newsletters.

Series III: Audiovisuals, 1979-1994, & undated contains reel-to-reel audiotapes and audiocassette tapes.

Series IV: Photographs, 1976-1980, & undated contains negatives and stock images of productions created by OST as well as other events attended by the group.

Series V: Partnerships, 1974-2009, & undated contains documents relating to different organizations partnerships with OST including news clippings, photocopies of letters, advance notices and advertisements for current and future productions.

Series VI: Posters, 1995-1999 & undated contains posters relating to various OST productions.


  • Created: 1974-2013
  • Other: Majority of material found in 1986-2009



The entire collection is open for research.

Copyright Statement

Unpublished manuscripts are protected by copyright. Permission to publish, quote or reproduce must be secured from the repository and the copyright holder.

Biographical or Historical Information

According to The UCF Report May 15, 1998 issue, the Orlando-UCF Shakespeare Festival has its beginnings in 1974 when UCF English professor, Dr. Stuart Omans offered his students a chance to get out of writing term papers if they participated in reading scenes from Shakespeare to area junior and senior high schools. Though the group had missteps, they committed themselves to learning dialogue, practicing scenes and taking the show out of the classroom.

The Future October 24, 1975 issue explains how following the success of their performances the group was invited to perform throughout Florida and Georgia. This dedication brought upon the group's decision to attempt to increase their audience. With the guidance of Omans, the students wrote a grant proposal to the FTU Student Government to seek funding for their "Simply Shakespeare" company. FTU allocated nearly $3,000 to the group who referred to themselves as ambassadors of the community and area schools. This troupe would be Central Florida's first Shakespearean troupe.

Both the FTU News, March 14, 1979 issue and The Future issue from March 30, 1979 reported that a grant of $77,000 from the National Endowment for the Humanities and Fine Arts was given towards Omans, UCF Music professor Bruce Whisler, and UCF English professor Gerald Schiffhorst. The trio's objective was to create a Summer Institute to give Central Florida school teachers upgraded skills to teach Shakespeare through performance in English, Drama, and Humanities. Along with the funding, the Simply Shakespeare Troupe performances helped support the Summer Institute, charities and their own performances.

On December 18, 1998 the UCF Report published an interview with Omans discussing the establishment of the Orlando-UCF Shakespeare Festival. According to Omans, in 1987 he decided to create and support a professional classical theater through the Project for the Humanities and Fine Arts. With the support from then Orlando Mayor Bill Frederick and then UCF President Trevor Colbourn, Omans announced the establishment of the Orlando Shakespeare Festival in 1988. The inaugural season in 1989 brought to life the tales of Taming of the Shrew and Tempest.

According to the Orlando Shakespeare Theater Inc. Report, the Orlando-UCF Shakespeare Festival held their first performances at the Walt Disney Amphitheater of Lake Eola Park in downtown Orlando. In 1995 the group opened their performances up to non-Shakespeare plays and began staging plays in rented places throughout the area. The Orlando-UCF Shakespeare Festival is now based out of the John and Rita Lowndes Shakespeare Center and performs out of Margeson and Goldman Theaters as well.

Following the success of the Orlando-UCF Festival, Dr. Omans wanted to create a program tailored towards education and academic support of the next generation of actors, actresses, and theater enthusiasts. This program would become known as The Young Company. For the past twenty-six years, local high school students have auditioned, rehearsed and performed one play a year during the months of April through July.

The Orlando-UCF Shakespeare Festival has continued the legacy started by Omans and his students, while also growing into a nationally recognized theater and the only professional classical theater company in Central Florida. In 2007 the name was officially changed to the Orlando Shakespeare Theater (OST) to better reflect their year round activities which include performing seven Signature Series productions, three Children's Series productions, being part of a weekend festival of new plays titled PlayFest, annual summer camps, classes, workshops, and offering internships and independent studies for UCF Theater majors and alumni.


6 boxes (3.33 Linear Feet)


The Orlando Shakespeare Theater Collection contains playbills, programs, reviews, newspaper clippings, films, cassettes, reels, and schedules. It also includes items relating to the Orlando-UCF Shakespeare Festival Partnership (OSF) such as Simply Shakespeare, Central Florida's first Shakespearean troupe, and the UCF Shakespeare Summer Institute as well as the NEH grant funded faculty study project "Hamlet: Exploring the Renaissance Mind in Action" which was presented in the Summer 1991.

Arrangement Note

This collection is arranged in six series. Series I contains documents relating to OST performances and is arranged chronologically. Series II contains documents relating to the publicity of all aspects of OST and is arranged by subject then chronologically. Series III contains media relating to programs hosted by OST and is arranged by subject. Series IV contains photographs relating to performances and activities by OST and is arranged by subject then chronologically. Series V contains documents regarding the different partnerships OST has and is arranged by subject then chronologically. Series VI posters relating to the productions of OST.

Method of Acquisition

Rick Schell transferred these materials to the University of Central Florida Libraries, Special Collection and University Archives in 2016 (CFU2016_38).

Accruals and Additions

Collection Identifier: CFU2016_38

Related Materials

For more information on university archives, please see our website. Further information about the UCF Theater Department may be found in the University of Central Florida Theater Program Collection. Additionally, information contributing to the Biographical/Historical Note can be found in these articles "1975: The show goes on" in The UCF Report, Vol. 20 No. 21, May 15, 1998; "Shakespeare troupe strives to create art awareness" in the Central Florida Future, Vol. 08 No. 05, October 24, 1975; "Shakespearean program to expand" in the Central Florida Future, Vol. 11 No. 25, March 30, 1979; and "Shakespeare Festival turns 10 years old" in The UCF Report, Vol. 21 No. 11, December 18, 1998. For further information regarding to the Orlando Shakespeare Theater please consult their website.

Processing Information

The materials in the Orlando Shakespeare Theater Collection were separated from the UCF Theater Collection that was assembled by Kelly Clemens, Cheryl Mahan, Ellen Anderson, and Dr. Stuart Omans. The collection was processed by and the finding aid was prepared by Kryslynn Collazo in 2018. All materials were placed into acid free folders and in an acid free box. Copies of media including Floppy Disks were made. The acquisition method field and the subjects were updated by Kryslynn Collazo in 2018, resulting in edition 2.
Orlando Shakespeare Theater Collection
Kryslynn Collazo
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description

Repository Details

Part of the UCF University Archives Repository

Special Collections & University Archives
University of Central Florida Libraries
P.O. Box 162666
Orlando Florida 32816-2666 US
(407) 823-2576