The People’s Shakespeare Project (TPSP) is a non-profit organization that aims to foster a profound understanding and appreciation for the works of William Shakespeare through performance and performance-based instruction. The organization believes in the power of active, personal approaches to the material to make Shakespeare’s work accessible and enriching for students and audiences.
Founding and Early Years (2006 – 2010)
TPSP was founded by Laura Korach Howell and incorporated as a 501(c)3 non-profit in December 2006. By July 2007, the project had already produced three main stage productions, including As You Like It at Elizabethtown College.
The following summer, in June-July 2008, the first summer of Camp Will was held in The Green Room Theatre at F&M. This involved young campers in performances of an abridged Two Gentlemen of Verona and three performances on the steps of the Shadek-Fackenthal Library at F&M College’s campus.
In 2009, TPSP moved to The Rafters Theatre on Millersville University’s campus. Here, the Camp Will students performed an abridged version of Much Ado About Nothing.
The organization continued its growth in 2010 with four main stage productions at The Rafters Theatre and The Swan Pond at Millersville University.
Recognition and Expansion (2010 – 2018)
From 2010 to 2018, TPSP’s consistent work was recognized by The Pennsylvania Council on the Arts with a Project Stream grant. This was advanced to the PCA’s Program Stream grant level in 2014, and the funding from the State continued.
During this period, the organization continued to perform a variety of Shakespeare’s plays annually at different venues, and in 2014, it became an official partner with The Winter/Ware Centers of Millersville University. Additionally, TPSP began hosting two sessions of Camp Will and started participating in The Extraordinary Give through the Lancaster Community Foundation in 2014.
In 2017, TPSP celebrated its move to Binns Park with a performance of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. February 2018 marked the beginning of a new winter production series at The Ware Center, starting with The Merchant of Venice.
Recent Developments (2019 – Present)
In 2019, TPSP’s main stage production was The Comedy of Errors, performed at a new venue, Lancaster History. The following year, the inaugural high school Shakespeare festival, Shakes-Peers, was held at The Ware Center, with 37 students representing seven schools.
The COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 brought significant changes to TPSP’s activities. The organization began to host “ShakesCheers” events, which were live online performances of abridged Shakespeare plays, with the donations split with various charities.
Despite the challenges, TPSP managed to hold an online Camp Will in July 2020 and continued the Shakes-Peers festival in March 2021.
In the fall of 2021, TPSP produced founder Laura Korach Howell’s play Witch: Love, Loss and the Mystery at Historic Rock Ford.
The following year, the company produced Much Ado About Nothing at Lancaster History and Julia Caesar at the Ware Center.
During the same season, Laura Howell announced her retirement and Jeremiah Miller, who had played the title role in 2016’s Hamlet, became the Executive Artistic Director.
Miller’s first season included a production of The Winter’s Tale at Holy Trinity Lutheran Church’s Fondersmith Auditorium and The Merry Wives of Windsor at Lancaster History.
Our summer middle-school and high-school Shakespeare/acting camps offer students from 6th-12th grade first-hand experience exploring Shakespeare and acting the text. Our free outdoor summer Shakespeare performances are family-friendly and now take place on the beautiful campus of Lancaster History.