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The History of Shakespeare at Winedale

Shakespeare at Winedale began as an English Department course in 1970.  It grew out of a meeting between Professor James Ayres ("Doc" to his students) and Miss Ima Hogg, a philanthropist regarded as "the First Lady of Texas."  

Miss Hogg had recently renovated and donated to the University the Winedale Historical Center, a 270-acre area of pasture, woodland and historic pioneer buildings in central Texas.  Noting the resemblance of an 1880s hay barn to an Elizabethan theatre, she suggested that Ayres try having his students perform Shakespeare there.  He agreed, and Shakespeare at Winedale was born.

 As the program grew in size and reputation, it began to attract students from outside the English Department and eventually beyond the University of Texas.  The broad spectrum of students served by the program reflects its emphasis on performance as a learning method and a means of self-discovery, rather than an end in itself. 

For more than thirty-five years, Shakespeare at Winedale has drawn students with different cultural and academic backgrounds from universities around the United States.  Their interests have ranged from medicine, law and physics to music, theatre, and English.  They've met every June at Winedale to begin a journey that takes them well beyond their expectations and themselves.

The program has now expanded to include year-round activities, including special programs for younger children such as Camp Shakespeare and our Educational Outreach Program.