FEBRUARY 16-20, 2022


No Holds Bard is our annual Shakespeare festival. We are big fans of Shakespeare, but we know that sometimes his language can be a bit of a barrier to newcomers. So, a few years ago, we came up with the idea to make a Shakespeare festival that didn’t look like any other. Thus, No Holds Bard was born.


Local playwright Buddy White wondered what would happen if the love-struck Ophelia, ill-fated lover of Hamlet, had had some notion of her own agency, and zagged instead of zigged; the result is this new piece, developed in The Z’s own American Dreamwright’s Workshop. Ophelia encounters a modern-day woman and comes face-to-face with her creator as she makes surprising discoveries about herself, and her own power. Ophelia Chooses is presented in a limited run as part of our annual Shakespeare festival, No Holds Bard, from February 16th through the 19th.


This annual concert showcases new music inspired by the Bard of Avon and composed by many of our region’s outstanding singer-songwriters. Shakespeare wrote songs in most of his plays, but very few of the melodies have survived. The chance to collaborate with such a celebrated poet is hard to pass up, and over the years we’ve been gifted with a slew of beautiful new works. Past concerts have featured settings of sonnets, lyrics from plays, and paraphrases of entire scenes. This unique event is a perfect introduction to Billy Shakes (as we like to call him).


This bootleg production is randomly cast by lottery, and the actors have six weeks to learn their lines, create their costumes, and fashion their props. They’ll then come together at The Z on Saturday, February 19th, to rehearse all day, take a dinner break, and present the play for one performance only, that evening. This year’s play is Measure for Measure, one of the classic “problem plays”—is it a comedy, or a drama? Is Claudio actually Hamlet in disguise? We may not be able to answer those questions definitively, but we can guarantee that if you only have the chance to see one Shakespeare production this year, this is it!