Our Story

Sometimes you have to let fate, and a book, stumbled upon in a far-flung bookshop, lead you on adventures you never imagined you’d take…

Steve Pearson A few years ago Steve Pearson, founder of Shakespeare in the Park – Saltaire, was perusing the shelves in a small bookshop in Little Italy, whist holidaying in New York City. Having recently retired from a long career as a psychiatric nurse he was always on the hunt for books that would spark his imagination. He’d always had an avid interest in theatre and the arts, and had previously been an actor on both stage and TV in his youth. Steve happened to pick up a book which, unbeknownst to him would change his life.

Joe Papp - Free for AllThat book was ‘Free for All’ by Joe Papp, an American producer who pioneered open-air Shakespeare productions in Central Park, and the surrounding boroughs of New York.

Joe Papp encountered many barriers along his way to bring free Shakespeare to the masses, in his beloved New York City, and had to fight many battles. He lost his job, was dragged through court, and black-listed, but he never backed down, insisting that theatre should be accessible and relevant to everyone. To this day Free Shakespeare in the Park is performed every summer, outdoors, in The Delacorte Theater in Central Park, and in the 60 years since it began, more than five million people have attended free performances – an amazing legacy!

Inspired by the book and the concept, Steve envisioned bringing the same principles to his home town, and knew that Roberts park, Saltaire, would be the perfect place to realise his dream. And so Shakespeare in the Park Saltaire was born. The rest, as they say, is history.

With the help of a fine ensemble of cast and crew, and the support of family and friends, Shakespeare in the Park – Saltaire is about to embark upon its third summer season, no small feat for a man who just so happened to pick up a book, one fine day in New York City…