“Shakespeare is for Everyone”

Teaching Regional Productions through the Digital Performance Archive


  • Jayme M. Yeo Belmont University


Shakespeare, digital pedagogy, archives, digital humanities, regional theater, regional Shakespeare


Over the past decade, local live productions of Shakespeare have become increasingly visible to scholars and audiences alike, both through critical work on the subject as well as through public projects such as Shakespeare on the Road. This visibility highlights the cultural and artistic work of regional theatre. On the one hand, local live productions celebrate regional culture through visual or aural appropriation: original music written by local artists, or an iconic building recreated in the set. On the other hand, these shows also expand and sometimes challenge our sense of Shakespeare’s work through these local appropriations. And yet, despite recent interest in local live productions, there is a curious lack of scholarship on how we might encourage students to understand and appreciate regional productions of Shakespeare.


This article explores one way to engage students in regional Shakespeare through discussing the Nashville Shakespeare Performance Archive, a student-curated online archive of local productions that has been a feature of Shakespeare classes at Belmont University in Nashville since 2016. Funded by a micro-grant from the Folger Institute, this project enables our students to collect artefacts from the Nashville Shakespeare Festival’s annual performances and curate them into a suite of webpages each year that includes video footage, interviews, photos, musical scores, set models, costume sketches, and other elements of the production. This article overviews the early years of the project and explores a recent redesign that more directly challenged student assumptions about what constitutes a performance of “Shakespeare.”


Ultimately, this article makes the argument that a student-curated archive has the potential to slow students down in their encounters with local live theatre, helping them to identify a show’s contributions to local artistic identity and challenge their notion of Shakespearean "authenticity."

Author Biography

  • Jayme M. Yeo, Belmont University

    Jayme M. Yeo is Associate Professor of English at Belmont University in Nashville, TN. Her work centers on emotional communities in early modern literature, contemporary regional US performance, and the public humanities. Her articles have appeared in Intersections: Yearbook for Early Modern Studies, Literature and Theology, Exemplaria, and Shakespeare Bulletin. She has received grants from the Folger Shakespeare Library and the Whiting Foundation and is co-editor with Marissa Greenburg of the Internet Shakespeare Edition’s The Comedy of Errors.