top of page

Merced Shakespearefest is dedicated to creating and performing high quality productions of Shakespeare plays that reflect and embrace the diversity of our community. 


We are a safe haven and artistic outlet for all people with a desire to express themselves through the works of history’s greatest playwright, and for all who wish to enjoy the results of our efforts.

Merced Shakespearefest is a celebration of the works of William Shakespeare and his contemporaries, and an exploration of the influence they continue to have on theatre today. We are dedicated to staging and performing high quality productions of The Bard’s plays, as well as works related to and derived from his literary creations. It is our goal to create works of theatre that reflect and embrace the diversity of our community, and we will always be a safe haven for any person with a desire to join with us in celebrating the works and influence of history’s greatest playwright.


“The Play’s the Thing …”

In 2002 we had a dream about performing free Shakespeare in the Park, to stage our favorite plays in the relaxed atmosphere of a green city park without a concern about a ticket price – a sort of democratic Shakespeare for all!

Now Merced Shakes is truly a community theater by the community and for the community, foremost for Merced and more and more for the Central Valley. Our performers, ranging between the ages of 5 and 80, hail from Merced, Atwater, Mariposa, Modesto, Fresno, and elsewhere, as does our audience.


Our summer plays are usually 90 minutes long and popular with people of all ages, but especially families. In 2010 we expanded our season to include a second play indoors in downtown Merced. These more challenging, less abridged dramas are staged in winter or early spring with an inexpensive ticket price. They have been very successful and attract both talent and audience from near and far.


At the same time we have taken our shows to smaller towns, like Firebaugh and Mariposa, to provide more audiences with a Shakespeare experience. His works are among the greatest and most delightful of humanity’s cultural expressions, yet have the reputation to be difficult to understand. We are proud that our productions bridge the gap, and often have I heard from an audience member after a performance, “I understand Shakespeare now!”




"We are the stuff that dreams are made on ..."


Heike Hambley

Founder and Artistic Director

Merced Shakespearefest

bottom of page