Founded in 1998, the Grand Haven based Pigeon Creek Shakespeare Company is Michigan’s only year-round, touring, professional Shakespeare company. The company was started by Chicago area actor and director Frank Farrell, who appeared several times as guest artist with the Grand Valley Shakespeare Festival, and a group of West Michigan actors, including current executive director Katherine Mayberry. From 1998-2007, Pigeon Creek produced plays outdoors in the Ottawa County Parks during the summer months. In 2008, the company expanded to performing throughout the year, and currently produces 4 mainstage plays per season, as well as numerous staged readings, performances of Shakespearean scenes, and educational programs.
Pigeon Creek’s current board includes several GVSU alumni, and maintains strong ties with the Grand Valley Shakespeare Festival.
Each of the company’s productions tours to at least 4 venues within the state of Michigan, and Pigeon Creek has also been invited to tour to venues in Virginia, Ohio, Iowa, and New York. The company has a performance style based on the staging practices of Shakespeare’s own lifetime, and influenced by the current Original Practices movement in the performance of Shakespeare’s plays. Pigeon Creek’s audience members experience a lively, interactive theatre experience, with live musical interludes, cross-gendered casting, and characters speaking directly to the audience.
Audience members and critics alike rave about the company’s performances. A recent audience member posted on Google Places after viewing Pigeon Creek’s production of Hamlet: “While it takes a lot to impress me, I was utterly thunderstruck by the sheer brilliance and talent in this company! I have seen a lot of Shakespeare but have never been swept up and carried off with it like that because it was alive! If you are into big show-off productions with lots of loud music, garish stage settings, and distracting costumery and props, this isn't for you, and frankly, their acting doesn't need to hide behind superfluous bells and whistles that appeal to the uninitiated. If you prefer to savor Shakespeare on the strength of pure acting talent, a deep understanding of the literature, an incredible finesse with the language (their cadence, emphasis, enunciation of Shakespearian English made it sound ‘natural’) and impeccable timing and synergy between the actors, then GO to the very next performance by this company at this theater.”
Bridgette Redman, reviewer for Encore Michigan, wrote of a recent production, “There is a playfulness about Pigeon Creek's production that makes it accessible. All of the performers are skilled at engaging the audience and bringing them into the action of the play, either through the simple act of eye contact, or by actually sitting next to them and talking to them throughout the show. There is a familiarity and ease with the language that all of the players have, and they make the eliciting of smiles from the audience seem effortless throughout the entire show.”
Based in Grand Haven, Michigan, the Pigeon Creek Shakespeare Company seeks to offer performances of Shakespeare's works to Michigan audiences in a variety of non-traditional theatre venues.
Pigeon Creek Shakespeare employs techniques of theatrical performance such as universal lighting and audience contact to adapt its productions to multiple performance venues, and to actively engage audience members in performance.
The company's goals are to explore the original theatrical practices of the acting companies of Shakespeare's time; to provide high quality productions of works by Shakespeare and his contemporaries to regional theatre audiences; to provide local actors, directors, and stage managers the opportunity to work with these wonderful scripts and to receive training in an original practice approach to Shakespeare's plays; and to maintain an organizational philosophy in which theatre practitioners participate in the administration of the company on a regular basis.