The Nashville Shakespeare Festival returns to Williamson County tonight for a repeat of last year’s popular event.

The festival, which began in Nashville nearly 30 years ago, holds Shakespeare in the Park performances in Centennial Park during August and September.

Franklin will receive the same performances of “Antony and Cleopatra” and “The Winter’s Tale” at Academy Park this weekend.

The mission of the organization, said executive artistic director Denice Hicks, is to, “educate and entertain the Mid-South community through professional Shakespearean experiences.”

Hicks said the head of the Nashville Shakespeare Festival’s board, Tony McAlister, lives in Franklin and decided to hold a performance last year after hearing from people on the Williamson County Department of Parks and Recreation about their developing park, Academy Park.

“It wasn’t a long time in the planning, we suddenly rallied it,” said Hicks of the first year. “The parks department is just so committed to making fun, friendly, community activities happen there, so it’s a good match.

Hicks said that after being in Centennial Park for so many years, being in Franklin is “filling a gap.”

Performances will begin at 7:30 p.m., and will run this weekend from Thursday, Sept. 28 through Sunday, Oct. 1. Vendors will begin selling food at 6:00 p.m. and pre-show entertainment begins at 6:30 p.m.

Though the performance is free to the public, there is a suggested donation of $10. For $75, viewers can reserve a “Royal Box,” which includes reserved parking, prime seating, a gourmet boxed picnic dinner from Bacon & Caviar and a commemorative gift.

“The Winter’s Tale” is directed by the Nashville Shakespeare Festival’s Artistic Associate, Santiago Sosa. “Antony and Cleopatra” is directed by David Ian Lee, a director, playwright, theatre maker and actor who has directed local, regional and national productions.

Brooke Wanser is the associate editor for the Franklin Home Page, and can be reached at Follow her on Twitter at @BWanser_writes or @FranklinHomepg.

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