History of Bell Shakespeare

Bell Shakespeare began its extraordinary journey in 1990 with a singular vision from our Founding Artistic Director, John Bell, supported by arts philanthropist, the late Anthony Gilbert AM – to take the works of Shakespeare to Australians from all walks of life, in every corner of this vast country.

It began with the staging of Hamlet in a circus tent in 1991, and a passion to see Shakespeare performed for Australians, by Australians.

More than 30 years on, Bell Shakespeare now tours mainstage and education programs to every state and territory – from theatre stages to community halls, and from school classrooms to juvenile justice centres. We use Shakespeare’s universal insights to bring inspiration and truth to audiences of all ages in urban, regional and rural communities.

Today, Bell Shakespeare enjoys the fruits of its labour: a history rich with legends of the stage; a national theatre education and community program with unequalled reach and impact; a creative development arm which ensures artistic vibrancy; and a loyal and passionate audience that has turned the Company that began in a circus tent into a national icon.