CEDAR CITY, UTAH—Fred C. Adams, founder of the Utah Shakespeare Festival, has been named as recipient of the third annual Burbage Award for a lifetime of service to the international Shakespearean theatre community. Ralph Cohen, co-founder of the American Shakespeare Center, presented the award to Adams at the Rough, Rude & Boisterous Benefit held on April 24 at the Blackfriars Playhouse in Staunton, Va.
“Fred Adams has helped to make Shakespeare as American as apple pie,” said Cohen. “His joyful spirit and generous energy has made one of the great Shakespeare destinations in the world flourish in Cedar City, Utah. He’s a hero to all of us who want Shakespeare in the national life.”
Adams spent 46 years as festival director, handing over the reins in 2007 to the current executive director, R. Scott Phillips. Adams now functions as executive producer emeritus and executive director of the Festival Centre Project.
“I love the work that ASC presents, and I am so honored to receive this award,” said Adams. “I am flattered to be asked to join the company of the Shakespeare giants, like Tina Packer and Bill Patron, who have previously received this award.”
Adams and his late wife Barbara formulated the idea to start a theatre festival that would provide an evening activity for tourists who flocked to Southern Utah’s national parks like Zion and Bryce Canyons. In 1962, Adams and Barbara founded the Utah Shakespeare Festival.
Every year the Festival presents nine productions, from Shakespeare to modern theatre classics, that run from July through October. In 2000, the Festival received the Tony Award for America's Outstanding Regional Theatre.
Adams has directed 19 productions by Shakespeare and received awards including the Utah Theatre Association's Lifetime Service Award (2000), the Institute of Outdoor Drama's Mark R. Sumner Award (1998), and the first annual Utah Governor's Award in the Arts (1989). Adams received an M.F.A. from Brigham Young University, did doctoral work at the University of Utah and Catholic University, and received an honorary Ph.D. from Southern Utah University.
“Like so many others who love Shakespeare and who want to see that love on stage, I have found every conversation with Fred to be both a joy and an education,” said Cohen. “Five minutes in Fred’s company and you’ll understand how he built a miracle in Southern Utah.
The Burbage Award is named after the famous theatrical family of James (1531-1597), Richard (1568-1619), and Cuthbert (1566-1636), actors and impresarios involved with Shakespeare’s company of actors, including the opening and running of the original Blackfriars Playhouse in London. The first Burbage Award was given in 2008 to Bill Patton, of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in Ashland, Ore., and the second award in 2009 went to Tina Packer, founder of Shakespeare and Company in Lenox, Mass.