The mission of the Texas Shakespeare Festival is to bring high-caliber theatrical experiences to the people of East Texas and beyond. We are motivated to serve our community of theatre patrons, artists, and students: theirs are the shoulders on which we stand as we support one another year after year. We are compelled by a desire to remain relevant in an ever-changing world by nurturing future audience members, sparking in them a lasting love of Shakespeare and the magic of live theatre that can be passed on for generations to come.
Diversity and Inclusion Statement
As one of the largest cultural events in the East Texas region, the Texas Shakespeare Festival recognizes and welcomes the responsibility of being a cultural leader in its commitment to the inclusion of diverse people both on and off our stages. This commitment begins with the core staff and expands through the board, the contracted artists, and most importantly, the audience we serve. We acknowledge with compassion that there is a history of prejudice in the East Texas region. TSF commits to partnering with civic leaders and organizations, as well as with national organizations that focus on equality, to overcome our inherent biases as an institution by making them conscious, acknowledged, and addressed. We believe our commitment must speak most loudly through our work and through our efforts to have the artists producing that work, and the audiences coming to see it, represent the society of the current time.
The idea for the Texas Shakespeare Festival at Kilgore College was developed in the early 1980's by Founder Raymond Caldwell. The goal was to establish a professional summer theatre for East Texas based in Kilgore that would be housed in the Van Cliburn Auditorium; to create a company with a name that would have broad appeal to professional theatre artists, employing high caliber actors, designers and directors from throughout the nation; to offer professional actors and theatre students the luxury of working on plays from the world’s storehouse of dramatic literary masterpieces; and to create a regional play about the East Texas oilfield discovery to be produced as a cultural historical memento of our unique and colorful heritage. Read our story here.
A Chicago native, Meaghan received her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in acting from the University of Illinois and Master of Fine Arts degree in acting from the University of Delaware’s PTTP. Meaghan is proud to be a resident of Kilgore and honored to serve as the Artistic Director of the Texas Shakespeare Festival. As an actor, Meaghan has worked one season with the Utah Shakespeare Festival, two seasons with the Milwaukee Repertory Theater, three seasons with the Delaware REP, and fifteen seasons with TSF performing in productions of The Merchant of Venice, Twelfth Night, Macbeth, Noises Off, The Book of Luke, The Taming of the Shrew, Ernest in Love, As You Like It, Tartuffe, Romeo and Juliet, Much Ado About Nothing, Into the Woods, The Book of Will, and most recently Something Rotten!. As a director, Meaghan has worked with Artsview Children's Theatre (Fiddler on the Roof, The Wizard of Oz), Kilgore College (The Laramie Project, Good Kids, Ada and the Engine), and made her TSF directorial debut with 2018's production of 110 in the Shade. Meaghan is a certified adjudicator with the Texas Theatre Adjudicators and Officials serving as a judge for UIL One Act Play competitions every spring. In 2021, she won East Texas’ 40 Under Forty award in the category of Music and Performing Arts by ETX View Magazine and in 2022 she was honored with the Shining Star of Kilgore award by the Kilgore Chamber of Commerce.
Associate Artistic Director/
Director of Development
Matthew's directing credits on TSF’s mainstage include The Taming of the Shrew, As You Like It, Love’s Labour’s Lost, It’s A Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play, A Christmas Carol Radio Play, and assistant director to the late great Stephen Terrell on Rodgers and Hammerstein's Carousel. For the TSF Roadshow he has directed productions of Hamlet, Julius Caesar, Macbeth, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Romeo & Juliet, The Taming of the Shrew, three adaptations of Shakespeare’s Greatest Hits. Other directing credits include: The Black Box Theater in Minnesota, Theatre Longview, and numerous productions at Kilgore College where he serves as a member of the Theatre Faculty. As an actor Matthew has performed in over a dozen plays for TSF as well as productions with the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis, Denver Center Theatre Company, Chamber Theater Productions of Boston, the Richmond Shepard Theater in NYC, and multiple seasons with the Shakespeare Theatre of NJ and the Delaware REP. Matthew serves regularly as a panelist for the Texas Commission on the Arts to evaluate projects that enhance education and economic development through the arts. He holds a M.F.A degree in acting from the University of Delaware and is a graduate of the American Musical and Dramatic Academy in New York City.
John is an East Texas native and calls Kilgore his home. He attended Kilgore College and received his Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Houston-Clear Lake. John has performed in over twenty-five plays, including Festival productions of Much Ado About Nothing, Man of La Mancha, Romeo and Juliet, and 1776 and has designed lights for productions at Kilgore College, the University of Houston-Clear Lake, the Longview Ballet Theatre and the Houston Shaw Festival. To celebrate the 75th anniversary of the East Texas Oilfield, John was privileged to direct The Daisy Bradford 3. He continues to believe that the Festival has the power to improve the quality of life in East Texas; is awed by the exceptionally talented theatre artists that have called TSF home; amazed by the giving and gracious friends of the Texas Shakespeare Festival Foundation and Guild, the unbelievably supportive community, and the unwavering commitment of Kilgore College. John is proud of his association with an organization that continues to enrich the cultural identity of the East Texas community and thankful to be able to work with such intelligent, talented, kind, and giving people as Raymond Caldwell, Matthew Simpson and Meaghan Simpson.
MEET THE FOUNDER
Raymond Caldwell, founder of the Texas Shakespeare Festival, worked for Kilgore College for 42 years, serving as the chairman of the Theatre Department for 25 of those years and as Director of the Fine Arts Division from 1983-1990. In 1992 and 1995, he was the Kilgore College nominee for the Minnie Stevens Piper Outstanding Professor Award, and in 1995, he was the first recipient of the Hamilton F. and Kathryn G. Beeson teaching award. Before coming to Kilgore College he taught drama, speech, French and English at Kilgore High School, and from 1970-1976 he was an Assistant Professor of Speech and Drama at Ouachita University in Arkadelphia, Arkansas, his undergraduate alma mater. He has directed more than 100 productions including the TSF première of The Daisy Bradford 3 in 1986, Tartuffe in 1989, The Glass Menagerie in 2004, The Miracle Worker in 2005, which was invited by the World Institute of Theatre and Film to perform at Peking University in Beijing, China, in 2005, The Foreigner in 2013, Noises Off in 2014, and The Belle of Amherst in 2014 and 2015. From 2008 to 2011 he served as one of the international adjudicators for the Chinese Universities Shakespeare Festival held in Hong Kong. In 2007 he retired from teaching to work full-time as the director of the Festival. He has been honored as an “outstanding graduate” by both Benton High School and the University of North Texas. In 2012 he directed a reprise of his adaptation of The Book of Luke as a TSF fundraiser starring Meaghan and Matthew Simpson. He holds a master’s degree in theatre from the University of North Texas and has studied with Kristin Linklater and Shakespeare and Company in Lenox, Massachusetts. He is married to Anna Waldron, speech instructor at Kilgore College, and they have one son, Brent, who is an attorney in Houston.
Associate Artistic Director/Director of Development