Media: see Press Releases at bottom of page.

The Iowa Shakespeare Experience!

Central Iowa's Authoritative Producing Shakespeare Company

Stacy Keach
An Evening With
Stacy Keach
Stacy Keach


A terrific sold out event!


See event details and
interview transcript below.


ISE supports World Class Art:


On April 9 2011,

The Iowa Shakespeare Experience presented:




                       - MR. STACY KEACH -

The leading Shakespearean Actor

in America today!


(MEDIA:  Scroll to Press Packet, below)


Quotes from Keach Event Attendees: 


LM says: "The Stacy Keach event was just PERFECT!"


 JB says: "SO proud to be an ISE supporter - the Keach event was a real class act!"


Mike Cornelison says: "(The Keach event) effectively shifted the persona of The Shakespeare Experience from just one among a group of well-intentioned, struggling local theater companies to a position of a viable civic institution. 

You could feel it."

THE STORY: The premiere outdoor theatre festival of Iowa's Captial, Shakesperience Fest, is a rollicking, robust festival that runs for 4 months out of the year with a wide variety of special events, educational lectures and workshops, youth camps, and of course - parties and celebrations fit for a King!  Each year, the bulk of Festival activities kick off in -of course- Shakespeare's Birthday Month (April) ...and run thru Midsummer.  All events culminate in ISE's cornerstone event:  Metro Des Moines' annual "Shakesperience Fest" - central Iowa's primary soure of regularly-produced, free professional theatre. 

The ISE is a multiple Bravo Award winner, and Bravo's aim is to bring "world-class" arts to the Des Moines area.  ISE shares that aim with Bravo.  And true to that aim, each year ISE strives to kick off Spring Festival Season in fine fashion.  To kick off Festival Season  2010, the ISE produced that April America's oldest national traveling Shakespeare troupe, The National Players.  In 2009, Artistic Director Lorenzo Sandoval had the great privelege of introducing the internationally-ronouned Aquilla traveling Shakespeare troupe, and facilitating pre-show discussion at Iowa State University.  So, in 2011, how did the ISE top these wonderful events?

Mayor Cownie, ISE's Lorenzo Sandoval & Golden
Globe winner Stacy Keach chat Shakespeare 

Thanks to the keen generosity of the community and its leaders, here's how: By producing a one-of-a-kind world premiere featuring THE leading Shakespearean Actor in Amerca: Golden Globe winning movie-star, Mr. Stacy Keach!

(Happy Birthday William - -- -indeed!)

Hosted by one of our community's most well respected leaders, Mr. Suku Radia( CEO of Bankers Trust; also an ISE Founding Trustee) the evening unveiled for many the key accomplishments of the ISE since our founding merely two short seasons ago, and provided an opportunity to discuss the many reasons why Festival-style Free Theatre is important to our community.  But the "dessert" of the evening was a simply outstanding, truly unforgettable and very intimate performance generously donated by a Shakespearean Actor who links all the way back to the inimitable Joeseph Papp in Shakespearean theatrical lore. 

 On Saturday, April 9, 2o11, a sold-out house of top-tier Des Moines Business and Cultural leaders joined the Mayor of the City of Des Moines, former Governor Bob Ray, ISE Founding Trustee and former First Lady Mrs. Billie Ray, and select ISE Actors, while Mr. Radia and  ISE Artistic Director Lorenzo Sandoval presented a once-in-a-lifetime evening of staged reading performance by this lauded stage talent who has been called "the finest American classical Actor since John Barrymore."  (New York Times).

The script used for the evening was created personally by Stacy Keach, and premiered as part of this event.  Mr. Keach has already expressed interest in working with the ISE to explore further development for this script, likely on the national scene.  He's also promised to make a return visit to Des Moines, especially to be present for Shakesperience Festival Mainstage!

Keach_at_podium.jpgDesigned to be a deliberately intimate affair that could stimulate community conversation about the important community role filled by the Metro's free Shakespeare Festival, the event was accompanied by significant press, including a prominent Business Record pictoral review (April 22 issue) and also a dedicated Op Ed piece pubiished in the April 8 edition of the Business Record.  In tandem with this event, the Business Record editorial identified the various measurable community development outcomes that are fostered by Shakespeare Festivals.   Media can find a press release of this information below, along with and a Q and A interview with Mr. Keach.  Beth Dalbey, former editor of the Business Record AND Cityview AND dsm magazine conducted the interview.

"What Iowa Shakespeare Experience is doing is great!", said Stacy Keach in his interview with Ms. Dalbey a few days prior to the event. "Shakespeare should be free."  In the same interview (full transcript below) this lauded Classicist also explicitly supported  adaptive and directorial techniques routinely used by Iowa Shakespeare to modernize scripts and make Shakespeare's work more accessible to today's audiences.

The April 9 event featured a multi-course gourmet dinner served in elegant, Shakespearean-style  surroundings (see photos below) - -complete with huge stone fireplace and magnificent Rennaissance Tapestries.  Thanks to the generosity and talent of ISE donor Stuart Alexander and One Source events, the space was transformed into an English Spring garden with masses of all-white flowers such as hydrangae, paperwhite, and narrcissus and tulip, along with towering boughs of flowering crabapple branches - - all set on shimmering gold cloths with huge candlelabra centerpieces.  ISE Executive Director Robin Heinemann and festival and events legend Karrie Weinhardt and her talented events team did a wonderful job of coordinating the many, many details.

Kids_and_Keach.jpgThe event provided a collaborative opportunity for Des Moines's "Connecting Kids and Culture" program, which sent a delegation of Theatre Club students.  Seats for Theatre Artists were underwritten by an Anonymous Donor.  Classical Harpist Mary Foss provided dinner music, and the treat of the evening was Mr. Keach's staged presentation, set on an elevated stage equipped with professional lighting from ISE's own Jake Hines. The evening concluded with a robust question and answer period.  As such a young organizaiton to be working with such a major star, many expressed enthusiastic congratuations to The Iowa Shakespeare Experience for a genuinely choice evening.

Keach_Lorenzo_at_podium.jpgA CHANCE TO LEARN: Another feature of the evening was a presentation given by ISE Artistic Director Lorenzo Sandoval, MFA, concerning the community-development outcomes created by the presence of a Shakespeare Festival.  Des Moines' noted community leaders had a chance to hear specific Festival outcome data.

Said Lorenzo later in the evening:  "The opportunity to rehearse by day with Mr. Keach -and then to showcase his work on an ISE stage tonight --was truly a once-in-a-lifetime dream come true." He continued:  "I was so happy to share this evening with supportive theatre colleagues as well as with such an extraordinary group of community members and our visionary Board - - all of whom have been effusive in their appreciation and delight of this extraordinary night."

Keach flew to Des Moines for this event from the West Coast, where he was in the middle of making his latest feature film.  Because of the uncertainties of the movie schedule, the event had to be planned on an unsually short and flexible timeline- a testament to the skills of the many team members in charge of coordinating, planning and executing the event and the show.  Perhaps the "Flawless" execution that many attendees percieved in the event was due the the way in which all involved in the show respected the theatre traditions around what is said -and UNsaid- about "The Scottish Play" !  At any rate, while working to rehearse the show with ISE leaders, Keach told about his own personal experiences with that particular theatre tradition - - and sure enough, on this special night in Des Moines,the name of the Scottish play's lead character was never spoken!

SURPRISE! A very special component of the evening was the surprise announcment of Shakesperience Festival's inaugural Silver Level summer show sponsor, the Davis-Brown law firm.  Shouts of "Bravo" filled the air as dinner guests reacted to the great news. Thank you Davis Brown!  An additional 19 businesses and corporations supported the Keach event with event  sponsorships or other contributions, and yet another 44 individuals and young professionals provided financial contributions as Special Patrons.  In terms of general admissions, about 200 general  tickets at the $200 entry level charge were sold. Famed community leader  Suku Radia  served as Honorary Host and MC, and 15 outstanding community leaders served on the event committee in addition to 15 members of the ISE Board groups. 

SOLD OUT! The event was not advertised to the general public due to space limitations and the need to work flexibly around a volatile movie schedule, although several pre-show press stories brought the attention of the public to this event.  Said Robin Heinemann, ISE Executive Director:  "Each time we had a press piece published, people would hunt down information about how to call us to inqure about tickets - a true testimony to how beloved this particular Actor is.  We accomodated everyone we could! Mr. Keach is not merely our generation's great American Shakespearean Actor -who directly links back to the famous Joeseph Papp -but he is such a movie, television and radio show favorite, between Mike Hammer and scores of TV appearances - - he is even an underground cult figure to Gen X and other younger professionals for very special projects he has done.  As the quote about Stacy goes: Stacy Keach is not just a star, he is a constellation!"

Photos of the event have been prominently published in the Business Record and will likely also appear in summer's dsm magazine. 

Thank you Stacy Keach!  Your friends and fans here in Des Moines whole-heartedly agree with the famous Washington Post quote about you and your career:  "If Keach were British, he'd have been knighted!"

 - - - Information continues below with Media Packet, Press Releases and Live Interview Q & A - -

ISE's Lorenzo Sandoval presenting "Shakesperience Fest" outcomes
to sold-out room of community leaders.

Thank you Mr. Suku Radia & Mr. Stacy Keach!






NEWS RELEASE, SIDEBAR plus Stacy Keach Interview Q & A

For additional information, contact:

Robin Heinemann, Executive Director

Iowa Shakespeare Experience


Shakespearean actor Stacy Keach to tell Des Moines leaders why Shakespeare festivals are good business

April 9 Des Moines visit finds Actor sharing what Iowa Shakespeare Experience is doing right! 

            DES MOINES, Iowa – Attracting an actor of Stacy Keach’s stature for an intimate dinner with arts lovers and business leaders reveals a cultural competency that Des Moines leaders say is key to growing knowledge-based businesses and attracting top talent.

            That’s one topic Keach, one of the most celebrated and respected Shakespearean actors in the country, addressed on a unique visit to Des Moines on Saturday, April 9, 2011 during the Iowa Shakespeare Experience’s “An Evening With Stacy Keach,” at the Des Moines Scottish Rite Masonic Center, 519 Park Street. A cocktail reception at 6:45 p.m. was followed by dinner at 7:30.            

  •  “Industries that are growing in today’s economy are knowledge-based industries, and it’s all about getting the best talent,” said attorney Steven Zumbach, one of the spark plugs behind a quality-of-life initiative launched a decade ago that recognizes development of Greater Des Moines’ cultural resources as a key economic development tool.

            “Having a rich offering of culture and arts in the communities is a key attractor to that talent,” Zumbach said. “It’s just essential, for us as a community to grow and prosper, that we offer a rich and wide diversity of cultural activities, and this one certainly fits in that category.”

            The actor came to Des Moines at the invitation of Suku Radia at no cost to Iowa Shakespeare Experience. Keach’s appearance shows how leaders can use their social and business capital to contribute to the city’s cultural index.

            “Iowa Shakespeare Experience is a young organization doing a fine job. They’re very passionate about Shakespeare, and I’m happy to help,” Radia said, explaining he understands the financial challenges faced by organizations offering free admission to their events.  “I’m very mindful of the fact that they want to want to bring free Shakespeare to everyone in this region, and that they’re not designed for only a particular segment of the population.”

            Radia became friends with Keach in 2008, after Radia stepped in as a fourth for golf when Keach was starring in “Frost/Nixon” at the Civic Center of Greater Des Moines. They have remained close friends since, and over a bottle of wine at a Greek restaurant in New York last year, Radia asked Keach if he would be willing to come to Des Moines to help raise money for Iowa Shakespeare Experience.

            Keach enthusiastically said yes, he would be thrilled to come to Des Moines to not only raise money for the fledgling organization, but also articulate his strong support for the cultural value and importance of free festivals.

            “What the Iowa Shakespeare Experience is doing is great,” Keach said in a telephone interview held a few days before the event. “Shakespeare should be free. Shakespeare belongs to the masses – belongs to everyone – and everyone should have the benefit, regardless of their financial station or social station, regardless of their race or gender, regardless of their ability to buy a ticket.”

            Keach believes that a community that does not have a Shakespeare presence lacks “a cultural understanding, not only of themselves – because I really believe Shakespeare was the primary writer in the English language who conveyed a sense of understanding of humanity – but also a perspective on the past or the present, where we have come to and how our lives are measured by these great parts he wrote.”

            Shakespeare’s verses have endured time, but Keach supports theatrical productions that present the playwright in the context of modern times and in contemporary vernacular. That’s a technique often employed in Iowa Shakespeare Experience’s annual summer productions.

            “Shakespeare needs to come alive in today’s world,” Keach said. “It’s not difficult to do that, to find a way of conveying the dialogue and verse to make it sound as though it is today’s language. If you begin to approach Shakespeare as antiquated and of the past, you’re starting with two strikes against you.

            “Also, I believe that when certain passages are so archaic there is no way for them to be understood by a modern audience, that you can cut it,” he said. “There is enough that is pertinent and relevant that getting rid of some of those archaic lines is a good thing.” (See full Q&A.)

            The broker in Saturday’s conversation with Keach, Radia has more than a passing interest in Shakespeare. Growing up under the influence of the British educational system in Uganda, “if you didn’t know Shakespeare, you were not educated in English literature,” he said. “For Macbeth, I had to memorize it from top to bottom, measure by measure, including punctuation. Answering provocative questions, you had to defend the answer with parts and pieces of the play. What was he trying to say?”

            Such critical analysis of Shakespeare’s work is still relevant today, Radia believes. “For a community to be whole, you need Shakespeare,” he said. “If you don’t have Shakespeare, you don’t have robust community theatre.

            “From a pure community standpoint, when trying to attract executives, talking about the arts is very important,” he said. “We don’t want to forget the whole art of theatre, Shakespeare and the way these plays are performed by true actors and actresses. Whether it’s a professional performance of Shakespeare or any of these other things that allow people to congregate, feel good and have a great time, it’s about community.”

            Studies by the National Endowment for the Arts and, locally, the Bravo Greater Des Moines cultural alliance, support free festivals as gateways to the arts with seasonal economic development potential for the communities that host them (see sidebar story).

            MD Isley, executive director of Bravo Greater Des Moines, said the studies show that festivals offer a strong introduction to cultural arts for many people.

            “So many are free, making it accessible to everyone, and oftentimes providing great entertainment and education,” he said. “These are family-and-friend culture, and they amplify arts and culture in an area. Iowa Shakespeare Experience, especially, is doing a good job with high-quality free festivals, and this kind of programming is continuing to grow in the Greater Des Moines area.”







Stacy Keach

The following is based on a telephone interview with Stacy Keach conducted by professional journalist Beth Dalbey of Des Moines and may be used by the media in part or in entirety. The interview and related story was published in the Des Moines Business Record on April 8, 2011.


Q: Without a Shakespeare presence, what is a community lacking?

A: If they don’t have the pleasure and benefit of Shakespeare, primarily what they are lacking is a cultural understanding, not only of themselves – because I really believe Shakespeare was the primary writer in the English language who conveyed a sense of understanding of humanity – but also a perspective on the past or the present, where we have come to and how our lives are measu red by these great parts he wrote.


Q: What can we expect from you in Des Moines?

A: What the Iowa Shakespeare Experience is doing is great. Shakespeare should be free. I strongly support it, and my primary reason for coming to Des Moines is to articulate that support, and also entertain the troops.


I’ll be reading Shakespeare, obviously, and answering any questions about my career, the various roles I’ve played and my approach to various roles. I’ll do some readings of parts I’ve played. I’ve subdivided my talk into two themes: love and revenge. Revenge is a wonderful theme I love with Shakespeare. There are so many wonderful plays based in one or the other, or both. I’ll even read some female parts – Juliet – and some comedy, a smattering of things based on parts I’ve played.


In the past, I’ve focused on speeches that deal with time and death, but I’m in a more positive place now.


Q: Why do you believe so strongly in free Shakespeare festivals?

A: I started with the New York Shakespeare Festival when Joseph Papp was offering the first real performances of Shakespeare in America. He was a guiding light in New York, and often said that Shakespeare belongs to the masses, belongs to everyone, and everyone should have the benefit regardless of their financial station or social station, regardless of their race or gender, regardless of their ability to buy a ticket. He felt it should be something for all of us, that Shakespeare is a great gift to the world and should be accessible to everyone regardless of their ability to buy a ticket, and I agree.


Q: Do you have a favorite role?

A: Not really. I’m in the midst of King Lear. I’ve done it twice, and will probably do it again in the next couple of years. One of my favorites is Richard the Third, but Hamlet and Falstaff (Sir John Falstaff in Henry IV) are equals. The Scottish Guy (Macbeth) is probably the most difficult in the canon. The actor who plays him has to be mindful that the the lady opposite him will steal the thunder. The actor will do all the work, and she gets all the glory.


Q: You’ve had a diverse acting career. What makes you gravitate toward Shakespeare?

A: I’ve always gravitated toward Shakespeare, ever since college. My first experience with Shakespeare was when I played Henry the Fifth, Banquo (Macbeth) and Mercutio (Romeo and Juliet) and I thought I’d died and gone to heaven. I was able to express myself in a different way. I went to England on a Fulbright to study at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art to enhance m knowledge, and when I came back to the United States, I played Coriolanus, my first Falstaff, Edmund (King Lear) and Lear. Shakespeare has dominated my theatrical work, which is not to say I haven’t enjoyed doing other things. If I could afford it and had the opportunity to do nothing but Shakespeare, I would be content. I would be happy.


Q. Shakespeare is sometimes criticized as being archaic and difficult to understand in today’s context. What can be done to stimulate interest?

A: The bottom line is, directors, actors and producers, especially directors and actors, have to be mindful of the fact that Shakespeare needs to come alive in today’s world. It’s not difficult to do that, to find a way of conveying the dialogue and verse to make it sound as though it is today’s language. If you begin to approach Shakespeare as antiquated and of the past, you’re starting with two strikes against you.


There are ways to make it come alive today without violating the integrity of the language. Shaw referred to Shakespeare as word music, and there are Shakespearean companies today that are doing some of his plays vis-à-vis rap, vis-à-vis hip-hop. Some of it works, some of it doesn’t. Imagination is the key.


We’ve talked about how to express Lear so it’s understood in today’s world, and decided to set it in Eastern Europe around the time of Ceacescu because of the barbaric quality that is very much a part of that era. Shakespeare set it in the medieval times, and we set it in the 1970s, and technically, it works great. We discovered a modern idiom in which to express the play and how it applies in the modern ways.


This is an Orson Welles concept. His Julius Caesar was set in the Caribbean, in Barbados, with all of this voodoo. His work is a testament to that, and he expressed the behavior in a way that it didn’t seem antiquated or foreign, and kept the integrity of the language of the play.


Also, I believe that when certain passages are so archaic there is no way for them to be understood by a modern audience, that you can cut it. There is enough that is pertinent and relevant that getting rid of some of those archaic lines is a good thing.


Q: Any other thoughts?

A: I’m looking forward to returning to Des Moines, and I’m very optimistic that we can raise lots of money and keep free Shakespeare going there.




National Endowment for the Arts, Bravo surveys reveal economic power of outdoor arts festivals like Iowa Shakespeare Experience’s annual free festival

For further information, Contact Robin Heinemann, Executive Director, The Iowa Shakespeare Experience,; 515 274 8989


          DES MOINES, Iowa – A late 2010 study on the community impact of festivals by the National Endowment for the Arts underscores preliminary survey information from a 2010 Bravo Greater Des Moines initiative to create a plan for its work of supporting the city’s growing arts scene. Outdoor festivals attract a range of audiences, are a gateway to greater involvement in the arts, and enhance their communities as “creative placemakers” that foster economic development, the NEA study found.

            The national study, “Live from Your Neighborhood: A National Study of Outdoor Festivals,” completed in October was the first ever of its kind to study the growing phenomenon of arts festivals and look at informal arts participation. Conducted by AMS Planning and Research for the Arts and Entertainment Industries, preliminary data from a 2010 intercept survey by the Bravo Greater Des Moines cultural alliance also found strong support among the local public specifically for outdoor festivals and fairs.  

            The NEA survey analyzed data from 1,413 outdoor festivals in nearly every state and Washington, D.C., and reflects a cross-section of outdoor arts festivals in artistic disciplines such as music, visual arts and crafts, dance, folk and traditional arts, theatre, literature and film. Seven case studies profiled a variety of outdoor festivals in large and small communities.  Among the key findings of the NEA study:

  • Outdoor arts festivals are “creative placemakers” that are integrated into broad community goals. More than half of the festivals surveyed (59 percent) have occurred in their host communities for 10 years or more. Outdoor festivals are small-town affairs, with most festivals (77 percent) occurring in towns with fewer than 250,000 residents and 39 percent of these in towns with fewer than 10,000 people. The study also found that Festivals foster civic pride plus education, employment and volunteer opportunities to residents of the host communities.
  • Most festivals have strong public-private partnerships, with 88 percent receiving support from corporate sponsors, foundations, or local, state or federal government.
  • Additionally, the case studies note that successful outdoor arts festivals present special challenges that require working partnerships with local governments and public agencies.
  • Outdoor arts festivals have diverse art forms and audiences. Outdoor arts festival audiences are more representative of the U.S. population than audiences for other types of art activities. In general, Hispanic and African American audiences account for a higher percentage of audiences at outdoor arts festivals than at most “benchmark” arts activities, such as jazz or classical music concerts, operas, plays, ballet or museums.
  • Outdoor arts festivals are a gateway to the arts. Audiences also said that they discovered art they would not have sought out on their own suggesting that outdoor arts festivals are a bridge to new kinds of arts attendance. Many outdoor arts festivals share characteristics that make them appealing to audiences. Most festivals are free (59 percent). Many festivals present high-quality, curated arts programming for audiences. Most outdoor arts festivals (64 percent) feature arts education opportunities.
  • In the case studies, audiences said they liked the informal, family friendly setting where they can talk directly with participating artists.

            To read the full NEA report, go to:

            Key findings in the preliminary Bravo Greater Des Moines intercept survey conducted with Greater Des Moines residents:

  • When asked how they would recommend metro governments support arts, culture and heritage, “youth programs” (67 percent) and “outdoor fairs and festivals” (63 percent) were the top two recommended recipients. Another 42 percent recommended that theatre performances receive more public support.
  • When presented with a list of 18 choices of cultural events they’re most interested in, Metro residents ranked “stage plays”  No. 1. In fact, fully half of all respondents said they were most interested in theatre presentations.
  • When asked how many times they attended an outdoor fair or festival in Greater Des Moines over the past 12 months, 85 percent answered in the affirmative, compared with 20 percent who had attended a program or event at an art museum, and about a third of all respondents who said they had visited heritage sites as a leisure activity.

            Robin Heinemann, Executive Director of Iowa Shakespeare Experience, a nonprofit group that offers a free Shakespeare festival every summer, said that both the NEA study the Bravo Greater Des Moines survey validate the organization’s mission.

            “Today is a time when free services are most needed – but paradoxically most difficult for a non-profit to provide,” Heinemann said. “So we are deeply encouraged that our focus both on youth programs and theatre puts us so squarely in line with the public’s priorities.

            “We know we fill a unique void – our city has a wonderful array of free professional concerts and galleries, but little if any regular access to free professional theatre. Our metro lags in this area behind our sister cities like Omaha and Kansas City, where there’s been free festival Shakespeare for decades.”

            Heinemann said Iowa Shakespeare Experience would be unable to address the void without strong support from Bravo Greater Des Moines, the city of Des Moines and the generosity of corporations doing business in the metro.

            “With these public and private partnerships, The Iowa Shakespeare Experience can continue to provide humanity’s most famous and insightful stories for purposes of enrichment, tourism and economic development,” Heinemann said. “Moreover, we deliberately use ‘color-blind’ casting that makes our shows ‘look like’ the diversity of Des Moines, and attendees frequently say we inspire them to seek out more Shakespeare. Since the Bard leads into virtually all the arts  – opera, symphony, ballet, paintings and more – we know we also foster broader involvement by a broader audience across our entire community’s incredible arts scene. We’re proud to be a growing economic engine that simultaneously touches hearts and minds with world-class plays.”

            MD Isley, executive director of Bravo Greater Des Moines, said the studies show that festivals offer a strong introduction to cultural arts for many people. “So many are free, making them accessible to everyone, and oftentimes providing great entertainment and education,” he said. “These are family-and-friend culture, and they amplify arts and culture in an area. Iowa Shakespeare Experience, especially, is doing a good job with high-quality free festivals, and this kind of programming is continuing to grow in the Greater Des Moines area.”