Category Archives: Culture

“Show me the money” – Hoosier Shakes contribution to economic growth and development

How can a pay-what-you-will theatre company like Hoosier Shakes engage in economic development? Great question. Certainly not by investing in buildings or property.

Hoosier Shakes does, however, intentionally find ways to help bolster economic development by drawing attention to some wonderful outdoor and other beautiful spaces. Hoosier Shakes devotes at least one week each summer to providing performances in the downtown Marion area. First, we stormed the 3rd Street Courtyard and later the Grant County Family YMCA. We sought to bring life to a seemingly abandoned part of our city where the shops and businesses closed up shop and “rolled up the sidewalks” around dinnertime. That was then; now times are a-changin’. Downtown Marion is undergoing a bit of a renaissance and Hoosier Shakes looks forward to playing our part(s). As long as Hoosier Shakes is around, we’ll devote part of our season to reinvigorating downtown spaces in the Marion area.

Hoosier Shakes @ the 3rd Street Courtyard in 2016
Hoosier Shakes @ God’s House in 2017 & 2018

Hoosier Shakes also intentionally partners with local businesses and organizations to draw attention to Grant and Wabash Counties. By partnering with the Grant County Visitors Bureau, we’ve connected with restaurants such as Payne’s in Gas City, The Bridge in Upland, The Branch and Grains and Grill in Fairmount, Chapman’s Taproom in Wabash, and Folkies’ Tavern and The Abbey in Marion, among others, to encourage our patrons to eat and shop locally.

Hoosier Shakes also partners with College Inn Bed & Breakfast (Marion) and Haisely’s Hide-A-Way (Fairmount) to provide opportunities for lodging for our out-of-town guests.

Mississinewa 1812 provided free tickets for Hoosier Shakes to give away during performances to call attention to the annual reenactment of a local War of 1812 battle in Grant County. Our desire was to call attention to their good work and encourage our patrons to become their patrons as well.

Hoosier Shakes sponsors “meet and greets” where locals could meet and greet the cast during our season. We are always grateful to The Abbey Coffee Company and Folkies Tavern for their generous hospitality.

And we are always open to more ideas for partnering with local businesses and organizations. If you are a local business or work for one, let us know how Hoosier Shakes might partner with you.

Hoosier Shakes @ the YMCA (2017 & 2018)

Hoosier Shakes: on-the-job training for young actors

I spent a significant portion of my life teaching undergraduate college students the discipline and practice of theatre in some relatively remote areas, remote with respect to New York City, Chicago, and Los Angeles.

I struggled with training young artists and practitioners whose hopes and dreams of making it in the business of show was extremely different if not impossible.

So, one of Hoosier Shakes’ pillars is to offer students on-the-job training with professional actors. The net result allows students to rise to the occasion and “hold their own” up against more seasoned actors and directors. A wonderful side benefit to this on-the-job training if the relationships and networks students are able to develop with professionals from across the country. A couple of our past professionals have worked on national Broadway tours or on the American Shakespeare Center’s Blackfriars stage.

As I’ve written elsewhere,

“During our 2016 season, senior theatre major Beverly Wagner was cast as part of the company. Beverly struggled as an actor in her university’s theatre program, but one of the two professional directors saw something in her audition that compelled him to cast her as Feste in Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night. She grew exponentially as a performer over the three and one half weeks of rehearsals. Audiences were drawn to Feste and after each performance were surprised to learn that the actor was a student performer. Beverly grew more in three and one half weeks than she did the previous three years in her undergraduate program. The opportunity Hoosier Shakes provided to work with professional directors and alongside more seasoned actors allowed her to succeed beyond expectations.”

Beverly Wagner as Feste in Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night (2016)

One student actor’s mother shared,

“My “Mom mind” thought, “Wow, his first paid gig in the field of acting. How exciting!” Little did I know that these weeks would be filled with so much more than just a “paid gig.”

“Austin moved to one of 3 homes rented for 12 actors who converged on our little community from across the US.

“These “strangers” became my son’s world for the past 6 weeks. They lived, breathed, loved, learned, ate, slept, sweat, cried, laughed and become as much “one” as twelve people can be.

“To each of these cast and crew members, THANK YOU! You have taken my breath, made me laugh heartily, and cry with raw emotion. These performances were truly remarkable! You are all truly remarkable!”

“It’s one thing to learn one’s craft from a class or textbook; it is something altogether different to learn your craft from a craftsman.”


Hoosier Shakes and Community

Hoosier Shakes is all about community. The arts, in general, have a way of breaking down barriers for people. When Marilyn and I were living in New York City a few years back, we would occasionally frequent the Museum of Modern Art. Admission was free on Fridays and you would find people from all walks of life. There would be executives on lunch break, young families with children, homeless folks, etc, all occupying the same space. I enjoyed watching people clamoring around Warhol’s Campbell’s Soup Cans or Vincent van Gogh’s Starry Night. Funny how everyone wanted a selfie with Starry Night. Try taking a selfie with dozens of strangers in the background. I suppose patrons were different on other days; the admission price would be prohibitive for many.

Hoosier Shakes’ Romeo, played by Deon Releford-Lee, swooning a patron. (2017)

Hoosier Shakes seeks to engage our community through accessible and entertaining experiences. Hoosier Shakes aims to make our performances completely accessible; many of the folks we’d like to reach with the Bard’s timely stories have little, if anything, to contribute to, much less really pay for, a ticket.

The Hoosier Shakes experience seeks to break down those barriers that separate us socially, economically, and culturally. From the moment folks arrive at a performance, they are drawn into the event through music, audience-actor interaction, and an a fair-like atmosphere. Everyone sees one another as fellow human beings rather than the categories with which they are identified and often stereotyped.

Hoosier Shakes’ patron during A Midsummer Night’s Dream. (2018) YCMA.

Hoosier Shakes intentionally seeks to provide that sort of Friday MoMA experience for the people of Grant and Wabash counties. At any given Hoosier Shakes performance, you are likely to find, young families with children, local businessmen and women, people of color, public servants, homeless folks, high school and college students, young and old alike. There is no attention give to our differences, only to our common bond around the theatre experience.

“You wanna go where people know the people are all the same” (Gary Portnoy and Judy Hart-Angelo).


Hoosier Shakes’ Twelfth Night crowd in the courtyard. (2016)

2017 Summer Rain Location Announced

Hoosier Shakes is pleased to announce our summer 2017 rain location in Marion will be God’s House (216 W 6th St, just three blocks south of our outdoor location at the 3rd Street Courtyard).

Performances will take place in God’s House in the event of, or threat of, inclement weather. According to Hoosier Shakes Technical Director Ryan Akers, ” We will typically make the call to relocate to our rain location around 4 PM for evening shows and 10:30 AM for Sunday matinees.”

Interior of God’s House

“God’s House has a very theatrical feel,” Hoosier Shakes Executive Director Greg Fiebig stated. “The space is reminiscent of an indoor theatre back in Shakespeare’s day, complete with a balcony and thrust staging.”

God’s House is happy to provide space to Hoosier Shakes. God’s House, the 2nd oldest church building in Marion, is committed to sharing space for a variety of community events. According to God’s House Intern Director TJ Thompson, “we basically use the building one day a week. It seems a shame not to make good use of the space. We’re excited to welcome Hoosier Shakes this summer.”

Hoosier Shakes will be performing Romeo and Juliet and Much Ado about Nothing in repertory Wednesday through Saturday evenings at 7:30 PM and Sunday afternoons at 2:00 PM July 19-30.

Hoosier Shakes performances are offered to the public on a Pay-What-You-Will basis. There is no cover charge and all ages are welcome.

For more information, visit or like and follow Hoosier Shakes on Facebook (


Hoosier Shakes uses Community Foundation grant to bring Shakespeare to Downtown Marion


Hoosier Shakes recently received a 5,000 grant from the Irving Family Endowment Fund through The Community Foundation of Grant County, Indiana, Inc. Thanks to this grant, Hoosier Shakes will able to produce Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet along with Much Ado about Nothing this summer at the 3rd Street Courtyard in downtown Marion July 19-23 and 26-30. Hoosier Shakes will also perform at the Charley Creek Gardens as part of the Wabash Arts Fest August 2-6

Project Information:

Marion, IN, Tuesday, January 31, 2017 — Executives at Hoosier Shakes have announced winning grant from the Community Foundations for a new season of shows just in time for upcoming Auditions. Such an outstanding achievement is yet another quality collaboration and the promise of good things to come. Greg Fiebig, executive Director for Hoosier Shakes praised the new initiative as exciting and is grateful for the Community Foundation’s grant program.

3StCourtyard“We’ve been waiting to see our second summer season take shape for quite some time,” Fiebig said in reaction to the news. “Obviously, this wait has been well worth it. This Grant will allow us to continue our “Pay What You Will” performances in downtown Marion, making Shakespeare accessible to everyone.”


This announcement comes on the heels of Hoosier Shakes’ Inaugural Season, Shakespeare Theatre Association membership, and Indiana Arts Commission Grant.

The mission of, Hoosier Shakes is a semi-professional, non-profit, repertory-style theatre that produces Shakespearean pieces and other original works. We seek to engage the audience through accessible and entertaining experiences. Thus, their clear enthusiasm for live Shakespeare in performance.

We hope that Romeo & Juliet and Much Ado about Nothing will also receive a thumbs-up from Grant County community, as we perform at the 3rd Street Courtyard this summer.

About Hoosier Shakes:

Founded in 2013, Hoosier Shakes is a unique initiative with goals to:

  • to vitalize the performance of Shakespeare and other drama for the diverse communities of Grant and Wabash Counties, Indiana by presenting inspiring, accessible, literate, experiential theatrical performance;
  • 2) to foster community and fellowship around the enterprise of theatre in outdoor and other beautiful spaces.
  • 3) to provide exceptional avenues for artists and audiences of all backgrounds to take part in recovering the joys of Shakespeare and live performance.image001

About Community Foundation of Grant County, Indiana, Inc.

The Community Foundation of Grant County, Indiana, Inc. is an advocate for local philanthropy and is dedicated to connecting people who care with causes that matter. An effective steward of the community’s charitable resources since 1984, the Foundation works with donors to establish charitable funds and supports non-profit organizations through a variety of grant-making efforts. The Community Foundation connects people, resources, and causes to promote sustainable impact towards the betterment of Grant County. Currently the Community Foundation holds over 300 different funds that benefit worthy charities and charitable causes in Grant County. For more information, please visit or call 765.662.0065.