Bards of Birmingham was launched by Laura Coulter in 2008 as the Cahaba Valley Players. The goal was to offer an opportunity to all young people in the greater Birmingham area to engage in classical theatre - especially Shakespeare - regardless of the actors' background in theatre (or lack thereof) or their economic situation. For two years, the Cahaba Valley Players enjoyed a home in North Shelby County. In 2010, the Cahaba Valley Players was re-constituted as the Bards of Birmingham and moved to Birmingham proper, in the city of Eastlake.
Currently, Bards of Birmingham functions nomadically, performing at whichever space in the city of Birmingham seems most appropriate to the given production.
Bards of Birmingham is under the direction of Executive Director Laura Coulter, who is at the artistic helm of the organization. The organizational operations are all orchestrated by the Bards Board of Directors, which is led by President Pam Walston.
The primary goal of Bards of Birmingham remains unchanged from its inception: to empower young people through the experience of Shakespearian theatre, in the staging of high-quality productions. Bards believes that young people are capable of truly extraordinary artistic feats, limited only by the scope of their imagination. We also believe that Shakespeare is for everyone - for children, teenagers, and adults; rich, poor and middle class; urban and suburban; educated and uneducated; theatre-lovers and theatre novices.
Bards strives to keep theatre accessible by keeping participation costs for actors low and offering scholarships whenever economic challenges might prevent a young person from participation.
Bards of Birmingham is divided into a Junior and Senior division, in order to provide younger actors the opportunity to enjoy significant roles. The Junior Division is comprised of actors in grades kindergarten - 8th grade, and performs one classic Renaissance-style Shakespeare play each year.
The Senior division is comprised of actors 9th grade - age 25, and tackles the more difficult or challenging Shakespearian plays, often covering new ground or exploring a new perspective. For example, in January, 2012, the Senior Division showcased Shakespeare's "Richard III" in the context of urban street warfare. In 2014, Bards of Birmingham staged "Orpheus Goes to Hadestown," a radically re-imagined re-telling of the Greek myth of Orpheus and Eurydice.
Beginning participation with the Bards is easy - simply audition for a play! If there isn't a place for you in a production, it's possible you may find a home with the "Bards in a Box," the mobile showcase team of Bards of Birmingham. The Bards are always busy, and always looking for excited young people to be a part of our exciting mission!
The Bards of Birmingham is a non-profit, tax-exempt, charitable organization under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code.