In 1991 the Shakespeare Theatre Company, under Artistic Director Michael Kahn, initiated its annual Free For All performances in Washington, D.C.â€™s Rock Creek Park. Each year the Company performs a show free to the public, usually from a previous season. In 2009 the Free For All was moved indoors to Sidney Harman Hall, one of two theatres operated by the Shakespeare Theatre Company in downtown D.C. This more accessible location allows the Shakespeare Theatre Company to perform rain or shine, offer matinees, maintain the artistic excellence of the production and increase the overall number of Free For All performances.
The first Free For All production in 1991 was The Merry Wives of Windsor, starring Paul Winfield as Falstaff. More recent shows have included Much Ado about Nothing, A Midsummer Nightâ€™s Dream and Pericles. A Midsummer Nightâ€™s Dream, the Free For All production for 2005, traveled to the Aspen Instituteâ€™s Ideas Festival in Colorado that same summer.
The Shakespeare Theatre Company received The Washington Post Award for Distinguished Community Service in 1992 and the 1997 Public Humanities Award from the Humanities Council of Washington D.C. for the Free For All.