Alabama Shakespeare Festival - The Octagon
The Alabama Shakespeare Festival, located in Montgomery - Alabama's state capital - is the sixth largest Shakespeare festival in the world and attracts more than 300,000 annual visitors from all 50 states and over 60 countries.
The Alabama Shakespeare Festival (ASF), originally located in Anniston in an unairconditioned high school auditorium, was a summer theatre festival - plays ran for six weeks during summer months. When the Festival faced bankruptcy in the early 1980s, Board Member Carolyn Blount approached her husband with this problem: The State of Alabama was about to lose a great cultural asset if something was not done. Wynton Blount agreed to build a new home for ASF, set in a 250-acre park, if only the theatre would move to Montgomery. Mr. Blount christened the performing arts complex "The Carolyn Blount Theatre" in December 1985. After moving to Montgomery, ASF began year-round operations with more than 400 performances scheduled each year. Mr. Blount's gift of the theatre complex was the largest single donation in the history of American theatre. ASF has remained financially sound ever since - one of the few American theatres to do so. The Blounts currently serve on the ASF Board of Directors.
The $21.5 million Carolyn Blount Theatre, designed by Thomas Blount and Perry Pittman, is based on the theories of Andrea Palladio and houses two theatres (the 750-seat Festival Stage and the 225-seat Octagon), production shops, rehearsal halls, and administrative work spaces. More than one million bricks were used in building the complex, which contains more than 100,000 square feet of space. The late Russell Page, famed landscape architect, planned the English-style grounds and lake.