For Meaghan and Matthew Simpson, a move to Kilgore six years ago meant a simpler life filled with the drama they love as staff members of the Texas Shakespeare Festival.
The festival is one of the City of Stars’ biggest hits, with this year’s season kicking off June 27 and ending July 28. The Simpsons have been on staff with the festival since they moved to Kilgore in 2013. Now, married with two children, the couple have adjusted from big city living to their “perfect for us” life in Kilgore.
While the festival showcases classic, Shakespearian plays, Meaghan said that, “Even though you may know the stories or have seen the plays before, you can be at a different point in your life; you could be a new parent, have experienced a death or heartbreak, and it can speak to you on a different level.”
Meaghan is originally from a suburb of Chicago, but moved around the Northeast area throughout her college years.
Today, she is the associate casting director for the festival, having graduated with her Master of Fine Arts from the University of Delaware Professional Theatre Training Program. This is where the acting magic happened, when Meaghan met her now husband, Matthew.
Matthew, originally from Minnesota, is the director of development for the festival and graduated from the same university with the same degree.
Together, the couple moved from New York City, where they were members of the Musical and Dramatic Academy, to
Kilgore when the festival was offered a grant through the Texas Shakespeare Foundation.
“Being introverts and homebodies, having a quick commute to work and a simpler lifestyle allows us to focus on the work we get to do with the festival and spend time with our families. That was a lovely change for us,” Matthew said.
When asked what they were most excited for this year, they agreed that having many returning company members allows them to better understand the cast.
“We are able to jump into work in a deeper level,” Matthew said. Since they are returning members, they all know each other already and better know their acting habits.
“We are very lucky to get to do what we love,” Meaghan said. “It’s a privilege.”
Matthew and Meaghan agreed that they, and the festival, have been so successful because of the community. The Texas Shakespeare Festival allows East Texans to explore classical theater presented by renowned performers.
“You can feel the audience’s appreciation from the stage,” Meaghan said.
Every year, the dynamic duo participate in the plays, choosing to either to act or direct. This year, Matthew has decided to direct while Meaghan plays the witch in the Festival’s premier musical, “Into the Woods.”
After many requests for the festival to feature a musical, they decided that “Into the Woods,” a 1986 musical adapted for film in 2014, would be perfect for the City of Stars in the heart of the Pineywoods.