NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) - The 3-D printed, iron mesh amphitheater at One City on 28th & Charlotte is the new home of the Nashville Summer Shakespeare Festival.

What’s not new about the annual event is the woman behind it all, Denice Hicks, its heartbeat for 29 years.

The executive director and I had a delightful conversation on what was supposed to be a Thursday night performance.

It turned out to be the first rain-out of the season.

Such is the life of Shakespeare Under the Stars.

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Tracy Kornet: This is a spectacular date night.

Hicks: It's a great, cheap date night!

This Shakespeare is not snobby.

It isn't. You sit on blankets. You can wear your flip flops!

Reading Shakespeare as a kid, you struggle. To see it on stage? It's like a language all its own, and you finally get it!

That's the way it should be! It really should be. Our actors work hard making it sound really natural and owning the language as we say. It's the way Shakespeare is meant to be experienced--live and coming right at you.

What keeps you going all these years?

I was sort of born to this community service. So this is a great way for me to feel like I'm really giving this to the community, because it is for families. Everyone is welcome. So I really love offering this great gift to Nashville.

These actors are paid. This is a big deal to get this gig.

If each person puts $10 in our bucket, our expenses are fairly well covered.

It's a gift to have you in this role. So I want to say thank you to have you on behalf of this community.

I love the idea that theater can make a difference in one person. Then that person can go out and do more good in the world.

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Corporate support, community partners, and individual donations keep the show going on.

Next year Hicks will take the show on the road to five Tennessee counties.

She says she'd love to take the troupe to Stratford-Upon-Avon in England after that.

Summer Shakespeare runs at One City through September 22.

Performances are Thursdays through Sundays, with live music and food trucks before each show.

The suggested donation is $10; VIP packages are available. Click here for more information

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Anchor

Tracy Kornet is an award-winning anchor, host and writer. She joined News4 in September 2014.

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