In 1989, Bertram Garskof and Ellen Lieberman, founded Dandelion Productions, a non-profit educational organization committed to social issue education via theatrical programming.
This approach featured audience interaction and improvisation. It proved to be both theatrical and powerfully able to affect student audiences. Shows were produced about HIV/AIDS prevention and education, diversity education, drug and alcohol abuse, date rape and sexual harassment prevention, non-violent conflict resolution and empathy. From 1989 to 1995 Dandelion Productions presented social issue educational theater in over 700 schools to a combined audience in excess of 500,000 people. These performances were seen throughout the Northeast.
Dandelion Productions has produced forty-four full productions for national tours in association with National Theater for Arts and Education. Many of these shows were bilingual adaptations of the classics, while others were adapted from contemporary reading lists or with a focus on science and math. These entertaining and educational shows toured to schools across the country (from Maine to Florida to California) for over ten years, to a combined audience of well over a million students.
Dandelion produced radio shows in association with The Shubert Theater, The Long Wharf Theater, Quinnipiac University and the Museum of Radio and Television in New York City, and produced a staged reading of "The Odd Couple," with Jack Klugman and Tony Randall at the Shubert Theater in New Haven.
CONNECTICUT FREE SHAKESPEARE
Connecticut Free Shakespeare was born in 2000 when Artistic Director Ellen Lieberman & Executive Director Bert Garskof saw a void in the accessibility of theater in an area that needed arts the most.
Dandelion Productions has proudly produced Connecticut Free Shakespeare at Connecticut's Beardsley Zoo. From 2006-2010, Connecticut Free Shakespeare expanded to an additional performance venue on Connecticut’s historic Guilford Green - sponsored by The Shoreline Arts Alliance. In 2010, with the generous and kind support of The Norma Terris and Albert Firestone Foundation, a third venue was added in Old Saybrook, Connecticut, on the town hall green, adjacent to the Katharine Hepburn Performing Arts Center. From 2010 to 2014, Connecticut Free Shakespeare performed at McLevy Green in Bridgeport, Connecticut and at the historic Shakespeare Festival Theater in Stratford, Connecticut.