In April 1984, the idea for the Texas Shakespeare Festival was developed: to establish a professional summer theatre for East Texas based in Kilgore that would be housed in the Van Cliburn Auditorium, to create a company with a name that would have broad appeal to professional theatre artists, employing high caliber actors, designers and directors from throughout the nation, to offer professional actors and theatre students the luxury of working on plays from the world's storehouse of dramatic literary masterpieces, and to create a regional play about the East Texas oilfield discovery to be produced as a cultural historical memento of our unique and colorful heritage. Two years later, in June 1986, the Texas Shakespeare Festival opened its inaugural season as Kilgore College's contribution to the Texas Sesquicentennial celebration with performances of Shakespeare's Twelfth Night, A Midsummer Night's Dream, and The Daisy Bradford 3 by Gifford Wingate. Each of the fifteen performances played to capacity houses, and the college assured the community that there would be a second season. The 1987 Festival again performed to sold out houses. In 1988, the Festival added a fourth production, and changed to a revolving repertory performance format making it more convenient for patrons to see all of the productions. The 1989 season followed the same repertory format and included three performances of Charlotte's Web for children, and just as in all three previous years, the attendance grew. In 1993, to answer the need for more performances, the Festival season expanded its performance schedule from three to four weeks.