Meet Brett Bernardini, the executive director of Nebraska Shakespeare.
Tell us a little about your business. – Nebraska Shakespeare (nebraskashakespeare.com) is a 36-year-old nonprofit arts organization based in Omaha. We are best known for our professional, world-class SHAKESPEARE ON THE GREEN productions at Elmwood Park, which are FREE to everyone! In addition, in the fall, we produce a seven-minute version of a Shakespeare play and then tour it to schools and community centers all across Nebraska, for 10 weeks.
How did you get started in the business? – As a child, I was always interested in music, art, and books. While I wanted to be a concert pianist, I became a high school music teacher. I saw the power of theater and music to transform peoples lives. I eventually founded and ran my own professional theater company in Connecticut. For the past eight years or so, I have been working to support and grow arts organizations throughout the country.
What has been your most important achievement professionally? – Working with exceptional writers and composers from throughout the world to get their shows from the page to the stage. I have been fortunate to direct theater all over the country. Creating spaces for creatives to bring their work to life has been the biggest and most important achievement of my career.
Tell us a little about your family. – I was born and raised in Minnesota. It was my mother, father, brother, and me. I moved to Connecticut in time for junior high. My mom passed away 10 years ago, my father lives in Connecticut, and my brother and his family live in Charlotte, NC.
What is your favorite thing to do on a day off? – Get lost. I like to escape the normal and make a new discovery, explore nature and different places, and step outside my comfort zone.
What is the most unique or interesting thing about you that most people probably don’t know? – I was a professional runway model.
Who inspires you? – Deep thinkers, revolutionary outsiders, fearless creatives, and daring adventurers.
What is your favorite quote or the best piece of advice you’ve ever received? – “To be nobody but yourself in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody else means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight; and never stop fighting.” – e. e. cummings
If you could choose only one descriptive word to be remembered as, what would it be? – Bodhisattva.
If you had a theme song, what would it be? – “Heal the World” by Michael Jackson.
If you could have a super power, what would it be? – Peace.
What is your greatest talent that you don’t utilize in your daily work life? – Fine art painting. I had a full scholarship to art school, but I never used it.
What is your favorite book or the last good book you read? – A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving.
What is your favorite movie? – Shawshank Redemption.
What is your favorite local restaurant? – Mai Thai.
If you could have dinner with one famous person from the past or present, who would it be? – Leonardo da Vinci.