Summer 2014 Preview by Larry Murray
Tony Simotes, artistic director of Shakespeare & Company, revealed their upcoming 2014 season in the Berkshires, as he and the organization have redoubled their commitment to performing works by Shakespeare. There’s a tempting array of other theatrical fare as well, the common denominator being witty, intelligent writing and creative staging.
As always, Simotes has planned a provocative and ambitious lineup for the company’s 37th Summer Performance Season. Replete with Shakespeare, modern works, premieres and special events, the new year will honor the 450th anniversary of Shakespeare’s birth.
“450 years later Shakespeare’s plays are still fresh and remarkably relevant to today’s audiences,” says Simotes. “Our 37th season is especially celebratory as we mark Shakespeare’s 450th Birthday and reimagine some of his greatest plays that have become signature pieces for us over the years. A perennial favorite of Shakespeare’s work, the magical and vibrant comedy A Midsummer Night’s Dream was our first Mainstage production in 1978 and gets a fresh take as it unfolds during the jazz age in America along the Mississippi Delta. As comedy heats up the Playhouse, another one of our signature pieces Julius Caesar hits the Bernstein boards. Filled with political intrigue and betrayal, Founding Artistic Director Tina Packer brings us this ‘bare Bard’ Caesar, with only 7 actors playing all the roles. Fans of outdoor theatre will be thrilled by our second consecutive year back at the Dell at The Mount, Edith Wharton’s home, and our limited summer run of the timeless love story of Romeo and Juliet, also performed in our ‘bare Bard’ style and by our 6-actor Northeast Regional Tour of Shakespeare troupe. Last year we committed to bringing the History Cycle to life and we deliver on that promise on the Playhouse stage with both parts of Henry IV – condensed into one action and drama-packed evening.”
“I am thrilled about the upcoming season celebrating Shakespeare’s 450th Birthday,” says Board Chair Sarah Hancock. “Tony and his team have pulled together an exciting and provocative line up of plays with something for everyone.”
“Our tribute to Shakespeare continues with Shakespeare’s Will,” adds Simotes. “A modern twist on the touchingly heartfelt story of his wife, Ann Hathaway. Filled with poetry, song and irreverence, Shakespeare’s Will is a whimsical journey of conjecture on the story of their unconventional courtship and marriage. Then with a wink and a nod, we bring back the cheeky and crowd-pleasing, The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged) – this comedic maelstrom leaves no play in Shakespeare’s canon unscathed, or the Company itself.
“We continue Shakespeare & Company’s commitment to producing contemporary and classical works that stand tall alongside the Bard’s canon and are privileged to present the New England Premiere of Christopher Durang’s outrageously funny and Tony Award-Winning play Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike. Our Bankside Festival will again delight audiences with family-friendly fare this season. In homage to, and in the mischievous Commedia dell’arte style, a World Premiere adaptation of A Servant of Two Masters lands on the Rose Footprint to complete our summer theatre offerings – a fun and delightful way to spend the afternoon.”
TICKETS AND DISCOUNTS
Tickets for the 2014 Performance Season go on sale mid-February online at: www.shakespeare.org or by calling the Box Office at (413) 637-3353, or in person at 70 Kemble Street, Lenox, MA. Ticket prices range from $10 to $75, with discounts from 10-50% off regular ticket prices for Groups, Students, Seniors, Teachers and the Military. One thing to note is the company’s very popular 40% Off Berkshire County Residents’ Discount which will again be available. Both the Playhouse and Bernstein theatres are wheelchair accessible and hearing-aid assisted. To learn more about the season, discount availability, to order tickets or request a season brochure, visit www.shakespeare.org. For group bookings, parties, and special event rental information and details contact David Joseph, Director of Sales & Group Tours, at (413) 637-1199 ext. 132 or email@example.com.
2014 Summer Season At A Glance
Tina Packer Playhouse:
A Midsummer Night’s Dream
By William Shakespeare
Directed by Tony Simotes
Featuring: Johnny Lee Davenport as Bottom
Packer Playhouse: June 21 – August 30
“Lord what fools these mortals be”. A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Act II, iii
This high-spirited and magical comedy is filled with shenanigans, the trials of young love and an uncanny observance in human behavior. A Midsummer Night’s Dream features many long time Company favorites including Elliot Norton and IRNE Award-winning actor Johnny Lee Davenport who will take on the irrepressible role of Bottom as he and his band of ‘rude mechanicals’ hit the boards for a fun and exciting 11-week run this summer. With a sharp eye and savvy hand, Artistic Director Tony Simotes delivers an enchanted and unforgettable evening of theatre for the young and the young at heart. Magic and whimsy meet down in the Bayou where A Midsummer Night’s Dream comes to life and the jazz era in America explodes! Oberon, Titania and the ever-mischievous sprite Puck frolic among the mangroves and Spanish moss in this enchanted and unforgettable treatment of Shakespeare’s classic, bawdy comedy. Four centuries later, this magical and transformative play remains a metaphor for human life and folly.
SPECIAL LIMITED RUN
Henry IV, Parts I & II
By William Shakespeare
Directed by Jonathan Epstein
Featuring: Malcolm Ingram as Falstaff
Packer Playhouse: August 2 – August 31
“By heaven, methinks it were an easy leap to pluck bright honor from the pale-faced moon…” Henry IV, part I, Act 1, iii
An exhilarating and potent voyage through time and history is presented in this special adaptation that delivers both parts of Henry IV into a single dynamic evening of theatre. Director Jonathan Epstein (The Hollow Crown, Henry V, and actor in leading roles with the Company for over 20 years) sets the tales between a bustling 15th century Eastcheap and a more contemporary London, where both parts seamlessly flow together blending fact and fiction as we follow this stirring history of succession to the throne. Prince Hal, heir apparent, rebels against his father forsaking the court and engaging in petty crime with the disorderly Falstaff– portrayed by Malcolm Ingram (Heroes, Kaufman’s Barbershop, The Merry Wives of Windsor, King Lear). Meanwhile, the guilt-ridden King Henry, haunted by the manner in which he came to the throne, is facing another kind of rebellion – the conspiracies of the honor-drunk Harry Percy, called “The Hotspur,” and his confederates. The two plays, presented in one breathtaking evening, offer many of the most memorable characters and lines in Shakespeare.
Shakespeare & Company is committed to producing all 10 of Shakespeare’s history plays over the course of the next several years. The histories include, King John, Richard II, which played last season, Henry IV part I, Henry IV part II, Henry V, Henry VI part I, Henry VI part II, Henry VI part III, Richard III, and Henry VIII.
The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged)
By Adam Long, Daniel Singer, and Jess Winfield
Directed by Jonathan Croy
Packer Playhouse: July 4 – August 24
“I thought the world of Shakespearean scholarship would be all fast cars and hot babes!”
The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged)
It’s baaaaack! Loaded with a healthy dose of mayhem, comedy, and lunacy there is something for audiences of all ages to love in this hilarious tongue and cheek medley of the Bard’s works. Director Jonathan Croy (A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Richard III, Twelfth Night), who appeared in all three of the previous productions of The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged) at Shakespeare & Company, has resurfaced after a long period of incarceration (we believe) to don his directors cap and carve out a fresh take on this outrageous comedy. Three actors, 37 of Shakespeare’s plays, and all under two hours you ask? Why yes!
The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged) returns with a mischievous new cast who open the play with a feverish version of Romeo and Juliet after which Titus Andronicus finds deep resonance for the actors in the form of a cooking show, that may or may not have you adding new cards to your recipe file, and Othello discovers his latent musical talents before the Venetian Senate. The madness continues with a presentation of all 16 of Shakespeare’s comedies condensed into a single play: “The Comedy of Two Well-Measured Gentlemen Lost in the Merry Wives of Venice on a Midsummer’s Twelfth Night in Winter,” in which there are feats of magic, several sets of identical twins, a tempest, sharp-tongued shrews, air-headed bimbos, fairies, aphrodisiacs, jackasses, murders, suicide, lobotomies and a happy ending–this is a comedy after all! With 36 plays down and one to go, Complete Works wraps with the tragedy of Hamlet. However, the ill-fated Prince of Denmark arrives on the scene only to have his tragedy repeated–in four different versions: regular, fast, fastest, and backwards. Brevity is indeed the soul of wit!
Director & Choreographer Susan Dibble
Featuring: Susan Dibble and many of your favorite S&Co. artists and special guests.
ONE NIGHT ONLY! August 31, at 7:30pm
Shakespeare & Company is elated to welcome back Founding Member Susan Dibble for her signature theatrical dance event Dibbledance, for a special performance on the Playhouse stage. Dibble, who has choreographed countless productions and special events over the past three and a half decades, will be joined onstage by several artists for this unique celebration of movement and theatricality.
Elayne P. Bernstein Theatre:
By Vern Thiessen
Director: Daniela Varon
Featuring: Kristin Wold
Bernstein Theatre: May 23 – August 24
“And sitting on the bed we make a vow: To live our own lives…It will be our own kind of marriage.” Shakespeare’s Will
Mystery, humor and passion abound in this sensual and provocative tale by award-winning Canadian playwright Vern Thiessen. Shakespeare’s Will, set in 1616 in Stratford-upon-Avon, elucidates the tumultuous life of Anne Hathaway, Shakespeare’s enigmatic wife, to whom he infamously bequeathed his ‘second-best bed.’ Long time Company actor Kristin Wold (King Lear, The Tempest, Sea Marks) takes on this powerful one-woman show in a depiction of love, faith and determination. Guided by the steady and astute hand of director Daniela Varon (Romeo and Juliet, Sea Marks, Martha Mitchell Calling, The Taming of the Shrew), this bold, funny, and unapologetic exploration of Anne’s mind and heart illuminates an uncharted aspect of Shakespeare’s world, giving voice to the woman who spent 34 years married to a genius she rarely saw.
By William Shakespeare
Director Tina Packer
Featuring: Jason Asprey, Nigel Gore, Eric Tucker.
Bernstein Theatre: June 27 – August 30
“Men at some time are masters of their fates: The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves,
that we are underlings”. Julius Caesar, Act I, ii.
Shakespeare’s riveting and bloody Julius Caesar heats up the Bernstein stage in this ‘bare Bard’ production, directed by Founding Artistic Director Tina Packer, in which 7 actors play all the roles. This poetry-filled psychological and political drama follows the conspiracy against and assassination of the Roman Dictator and the aftermath that ensues from his brutal murder. Written in 1599 and set in 44 BC Rome, Julius Caesar is sometimes referred to as one of Shakespeare’s ‘Roman Plays’ (along with Antony and Cleopatra, Coriolanus and Titus Andronicus, as all four are set in Ancient Rome). In this production Packer unites several members of her upcoming spring productions of Caesar, which are slated to run at Orlando Shakespeare Festival and the Prague Shakespeare Festival. Packer started Shakespeare & Company over 35 years ago and was seen in last summer in the Company’s hit The Beauty Queen of Leenane. For the last year Tina has been performing her critically acclaimed Women of Will across the country and in Prague. Packer’s book, Women of Will, is slated to be published by Knopf in the spring of 2015.
Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike
By Christopher Durang
Directed by Matthew Penn
Bernstein Theatre: August 7 – September 14
“We used to lick postage stamps back then!… We didn’t have answering machines. You had to call people back. We ate spam just like the soldiers in World War II did. Have you heard of World War II?” Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike, Act II, iv
With tremendous heart and hilarious comic twists, Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike joins the Bernstein repertoire with its Berkshire premiere this summer. Obie Award-winning playwright Christopher Durang’s newest play is led by veteran director of stage and screen Matthew Penn (The Beauty Queen of Leenane). Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike garnered national recognition netting Durang the Tony Award for Best Play in 2013 for its Broadway run. In the family’s rural Pennsylvanian farmhouse, Vanya and his adopted sister Sonia find their lives turned upside down when their narcissistic movie star sister, Masha, shows up with her prized and much younger boyfriend Spike. Mayhem and hilarity ensue over the course of a weekend when sibling rivalries, regrets, hopes and dreams are revealed. Durang (Sister Mary Ignatius Explains It All for You, The Marriage of Bette & Boo and Laughing Wild, which S&Co. produced in 1995) pays loving homage to Anton Chekov’s classic themes of loss and longing, as he turns the Russian playwright on his ear in this clever comedy primed for our social media-minded and modern world.
Edith Wharton’s Home, The Mount:
The Dell at The Mount, 2 Plunkett Street, Lenox, MA
Romeo and Juliet
By William Shakespeare
Directed by Jonathan Croy
Cast: Caroline Calkins as Juliet and Marcus Kearns as Romeo
July 17 – August 23
“My bounty is as boundless as the sea, my love as deep…” Romeo and Juliet, II, ii.
Shakespeare’s timeless tale of love and love for all times, Romeo and Juliet, will grace Edith Wharton’s Home, The Mount for a special limited run on its outdoor playing space, The Dell. This is the second consecutive year the Company has performed at The Mount since its departure in 2001. A miracle of human expression, Romeo and Juliet reminds us of what it is to swear by the moon, to see the sun in another person, and to risk the consequences hanging in the stars. Directed by longtime Company member Jonathan Croy (The 39 Steps, Richard III, The Real Inspector Hound), the magic, humor, and power of Shakespeare’s words in his most well-known love story will resonate throughout the natural woodlands near the Dell for years to come. The Company’s schools’ tour, the Northeast Regional Tour of Shakespeare, will perform this unique 90-minute version of William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet at the Plunkett Street address in Lenox where the landmark theatre company was created in 1978.
The Rose Footprint and Bankside Festival:
WORLD PREMIERE ADAPTATION
The Servant of Two Masters
By Carlo Goldoni
Adapted and Directed by Jenna Ware
June 20 – August 23
“There are many that look in vain for a master, and I have found two. What the devil am I to do? I cannot wait upon them both. No? Why not?” The Servant of Two Masters
Director Jenna Ware (It’s Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play, Les Faux Pas or the Counterplots, The Venetian Twins, Red Hot Patriot: The Kick Ass Wit of Molly Ivins, Amorous Quarrel and Shirley Valentine) brings her fast paced and hilarious adaptation of Carlo Goldoni’s masterpiece to the outdoor Rose Footprint theatre. Resplendent with some of the wittiest knots and twists you’ll ever see, The Servant of Two Masters is a comical blend of the Italian classic Commedia dell’arte and contemporary performance styles that tell the story of the outrageous and wily servant, Truffaldino, who secretly signs on with two masters simultaneously. What Truffaldino doesn’t know is that his masters are star-crossed lovers, and one of them is disguised as a man. His predicament stirs up a madcap comedy and a ridiculous chain of events as he sets out to keep his double service concealed, prevent the lovers from reuniting, and get some dinner. Be prepared for music, sword fighting and serious amounts of fun!
The Declaration of Independence
Bankside Meadow: Friday, July 4, at 3pm. Free!
Celebrate a revolutionary weekend! Our free, ever-popular reading of the Declaration of Independence features some of the most stirring words of political rhetoric ever written, spoken out loud by S&Co. actors and special guests from the community. Filled with music, sweets and treats, this jubilant summer event is always a huge hit, and drew nearly 1,000 patrons last year. Come early and enjoy our all-American lip-smacking barbeque (à la carte pricing)!
Shakespeare & Young Company
Rose Footprint: August 13 and 15
No writer has captured the powerful emotions of adolescence better than Shakespeare. In his words, youth spring eternal. Join our Young Company actors as they perform Shakespeare’s works with a fierce and fiery temperament, exploring their passion for friendship, love, justice, and hope. Shakespeare & Young Company is an 8-week program for youths 16-20 years old.
Rose Footprint: Alternating Fridays in July and August
At the end of each two-week session, Riotous Youth participants create a performance piece based on scenes from a play, which they share with family, friends and S&Co. members at the outdoor, tented Rose Footprint Theatre. Now in its 15th year, Riotous Youth is a two-week program for multiple age groups, designed to introduce actors aged 7-15 to Shakespeare through a series of fun and creative workshops including exercises involving voice, movement, and acting. Participants play theatre games, create craft projects, and explore Shakespeare’s words through scenes and monologues, either at Shakespeare & Company’s campus in Lenox, MA or down the road in Lenox Memorial High School’s state-of-the-art theatre.
but wait, there’s more!
Don’t forget to visit our bustling concessions stands and gift shops before and after the show. Open six days a week during the summer season, they are stocked full of homemade treats and fabulous Shakespeare & Company memorabilia! We have everything from comfy hoodies and greeting cards to naughty tees and groovy caps that make great keepsakes and gifts. The popular Behind the Scenes Tours will continue this season every Wednesday and Saturday in July and August. Also in July and August please join us for our Tuesday Talks and meet the directors, playwrights and artists for an informal and lively chat. And don’t forget, our incredible food service crew is ready to make your group visit or special event a memorable one! So bring a picnic and come early to enjoy the beautiful grounds and gardens at Shakespeare & Company, and be sure to keep an eye out for special tastings, brunches, and feasts all season long.
For more information about our shows, performance calendar, group packages, or to purchase tickets online, visit www.shakespeare.org. Note: All titles, dates and times are subject to change.