The Shakespeare Theatre Company’s 2013-2014 season will feature one of the Bard’s most controversial plays as well as the vivid historical dramas Henry IV Part I and Part II, the company announced yesterday.
The STC season will kick off with Measure for Measure, the story of a bureaucrat who, given temporary control of a city, uses his power to arrest a young man for fornication and condemn him to death. When the young man’s sister, who is preparing for the novitiate, tries to intervene the bureaucrat demands that she sleep with him as the price for her brother’s release. What makes this play so difficult is that it is a comedy, and Shakespeare designed it to be played for laughs. Director Jonathan Munby will take on this difficult challenge, and we will see the result September 12 – October 27 of this year.
The season will also feature rep productions of the two Henry IV plays, running from March 25 to June 8 of 2014. The Henry IV plays track the career of Henry Bolingbroke (1367-1413), who unhorsed his cousin, the incompetent King Richard II, and ruled England through fourteen troubled years, fending off rebellions and assassination attempts.
In addition to the King’s political and military adventures, the Henry IV plays trace the relationship between the King and his son, Prince Hal – a wastrel at the time of his father’s reign, but later the greatest King in English history. Henry IV, Part I introduces us to the shrewd buffoon Falstaff, generally thought to be one of the greatest of Shakespeare’s characters. Stacy Keach, who shared a Helen Hayes award for his portrayal of King Lear in STC’s 2009 production, is scheduled to play Falstaff, and Alan Paul and STC Artistic Director Michael Kahn will direct.
The remainder of STC’s regular season will feature work from witty playwrights of the last two centuries. From November 21 to December 29 of this year, the company will perform Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest. Directed by Keith Baxter, Earnest is the story of a man who fabricates a libertine younger brother in order to explain to his ward why he goes to London, and of another man who pretends to be that younger brother in order to court the ward. Earnest was Wilde’s last play before his infamous trial; the Marquess of Queensberry – father of Wilde’s lover, Lord Alfred Douglas – tried to attend in order to disrupt the performance but was refused, and the subsequent litigation (which resulted in Wilde’s incarceration) caused the play to close after eighty-six performances.
Noël Coward’s Private Lives closes STC’s season with a run from May 29 to July 13, 2014. This is the story of a divorced couple, newly remarried and honeymooning in the same hotel. They run into each other and realize that their feelings remain unresolved. Maria Aitken will direct.
Prior to the season, STC will reprise its 2011 production of Much Ado About Nothing in its annual Free-for-all, which makes limited seating available at no cost to patrons. Much Ado is the parallel stories of a young man who is deceived by a villain into believing that his fiancée has been unfaithful to him and a fabulously well-matched couple who have been at loggerheads for years.
This play, generally thought to be Shakespeare’s best comedy that is not Midsummer Night’s Dream, will be set (as was the original STC production, which DCTS’s Roy Maurer called “vivacious,”) in a Cuban hacienda. Jenny Lord will direct this production, which will run from August 20 to September 1, 2013. No casting has been announced.
For more information or to renew subscriptions, patrons can contact the Shakespeare Theatre Company Box Office by phone at 202.547.1122, option 2.