The Tony-winning Shakespeare Theatre Company will present a “future history” fresh from Broadway, a musical, a new adaptation by the delightfully eccentric Elevator Repair Service, a Jacobean play and two of the Bard’s finest for its 2016-2017 season, Artistic Director Michael Kahn has announced.
The “future history” is Charles III, which imagines that the present Prince of Wales has ascended to the British throne and caused a constitutional crisis by declining to give his pro forma royal consent to a law sharply restricting freedom of the press. Playwright Mike Bartlett has given his script a Shakespearean format, as Jonathan Mandell describes in this review. Studio Theatre Artistic Director David Muse will direct.
The STC season will open with Romeo and Juliet, Shakespeare’s classic story of good intentions gone bad. Alan Paul, having brushed up his Shakespeare as director of Kiss Me, Kate, is now tackling the real thing.
The Secret Garden, Marsha Norman (The Color Purple, ‘night, Mother) and Lucy Simon’s musical about a young orphan who ends up in a ghost-haunted home and garden and who gradually brings it, and the people in it, back to health, is next on the Shakespearian agenda. The play, which ran at Baltimore’s CenterStage last year, received a strong endorsement from Jayne Blanchard in her review: “No one is alone in this tale of abandonment and reconciliation, as the spirit world guides and haunts the present life of Mary Lennox and the other characters struggling with the paradox of hanging on to memories while letting go. ”
Charles III follows, and after that Elevator Repair Service is up with an adaptation (perhaps reinvention will be a better word) of Ernest Hemmingway’s “The Sun Also Rises” called The Select (The Sun Also Rises). Elevator Repair Service notoriously did an eight-hour adaptation of “The Great Gatsby”, but Arguendo, which they performed at Woolly Mammoth, only took seventy minutes. (Ryan Taylor, who had some issues with the production, praised “The high level of technique and fantastic comic acting on display”.)
The Bard returns to Shakespeare Theatre with a Leisl Tommy-directed production of Macbeth. Those of you who saw Dunsinane might enjoy a refresher on the play which inspired it, about the rise and fall of a murderous King. Tommy, formerly a mainstay at the Contemporary American Theater Festival in Shepherdstown, is coming fresh from directing the successful run of Eclipsed on Broadway. Kahn says, “Liesl Tommy has done such powerful work with Eclipsed—a harrowing and relevant production—and Macbeth, with his and Lady Macbeth’s gruesome story, seemed like the perfect way for us to partner with her and bring her work to D.C. and to our stages.”
Kahn himself will direct the Jacobean play which will close out the STC season: Women Beware Women by (probably) Thomas Middleton. When Constellation Theatre did this show six years ago they used the Jesse Berger adaptation, which lent itself to farce, but it appears as though STC will aim for Middleton’s original intention, which was tragedy: a complicated array of broken relationships leading to bloodshed. Christopher Isherwood of the New York Times called it a “sizzling brew of adultery, incest and murder, murder and more murder.”
In addition to its season schedule, STC will again present its annual Free-for-All, which, as the title implies, is available at no cost to those who follow the company’s instructions. This year it will be a reprise of 2014’s Ethan McSweeney production of The Tempest, which Roy Maurer called “delightfully artful from beginning to end, employing both modesty and spectacle to best effect” in this review.
While Shakespeare Theatre has announced next season’s schedule, it hasn’t announced dates or venues. You can expect to see that information in DC Theatre Scene’s Season at a Glance.