LENOX, MASS.: Shakespeare & Company has announced three Shakespeare plays and five new plays for its 2016 summer season. The theatre is also participating in Shakespeare 400, a worldwide celebration of the 400th anniversary of the Bard’s death.
“The upcoming season highlights our traditional focus on Shakespeare with two main stage productions, and demonstrates our continuing commitment to presenting contemporary works by a diverse group of playwrights—which in this case includes three women and a Cuban-American writer,” co-artistic director Ariel Bock said in a statement.
This season, the Tina Packer Playhouse, named for the company’s founder, will feature an in-the-round set-up for the first time. “The actor-to-audience relationship will be 360 degrees, which presents an exciting new dynamic for both actor and audience,” said co-artistic director Jonathan Croy in a statement. “It will be so much more intimate—and this intimacy of the relationship with the audience supports dynamic personal interactions and our fascination with language.”
The summer season will launch on the main stage at the Tina Packer Playhouse with The Merchant of Venice (July 1–Aug. 21), directed by Packer. Jonathan Epstein will star.
Following is the regional premiere of Or (July 21–Sept. 1), a comedy by Liz Duffy Adams about one night in the life of Restoration-era female playwright Aphra Behn. Alice Reagan will direct, and Tod Randolph will star.
The final production on the Packer stage will be Shakespeare’s The Two Gentlemen of Verona (Aug.4–Sept.4), directed by Croy.
The Elayne P. Bernstein Theatre will house the regional premiere of Lauren Gunderson’s The Taming (May 27-July 30), a comedy loosely inspired by Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew. The New England premiere of Lindsey Ferrentino’s Ugly Lies the Bone (July 16–Aug. 28), directed by Daniela Varon, will follow. Christianna Nelson will star in this story about a badly burned veteran who returns home and learns to heal her injuries through simulated digital environments.
Stephan Wolfert’s Cry Havoc! (Aug. 3–13) will return to the theatre for a special engagement in a production directed by Eric Tucker. In the play, Wolfert recounts his military service through Shakespeare’s famous speeches.
Nilo Cruz’s Sotto Voce (Aug. 18–Sept. 11) will conclude the summer season on the Bernstein stage in a production directed by Daniel Gidron. Annette Miller stars in this story of a Jewish-Cuban young man who seeks out a reclusive novelist who lost her love aboard a ship of Jewish refugees during World War II.
The third and final Shakespeare play of the season will be Twelfth Night (July 14-Aug. 20), which kick off the outdoor productions. Croy will direct the production at Edith Wharton’s Home. Also part of the outdoor series, Jenna Ware will direct Aphra Behn’s The Emperor of the Moon at the Rose Footprint.
Prior to the start of the summer season, the company is participating in Shakespeare 400. The Northeast Regional Tour’s Bare-bard production of Macbeth will kick off on the Bard’s birthday on April 23 in the Tina Packer Playhouse. The Northeast Regional Tour consists of a team of six Shakespeare & Company actors and teachers who put together a fully produced, 90-minute Shakespeare production. The celebration will continue on August 23 with an entire day devoted to the Henry IV plays.