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Louis Cancelmi, David Patrick Kelly, Michael Braun, Lakisha Michelle May, Brooke Bloom, Marylouise Burke in "Everybody" at Signature Theatre. (Photo by Monique Carboni)

Shakespeare Theatre Sets First Season Under New Leadership

New artistic director Simon Godwin’s first season will include works by Branden Jacobs-Jenkins, James Baldwin, and a new adaptation of ‘Peter Pan’ by Lauren Gunderson.

WASHINGTON, D.C.: Simon Godwin has announced the lineup for his first season as artistic director of Shakespeare Theatre Company. The 2019-20 season will include classics and adaptations of classics.

In explaining his thinking behind his season, Godwin told American Theatre that he was asking himself, “What is a classic? If you look up the Oxford English Dictionary definition of classic, it means excellence, rather than old, and I think we sometimes get the two confused. My question is: What are the plays of excellence that are going to speak most accurately and excitedly to audiences of Washington and beyond.”

At the same time, he said he also wanted to explore not just “white men writing classic plays” but “writers not from that group we should be looking at and producing.”

With that in mind, the season will launch with Branden Jacobs-Jenkins‘s Everybody, an adaptation of a 15th-century morality play where a small group of actors every night draw their roles from a lottery.

Then the theatre will produce Lauren Gunderson‘s new adaptation of J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan. The show marks the first of a three-year commitment to more family programming. In her adaptation, Gunderson will make Wendy the main character, as a budding scientist looking to break free from Edwardian traditions. STC associate artistic director Alan Paul will direct.

Godwin will also direct during the season. He will oversee Shakespeare’s Timon of Athens, which will star Kathryn Hunter, in a co-production with Theatre for a New Auduience in New York City. Later in the season he will helm Shakespeare’s romantic comedy Much Ado About Nothing.

Next will be The Amen Corner by James Baldwin, a work about the role of the church in the African American community. Whitney White will direct, and the production will feature live music.

The theatre will next present Plush Theatricals’s Romantics Anonymous, a musical by British director Emma Rice, Christopher Dimond, and Michael Kooman. The work is based on the French film Les Émotifs Anonymes, about two chocolatiers living in Paris. Wise Children is also a producer on the show, which was first produced at Shakespeare’s Globe’s in London.

Shakespeare Theatre will also present a production of Hamlet completely free of charge. It will be directed by Craig Baldwin.

The Shakespeare Theatre Company is the 2012 recipient of the regional theatre Tony Award. It performs out of two theatres.

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