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"The Merry Wives of Windsor" by William Shakespeare, at American Shakespeare Center through April 13. Pictured: Abbi Hawk and Meg Rodgers. (Photo by Lindsey Walters)

American Shakespeare Center Announces 2019-20 Season

The season will mark the first under new artistic director Ethan McSweeny.

STAUNTON, VA.: American Shakespeare Center (ASC) has announced the 2019-20 season lineup, the first under new artistic director Ethan McSweeny.

“One of the first things I learned after arriving in Staunton is that ASC’s artistic year is really made up of five distinct seasons, each featuring its own ensemble of actors and artists and each with a slightly different approach to exploring our commitment to Shakespearean performance conditions,” said McSweeny in a statement. “For my first summer, I wanted to emphasize the power of repertory theatre to tell stories bigger than just one play as well as invite audiences to spend a destination weekend with ASC.”

The company’s summer programming will be a trio of complimentary plays, kicking off with Shakespeare’s tragedy Julius Caeser (June 25-Nov. 30), a cautionary tale about the ripple effects of political assassination. McSweeny will direct.

Next up will be Antony and Cleopatra (June 26-Nov. 30), by Shakespeare, a tragedy about the relationship between Cleopatra and Mark Antony during the Final War of the Roman Republic. Sharon Ott will direct.

The summer festival will round out with George Bernard Shaw’s Caesar and Cleopatra (Aug. 8-Nov. 29), a prequel to Antony and Cleopatra, that depicts a fictional relationship between the old general and the young queen. Eric Tucker will direct.

The company will also present special events in the summer, including Midsummer 90 (July 13-Sept. 8), a 90-minute adaptation of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Winkelstein will direct.

Special programming will also include the  Heiftez International Music Institute (July 2-Aug. 6) and the Staunton Music Festival (Aug. 11-18).

The fall repertory season will include The Willard Suitcases (Sept. 25-Dec. 1), with music and lyrics by Julianne Wick Davis, about the discovery of a handful of forgotten suitcases found at the Willard Psychiatric Center. McSweeny will direct.

Just in time for the holidays will be A Christmas Carol (Dec. 5-29), adapted by James McClure from Charles Dickens, about a miserly man’s journey to discovering the magic of the holidays. Stephanie Holladay Earl will direct.

The company’s touring programming will include Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream (begins Sept.), a comedy with  intertwined lovers, transformations, and fairies. Nathan Winkelstein will direct.

Next up will be Shakespeare’s Imogen (begins Sept.), formerly known as Cymbeline, about the lengths the King of Britain will go to secure the royal bloodline. Vanessa Morosco will direct.

Another touring production will be The Grapes of Wrath (begins Sept.), adapted by Frank Galati from John Steinbeck, about a poor family driven from their homestead in Oklahoma because of drought who set out for a new life in California during the Great Depression. José Zayas will direct.

Founded in 1988 as Shenandoah Shakespeare Express, the company became American Shakespeare Center in 2005. Its mission is to explore the English Renaissance stage through performance and education.

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