American Shakespeare Center announces 2016/17 artistic year
At Saturday’s Opening performance of The Tempest, the American Shakespeare Center Co-founder and Artistic Director Jim Warren announced titles for the 2016/17 Artistic Year, running from June 2016 to June 2017 at the Blackfriars Playhouse in Staunton and across the United States as part of the 2016/2017 Hungry Hearts Tour.
The line-up will include 16 productions presented over 52 weeks in four separate repertory seasons, offering the largest number of plays per year by Shakespeare and his contemporaries of any theatre in the world. The 2016/17 Artistic Year contains six Blackfriars Playhouse premieres, including the debut of one new play written for the Blackfriars stage.
The 2016/17 Artistic Year features seven plays by William Shakespeare:
- Twelfth Night
- King Lear
- The Rise of Queen Margaret (Henry VI, Part 2)
- The Merchant of Venice
- Romeo and Juliet
- The Two Gentlemen of Verona
The ASC will stage six Blackfriars Premiere shows:
- Bloody, Bloody, Andrew Jackson: music and lyrics by Michael Friedman, book by Alex Timbers, a colorful, multi-prize-winning, tongue-in-cheek and smart-ass rock musical; (Blackfriars Premiere)
- The School for Scandal by Richard Brinsley Sheridan, a searing comedy of manners; (Blackfriars Premiere)
- The Fair Maid of Exchange by Thomas Heywood, a rarely seen comedy of Shakespeare’s time; (Blackfriars Premiere)
- Our Town by Thornton Wilder, a moving look at the social intricacies of small town life; (Blackfriars Premiere)
- Goodnight Desdemona, Good Morning Juliet by Ann-Marie MacDonald, which asks “What if you could give Shakespeare’s tragic couples a ‘happily ever after’?” (Blackfriars Premiere)
Additionally, ASC will offer the worldwide debut of a new play written for the Blackfrairs stage.
Three holiday favorites return to the Blackfriars Playhouse in December: A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens, The Santaland Diaries by NPR’s David Sedaris, and The Twelve Dates of Christmas by former ASC actor Ginna Hoben. 2016 will include the last performances (for a while) of both Santaland and Twelve Dates.
“The 2016/17 Artistic Year marks a particularly exciting growth period for our company. In addition to producing work 52 weeks a year — with more plays by Shakespeare and his contemporaries than anyplace in the world — we’re expanding to produce a new play each year that’s written for our stage.
“We’ve dipped our toe into this pool with The Brats of Clarence by Paul Menzer (2006,7) and The Twelve Dates of Christmas (annually since 2010), and now we’re taking the next step to make a new play written for Shakespeare’s staging conditions part of every ASC Artistic Year. This creative milestone will allow us to develop and share work with audiences and the theatre world that milks Shakespeare’s stagecraft,” explains Warren.
“Our expansion into brand new, contemporary work each year produced using the staging conditions for which Shakespeare wrote is exciting because so few modern productions are similarly staged,” Warren said. “Few contemporary plays are written for a troupe of twelve actors who speak directly to a lit audience, making them part of the world of the play. It’s easy to see how relevant interactivity is in today’s world; just look at how we favor technology that allows direct interaction and creative expression at the same time. We are truly going back to future to show the world how using 400-year-old staging conditions can make modern theatre explode off the stage and take today’s audiences on the rides of their lives.”
“The 2016/17 Artistic Year demonstrates the ongoing influence and genius of the playwright that is still accessible to everyone,” he adds.
“The 2016/17 Artistic Year offers entertainment for all tastes and will continue to showcase how the American Shakespeare Center sharpens the cutting edge of what’s classic and contemporary,” says Warren.