American Shakespeare Center announces casting for Actors’ Renaissance Summer Season
In its return to live performances, ASC productions are newly led by a cohort of actor-managers: Brandon Carter, John Harrell, Chris Johnston, and Zoe Speas. In keeping with early modern theatre tradition and ASC’s own critically acclaimed, audience-beloved practice of presenting actor-directed “Actors’ Renaissance” selections each year, the plays in this season were selected and cast by the actor-managers, and the performances will be actor-led in an extraordinary collaborative atmosphere.
Macbeth will feature company veteran Chris Johnston (he/him) as the power-hungry Macbeth; Johnston has performed 23 seasons and more than 160 roles with ASC. Zoe Speas (she/they), a 10-season veteran with ASC, will play the plotting Lady Macbeth, Brandon Carter (he/him) the doomed Banquo, and Jeremy West (he/him) the magic-touched Macduff in this tale of murder and madness. West, a versatile actor with past performances in the U.K. as well as the U.S., also serves as ASC’s Fight Captain/Director. Macbeth performances begin May 13 at ASC’s new outdoor venue at Mary Baldwin University’s Rose Terrace.
The cast of Henry V—and the armies of England—will be led by Brandon Carter, believed to be the first Black man in the U.S. to portray the title character in the three history plays devoted to his journey to the throne (Henry IV, Parts 1 and 2, and Henry V). Carter has played seven seasons with ASC, and has performed around the world, from Johannesburg’s famed Market Theatre to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe to the Kennedy Center, the Apollo and Classical Theatre of Harlem.
In a play rich with memorable characters, Chris Johnston portrays the swaggering Pistol, John Harrell (he/him) the loyal Welshman Fluellen.
The time-honored Shakespearean practice of doubling – wherein actors play multiple roles – is on fine display in this production: Meg Rodgers (she/her) plays five roles including the boastful Dauphin and the princess Katherine, whom Henry woos; and newcomer Meme García (they/them) plays the cowardly soldier Nym, Princess Katherine’s lady-in-waiting Alice, and the hot-headed Orleans.
John Harrell is celebrating his 28th season with ASC and has played more than 200 roles including Falstaff in Henry IV, Parts 1 and 2 and Iago in Othello, both in the 2020 season. Meme García’s path to ASC includes a Fulbright Scholarship and roles at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival and the Intiman Theatre Festival.
Henry V begins June 17 in ASC’s iconic Blackfriars Playhouse, the world’s only re-creation of Shakespeare’s indoor theatre.
All’s Well That Ends Well chronicles the efforts of low-born Helena, whose long-unrequited love for the cold-hearted nobleman Bertram ends, as the title suggests, happily. The resourceful Helena will be played by Meg Rodgers, who won praise for her “subtle and nuanced” (DCTheatreScene.com) performance as Beatrice in ASC’s 2020 Much Ado About Nothing. The haughty Bertram will be portrayed by Sam Saint Ours (he/him), who toured with the Tony Award-winning Broadway musical Once before joining ASC in 2020.
All’s Well That Ends Well begins Aug. 5 in the Blackfriars Playhouse.
For a full performance calendar and more information on the plays and players, complete actor bios, see AmericanShakespeareCenter.com.
Tickets for the 2021 Actors’ Renaissance season shows are available now. Memberships for the 2021 season are also on sale, with such benefits as discounts on tickets, insider events and more. Tickets and memberships can be purchased online at AmericanShakespeareCenter.com or by calling 1.877.MUCH.ADO (1.877.682.4236).