Benjamin Curns in The Taming of the Shrew. Photo by Michael Bailey.
In our 2010 Summer Season, two Shakespeare classics raise serious questions and demand new answers while a rakish romantic comedy comes back from the 18th century to appeal to a modern audience. Prepare to be surprised.
The Taming of the Shrew is much more than a “battle of the sexes.” It is also a profound look at the absolute necessity of “play” in our lives. Blending romantic comedy and outlandish farce, Shakespeare gives us a love story of psychological liberation and the mysteries of being married.
“Shrew gives us a picture of two extroverts born to be together and destined to thrive in the best possible marriage of equals,” said ASC Artistic Director Jim Warren, who also directs all three summer productions.
Intrigued? Read Warren's Director's Notes for Shrew.
Shakespeare’s magnificent tragedy Othello is a complex study of extremes. He pairs his most poignant hero in a dance of deceit and revenge with his most ruthless villain. He transforms the radiant language of love into delirious ravings. Both expansive and claustrophobic, Othello is Shakespeare at the absolute height of his creative powers—a ravishing and unforgettable masterpiece.
Sarah Fallon and René Thornton, Jr. in Othello. Photo by Michael Bailey.
Warren thinks that Othello is "a funnier play than most people realize,"
not including the character named "Clown" who’s often cut out of productions (we won’t be cutting the Clown). The humor breathes more when you leave the lights on and talk to the audience, making them part of the world of the play. When Iago speaks directly to you, he turns you into his co-conspirator. His charm and humor can draw you in, just as it draws in all the other characters on the stage. The humor often helps break the rising tension so that the dramatic power can return to knock you upside the head like an eighteen-pound sledgehammer.
Read more in his Director's Notes.
All ASC productions, including this year’s Othello, use Renaissance staging conditions such as letting the audience and performers share the same light, seating the audience all around the stage and on the stage itself, and directing actors to interact with audience members during the performance. The Blackfriars is one of the few theatres in the world to present plays as Shakespeare’s company did, in true repertory, with about 15 or fewer actors sometimes covering over 40 different roles in a single play.
John Harrell in Wild Oats. Photo by Michael Bailey.
Thirteen years after the American Declaration of Independence from Mother England, John O’Keeffe unleashed his rollicking romantic comedy Wild Oats on the world; and when we were celebrating our bicentennial in 1976, the Royal Shakespeare Company rediscovered O’Keeffe’s comic jewel. Filled with mistaken identity, romantic intrigue, Shakespearean innuendo, and Restoration rakish wit, Wild Oats follows a privileged young man who runs away from school to join a band of traveling actors.
“Wild Oats is a delightful celebration of actors and acting, of players and playing, of friendship, love, and family,” said Warren of this production that he compares to Oliver Goldsmith’s 1773 hit She Stoops to Conquer. “She Stoops is one of the first (and one of the few) post-Restoration plays to feel a lot more like Shakespeare. Wild Oats is one of the others.”
Warren has more to say in his Director's Notes for Wild Oats.
All of the ASC's 2010 Summer Season productions will be presented at the Blackfriars Playhouse in Staunton, Virginia, the world’s only re-creation of Shakespeare’s indoor theatre and “one of the most historically important theatres in the world,” according to British scholar Andrew Gurr.
For the best seats to all our summer productions, get your tickets now.
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The Taming of the Shrew
Saturday, January 31, 2015, 2:00 pm
Saturday, January 31, 2015, 7:30 pm
Actors' Renaissance Season