The Shakespeare company’s 30th Artistic Year is shaping up to be a big one.
The American Shakespeare Center announced its 2018/19 Artistic Year at an announcement party following a performance of Hamlet last Saturday night at the Stonewall Jackson Hotel. The Artistic Year runs June 2018 through June 2019 at the Blackfriars Playhouse in Staunton and across the eastern half of the United States with the 2018/19 Hand of Time Tour.
The line-up will include 15 productions presented over 12 months in four separate repertory seasons. This year will include the world premiere of two new plays written for the Shakespeare’s New Contemporaries Project.
The ASC stages its productions in the Blackfriars Playhouse, the world’s only re-creation of Shakespeare’s indoor theatre. The company believes Shakespeare’s stagecraft is as important as his wordcraft and has developed a modern performance style based on the way it is thought that Shakespeare’s company performed plays at the original Globe and Blackfriars Playhouses in Renaissance London – an approach that the Washington Post’s Peter Marks calls “both serious-minded and exuberant.”
Shakespeare’s New Contemporaries
Officially launched in April of 2017, the Shakespeare’s New Contemporaries Project will put two new plays on stage at the Blackfriars Playhouse in the Actors’ Renaissance and Spring Seasons. Winning titles will be announced in June 2018.
The SNC Project undertakes to discover, develop, and produce plays that are inspired by and in conversation with Shakespeare’s work. The ASC selects companion plays through a blind submission process. The selected plays are performed in repertory with their Shakespeare counterparts. Winning playwrights receive a cash prize of $25,000 as well as funds to support their travel and housing for the rehearsal process at the ASC’s Blackfriars Playhouse.
“I can’t wait to share these brand new plays with the world! Applications continue to roll in, but already I’ve seen a tremendous amount of imagination, creativity, and love for Shakespeare,” says ASC Literary Manager Anne G. Morgan. “I invite audiences to join us in celebrating today’s great playwrights as they engage with Shakespeare’s plays.”
Accessing the Work at ASC
Based on audience feedback, and in an effort to make its programming more accessible, the ASC is making some adjustments to its pricing structure. In addition to removing added service charges and fees, the center is expanding its midweek local rush to include residents of Harrisonburg and Rockingham County, implementing a new flat rate $20 ticket for college students, and increasing discounts for youth ages 7-18 to encourage family attendance.
The military discount has increased to 20% and a new 50% discount has been added for all K-12 teachers. Both discounts are available at all performances beginning in the new Artistic Year.
Pay-what-you-will performances will continue to be held throughout the year.
Subscribers will be able to use their subscription packages to reserve tickets online for the first time with a tool the ASC is rolling out on its new website.
Artistic Year Show Titles
The 2018/19 Artistic Year features six Shakespeare titles including:
- As You Like It
- Richard III
- The Merry Wives of Windsor
- Henry IV, Part 1
- The Comedy of Errors
- The Winter’s Tale
Other titles include the world-premiere production of Jane Austen’s Emma adapted by Emma Whipday; the restoration comedy The Man of Mode; the comedy of manners The Belle’s Stratagem; the Elizabethan tragedy Arden of Faversham; and Antigone, the ASC’s first ever production of a Greek play.
A Christmas Carol and Every Christmas Story Ever Told (And Then Some!) return for the Holiday Season.
Summer/Fall Season | June 13 – December 2, 2018
As You Like It
By William Shakespeare | Directed by Ralph Alan Cohen
June 13 – December 2, 2018
To escape death, the extraordinary Rosalind, her brave cousin Celia, and one of Shakespeare’s funniest fools flee into the woods. There, in the bewitching Forest of Arden, they discover shepherds and aristocrats, country folk and lovers – and, ultimately, life, love, joy, and freedom. Shakespeare’s glorious and wise comedy As You Like It reminds us of everything it is to be alive.
By Jane Austen, adapted by Emma Whipday | Directed by Stephanie Holladay Earl
June 14 – December 1, 2018
For “handsome, clever, and rich” Emma Woodhouse, romance can be hit or miss. An only child and a self-declared matchmaker, Emma uses her considerable (and misguided) talents to find partners for her less-fortunate friends. Though she declares she’ll never marry, even Emma falls victim to the pitfalls of love in Jane Austen’s witty and charming tale.
By William Shakespeare | Directed by Jenny Bennett
July 6 – December 1, 2018
Richard III chronicles the cataclysmic end of England’s greatest power struggle, the Wars of the Roses. Richard is the play’s remarkable, charismatic, and repulsive ringmaster – he takes the audience into his confidence as he plots to kill everyone before him in line for the throne. Being seduced by Richard’s shameless treachery is one of theatre-going’s most delicious guilty pleasures.
The Man of Mode, or Sir Fopling Flutter
By George Etherege | Directed by Christopher Marino
August 22 – November 30, 2018
The rake Dorimant and a merry gang of ladies and gents are up to no good in The Man of Mode. Dorimant’s involvement with a married woman and her younger friend complicate his budding interest in Harriet, a beautiful heiress; the romantic interests of his friends and their parents complicate everything else. Throw in disguises, tricks, and one fancy fop, and this witty comedy of manners will have you rolling in your seat.
Holiday Season | December 4 – 30, 2018
A Christmas Carol
By Charles Dickens
December 6 – 26, 2018
The 2018/19 Hand of Time Tour takes a break from touring the country to give you some ghostly season’s greetings. Marley, the three Christmas ghosts, the Cratchits, and Tiny Tim are all back to take Scrooge on the ride of his money-grubbing life. Expect to be right in the middle of this beloved tale with new twists, surprises, and a production filled with music and cheer for the whole family.
Every Christmas Story Ever Told (And Then Some!)
By Michael Carleton, Jim Fitzgerald, and John K. Alvarez | Original music by Will Knapp
December 4 – 26, 2018
What better way to ring in the holidays than with every Christmas story ever? This fast-paced romp takes you on the Christmas journey of a lifetime, through your favorite holiday classics, and then some. Hold on tight as you take a tinsel-covered rollercoaster ride bursting with laughter, carols, and joy, and prepare to leave with memories to last a lifetime.
Actors’ Renaissance Season | January 11 – April 14, 2019
The Merry Wives of Windsor
By William Shakespeare
January 11 – April 13, 2019
Urban legend claims that Queen Elizabeth asked Shakespeare to write a play featuring “the fat knight in love.” In The Merry Wives of Windsor, Falstaff is certainly in lust, if not truly in love. The objects of his affection, two clever Windsor wives, team up to outsmart and outmaneuver one of Shakespeare’s most beloved bad boys. Romance, farce, and a loving portrait of Elizabethan domestic life blend in this irresistible comic confection.
Henry IV, Part 1
By William Shakespeare
January 12 – April 11, 2019
In this thrilling and poignant coming-of-age story, Shakespeare gives us the whole world: the fabulous fat knight, the troubled king, the hot-blooded warrior, the prodigal prince, and the crew of big-hearted Eastcheap rabble-rousers. Henry IV, Part 1 is Shakespeare’s masterful exploration of family and friends; honor and happiness; and those moments when we are forced to choose between the thing we desire and the thing we know we must do.
Shakespeare’s New Contemporaries Title #1
February 7 – April 14, 2019
This play will be inspired by and in conversation with The Merry Wives of Windsor or Henry IV, Part 1. The winning title is set to be announced in June 2018.
The Belle’s Stratagem
By Hannah Cowley
February 28 – April 13, 2019
Look out! Two handsome (and recently-broke) gentlemen are on the prowl to find wealthy wives. Aimwell and Archer use their last bit of cash to travel into the country to impress and deceive the locals. An unhappy wife, a group of bandits, and genuine love all threaten the masquerade of these misbehaving men as they carry out their wicked scheme.
Arden of Faversham
March 20 – April 12, 2019
On February 14, 1551, Thomas Arden was brutally murdered in his own home. Arden of Faversham follows the scheming wife, lover, and hired henchman who carried out the notorious murder that rocked Elizabethan England. One of the earliest domestic tragedies to focus on ordinary, lower-class citizens, this play proves that a grisly, true-crime tale always captivates audiences.
Spring Season | April 17 – June 9, 2019
[Titles also performed as the 2018/19 Hand of Time Tour]
The Comedy of Errors
By William Shakespeare | Directed by Desdemona Chiang
April 17 – June 9, 2019
In this rollicking farce, Shakespeare elevates Roman comedy to dizzying heights. Two long-separated twins, their two tricky servants (also twins), a jealous wife, and her lovelorn sister romp through this fast-paced comedy. Filled with mistaken identities and slapstick humor, The Comedy of Errors will have audiences laughing from the first confusion to the last.
The Winter’s Tale
By William Shakespeare | Directed by Kevin Rich
April 18 – June 8, 2019
Shakespeare’s magnificent late play is a roller-coaster ride from romance to tragedy to comedy and finally to a place of transcendent beauty that few other works of art have ever gone. “A sad tale’s best for winter,” but after unleashing a wintry tempest onto his characters, Shakespeare ultimately conjures spring’s miraculous rebirth.
By Sophocles | Directed by Doreen Bechtol
April 19 – June 7, 2019
In the aftermath of her brothers’ bloody war, Antigone is left torn. Her brother Eteocles will be honored, but her brother Polyneices will be shamed and denied funeral rites. In this ancient tale, Antigone stands for morality in spite of punishment as one of the earliest heroines in drama. Sophocles’s drama from 441 BC holds startling relevance today, examining divinity, obedience, and law – and how love overcomes them all.
Shakespeare’s New Contemporaries Title #2
May 1 – June 8, 2018
This play will be inspired by and in conversation with The Comedy of Errors or The Winter’s Tale. The winning title is set to be announced in June 2018.