Shakespeare & Company is pleased to announce Lovers’ Spat: Shakespeare’s Famous Couple’s Encounters on Saturday (February 18) at 7pm and Sunday (February 19) at 2pm. Company actors and guest performers explore the complexities of love in staged readings featuring Shakespeare’s most notorious couples’ loving, fighting, scheming and wooing. Lover’s Spat is directed by Artistic Director Allyn Burrows and performed in the Elayne P. Bernstein Theatre in Lenox.
“The best part of quarreling is making up,” said Allyn Burrows. “On this Valentine’s weekend we do the quarreling, and you do the making up, or making out, or making your sweetheart laugh.”
“Marking this 40th Season at Shakespeare & Company represents a thrilling opportunity for us to celebrate our company’s legacy, to take stock of where we are, and to look forward to an exciting future,” said Artistic Director Allyn Burrows. “Our robust 2017 programming highlighting the Bard is expanded to include special musical guests and contemporary women writers. We heartily invite people to make our grounds a destination to picnic, and enjoy a true Berkshire theatrical experience, including our new outdoor theatre in the Shakespeare’s Garden.”
The new Garden Theatre, located directly across from the Tina Packer Playhouse, is an intimate outdoor performance space with comfortable seating. This summer the space will be home to The Tempest, performed in-the-round at dusk. The Company will also present a 90-minute production of A Midsummer’s Night Dream outdoors in the Dell at The Mount, Edith Wharton’s Home. The popular Fourth of July Community Event, featuring the reading of the Declaration of Independence, will also return this summer.
Shakespeare & Company presents its Winter Studio Festival of Plays on Saturday & Sunday (January 14 & 15). This weekend of staged readings will showcase a diverse array of playwrights and feature both emerging and established actors. All performances will take place in the Elayne P. Bernstein Theatre on the Shakespeare & Company campus in Lenox.
“We are thrilled to be able to produce readings of both new plays and enduring classics,” said Artistic Director Allyn Burrows. “Sharing the powerful language of these influential writers in the off-season is important to keep the home fires burning. The Studio Festival gives actors and audiences an opportunity to connect and engage more intimately while exploring these provocative scripts.”
The Winter Studio Festival titles include St. Petersburg: 1913 by local playwright (and former UAlbany theater professor) Robert Sugarman; Susan Smith Blackburn Award Winner and Pulitzer Prize finalist, The Clean House by Sarah Ruhl; OBIE Award winning dark comedy, Curse of the Starving Class by Sam Shepard; Beyond the Veil by Berkshire native Emily Devoti; and Anton Chekhov’s classic The Cherry Orchard. Each reading will be followed by a post-show discussion.
Jennie M. Jadow, Ryan Winkles and Sarah Taylor in “It’s a Wonderful Life” (photo: Enrico Spada)
Shakespeare & Company in Lenox brings back the popular show It’s a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play, a beloved holiday classic adapted from the original 1946 film. Directed by Jenna Ware and featuring Company actors Jonathan Croy, Jennie M. Jadow, David Joseph, Sarah Jeanette Taylor and Ryan Winkles, the production runs from Wednesday-Sunday (December 15-18) in the Elayne P. Bernstein Theatre.
Adapted by Joe Landry from the original screenplay by Frances Goodrich, Albert Hackett, Frank Capra and Joe Swerling, the play is set in a radio studio on a snowy Christmas Eve in 1946, when five radio personalities are live, on-air, retelling the story of George Bailey, who goes on an “other-worldly” journey with “angel, second class” Clarence at his side to show him what the world would’ve been like if he had never been born. The play is presented with live sound effects and rapid character changes from all the actors who also perform radio jingles, and popular holiday and Christmas songs reminiscent of the time.
The 2017 Tanglewood season will run from Sunday, June 18 to the Labor Day Weekend, offering Berkshire visitors an exceptional line-up of performances and musical activities. Especially noteworthy is that there will be ten programs led by Boston Symphony Orchestra Music Director Andris Nelsons. There are also several new initiatives designed to give patrons a wide spectrum of musical, entertainment, and educational activities, including some to enjoy before and after selected performances throughout the summer. Weekly highlights of the coming summer follow the text of their announcement.
In his most significant commitment yet to Tanglewood, Mr. Nelsons will lead both the opening and closing BSO concerts, Mahler’s Symphony No. 2, Resurrection, and Beethoven Symphony No. 9; Mahler’s Symphony No. 4 with Kristine Opolais; an opera gala with Ms. Opolais and Dmitri Hvorostovsky performing excerpts from Simon Boccanegra, La Traviata and Eugene Onegin; the world premiere of John Williams’Markings with violinist Anne-Sophie Mutter; and the first-ever BSO and festival concert performance of the complete Das Rheingold, a tour de force milestone in the history of the festival. Mr. Nelsons will also conduct the Boston Pops Orchestra for the first time, sharing the podium for Film Night with John Williams. Also new to Tanglewood in 2017, highly acclaimed composer/conductor/pianist Thomas Adès will make his first Tanglewood appearances as BSO Artistic Partner, leading orchestral concerts, performing as pianist with the Emerson Quartet, and working closely with the Fellows of the Tanglewood Music Center, the BSO’s acclaimed summer music academy.
Shakespeare & Company in Lenox will present a staged reading of William Shakespeare’s masterpiece, Hamlet, at 7pm on Saturday, October 8. Featuring Finn Wittrock – of American Horror Story and The Big Short – and other special guests, the reading will be presented in the Tina Packer Playhouse, and will be directed by Kevin G. Coleman, Shakespeare & Company’s Director of Education and a 2016 Tony Award nominee.
A star of stage, film and television, Finn Wittrock grew up with the Company. As a child he appeared in many of the Company’s outdoor Shakespeare productions at The Mount, as well as with Jonathan Epstein in Richard III at the Duffin Theatre in 1999.
Most recently, Wittrock was seen in the Oscar nominated film The Big Short, in which he starred opposite Brad Pitt, Ryan Gosling, Christian Bale and Steve Carell. Wittrock has been a part of the critically-acclaimed series American Horror Story for the last two seasons and he was nominated for an Emmy for his season four portrayal of Dandy Mott. This fall, Finn will be seen with Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling in the film La La Land for Lionsgate. Upcoming theatrical productions include Othello with Daniel Craig and David Oyelowo directed by Sam Gold and The Glass Menagerie with Sally Field.
Tod Randolph and Allyn Burrows in ‘Or,’ at Shakespeare & Company. Photo by Ava G. Lindenmaier
Review by Macey Levin
Aphra Behn is considered to be the first professional woman playwright, having been paid for her first play The Forc’d Marriage in 1670. Her plays, novels and poems were criticized for having too many references to sex and gender equality. There is a great deal of conjecture about her life including the possibility that she was never married to a merchant named John Behn. Having had an earlier career as a spy with a dubious reputation makes her a dramatic subject for a fictionalized, hilarious play by Liz Duffy Adams titled simply Or, at Shakespeare & Co.’s Tina Packer Playhouse in Lenox.
After a prologue and an opening scene that places her in debtor’s prison, the bulk of the play occurs in Behn’s apartments during the course of one night. Several people call on her while she is attempting to write her first play. Through talk about sex, arguments, talk about sex, conversations, talk about sex, displays of wit and a lot of back story, we learn of her adventurous life, but more, we learn of her courage and determination in an age when a woman was not allowed to have a place in the world other than in her home.
Her visitors include King Charles II who has been recently restored to the throne of England and for whom she spied on the Dutch during the second Anglo-Dutch War, the actress Nell Gwynne, a fellow spy William Scot who may also have been working for the Dutch, and the eccentric widow Lady Davenant who produced Behn’s first play. There are several threads of relationships and stories that bind these people together. The recounting of the plot though relatively simple could tend to be convoluted since the interaction of the characters is quite involved. In this production the story is easy to follow because the acting is so wonderful.
In the real world, our current slash and burn politics are deadly serious with few exceptions. The White House Correspondent’s Dinner is one of those rare occasions when elected officials and the media can laugh at themselves. In the media, Stephen Colbert, Bill Maher and Lewis Black regularly elicit laughs, while the other television talking heads send viewers on a search for headache relief.
The Capitol Steps are a musical revue that mines American politics, and have been doing so for more than 35 years. The story goes that it began at a Christmas party in Senator Charles Percy’s office, and like most Congressional activities, they just don’t know when to stop.
Of course there is lots of humor in politics. And for years, the Capitol Steps have been mining it.
2016 may offer the troupe its richest source of material ever. With a billionaire buffoon, a yiddish socialist and an ambitious, anointed former first lady as their primary targets, the stage is set.
With a fearless and talented quintet of refugees from our nation’s capitol, the performers – with nothing more than a few props – turn our current politics on its head. If only the nightly newscast was half as funny. There are several Capitol Steps troupes criss-crossing the country at any given time; in Lenox, the company has settled into a new performing space at the Cranwell Spa. So new in fact, you can still detect the new-car-smell of turps and sawdust.