Recently, Playbill On-Line reported on a UK conference that debated -- with tongue somewhat in cheek -- whether to put a 10-year moratorium on productions of Shakespeare plays.
Interviewed by PBOL, Shepard Sobel, artistic director of Off-Broadway's Pearl Theatre, said he was very much against the idea of a ban. He reasoned that even if several productions of a single Shakespeare play were produced in one season, how many people would actually see any or all of those mountings?
Ironically, the Pearl Theatre will not be contributing to the Shakespeare glut next season: for the first time in its 15-year history, the Pearl won't have the Bard on its bill.
"It makes me sad," Sobel told Playbill On-Line (Apr. 8), "but it had to happen sometimes. We're also holding off on doing a Greek tragedy. We continue to cover the waterfront, but we just had too many great plays to choose from."
So what did the Pearl pick? The four (out of five) shows in the 1998-99 season will be: * George Bernard Shaw's Candida, about a married woman courted by a passionate young poet.
* Moliere's The Miser, a comedy about a stingy fellow getting his comeuppance.
* William Wycherly's bawdy The Country Wife.
* Anton Chekhov's The Seagull, about an older actress, her tormented playwright son, the ambitious actress he loves, and the weary writer she loves.
No directors or casts have yet been chosen for the Pearl line-up. Finishing up the current Pearl season (to May 17) is a staging of August Strindberg's Miss Julie, directed by Christopher Martin, former founding director of Classic Stage Company.
Among the Shakespeare plays staged at the Pearl over the years were King Lear, Twelfth Night and Othello. For the early years of the Pearl Theatre, you might want to check out David Hapgood's authorized book, The Year Of The Pearl. For subscription information on the Pearl season, call (212) 598-9802.
-- By David Lefkowitz