LOS ANGELES -- The Ahmanson Theatre will present two Shakespearean plays in repertory this June: Measure for Measure and A Midsummer Night's Dream. Both will be directed by Sir Peter Hall and will feature such Hollywood actors as David Dukes, Kelly McGillis and Richard Thomas.
The original plan was for the Ahmanson to present just one of the two plays, but Gordon Davidson, artistic director of the Ahmanson, announced recently the receipt of a $250,000 donation which will allow for the schedule expansion. The donor was not named.
"It's more interesting for audiences to be able to see two plays with the same company," Davidson said in a statement. "It"s more interesting for actors to get to play contrasting roles. And there is a better opportunity to evolve a sense of company because the rehearsal period is eight weeks instead of four."
It's Davidson's hope that Shakespearean repertory will become an annual event. "I'm committing myself, in principle, that this not be a one-shot experience," he said.
Hall was recently quoted in the British daily The Guardian as having invited Kevin Kline to play Coriolanus and Christopher Plummer King Lear in summer 2000. Hall, who co-founded the Royal Shakespeare Company, conducted two master classes in Los Angeles last summer. Several well-known Hollywood stars were in attendance, hoping to brush up their Shakespeare in anticipation of possible participation in the Ahmanson productions.
American actors lack technique but have plenty of temperament and a great sense of rhythm and musicality, according to Hall. "Los Angeles has probably the biggest pool of talented actors in the world, but they are there not to act but to wait -- in case the TV or the movie calls."
Ahmanson subscribers will receive only one Shakespeare play as part of their package, but they will get discounts on the second. Single tickets will be available for both.
In commenting on the style of the productions, Davidson said they will not be in contemporary dress. But as for Measure for Measure -- the story of a sex scandal in the Viennese government-- he pointed out that "you can't do it and not think about what has just gone on in Washington."
The casting so far includes Thomas as Puck in Midsummer and Angelo in Measure, McGillis as Titania in Midsummer, and Dukes as Theseus in Midsummer and Lucio in Measure for Measure.
-- By Willard Manus
Southern California Correspondent