Shakespeare Theatre Company in Washington, DC, will expand from five shows to eight — and from one stage to two — in its 2007-08 season.
Keith Baxter, Avery Brooks, Patrick Page, Gale Edwards, Mary Zimmermann and Rene Auberjonois are among artists engaged for the watershed season that will see the fall 2007 opening of the troupe's new home, the Harman Center for the Arts.
Located in downtown Washington, DC, the Harman Center will consist of two theatres: the Company's current 451-seat Lansburgh Theatre (located at 450 7th St. NW) and the new 775-seat Sidney Harman Hall (located at 610 F St. NW), scheduled to open Oct. 1, 2007.
With two theatres, the Shakespeare Theatre Company, run by artistic director Michael Kahn, will also present two repertory series (a Christopher Marlowe repertory of Edward II and Tamburlaine, and a Shakespeare Roman repertory consisting of Antony and Cleopatra and Julius Caesar) and introduce new family and lunch-time programming. A new $10 ticket program will help build younger audiences, and education and outreach efforts will be expanded, according to the March 5 season announcement.
With the fresh repertory schedule, "a tourist could see all eight plays of the Shakespeare Theatre Company season in just three weekends over the course of a year," according to the company.
The Harman Center will also meet "a longstanding need for affordable, midsized performance venues in the District of Columbia." The two theatres will feature performances by outstanding local performing arts groups, "creating connections among art forms and artists."
Shakespeare Theatre Company's 2007-08 season will include:
The Taming of the Shrew by William Shakespeare, directed by Rebecca Bayla Taichman, Sept. 25-Nov. 25, Lansburgh Theatre. "Shakespeare gives us the improbable courtship of the fiery-tongued Katherine by the arrogant Petruchio. But unlike Shakespeare's other romantic comedies, the play does not stop with the wedding. Shakespeare considers the institution of marriage, the rifts between men and women, and the rough journey toward love."
Christopher Marlowe Repertory: Tamburlaine and Edward II
Tamburlaine by Christopher Marlowe, directed by Michael Kahn, Oct. 28, 2007-Jan. 6, 2008, Sidney Harman Hall. Avery Brooks will star in the title role. Franchelle Stewart Dorn will play the Queen of Persia. "Marlowe's first play, Tamburlaine chronicles its hero's meteoric rise from humble origins to fearsome warrior and emperor of thousands. Tamburlaine desolates his adversaries, growing so ruthless that he marches on his beloved's native country. With ravishing poetry, Marlowe ruminates on the corrupting influence of ambition and one man's overwhelming desire for immortality."
Edward II by Christopher Marlowe, directed by Gale Edwards, Oct. 27, 2007-Jan. 6, 2008, Sidney Harman Hall. "Deemed by many to be Marlowe's crowning achievement, Edward II features the playwright's most nuanced characters and some of his finest language. In the weak, stubborn character of Edward II, Marlowe created a compelling portrait of a flawed monarch. Though the son of a great general, Edward is an ineffectual king and, in the grips of a romantic obsession, fails to recognize the threats to his crown. As the play unfolds, Marlowe turns the doomed Edward into a more tragic figure, contrasting his plight with the ruthless nobles who depose him."
Argonautika, adapted and directed by Mary Zimmerman,
Jan. 15-March 2, 2008, at Lansburgh Theatre. "With her signature style and eye for the epic, director Mary Zimmerman turns her talents to the spectacular tale of Jason and the Argonauts. In their quest for the Golden Fleece, Jason and his crew encounter a world of dangers-frightening sea monsters, hypnotic water nymphs, wicked kings…and a young sorceress named Medea. Amid these fanciful adventures, Zimmerman ponders the nature of loss, love and leadership." It was originally mounted by the Lookingglass Theatre Company in Chicago.
Major Barbara by George Bernard Shaw, directed by Ethan McSweeny, Feb. 19-March 23, 2008, Sidney Harman Hall. "Full of Shaw's signature shrewd, urbane wit, Major Barbara depicts timeless tensions between wealth and charity, government and religion, business and family. At the center of the play is the rebellious but naively idealistic Barbara Undershaft. A major with the Salvation Army, Barbara finds the foundation of her beliefs rocked when the charity accepts a donation from her long-estranged father, a millionaire arms dealer."
Roman Repertory: Julius Caesar and Antony and Cleopatra
Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare, directed by David Muse, April 27-July 6, 2008, Sidney Harman Hall. "As swift and enthralling as a political thriller, Julius Caesar portrays the life-and-death struggle for power in Rome. Fearing that Caesar's growing strength and constitutional ambitions threaten the Republic, a faction of politicians plots to assassinate him. But when Caesar is killed, chaos engulfs Rome." Patrick Page stars as a younger Marc Antony (and is an older Marc Antony in Antony and Cleopatra).
Antony and Cleopatra
by William Shakespeare, directed by Michael Kahn, April 26-July 6, 2008, Sidney Harman Hall. "Featuring some of the most sublime poetry of love and loss ever written, Antony and Cleopatra is a dark, intimate portrait of an ill-fated love affair. The play begins two years after the events of Julius Caesar, with civil unrest roiling imperial Rome. The aging Marc Antony, one of the empire's three rulers, lives a decadent life in Egypt, carousing with Queen Cleopatra. As Rome reasserts its claim on him, Antony struggles between his sense of duty to his country and his consuming love for Cleopatra."
The Imaginary Invalid by Molière, directed by Keith Baxter and starring Rene Auberjonois, June 10-Aug. 3, 2008, Lansburgh Theatre. "Written and first performed while Molière was dying, The Imaginary Invalid targets the medical quacks of 17th-century France. The eccentric and wealthy hypochondriac Argan decides to marry his strong-willed daughter Angélique off to a doctor so that he'll always have a physician around. But Angélique loves another man, and her attempts to persuade her father to let her marry him lead to outrageous tricks and disguises."
For more information, visit ShakespeareTheatre.org.