Ann Arbor, MI, will be the only city in the U.S. to see four Shakespeare history plays staged by the Royal Shakespeare Company in 2001.
Henry VI, Parts I, II and III and Richard III will be brought into the Power Center in March 2001, prior to the London premieres. The residency is sponsored by the prestigious presenting group, University Musical Society, and The University of Michigan.
The partnership between RSC, UMS and UM was announced in New York City May 23, but had been announced in Michigan weeks earlier.
The presentation of Shakespeare's Histories will be the first of a number of collaborations between the RSC and the UMS over the next five years. RSC has been committed to outreach in the U.S. The company is currently staging a three play season (The Family Reunion, Don Carlos and A Midsummer Night's Dream) at the Brooklyn Academy of Music. The troupe's production of Macbeth will play at the New Haven International Festival of Arts and Ideas in June; and The Taming of the Shrew tours to the San Francisco Shakespeare Festival in June, as well.
About the Ann Arbor visit, RSC artistic director Adrian Noble said, "This will be a ground-breaking partnership, reflecting the very natural links between the worlds of learning and theatre. We aim to nurture creative relationships across all aspects of our organizations: amongst artists, academics and educationalists, and staff." Ann Arbor has a rich tradition in theatre, but is only just starting to show the signs of healthy, consistent resident work with the establishment of a regular Equity season being staged by the Performance Network, which will have a new home in fall 2000.
Arthur Miller studied at UM and wrote plays and earned a famous Hopwood Playwriting Award at the University of Michigan. Playwright Avery Hopwood (1882-1928) was a major arts alum of UM, although his work has become obscure. Ellis Rabb's Association of Producing Artists (APA) had a brief residency in the city before moving on. Director John Russell Brown was one of the leaders of a brief resident professional troupe at UM in the 1980s. UM president Lee Bollinger recently announced an initiative to create the Arthur Miller Theatre on campus, which would house student and resident professional work. Miller agreed to offer his name to the building if and when the funding is raised.
-- By Kenneth Jones