On Apr. 4, Hal Holbrook received the 11th annual "Will Award," given by Washington DC's Shakespeare Theatre to artists who make "a significant contribution to classical theatre in America." Now Holbrook will get to make a further contribution via the Shakespeare Theatre when he appears as Shylock in The Merchant of Venice there next year.
Artistic director Michael Kahn will stage Shakespeare's controversial comedy (which is generally played as drama because of its arguably antisemitic content). Holbrook has already played the vengeful Jewish merchant, Shylock, at San Diego's Old Globe Theatre. Last on Broadway in An American Daughter, Holbrook is best known for his solo, Mark Twain Tonight!, for which he won a Tony. He's played King Lear at Off Broadway's Roundabout Theatre and on Broadway in The Glass Menagerie, Man of La Mancha and I Never Sang For My Father.
Venice will close the next Shakespeare Theatre season, one that begins Sept. 1 with Edward II, adapted and directed by Garland Wright. This 1590 Christopher Marlowe drama tells of a king whose loving relationship with one of his advisors leads to the end of his marriage -- and his reign.
Shakespeare's comedy Twelfth Night follows (Nov. 3-Jan. 2, 1999), directed by Daniel Fish. Then it's the less-known King John (Jan. 19 Mar. 6, 1999), staged by artistic director Michael Kahn.
Acclaimed, somewhat-experimental director JoAnne Akalaitis arrives, Mar. 23-May 8, 1999, to stage Euripides' Trojan Women. It's a look at war's effect on women on the losing side. Surprisingly, this is the first time a Greek play has been staged at the Shakespeare. For subscriptions and other information on the Shakespeare Theatre season call (202) 547-1122. The box office opens Aug. 7.
-- By David Lefkowitz