63 Days, 38 Performances …

By Paul Prescott

List, List, O, List!

Arrived in New Orleans last night after 600 mile drive from an unexpected stop in the unexpectedly delightful Ste Genevieve, MO. A gumbo dinner and good night’s sleep later and we’re enjoying coffee in high humidity. Amid the sweet, sticky madness of it all, I thought it might be grounding to make a list of the productions we’ll be seeing in the next two months. Although this trip has taken months of planning (hats off, as ever, to the estimable Susan Brock, the ‘M’ who calmly pulls our strings from UK HQ), it’s odd to say that this is the first time we’ve made a list consisting solely of the SHOWS (as distinct from accommodations, cars, planes etc) that we’ll be seeing this summer. The headline is this:

In 63 days, we’re seeing 38 performances, including productions of over half (22) of Shakespeare’s canon.

Amazingly, the first 16 productions are each of different plays – i.e. there are no repeats in the first four weeks. This was far from inevitable. Indeed, when we partnered with our 14 Festivals, many didn’t know exactly what they would be producing and when, nor did we know when we would be rearing into view. There was the very real possibility that we’d find ourselves watching 13 consecutive productions of A Midsummer Night’s Dream followed by 6 As You Like Its washed down by 5 Tempests. Worse things happen at sea, as the last play amply demonstrates, but this might all have been a tad wearying even for the most ardent Shakespearean peregrinator. But the moral of this story is that the North American festival culture is so well-established, so various and often so experimental that there is an appetite and an audience for all of Shakespeare, not merely the Greatest Box Office Hits. While King Lear, for example, is hardly a stranger to big theatres, it is surprising that it is de facto the play of our summer – we’ll be seeing it *four* times, first starring the wonderful Ellen Geer in a reverse-gender account in California, then at the magical outdoor setting of Door, Wisconsin, then two mouth-watering, big-hitting accounts by Colm Feore at Stratford, Ontario, and John Lithgow in Central Park. And it seems peculiarly apt – and not at all planned – that The Winter’s Tale will bookend the trip: the ‘wide gap of time’ between the production we saw in Kansas City last weekend will be neatly closed by the exciting “Free For All” performance at the Shakespeare Theatre Company, Washington DC in late August.

OK, back to the chicory coffee… and here’s the full list:

Heart of America Shakespeare Festival, Kansas City, MO

The Winter’s Tale, 4 and 5 July, 8pm

New Orleans Shakespeare Festival at Tulane, New Orleans, LA

A Midsummer Night’s Dream, 11 July, 7.30pm

Shakespeare at Winedale, Winedale, TX

Troilus and Cressida (dress), 14 July The Merry Wives of Windsor (dress), 15 July

Utah Shakespeare Festival, Cedar City, UT

Twelfth Night, 17 July, 2pm
Measure for Measure, 17 July, 8pm
The Comedy of Errors, 18 July, 2pm
Henry IV Part 1, 18 July, 8pm

Will Geer’s Theatricum Botanicum, Topanga, CA

Much Ado About Nothing, 25 July, 8pm
All’s Well that End’s Well, 26 July, 4pm
King Lear, 26 July, 8pm

Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Ashland, OR

Richard III, 29 July, 8pm
The Comedy of Errors, 30 July, 1.30pm
The Two Gentlemen of Verona, 31 July, 8pm

Montana Shakespeare in the Parks, Bozeman, MT

As You Like It, 3 August, 4.30pm
Montana Shakespeare in the Parks, Philipsburg, MT
Romeo and Juliet, 4 August, 6pm

Door Shakespeare, Door, WI

King Lear,6 August, 8pm

Chicago Shakespeare Theatre, Welles Park, Chicago, IL

A Midsummer Night’s Dream, 8 August, 6.30pm

Harlem Shakespeare Festival, Harlem, NYC, NY

Shakespeare in Sable: The History of Black Shakespearean Actors, 11 August, 7.15pm

Shakespeare in the Park, Central Park, NYC, NY

King Lear, 12 August, 8pm

The Amerindian Shakespeare Initiative, location tbc,

Work-in-progress, 13 August, 7pm

Shakespeare in the Parking Lot, NYC, NY

Othello, 14 August, tbc

Shakespeare and Company, Lenox, MA

A Midsummer Night’s Dream, 16 August, 2pm
Henry IV Parts 1 and 2, 16 August, 7.30pm
Julius Caesar, 17 August, 3pm

Stratford Shakespeare Festival Stratford, ON

Antony and Cleopatra, 19 August, 2pm
King John, 19 August, 2pm
King Lear, 20 August, 8pm
A Midsummer Night’s Dream, 21 August, 2pm
Chamber Dream, 21 August, 8pm

Nashville Shakespeare Festival, Nashville, TN

As You Like It, 23 + 24 August, 7.30pm

Blackfriars Theatre, Staunton, VI

Edward II (dress), 27 August, 2pm
Macbeth, 27 August, 7.30pm
The Comedy of Errors, 28 August, 7.30pm

Shakespeare Theatre Company, Washington DC

The Winter’s Tale, 31 August, 2pm

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