After filling two of its slots with Shakespeare favorites, the Shakespeare Theatre Company in Washington, D.C., will move on to other European classics and new adaptations to fill out its 2014–2015 schedule. Among those will be the world premiere of David Ives' newest adaptation which, if history repeats itself, could be the highlight of the STC's year.
The season opens with William Shakespeare's As You Like It, directed by Michael Attenborough, artistic director of the Almeida Theatre in London the past 10 years and before that principal associate director at the Royal Shakespeare Company. "Put simply, I have been trying to bring Michael Attenborough to Washington for a very long time," STC Artistic Director Michael Kahn wrote in a letter to patrons. "When discussing projects with me, Michael suggested that he direct As You Like It in the Lansburgh. He sees it as a very personal and intimate play, and I'm looking forward to what is sure to be a beautiful production of one of Shakespeare's most warm-spirited and light-hearted comedies."
Next up will be Shakespeare's The Tempest, with Ethan McSweeny directing, at the Sydney Harman Hall. "For the holiday season of 2012, Ethan McSweeny mounted a truly magical production of A Midsummer Night's Dream. It seems perfectly fitting, then, that he is returning to direct Shakespeare's most explicitly magical and final play, The Tempest," Kahn wrote. "It will be our first Tempest in many years, and I am very excited for Ethan to be at the helm. Ethan's signature wizardry is sure to be at hand in this production. Saying anything more would only be spoiling the magic."
STC is filling the next two Lansburgh slots with two French comic classics: Molière's Tartuffe, and Alexis Piron's The Metromaniacs. It's not necessarily their Frenchness that will entice STC audiences, however, though Tartuffe will be directed by Dominique Serrand, co-founder of the Tony Award–winning Théâtre de la Jeune Lune. The draw for Washington crowds will be the actor playing the title role, Steven Epp, who was the Helen Hayes Award–winning Truffaldino in STC's The Servant of Two Masters two seasons ago. Tartuffe is "a perfect part for his brand of inspired comic genius," Kahn wrote.
As for The Metromaniacs, it is an adaptation by Ives, whose previous adaptations of French comedies for STC were season highlights: The Liar in 2010 and The Heir Apparent in 2011. A huge success in 1738, Piron's play lampoons his famous real-life rival Voltaire's infatuation with an anonymous poetess. As with Ive's other adaptations of Pierre Corneille (The Liar) and Jean-Francois Regnard (The Heir Apparent), this one will be a compact marvel of rhymed couplets, mistaken identities, and theatrical ingenuity. As he did with the previous two, Kahn will direct The Metromaniacs. "David and I are planning on having a lot of fun together," Kahn wrote.
STC moves down to Spain for its next offering and third musical in the company's history, Man of La Mancha at Sydney Harman Hall, directed by STC Associate Director Alan Paul, who helmed this season's A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum. Kahn calls the show "one of the best musicals ever adapted from a great classic, and by my reckoning, the best adaptation of Cervantes' Don Quixote in any medium. By the way, Miguel de Cervantes was a near contemporary of Shakespeare's, and they died one day apart, in April of 1616. We honor them both this coming season."
Kahn will direct the season's final entry, Pirandello's Enrico IV, in a new version by Tom Stoppard. "This play is really a surprise: you don't have any idea how it's going to end. It's a question of what's real and what's not real, who's mad and who isn't mad," Kahn wrote. Enrico IV will run at Sydney Harman Hall.
April 1, 2014