The Shakespeare Theatre Company in Washington, D.C., will be the recipient of the 2012 Regional Theatre Tony Award. Artistic Director Michael Kahn will accept the award for the company during the Tony Awards ceremony in New York on June 10.
The Regional Theatre Tony Award honors a nonprofit, professional regional theater that has displayed a continuous level of artistic achievement contributing to the growth of theater nationally. Based on a recommendation by the American Theatre Critics Association, the award is presented annually by The Broadway League and the American Theatre Wing.
“I am so honored to have the work of the Shakespeare Theatre Company recognized in this way,” Artistic Director Michael Kahn said in a release. “This is a very touching tribute to have the work of all of the artists and staff who have been a part of our 25-year history acknowledged. We are so thankful to our Board of Trustees, supporters, and patrons who have helped shape us into the artistic institution that we have become.”
The Regional Theatre Tony Award announcement is serendipitous for the STC as it is currently celebrating the 25th anniversary of both the organization and Kahn’s leadership. Performing in two theatre spaces, the Lansburgh Theatre and Sidney Harman Hall, STC has produced and hosted 150 productions, entertaining more than 2.5 million audience members. Productions have included almost the entire Shakespearean canon, from well-know plays such as The Taming of the Shrew, As You Like It, Romeo and Juliet and A Midsummer Night’s Dream, to rarely produced classics such as Cymbeline and Pericles. The theatre’s repertoire spans the ages—from classic plays such as The Persians and The Dog in the Manger to modern works. STC has also played host to some notably excellent international theatre performances, including The National Theatre of Great Britain’s Phèdre, Tricycle Theatre’s The Great Game: Afghanistan, The National Theatre of Scotland’s Black Watch and Ireland’s Gate Theatre’s production of Krapp’s Last Tape.
The company moved from the Folger Library’s Elizabethan theatre to the larger, 451-seat Lansburgh Theatre in 1992 to provide more flexibility and space for the growing audience. As the company continued to expand and attract larger audiences, Sidney Harman Hall opened in 2007 with 774 seats and a flexible stage that can accommodate theatre, dance, music, and film.
In 1991, the first Free for All production of The Merry Wives of Windsor was performed at Carter Barron Amphitheatre. Nearly 2,500 theatregoers attended the inaugural production each night, and today more than 630,000 people have seen Shakespeare for free during Free for All.
The company has continually attracted some of the world’s greatest talent, including Stacy Keach, Richard Thomas, Sir Patrick Stewart, Marsha Mason, and Avery Brooks. Intent on widening the company’s circle of influence through an exchange of international productions, STC brought Michael Kahn’s adaptation of The Oedipus Plays, starring Avery Brooks, to the Athens Festival in Greece in September 2003. Additionally, in 2006, Kahn’s production of Love’s Labour’s Lost was invited to perform at the Royal Shakespeare Company’s Complete Works Festival in Stratford-upon-Avon, receiving rave reviews from critics and audience members.
STC offers more than half a dozen programs for elementary and high school students, working with Washington, D.C., public schools to bring Shakespeare to every student before graduation through District Shakespeare. Through STC’s semester-long arts integration program, Text Alive!, 12,000 public high school students and 500 teachers have explored Shakespeare’s work. The company also offers a one-year intensive MFA program through the George Washington University, called the Academy for Classical Acting, which gives participants a chance to hone their professional skills.
May 10, 2012