Kentucky Shakespeare Announces Summer 2017 Season
Matt Wallace’s resurrection of Kentucky Shakespeare has become something of local free theater lore: In 2014, he took a struggling company plagued by managerial issues and an uncertain future, and transformed it into a community standard that now serves over 84,000 audience members annually.
Since then, I, like many others in the community, have waited eagerly in the company’s off-months (which are fewer and farther between thanks to seasonal productions like “Titus Andronicus”) for the moment when the upcoming season would be announced.
The waiting hasn’t always been easy, but as the Bard says -- completely taken out of context, mind you -- "How poor are they that have not patience!” And today, our patience has finally paid off.
Here are the plays we can expect to during Kentucky Shakespeare’s Summer 2017 Season:
‘Much Ado About Nothing’
This comedy, written smack in the middle of Shakespeare’s career, features some of his favorite plot devices: mistaken identity, secret lovers and disguises, all obviously supplemented by witty banter.
“Much Ado About Nothing” mainly follows two couples -- Hero and Claudio, and Beatrice and Benedick. Hero and Claudio are pretty much smitten from the start, but the troublemaking Don John interferes with their relationship. And although Beatrice and Benedick start the play by turning their sharp wits on each other, they ultimately fall in love. The final wedding scene has surprises for everyone.
The first of Shakespeare’s history plays, “Richard II” was a monarch ordained by God to lead his people, but he is also a man of very human weakness. His vanity threatens to divide the great houses of England and drag his people into a civil war that will last 100 years.
Richard II, last presented on the Festival stage in 1993, marks the beginning of Shakespeare’s second historical tetralogy, also known as the Henriad. Kentucky Shakespeare will present the four plays over the next four years as their Game of Kings series – following Richard II with Henry IV, Part 1; Henry IV, Part 2; and culminating with Henry V in 2020, the Festival’s 60th season.
You know the tale -- Caesar returns from war all-conquering, but dissent ripples through Rome nonetheless, all culminating in that fateful line, “Et tu, Brute?” It’s tragic, bloody and I can’t wait to see who is slated to play the title role.
There are some other additions to the lineup, too: Kentucky Shakespeare’s Globe Players Professional Training Program for High School Students will present “The Merchant of Venice”; Late Night Shakes returns with comedy every other week; and Jewish Community Center will perform “Kiss Me Kate.”
Later in the season, the Louisville Ballet returns to the Festival stage with a new production of “Shakespeare in Dance.” And finally, for the first time in Kentucky Shakespeare history, Cincinnati Shakespeare Company will tour with a to-be-announced production.
“This season, the Kentucky Shakespeare Festival will present more performances than any season in our history – with 11 weeks, eight productions, and 66 performances – free,” Wallace said in a news release.
The season begins with “Much Ado About Nothing” on May 31, then “Richard II” on June 15, followed by “Julius Caesar” on July 29. Each production will run for two weeks and then all three productions will rotate in repertory July 11 through 23. All three productions will be performed in a single night starting at 4:30 p.m. on July 22 for the fourth annual Bard-A-Thon.
More information is available here.