The British are coming! The UK’s acclaimed Royal Shakespeare Company recently announced its newest across-the-pond transfer: a full-scale replica of their Stratford-on-Avon theatre to NYC’s Park Avenue Armory…and a six week summer festival to boot. North America is no stranger to the Bard, however. Here’s brief tour of what’s happening in 3 major Shakespeare festivals across the U.S. and Canada.
Shakespeare in the Park (New York, NY)
Image: unforth / Flickr
The RSC’s main local competition is Shakespeare in the Park, a two-show season presented by the Public Theater at the Delacorte in Central Park. Tickets are free (if you’re willing to sit in line for a few hours) and almost always worth the wait, especially given the star power this festival commands; recent seasons have included performances from luminaries like Kevin Kline and Meryl Streep to starlets Natalie Portman and Anne Hathaway. The 2010 Season will feature Al Pacino as Shylock in The Merchant of Venice, running in repertory with The Winter’s Tale featuring Jesse L. Martin and Ruben Santiago Hudson. If you’re planning a visit to NYC between June and August, make sure to set aside some time to take in this uniquely New York experience. And hey, it’s free! Here’s the schedule.
Oregon Shakespeare Festival (Ashland, OR)
The oldest of the major festivals on this side of the pond, Ashalnd’s Oregon Shakespeare Festival is celebrating its 75th Anniversary this season. With a season that runs from February to October, the OSF redefines the notion of a “summer” festival. Under the leadership of new Artistic Director, Bill Rauch, the OSF is undergoing something of a renaissance, embracing a broader body of work (an ancient Sanskrit play) and nurturing successful new plays as well (last season’s Equivocation just had its New York premier). Some of OSF’s offerings can be hit-and-miss, but high production values and beautiful surroundings definitely make OSF a destination for drama. This season’s offerings include stalwarts like Hamlet and Twelfth Night, recent pieces like Lynn Nottage’s Ruined and Lisa Kron‘s Well, and a brand new stage adaptation of Akira Kurosawa’s Throne of Blood. Check out the full spread at www.osfashland.org.
Stratford Shakespeare Festival (Stratford, Ontario)
Image: Bobolink / Flickr
Also well worth the visit is Canada’s premiere Stratford Shakespeare Festival in Stratford, Ontario. With a history of presenting high-quality shows, Stratford Shakespeare is not be outdone by it’s neighbors to the south. Tony Award-winning director Des MacAnuff heads up the event, directing festival mainstay Christopher Plummer in The Tempest. This season also features a fair number of musical offerings, including Kiss Me, Kate directed by Tony-winning John Doyle, Jacques Brel…, Evita, and a new spin on Brecht with King of Thieves. Check out the rest of their offerings.