With its two-performance special production of Henry VI, Part 3, Colorado Shakespeare Festival has completed the canon—meaning it has staged all of Shakespeare’s plays—for the second time in its 60-season history. CSF is the second-oldest Shakespeare festival in the United States.
Henry VI, Part 3, which closed on Tuesday, was one of CSF’s “original practices” productions, now in their fourth season, in which actors rehearse for just 20 hours with scripts that only contain their characters’ lines and cues. These photos are from last year’s production of Henry VI, Part 2.
So, exactly how many plays do you need to produce to say that you’ve “completed the canon”? Colorado Shakespeare Festival pegs it at 38, as does Cincinnati Shakespeare Company. Utah Shakespeare Festival is more than halfway to its goal of 38 plays between 2012 and 2023 for its “Complete the Canon” initiative.
But other theaters choose different numbers: 37 at Oregon Shakespeare Festival (which does not include The Two Noble Kinsmen) and 39 at Atlanta Shakespeare Company (which includes Edward III), for example.
Oregon Shakespeare Festival
OSF has completed the Shakespeare canon an astounding four times, in 1958, 1978, 1997, and 2016. Note the roughly 20-year period between each completion; OSF aims to halve that time for its fifth cycle. These photos are from Timon of Athens, the final production in the canon cycle that ended in 2016.
Cincinnati Shakespeare Company
Cincinnati Shakespeare Company completed the canon for its 20th anniversary season in 2014 with The Two Noble Kinsmen. See a list of the plays, the years CSC performed them, and photos from the productions.
Atlanta Shakespeare Company
In March 2011, Atlanta Shakespeare Company completed the canon with repertory performances of The Two Noble Kinsmen and Edward III.
Atlanta Shakespeare Company, Cincinnati Shakespeare Company, Colorado Shakespeare Festival, and Oregon Shakespeare Festival are theater partners of the Folger Shakespeare Library.