As the school year begins and autumn approaches, there are lots of ways to engage with Shakespeare and his plays. Many of our Shakespeare theater partners are hard at work creating engaging digital content, from Door Shakespeare’s painstakingly-assembled film version of J.M. Barrie’s Rosalind to Theatricum Botanicum’s upcoming month of online programming. Meanwhile, others are beginning to mount innovative, socially-distanced in-person performances. Here’s where to find Shakespeare (and more), online and in-person, this September.
Explore Online Experiences
Brave Spirits Theatre’s Online Reading Festival of history plays by Shakespeare’s contemporaries wrapped up yesterday evening with a virtual performance of John Ford’s play about a pretender to the throne, Perkin Warbeck. Performed by a group of guest artists from Scotland, you can catch a recorded version of the reading on YouTube.
The Classical Theatre of Harlem’s Behind The Curtain series continues to grow: now, check out a reading of Claude McKay’s poem Like a Strong Tree from Da 5 Bloods’ star Delroy Lindo. Plus, clips from the theater’s production of The Bacchae, interviews with playwrights Tracey Scott Wilson and Will Power, and more..
Through September 13, Door Shakespeare presents a virtual production of J.M. Barrie’s 1914 one-act comedy Rosalind. The company delivered identical sets and costumes to each actor’s home (including fake fireplaces), then filmed three versions of each scene from three different angles using the actors’ cell phones (read about the process in a piece from the Door County Pulse). The resulting 45-minute production is a heartfelt roller-coaster of a comedy that moves through the emotional highs and lows of first love, questions what it means to be one’s true self, and examines the powerful pull of a life on the stage and the sacrifices that one is willing to make for the sake of art.
Here at the Folger, our Shakespeare Lightning Round series continues on September 9 at 5 pm ET with an Instagram Live chat with the Folger’s Director of Education, Peggy O’Brien. We’ll talk about students, Shakespeare, and the start of a new school year. Plus, we’ll learn Peggy’s answers to our thirty lightning-fast Shakespeare questions. Want to catch up on past episodes of the Shakespeare Lightning Round? Watch them on our IGTV.
On September 10, the Nashville Shakespeare Festival hosts Black Actors on Shakespeare, a candid virtual discussion with Black actors, directors, and educators on their experiences with Shakespeare. The panel, hosted by Kenny Dozier, the Nashville Shakespeare Festival’s new producer and Founding Artistic Director of Kennie Playhouse Theatre, features Debra Ann Byrd of Harlem Shakespeare, Jacqueline Springfield of The Black Arts Institute at Stella Adler, and others.
The Notre Dame Shakespeare Festival’s complete series of online events for the summer of 2020 are available on their website, including over a dozen readings, performances, panels, and live Q&As, all free to watch through July 2021.
Tune into one of the San Francisco Shakespeare Festival’s free live performances of King Lear on YouTube, through September 27. Each show is performed live by actors in their respective homes in front of green screens. Their performances are Zoomed to Technical Director Neal Ormond’s home studio, where he composites the actors’ images, in real time, onto a common scenic background for an ensemble performance.
Check out a series of bite-sized explorations of topics and themes in Shakespeare from Theatre for a New Audience: Sheltering with Shakespeare, conceived and performed by actor, teacher, dramaturg, and scholar Dakin Matthews is a free series of thirty brilliant, accessible episodes, each five to ten minutes long, about Shakespeare. Some episodes focus on Matthews’ “common sense” approach to performing Shakespeare; others are about a play, a scene, a sonnet, a character, a phrase, or even a word. Each video will send the viewer off on an unpredictable journey into the heart, mind, and art of Shakespeare. New episodes are released weekly and are available to watch for one week.
Starting September 10, Will Geer’s Theatricum Botanicum is hosting Carry It On! —a month of free events on Zoom including a screening of a rarely-seen Will Geer film about a medieval acting troupe, behind-the-scenes tales from the theater, storytime for children with puppets, special guests including Cooper Barnes (Nickelodeon’s Captain Man) and award-winning actor Beau Bridges, and the music of Woody Guthrie, all culminating in a star-studded gala hosted by Better Things’ Pamela Adlon. Reserve free tickets on Theatricum’s website.
Revisit the Alabama Shakespeare Festival’s Play On! series of virtual resources, including conversations with Artistic Director Rick Dildine, short new plays written for you to watch online, and ASF coloring pages.
Since March, The Old Globe’s Erna Finci Viterbi Artistic Director Barry Edelstein has been demystifying Shakespeare’s sonnets in his Thinking Shakespeare Live: Sonnets! series. That’s just one of The Old Globe’s many online theater programs, all of which aim to share the joy of theater-making with all.
Visit a Virtual Gala
Galas are often black-tie affairs, but this year, some theater companies are hosting virtual galas that you can join in the comfort of a pair of sweatpants in your own home. A number of these virtual galas are free or suggest a voluntary donation; no matter what, they’re great opportunities to join a community, support a company you love, and get a little bit fancy-shmancy (or not!).
The 2020 Folger Gala, co-chaired by José Andrés and Patricia Fernández de la Cruz, will stream live on Monday, September 14, at 7 pm ET. Join us for a virtual evening of wit, entertainment, and celebration, free on YouTube, Facebook, and folger.edu.
September 19 at 8 pm ET, tune into the Annapolis Shakespeare Company’s Virtual Fundraiser Gala, the first-ever online celebration of everything Annapolis Shakespeare Company is about. Featuring music, virtual interviews, and special guest stars, you can reserve a ticket to the event with a donation of your choosing. Your donation will be doubled as a part of Annapolis Shakespeare Company’s ongoing COVID Recovery Campaign.
The Idaho Shakespeare Festival hosted its virtual gala on August 17, but you can still join in by watching the video on YouTube.
Catch a Show In-Person
Starting September 25, the American Players Theatre’s “If These Trees Could Talk” is an immersive, auditory experience. You’ll follow the paths around APT’s glorious property on a self-guided tour, as you listen to recorded poetry, stories, and recollections read by APT’s core company and other talented artists.
The American Shakespeare Center’s repertory performances of Othello and Twelfth Night continue through October. Can’t make it to the ASC’s home in Staunton, Virginia? Othello is available digitally through September 14 via the Center’s partnership with MarqueeTV.
There’s still one more chance to catch the Cincinnati Shakespeare Company’s Free Shakespeare in the Park performance of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, this Friday, September 11, 7 pm ET, at 3CDC Washington Park. Or, listen to a radio version of the production made possible by radio station WXVU!
Feel like you’ve been living in a Chekhov play lately? If you live near Harrisburg, PA, you might enjoy Gamut Theatre’s Chekhov Comedy: Love Hurts, a double bill featuring Chekhov’s one-acts The Marriage Proposal and The Boor. Extensive health and safety protocols are in place for the performances, and the actors live in their own “bubble.” Shows begin September 12.
Edit: The Oregon Shakespeare Festival’s virtual Dare to Dream Gala, originally featured in this post, has been postponed to October 24 at 8 pm ET/5 pm PT. The Dare to Dream Gala will be free and open to all—we’ll see you there in October!
The Alabama Shakespeare Festival, American Players Theatre, American Shakespeare Center, Annapolis Shakespeare Company, Brave Spirits Theatre, Classical Theatre of Harlem, Door Shakespeare, Gamut Theatre, Nashville Shakespeare Festival, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, San Francisco Shakespeare Festival, The Old Globe, Theatre for a New Audience, and Will Geer’s Theatricum Botanicum are theater partners of the Folger Shakespeare Library.