Where to find Shakespeare in June

André De Shields (Lear), Nicole King (Cordelia), and J. Samuel Davis (Kent) in “King Lear,” St. Louis Shakespeare Festival. Photo: Phillip Hamer Photography.

This month, Shakespeare theaters across the country are bringing live theater back! Take a look at what the Folger’s theater partners have onstage this month, along with virtual talks, online streaming shows, and audio productions.

Onstage and In-Person

Tony-winner André De Shields takes on the title role in the St. Louis Shakespeare Festival’s production of King Lear, which runs through June 27. Carl Cofield, Classical Theatre of Harlem Associate Artistic Director, directs the production, which the St. Louis Post-Dispatch calls “nothing short of spellbinding.” Tickets are free, but reservations are required.

⇒Related: Watch King Lear director Carl Cofield take on the Folger’s Shakespeare Lightning Round

Brian Mani, Sarah Day, Chiké Johnson & Tracy Michelle Arnold, “An Improbable Fiction,” at American Players Theatre, 2021. Photo by Liz Lauren.

June at the American Players Theatre includes Katori Hall’s The Mountaintop and James DeVita’s An Improbable Fiction.

In Hall’s play, running through June 19, Martin Luther King, Jr. returns to the Lorraine Motel after delivering what will be his last impassioned speech. A mysterious maid delivers his room service, but she seems to have more on her mind than a meal. As their conversation progresses, true intentions come to light in a story that proves that one need not be superhuman to be a hero.

It’s plague time in DeVita’s An Improbable Fiction, and Shakespeare’s characters are out of sorts and out of work. Several of our favorites reunite at The Boar’s Head Inn to celebrate life and ruminate on the state of the world. APT’s world premiere production of the play runs through June 26. Fun fact: American Players Theatre Acting Company-member Brian Mani returns to the role of Falstaff, whom he played in the Folger’s 2019 Brady Bunch-inspired production of The Merry Wives of Windsor.

APT’s season goes on to include An Iliad, Rough Crossing, Cymbeline, and more. If you can’t make it to company’s in-person performances, their APT at Home program will send the play to you! A filmed version of The Mountaintop is now available to view (tickets start at $32), while a filmed version of An Improbable Fiction will be available June 14. Tickets for at-home versions of An Iliad and Rough Crossing go on sale June 7.

The Cincinnati Shakespeare Company’s free productions of “Romeo and Juliet,” “Macbeth,” and “Midsummer” will tour over forty Cincinnati-area parks this summer.
The cast of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” from the Cincinnati Shakespeare Company.

This summer, the Cincinnati Shakespeare Company’s FREE Shakespeare in the Park Tour features three plays: Romeo and Juliet, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and Macbeth. Catch these six-actor productions in over forty parks around the Queen City. The performances are free and open to the public, no registration or RSVP needed. Show up early to snag the best seats and make sure there’s room for your picnic blanket, and remember to check your chosen venue’s specific COVID protocols.

There’s still time to catch Shakespeare Dallas’s Hamlet Project: performances continue June 10 – 13. It’s a daredevil world premiere performance event: The company commissioned one-actor interpretations of Hamlet from playwrights Migdalia Cruz and Erik Ahn. Each of the production’s actors is given a script they’ve never seen before just 24 hours before the curtain rises. Both plays are presented each night. Then, starting June 30, head back to the Samuell-Grand Amphitheatre for The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged) [Revised].

⇒Related: Writer Jonathan Croall joins us on Shakespeare Unlimited to discuss his book, Performing Hamlet: Actors in the Modern Age

Want more Shakespeare Dallas? Tune into to their Shakespeare Decoded podcast on your podcasting platform of choice. Each episode features a panel of experts from across the country exploring our shared humanity using Shakespeare as a cornerstone.

Ellsworth Kelly, “The Meschers,” 1951, oil on canvas, Museum of Modern Art.

Door Shakespeare’s one-actor Hamlet, adapted by Guy Roberts, opens June 30. Actor Ryan Schabach plays seventeen characters in this exciting 100 minute play. The production’s design is inspired, in part, by the art of Ellsworth Kelley: “Kelley’s work, particularly in the mid-60’s, was an exploration of solid, bold colors one another to create the images—the art—and we are playing with this idea in our scenic and costume design,” says director Michael Stebbins. “So, when Hamlet returns home at the top of the play, the mood is celebratory and colorful because of the recent marriage of his uncle to his mother, rather than funereal, because of his father’s recent passing.”

Can’t make it to Wisconsin? A filmed version of Hamlet will also be available to stream, with an opening date to be announced soon.

Through June 19, see Gamut Theatre Group’s free Shakespeare in the Park production of Hamlet, set in an “almost-but-not-quite post-pandemic world.” On June 10, 11, and 12, make sure to arrive early to catch Gamut’s Greenshow, a 15-minute spoof of Hamlet before the main performance.

At the Utah Shakespeare Festival, June features the openings of three long-awaited shows: Pericles, The Comedy of Errors, and Richard III. The season continues throughout the summer with shows including The Pirates of Penzance, Cymbeline, Intimate Apparel, and The Comedy of Terrors, a spooky, fast-paced, two-actor farce featuring plenty of pairs of twins.

There’s even more Shakespeare coming next month: the Chesapeake Shakespeare Company returns to live theater this summer with The Adventures of Pericles, starting July 2 at the PFI Historical Park in Ellicott City, Maryland. The ever-changing sea tosses Pericles from one fantastic journey to the next, as he encounters tyrant kings, riddles, shipwrecks, friends, and pirates. He eventually finds—and then sorrowfully loses—a family. Only a miracle can bring them together again, but in Shakespeare’s sweeping fairy tale there is a joyous reunion and a renewal of life.

Online and On-the-Air

Madeline Sayet performs “Where We Belong,” with Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company in association with the Folger. Photo: Jon Burklund.

In 2015, Madeline Sayet set off for England to pursue a PhD in Shakespeare. She never finished that degree; her play Where We Belong explains why. A new world premiere film adaptation of the Mohegan playwright, director, and performer’s play, produced by Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company and Folger Theatre, starts streaming this month. Where We Belong explores Sayet’s evolving relationship with Shakespeare, along with colonization, decolonization, language, and what it means to belong in a complex world. Stream the play on-demand June 14 – July 11. Plus, don’t forget to catch Sayet on the Folger’s Shakespeare Lightning Round, live on Instagram on June 30.

This month, listen to free audio plays from the Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival and Shakespeare@. Stream the Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival’s Macbeth, directed by Raz Gorman, through June 20. You can also get the details on the festival’s upcoming season from Associate Artistic Director Sean McNall on a new episode of the Folger’s Shakespeare Lightning Round, live on Instagram Wednesday, June 9 at 5 pm EDT.

Meanwhile, listen to Shakespeare@’s audio productions of The Tempest, Richard II, and Julius Caesar, featuring actors including Patrick Page, David Hargreaves, Keith Hamilton Cobb, Jordan Barbour, Sky Lakota-Lynch, Jamie Ballard, and Ashlie Atkinson.

Mark Murphey, Omoze Idehenre, Rodney Gardiner, Mildred Ruiz-Sapp in The Comedy of Errors, from the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, 2014. Photo: Jenny Graham.

Stream a film of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival’s 2014 The Comedy of Errors on the festival’s O! platform through June 26! Shakespeare’s romp gets a jazz-age update in director Kent Gash’s brisk, beautiful production, featuring songs of Cab Calloway and Duke Ellington.

Join the San Francisco Shakespeare Festival this month for two “Takes on Romeo and Juliet” watch parties: June 13 with the San Francisco Public Library and June 17 with the Redwood City Public Library.

Gather to watch the Romeo and Juliet episode of the Festival’s “Takes on Shakes” series, which tests out bold approaches to iconic scenes from Shakespeare. Romeo and Juliet director Chris Steele will provide live commentary between their three directorial “takes” of the iconic balcony scene, which will highlight gender norms through the centuries, changes in casting practices, and the role of gender-queerness in understanding the play and its language.


American Players Theatre, Chesapeake Shakespeare Company, Cincinnati Shakespeare Company, Door Shakespeare, Utah Shakespeare Festival, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, San Francisco Shakespeare Festival, Shakespeare@, St. Louis Shakespeare Festival, Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival, Gamut Theatre Group, and Shakespeare Dallas are members of the Folger’s Shakespeare Theater Partnership Program.

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