What’s onstage at Shakespeare theaters in October

King John (2022): Jessika D. Williams in “King John,” at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. Photo by Jenny Graham.

The fall harvest is ready, and this year, we’ve got a bumper crop of Shakespeare plays! If you’re in the mood for something spooky, you might enjoy the three productions of Macbeth our theater partners are staging this month, or perhaps the Cincinnati Shakespeare Company’s The Living Dead. October also features a special anniversary production from the Chesapeake Shakespeare Company and an opportunity to get to know one of Shakespeare’s contemporaries at the Baltimore Shakespeare Factory.

Macbeth is onstage at the Atlanta Shakespeare Company’s Shakespeare Tavern Playhouse through October 30.

Throughout the month, the Baltimore Shakespeare Factory presents Elizabeth Cary’s The Tragedy of Mariam, the earliest extant English-language play written and published by a woman. Cary likely wrote the play to be read or performed privately; in a digital recreation of these ’round-the-fireplace readings, join the company and your fellow theater-lovers on Zoom on October 13, 20, and 27 to read the play together, with the support of professional actors from the company.

Ron Heneghan and Elana Michelle in Chesapeake Shakespeare Company’s “Twelfth Night.” Photo by Caitlin Moore Photography.

Chesapeake Shakespeare Company’s Twelfth Night is onstage through October 23. They play, which was the company’s first-ever production back in 2002, kicks off a season-long 20th anniversary celebration. “I am delighted to be opening our 20th anniversary season with Twelfth Night, which has such meaning for the Chesapeake Shakespeare Company,” wrote producing Executive Director Lesley Malin, who performed in that first 2002 production. “It’s a sentimental choice, but it is also perhaps Shakespeare’s most perfect comedy. I know our audiences will have a wonderful time.” The 2022 production features a cast of CSC favorites directed Founding Artistic Director Ian Gallanar, who also directed the 2002 production.

Measure for Measure opens October 21 at the Chicago Shakespeare Theater. “Some rise by sin, and some by virtue fall” in Shakespeare’s searing examination of political corruption and social injustice; Celebrated director Henry Godinez sets the play in the turbulence of 1959 Cuba, during the pivotal moments before Fidel Castro seizes power.

Darnell Pierre Benjamin as Ben in “The Living Dead” at Cincinnati Shakespeare Company.

The Cincinnati Shakespeare Company ventures into spooky season with a world premiere of Isaiah Reaves’ The Living Dead, a new play inspired by the cult horror classic The Night of the Living Dead. The company is proud to present this world premiere, the first play in twenty years to be commissioned, developed, and produced a play entirely within their walls. The Living Dead runs from October 14 – 29.

Betsy Schwartz, Vilma Silva, Meme García in “King John,” at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. Photo by Jenny Graham.

At the Oregon Shakespeare FestivalKing John is onstage through October 29. Folger Board of Governors member Rosa Joshi directs a cast of female and non-binary performers in Shakespeare’s underrated history play. Plus, there’s still time to catch performances of Once on this Island, Confederates, The Tempest,  and Revenge Song: A Vampire Cowboys Creation.

At the Seattle Shakespeare Festival, Macbeth begins October 25. Directed by ACT Artistic Director John Langs, and featuring Reginald André Jackson and Alexandra Tavares, the play examines how devotion and pride can quickly turn into vanity and murder.

Acclaimed actors from Hollywood, Broadway, and London’s West End team up for Shakespeare@’s Shakespeare@ Home radio drama series. Conceived as an homage to the heyday of radio theater from the 1930s and ’40s, Shakespeare@ Home’s serial productions of Richard IIThe Tempest, and Julius Caesar are available to listen to for free on their website and streaming platforms like Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Soundcloud, and Stitcher. These acclaimed sonic productions feature stars from around the globe, including Tony-nominee Patrick Page (Broadway’s Hadestown), David Hargreaves (Shakespeare’s Globe’s Henry V, Fleabag), and Keith Hamilton Cobb (American Moor).

Shakespeare in Detroit’s summer youth production of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.”

Shakespeare in Detroit’s summer youth production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream is now available on YouTube. The live performance was filmed to share with their educational partner, Detroit Public Schools Community District and a general audience, to use as a tool in middle and high school classrooms. All of the featured actors in the play range in age from 13 –17 years old, giving students an opportunity to see their peers speak and perform the classical text.

Claire Redcliffe as Lady Macbeth and others in “Macbeth.” Photo by Jason Comerford, Shakespeare at Notre Dame.

Actors From The London Stage, the renowned 5-actor touring group presented by Shakespeare at Notre Dame, returns to the road throughout the fall with a new staging of Macbeth. Starring Roger May, Anne Odeke, Claire Redcliffe, Annabelle Terry, and Michael Wagg, Macbeth’s powerful tale of ruthless ambition and murder remains as relevant as ever. The tour takes the group far and wide, from Indiana, Illinois and North Carolina to Florida, California, Hawaii, and even Bermuda. The performance is already playing to sellout crowds and promises to be one of the troupe’s most successful tours yet.

David Strathairn in “Remember This: The Lesson of Jan Karski” at Theatre for a New Audience. Photo: Hollis King.

Remember This: The Lesson of Jan Karski, at Theatre for a New Audience, has been extended through October 16. This New York premiere stars Oscar-nominated actor David Strathairn portraying the Polish World War II hero and Holocaust witness Jan Karski. In a Critic’s Pick review, The New York Times called it “a remarkable showcase for Strathairn, who… manages to communicate both Karski’s extraordinary moral strength and his passionate reactions to what he sees.” After premiering at Georgetown University’s Laboratory for Global Performance and Politics in 2019, the show, written by Clark Young and director Derek Goldman, played at the Shakespeare Theatre Company and Chicago Shakespeare Theater.

At the American Players Theatre, Stones in his Pockets begins October 27. Two down-on-their-luck men in a down-on-its-luck Irish town are given what they hope is a chance at the good life. Jake and Charlie have been cast as extras in a Hollywood movie—a shaft of light through the clouds of their dreary rural existence. Like most sets, this one is rife with drama on stage and off—some hilarious and some heartbreaking—as the American cast and crew try to immerse themselves in Jake and Charlie’s culture, and vice-versa. Two actors, Nate Burger and Marcus Truschinski, play all fifteen characters. October’s  opening performances are sold out, but seats are still available in November.

American Players Theatre, Atlanta Shakespeare Company, Baltimore Shakespeare Factory, Chesapeake Shakespeare Company, Chicago Shakespeare Theater, Cincinnati Shakespeare Company Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Seattle Shakespeare, Shakespeare@, Shakespeare at Notre Dame, Shakespeare in Detroit, and Theatre for a New Audience are members of the Folger’s Theater Partnership Program.