Two Tempests blow onstage this month, in Atlanta, GA and Bethesda, MD. Meanwhile, Macbeth conquers Seattle. Here’s what the Folger’s theater partners are up to in November.
Chicago Shakespeare Theater brings Measure for Measure to vivid life amidst the glamour, music, and sensuality of 1950s Cuba. Director Henry Godinez sets the action just before Fidel Castro seizes power, when Havana was the carefree playground of the rich, the famous—and the corrupt. Godinez shared his inspiration for reimagining Shakespeare’s searing examination of hypocrisy in this setting: “I was born in Cuba around the time of the revolution. Cuba has this intoxicating atmosphere, which is what drew movie stars and mobsters to Havana in the 1950s—and put money in the pockets of leaders, who soon became overwhelmed by power and greed.” Playing through November 27, the production transforms Chicago Shakespeare’s Courtyard Theater into a dazzling nightclub, complete with performances of mambo, bolero, and Afro-Cuban jazz.
After sold-out runs across the country Aaron Posner and Teller’s acclaimed staging of The Tempest comes to the Washington, DC area in a production from Round House Theatre in collaboration with Folger Theatre. In this Tempest, Prospero’s island transforms into a traveling tent show of trickery and amazement. The production “awakens… a sense of pleasurable, almost childlike wonder,” says The New York Times.
Another Tempest sets sail at the Atlanta Shakespeare Company‘s Shakespeare Tavern Playhouse through November 23. Founding Artistic Director Jeff Watkins plays Prospero. Director Jaclyn Hofmann Faircloth writes, “Shakespeare shows us the incredible potential for beauty, and the horrifying capacity for ugliness that magic can conjure in The Tempest… When does using these powers to manipulate and/or control others turn you into someone you no longer recognize?”
Cymbeline, a rarely performed “problem play” that explores timeless themes of power and agency through a uniquely layered narrative and language, comes to life in The Cymbeline Project, a 10-episode transmedia series from the Oregon Shakespeare Festival conceived by Artistic Director Nataki Garrett and created by Associate Artistic Director & Director of Innovation and Strategy Scarlett Kim, in collaboration with iconoclastic guest artists hailing from across disciplines and mediums. The Cymbeline Project interweaves theatrical performance captured from performers’ homes across the country with striking digitally rendered visual layers, creating a hybrid form of collage—part theatre and part film—that resonates with our complex contemporary experience of media.
At the Seattle Shakespeare Company, Macbeth is onstage through November 20. This production focuses on the relationship between Macbeth and Lady Macbeth, whose dual trauma in experiencing the loss of a child spurs them to actions they might not otherwise take. Fun fact: the blood-pumping arteries that spider through Pete Rush’s scenic design are branches from legacy rhododendron bushes painted red.
At American Players Theatre, Stones in His Pockets by Marie Jones is a charming two-hander featuring actors Nate Burger and Marcus Truschinski playing more than a dozen characters. 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. Like most sets, this one is rife with drama on stage and off as the American cast and crew try to immerse themselves in Jake and Charlie’s culture, and vice-versa. The play runs through November 20 in the 200-seat indoor Touchstone Theatre. Most performances are already sold out, so don’t wait to book your tickets.
Cincinnati Shakespeare Company kicks off the holiday season with a beloved family classic: Little Women. Kate Hamill, the playwright behind Folger Theatre’s acclaimed 2016 production of Sense and Sensibility, brings Louisa Mae Alcott’s novel to the stage. This cherished story of sisterhood, growing up, and Christmastime is perfect for the whole family. Little Women runs through December 3 and includes performances with accessible resources including Audio Described and Sign Language Interpreted performances.
Theatre for a New Audience presents the New York premiere of Denis Johnson’s Des Moines, directed by Arin Arbus. In a seedy apartment on the edge of Des Moines, an unlikely assortment of people come together for an impromptu party that takes them, by the evening’s end, on a dam-bursting ride down a stream-of-consciousness deluge. Downing depth chargers and singing karaoke, they struggle with the strange and unholy trinity of life, death, and sex in this work filled with dark humor and mystery. “What I write about,” Johnson observed, “Is the dilemma of living in a fallen world and asking why it is like this if there’s supposed to be a God.” The cast includes Johanna Day, Arliss Howard, Hari Nef, Michael Shannon, and Heather Alicia Simms. Des Moines opens November 29.
Atlanta Shakespeare Company, American Players Theatre, Cincinnati Shakespeare Company, Chicago Shakespeare Theater, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Seattle Shakespeare Company, and Theatre for a New Audience are members of the Folger’s Theater Partnership Program.