Shakespeare & Company rolls out a season of "delight, deceit, desire"

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LENOX — Three plays by Shakespeare & Company's namesake playwright; four plays by modern playwrights; and the Shakespeare & Company debut of a prominent 19th century Scandinavian playwright add up to what is described as a season of "delight, deceit, desire" this summer at the theater company's Tina Packer Playhouse and Elayne P. Bernstein Theatre.

Add to that "respect."

"There is so much divisiveness these days," Shakespeare & Company artistic director Allyn Butrows told a gathering of theater writers and Shakespeare & Company board members, staffers and artists Tuesday morning in the Tina Packer Playhouse lobby.

"Where do we fall on that spectrum? What do we say as a theater company? We want to be unifiers.

"This is an open landscape," Burrows said firmly, glancing out at the surrounding Packer Playhouse terrace and the open field and buildings beyond, "[and that says something about] how we feel about poison, about disrespect for women. We start from a place of feeling very adamant about [showing] respect."

Stating in no uncertain terms that there is no place at Shakespeare & Company for harassment and disrespect, particularly of women, Burrows said "everyone is welcome" to Shakespeare & Company. "We are here with open arms."

The season begins May 24 in the Elayne P. Bernstein Theatre with the New England premiere of "Morning After Grace," featuring Corinna May and directed by Regge Life, who directed last season's production of "God of Carnage," and ends Oct. 7, also in the Bernstein, with the final performance of Taylor Mac's "HIR," directed by Alice Reagan, who directed "Or..." at Shakespeare & Company in 2016, and featuring Elizabeth Aspenlieder and Martin Jason Asprey,

As was the case last season, the Bernstein, the smaller of Shakespeare & Company's two indoor theaters, will be the workhorse this summer. In addition to "Morning After Grace," which runs through July 15, and "HIR," which opens Sept. 13, the Bernstein will house Simon Stephens' offbeat two-character "Heisenberg," directed by Tina Packer and featuring Tamara Hickey and Malcolm Ingram, Aug. 11-Sept. 2; Terrence McNally's "Mother and Sons," directed by James Warwick and starring Annette Miller, Aug. 16-Sept. 9; and David Greig's adaptation of 19th century Swedish playwright August Strindberg's "Creditors," featuring Jonathan Epstein and Kristin Wold. Nicole Ricciardi, who directed "4000 Miles last summer, will direct. This will be the first Strindberg play Shakespeare & Company has produced in its 41 years.

Shakespeare will be represented in the Tina Packer Playhouse by "Macbeth," with Jonathan Croy and Tod Randolph under the direction of Melia Bensussan, July 3-Aug 5; a Roaring Twenties treatment of "As You Like It," which Burrows will direct outdoors in a reconfigured Roman Garden Theatre, Aug. 9-Sept. 2; and "Love's Labor's Lost," directed by Kelly Galvin, July 10-Aug. 18, outdoors in The Dell at The Mount, Edith Wharton;s estate. The family oriented Dell production typically has been Shakespeare & Company's schools touring show. "Love's Labor's Lost" is being mounted specifically for The Dell, Burrows said.

The season's choices, Burrows said, are the result of a process of vigorous give-and-take and hearty discussion among himself, staff and trustees.

"All the plays have impact for us," Burrows said, "but they also have humor. They are all plot driven and they're about relationships. For us, the writing has to be sublime.

"These shows come out of something broader than a brochure."


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