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Williamstown Theatre Festival to present season on Audible

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WILLIAMSTOWN — The Williamstown Theatre Festival is going digital this summer in response to the coronavirus outbreak.

The Tony Award-winning theater is teaming with Audible, a producer and provider of original spoken-word material and audiobooks for the Internet, to produce its entire 2020 season.

"In compliance with Massachusetts Governor Baker's orders ... combined with the effects of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and anticipated measures at the federal, state, and local level, Williamstown Theatre Festival is unable to proceed with the theatre season in Williamstown," according to a statement release Tuesday.

"Forged during and in response to a fraught moment in history, this unprecedented collaboration between two industry leaders preserves the Festival season in a different format, provides continued work for the artists involved in the Festival season, and produces a body of work that will be made available for global Audible listeners to enjoy and experience," the statement read. "It also marks the first time that a theatrical season of work will be produced on Audible."

Release dates of the Williamstown shows will be announced.

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Highlighting the Williamstown season of chiefly world premieres — it was scheduled to begin at the end of June with shows in the Main Stage and the smaller Nikos Stage at Williams College's '62 Center for Theatre and Dance — is an American classic, Tennessee Williams' "A Streetcar Named Desire," in a highly anticipated production directed by Robert O'Hara and starring Audra McDonald as Blanche DuBois, Bobby Cannavale as Stanley and Carla Gugino as his wife, Stella.

Also scheduled are Anna Ziegler's "Photograph 51" and the world premieres of Leslye Headland's "Cult of Love"; "Wish You Were Here" by Sanaz Toossi; "Chonburi International Hotel & Butterfly Club" by Shakina Nayfack; "Row," a musical by Daniel Goldstein (book) and Dawn Landes (music and lyrics); and "Animals" by Stacy Osei-Kuffour.

In addition to McDonald, Cannavale, and Gugino, the roster of actors at Williamstown this season includes Dylan Baker, Kate Burton, Anna Chlumsky, Michael Esper, Taylor Schilling and Annie Golden. Additional casting will be announced.

"This virus might get to tell us what we cannot do but it does not get to dictate what we can do," WTF artistic director Mandy Greenfield said in the release. "The voices of these artists will be heard. Through this alliance with Audible, we keep artists and the generative artistic process centered and steady through this unspeakably difficult moment when public gathering simply isn't possible. "

"Williamstown and its artists have consistently produced some of the most memorable theater of our time," Audible artistic director Kate Navin said in the news release. "Deeply dedicated to our mission of bringing more theater to more people, Audible is thrilled to collaborate with Williamstown in making an extraordinary lineup available to millions of people worldwide."Doctors, nurses, healthcare workers and scientists are on the frontlines saving humanity right now," Greenfield said. "Theater makers can only continue to create work that gives the life we arrive at on the other side of this crisis, meaning, depth, humor and beauty."


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