Folger Theatre annually performs a three-play season of innovative productions designed to forge strong connections with modern audiences, continuing the lively legacy of Shakespearean stagecraft. While Shakespeare is central to its mission, the Theatre has produced a variety of other classical works, as well as new plays related to or inspired by Shakespeare.
Since 1992, led by Artistic Producer Janet Alexander Griffin, Folger Theatre has staged more than half of the plays in Shakespeare’s First Folio.
Highlights from Folger Theatre’s producing history include these Helen Hayes Award nominees for outstanding resident play: The Taming of the Shrew (2013, recipient), Hamlet (2010, recipient), Henry VIII (2010), Arcadia (2009), Macbeth (2008), Measure for Measure (2007, recipient), The Two Gentlemen of Verona (2006), Melissa Arctic (2006), She Stoops to Conquer (2002), Shakespeare’s R & J (2001), Much Ado About Nothing (1998), and Romeo and Juliet (1997).
In collaboration, Folger Theatre produced with The Classical Theatre of Harlem a sell-out King Lear starring André DeShields and with Two River Theater Company staged two productions—a magical Macbeth co-directed by Teller and Aaron Posner and the world premiere of Anne Washburn’s adaptation Orestes: A Tragic Romp.
Exhibitions from the Folger collection inspire memorable productions like David Garrick’s The Clandestine Marriage, Maxwell Anderson’s Elizabeth the Queen which starred Michael Learned, and Henry VIII. Cross-disciplinary projects with Folger Consort—such as The Second Shepherds’ Play, Tempest, and Purcell’s The Fairy Queen with Sir Derek Jacobi, Richard Clifford, and Lynn Redgrave—take advantage of the Folger’s unique resources. Folger Theatre not only produces Shakespeare’s classics but is also a stage for new plays, including Roger Rees’ What You Will and Lynn Redgrave’s Shakespeare for My Father and Rachel and Juliet.
Folger Theatre has received 116 nominations and 20 Helen Hayes Awards for excellence in acting, direction, design, and production.
About the Elizabethan Theatre
The intimate Elizabethan Theatre is the setting for Folger Theatre productions. With its three-tiered wooden balconies, carved oak columns, and half-timbered facade, the theater evokes the courtyard of an English Renaissance inn. Overhead, a canopy represents the sky. In Shakespeare’s day, such inns often served as playhouses for traveling groups of players, who performed on a raised platform at one end while spectators gathered in the yard and on the balconies above.
About the Artistic Producer
Janet Alexander Griffin has been artistic producer of the Folger Theatre since its establishment in 1992. Under her leadership Folger Theatre has garnered a reputation for producing innovative interpretations of Shakespeare’s works as well as his contemporaries and has been recognized for its excellence by the Helen Hayes Awards. She also serves as the director of the Folger’s Division of Public Programs, which produces a series of early music by the Folger Consort, poetry, lectures, and, in conjunction with the PEN/Faulkner Foundation, a fiction readings series.
Folger Theatre employs members of Actors Equity Association, the Society of Stage Directors and Choreographers, and United Scenic Artists. It is a member of the League of Washington Theatres, Cultural Tourism DC, the Cultural Alliance of Greater Washington, Theatre Communications Group, and Shakespeare Theatre Association.