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Shakespeare & Beyond

What's onstage at Shakespeare theaters in May

On a day—alack the day!—
Love, whose month is ever May,
Spied a blossom passing fair,
Playing in the wanton air.

– Love’s Labor’s Lost, 4.3

May is the month for love, according to Dumaine in Love’s Labor’s Lost, and there’s plenty of it onstage this May is as our theater partners put on Romeo and Juliet, As You Like It, Love’s Labor’s, and more. Check out what’s on this month, then comment and tell us what you’re planning to see.

Folger Theatre

Here at the Folger, Metamorphoses is onstage through June 16. Mary Zimmerman’s adaptation of Ovid’s classic poem reimagines the loves, losses, and transformations of gods and mortals for our modern era. Director Psalmayene 24 and an all-Black cast interpret the play through the lens of the African diaspora.

African-American Shakespeare Company

In San Francisco, The Taming of the Shrew closes out the African-American Shakespeare Company’s 2023/24 season. Directed by Giulio Cesare Perrone and AASC Artistic Director L. Peter Callender, this “comedy with sharp teeth” as Callender calls it, sees Katherine and Petruchio showing up in 1970s San Francisco. “By setting the play here in San Francisco in the 1970s, just a few years post the summer of love, we can highlight some of the ridiculous, archaic behavior of men who, while they seem quite sure they have all the answers, we know they do not.” Amy Freed’s modern verse script, from Play On Shakespeare, allows the company the freedom to play with the play and put the SF Bay Area and its diversity front and center.

The African-American Shakespeare Company's "The Taming of the Shrew" begins May 11. Photo by Lindsey McIntire.

Atlanta Shakespeare Company

Can four young men attempt to honor their pledge to avoid love, food, drink and sleep, for the sake of becoming more intellectual and contemplative? Not in Shakespeare’s world! Love’s Labor’s Lost is onstage at the Atlanta Shakespeare Company’s Shakespeare Tavern Playhouse through May 26.

Romeo and Juliet, directed by Gerrad Alex Taylor, is onstage at the Chesapeake Shakespeare Company through May 12.

Chesapeake Shakespeare Company

The Play That Goes Wrong begins May 24 at the Cincinnati Shakespeare Company.

In Baltimore, there’s one more week to catch Chesapeake Shakespeare Company’s Romeo and Juliet, set in ‘70s Baltimore and directed by Gerrad Alex Taylor, who plays Bacchus and others in Folger Theatre’s Metamorphoses (he’s a busy guy). MD Theatre Guide calls the company’s Romeo and Juliet “classic, modern, hilarious, tragic, and a wonderful night’s entertainment.”

Cincinnati Shakespeare Company

The Play That Goes Wrong, the uproarious conclusion to Cincinnati Shakespeare Company’s 30th Anniversary Season, is a sidesplitting Off-Broadway and West End sensation depicting an amateur theater company’s disastrous opening night. Catch it onstage starting May 24, with REVEL, a special gala fundraiser, on May 31.

Chicago Shakespeare Theater

At the Chicago Shakespeare Theater Judgement Day, starring Jason Alexander and directed by Mortiz von Stuelpnagel, continues through May 26.

San Francisco Shakespeare Festival

May 11 at 2 pm, catch the final performance of the San Francisco Shakespeare Festival’s touring As You Like It, in the Koret Auditorium at the main branch of the San Francisco Public Library. Everyone’s invited, no ticket or reservation needed! After this final performance, As You Like It will have been performed 62 times at 52 different venues across Northern California.

St. Louis Shakespeare Festival

On May 29, Free Shakespeare in the Park returns to St. Louis’s Forest Park with the St. Louis Shakespeare Festival’s As You Like It. Director Nancy Bell’s production is funny, lusty, and full of heart and longing for a sweeter life, and features live music and new songs from St. Louis indie singer-songwriter Beth Bombara and a lavish gilded age setting.

Frances Domingos and Micaela Davis in San Francisco Shakespeare Festival’s touring production of As You Like It.
Opening night of St. Louis Shakespeare Festival's Twelfth Night, 2023.

Shakespeare Dallas

Shakespeare Dallas’ Educational School Tour programs, All the Worlds a Stage and Speak the Speech, are touring now. The programs are fast and furious compilations of Shakespeare’s plays that also offer an overview of Shakespeare’s use of language and writing forms. The 55-minute programs offer students historical context, immersive language games, and scenes from A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Romeo and Juliet, and As You Like It. Dallas-area schools can book performances here.

Shakespeare in Detroit

Shakespeare in Detroit’s fast-paced Victorian-era production of As You Like It pays homage to early Black silent films, in celebration of the Detroit Institute of Arts’ special exhibition Regeneration: Black Cinema 1898 – 1971. Using projection and footage from the era, Shakespeare in Detroit and director Lynch Travis tell the story of Rosalind and Orlando, one of Shakespeare’s most popular couples. “We wanted to honor the legacy of early black filmmakers who paved the way for diversity and inclusion in the entertainment industry,” says Sam White Shakespeare in Detroit Founding Artistic Director Sam White, “By setting As You Like It in the Victorian era and drawing parallels to pioneering silent films like Something Good, we hope to spark conversations about representation and celebrate the richness of our cultural heritage.” The production features ten student matinees, with public performances on May 17 and May 24 at 7 pm; catch the show at the Detroit Institute of Arts’ newly renovated Danto Lecture Hall.

Odysseus Bailer (Orlando) and Asia Mark (Rosalind) in Shakespeare in Detroit's As You Like It.

Tim Shawver as the Queen in The School for Lies, Southwest Shakespeare Company.

Southwest Shakespeare Company

Arizona’s Southwest Shakespeare Company closed its 2023/24 season the first weekend of May with a run of The School For Lies, David Ives’s adaptation of Moliere’s The Misanthrope, at Taliesin West, Frank Lloyd Wright’s winter home and studio. “Performing inside Frank Lloyd Wright’s theater is magical,” says Grant Mudge, the company’s new executive director. “It’s an ideally intimate space, in which the audience is close to the actors, but not right on top of them. It feels like our version of  the Blackfriars. Here, as you might expect, the architecture blends beautifully into the desert indoors and out. Perfect for theatre that looks at the world without and the mind within. And the views out over the city and up toward the mountains are simply gorgeous.” Mudge grew up in the Phoenix Area, and returned last July to lead the Southwest Shakespeare Company after twenty-eight years as founder of Richmond Shakespeare and as Marie Irene Ryan Producing Artistic Director of the our partner theater, the Notre Dame Shakespeare Festival.

Colorado Shakespeare Festival 2023 performance in the Roe Green Theatre. Photo by Jennifer Koskinen.

Colorado Shakespeare Festival

Looking ahead to next month: the Colorado Shakespeare Festival’s 2024 season kicks off in Boulder, Colorado on June 8. This summer’s productions are Macbeth, The Merry Wives of Windsor, and two original productions performances of Arden of Faversham. All three productions take place indoors in the newly-renovated Roe Green Theatre while CSF’s iconic outdoor venue undergoes renovation in 2024 and 2025.

African-American Shakespeare Company, Atlanta Shakespeare Company, Chesapeake Shakespeare Company, Chicago Shakespeare Theater, Cincinnati Shakespeare Company, Colorado Shakespeare Festival, San Francisco Shakespeare Festival, Shakespeare Dallas, Shakespeare in Detroit, St. Louis Shakespeare Festival, and Southwest Shakespeare Company are members of the Folger’s Theater Partnership Program