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Shakespeare & Beyond

What's onstage at Shakespeare theaters this winter

Sometimes it seems like January and February drag on forever. Thankfully, in 2023, there’s lots of thrilling theater to keep our spirits up. Here’s our round-up of performances from our theater partners across the United States this winter, including an acclaimed Afrofuturist Twelfth Night, two exciting festivals of new works, workshop productions, one-woman shows, and much more.

The cast of "The Merry Wives of Windsor" at the Atlanta Shakespeare Company.

It’s a busy winter at the Atlanta Shakespeare Company’s Shakespeare Tavern Playhouse. The Merry Wives of Windsor is onstage through January 29.

On January 22, catch a staged reading of Macbitches by Sophie McIntosh: When a freshman is unexpectedly given the coveted role of Lady Macbeth, a few upperclassmen actresses invite her over to “celebrate” her casting and reassert their positions at the top of the theatre department’s hierarchy. As the Fireball and Svedka flow, the girls interrogate their own sense of ambition as well as the power structures that have shaped their theatrical education.

Romeo and Juliet, a Valentine’s Day tradition for the company, comes to the stage starting February 4. Spring brings a new production of Pericleskicking off March 11.

The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged) [revised] [again] kicks off at Baltimore’s Chesapeake Shakespeare Company on February 10. Wildly comical, eccentric, and a bit outrageous, this high-speed chase through Shakespeare’s thirty-seven plays will leave you in tears of laughter. Can three madcaps in tights really cover all the comedies, histories, and tragedies in just under two hours? Maybe not, but it’s certainly fun to watch them try.

Jubilee is onstage at the Alabama Shakespeare Festival through January 29. Playwright and director Tazewell Thompson brings an innovative and heart-stirring score to life with this inspirational a cappella tribute inspired by the world-renowned Fisk Jubilee Singers. In February, join the festival for The Tempestdirected by Artistic Director Rick Dildine and starring ASF alumnus Greta Lambert as Prospero.

In rehearsal for "The Complete Works of Shakespeare (Abridged) [Revised] [Again]" at Chesapeake Shakespeare Company.
Catherine (Leah Brotherhead), surrounded by the Moors in Wise Children’s "Wuthering Heights," adapted and directed by Emma Rice, presented as part of Chicago Shakespeare Theater’s WorldStage Series, 2023. Photo: Muriel Steinke, courtesy Berkeley Repertory Theatre.

At the Chicago Shakespeare TheaterWise Children’s Wuthering Heights begins performances January 27. Groundbreaking theater-maker Emma Rice returns with an exuberant reimagining of Emily Brontë’s gothic masterpiece. Live music, dance, puppetry, and a dash of impish irreverence combine in an intoxicating revenge tragedy for our time. On the wild moors of Yorkshire, an orphaned Heathcliff is adopted by the Earnshaws and taken to live at Wuthering Heights, where he finds a kindred spirit in Catherine. As they grow up together, a fierce love ignites between them—and when forced apart, a brutal chain of events is unleashed in an epic story of passion, revenge, and redemption.

In March, Barbara Gaines revisits her signature interpretation of Shakespeare’s riotous A Comedy of Errors in her final production as the theater’s artistic director, with newly rewritten scenes penned by Second City veteran Ron West. An eccentric group of stage and screen actors gather on a London movie set in 1941 to film the play as much-needed comic relief for the troops. Backstage antics and hilarious complications abound as Antipholus and Dromio search for their identical twins, lost since infancy.

Winter at Cincy Shakes features "The Rewards of Being Frank" and "The Taming of the Shrew."

Beginning January 27, the Cincinnati Shakespeare Company is thrilled to present The Rewards of Being Frank, a world-premiere play that revisits the world of Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest. Produced in partnership with New York Classical Theatre, features Broadway star Christine Pedi and will move from Cincinnati to Off-Broadway in New York. Then, starting March 3, Cincy Shakes presents Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew with an unexpected reimagining.

The cast of "Twelfth Night," from The Classical Theatre of Harlem, 2022 Photo copyright Richard Termine.

The Classical Theatre of Harlem’s acclaimed, award-winning, Afrofuturist production of Twelfth Night returns for a special one-week engagement at New York University’s Skirball Center, February 11 – 19. Hailed as “fizzy and fun” by the New York Times, the comedy abounds with hilarity, mistaken identities, dance, and the intoxicating madness of love.

Moliere’s The Learned Ladies begins at the Classic Theatre of Maryland on February 10. Henriette is in love, but her liberated mother wants her to marry someone else: a posturing, unctuous fop masquerading as a poet! Will Henriette flee to a convent to escape her suitor’s insipid poetry? Will her mild-mannered father stand up for love? Find out!

The cast of Folger Theatre's reading of "Our Verse in Time to Come," part of The Reading Room Festival. Photo: Peggy Ryan.

Join us on Capitol Hill for Folger Theatre’s inaugural Reading Room festival, featuring four staged readings of new plays inspired by or in conversation with Shakespeare, plus post-show conversations and talks from artists and scholars. Hear new works by Lauren Gunderson (A Room in the Castle, originally commissioned by our partners at the Cincinnati Shakespeare Festival), Al Letson (Julius X), Reynaldo Piniella and Emily Lyon (a new bilingual Hamlet, with our partners at The Classical Theatre of Harlem), and Karen Ann Daniels and Malik Work (Our Verse in Time to Come), all brought to life by an unrivaled group of dynamic actors. Stick around after each performance for a moderated conversation with the playwrights and questions from the audience. Plus, join us on Saturday, January 21, for two Reading Room Conversations: Anti-Racism and Shakespeare, at 11 am, and a special chat with Lauren Gunderson and Al Letson at 5:30 pm.

January 26 – February 5, Theatre for a New Audience presents Richard II and Henry IV in intimate workshops exploring the plays with an eye toward future full productions. Directed by Eric Tucker (director of Sense and Sensibility and Saint Joan at Folger Theatre), the plays will be staged in-the-round with actors working script-in-hand. Richard II, Shakespeare’s prequel to Henry IV, is the story of the impulsive, willful, petulant King Richard, who is deposed by the strong-willed and politically savvy Henry Bolingbroke. The play introduces questions of usurpation, legitimacy, and the divine right of kings that will launch England on the road to civil war. The play features Christian Camargo (Coriolanus, Hamlet, and Pericles for TFANA) as Richard. It alternates with Dakin Matthews’s adaptation Henry IV, a celebrated condensation of Shakespeare’s Henry IVParts 1 and 2—about Bolingbroke’s turbulent reign—into a single three-act play.

The Old Globe begins 2023 with its annual Powers New Voices Festival, a weekend of readings of new American plays by some of the most exciting playwrights writing for the American theatre today. The festival happens this weekend, through January 15, and features, new works by Anna Ziegler, Melinda Lopez and Joel Perez, Aurora Real de Asua, Eliana Pipes, and Aaron Coleman. Tickets to the free festival must be reserved in advance. The free festival opens on January 12, 2023 and closes on January 15.

Beginning January 21, take a trip through the mind of a genius in The Notebooks of Leonardo da Vinciwritten and directed by Mary Zimmerman. In February, catch Under a Baseball Skya Globe-commissioned world premiere from José Cruz González, author of American Mariachi. When troublemaker Teo is put to work cleaning up a vacant lot belonging to his elderly neighbor, this unlikely pair forms a bond forged in history and America’s pastime.

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. The production’s online run has been extended through February 28.

Debra Ann Byrd in “Becoming Othello: A Black Girl’s Journey,” at Seattle Shakespeare Company. Photo: Robert Wade Photography.

Debra Ann Byrd’s Becoming Othello: A Black Girl’s Journey is onstage through January 29 at the Seattle Shakespeare Company. Byrd’s one-woman play chronicles the trials and triumphs of her life: her joy-filled and tumultuous youth growing up in Harlem, her experiences in foster care, her growth as a pregnant teen and single parent, her fateful encounter with a troupe of Shakespearean actors, navigating race and the classics, and, ultimately, her gender-flipped journey to playing Othello.

Shakespeare at Notre Dame kicks off the year with a new Actors From The London Stage staging of Romeo and Juliet, touring nationwide January through March. The troupe brings its unique blend of engaging classroom work and vivid performance to Brigham Young University, Rice University, Kansas State University, John Carroll University, the University of North Alabama, and the University of Notre Dame. Find a performance near you on the company’s website. More tour stops to be announced!

This season, Shakespeare at Notre Dame's Actors from the London Stage tours the US with a new production of "Romeo and Juliet."

This season the San Francisco Shakespeare Festival’s touring troupe hits the road for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic began. The five-actor troupe travels with set, costumes, and props throughout the state performing an hour-long production of Shakespeare’s classic comedy A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

Director Sydney Schwindt describes the show as being of great interest to her “because of two different avenues; environmentalism and consent.”

“Environmental work and environmentally-conscious theatre has always been at the core of my work as an artist and a human. We at SF Shakes are a member of the EarthShakes Alliance. During the pandemic, there was the first Globe4Globe Conference about Shakespeare and Environmentalism as well as EarthShakes launching their website with lots of resources. It was wonderful! I found myself incredibly inspired by the piece This Distemperature by Parrabola so named after Titania’s speech. I felt the relevancies of Midsummer even more reflected in the changing environment. I’m really interested in how we can highlight that in this condensed version. The fairies in our production will take the shape of local California flora and fauna and give a voice to our non-human neighbors.”

Public performances of Midsummer begin March 1. Find a tour stop near you on the festival’s website.

Alabama Shakespeare Festival, Atlanta Shakespeare Company, Chesapeake Shakespeare Company, Chicago Shakespeare Theater, Cincinnati Shakespeare Company, The Classical Theatre of Harlem, Classic Theatre of Maryland, Folger Theatre, Theatre for a New Audience, The Old Globe, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Shakespeare at Notre Dame, Seattle Shakespeare Company, and San Francisco Shakespeare Festival are members of the Folger’s Theater Partnership Program.