Shakespeare & Company Stars for 2013

Tina Packer, Olympia Dukakis, John Douglas Thompson Return

By: - Feb 11, 2013

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Now in its 35th season for the past few years Tony Simotes has served as the second artistic director the venerable Shakespeare & Company. He took over from founder Tina Packer during a period of fiscal crisis. Under his leadership the company has stabilized its debt and has renewed its artistic mandate, vision, creativity and energy.

In announcing the 2013 season Simotes has put in place a spectacular program.

Freed from the day to day responsibilities of running the company Tina Packer has been on the road for the past couple of years with her two person show, with Nigel Gore, Women of Will. It is currently running in New York Off Broadway where it has been well received by critics. Packer returns this season in a two character play The Beauty Queen of Leenane with company member Elizabeth Aspenlieder.

Two of the highlights of the 2012 season featured Olympia Dukakis in The Tempest and S&Co. board member, John Douglas Thompson, in a new play by Wall Street Journal Drama Critic, Terry Teachout’s, Satchmo at the Waldorf.

Remarkably not only will these superb actors return to the Berkshires they will perform together in the 20th century classic Mother Courage.

Following a successful premiere last summer Thompson toured with Satchmo in New Haven then Philadelphia. Last spring he played Joe Mott in an acclaimed revival of Eugene O’Neill’s The Iceman Cometh. The Chicago production at the Goodman Theatre also featured Nathan Lane and Brian Dennehy.

Thompson has a solid Berkshire fan base for his work in Othello and Richard III. Paired with Dukakis Mother Courage is sure to sell out.

Overall this promises to be an astonishing season for the company.

Shakespeare & Company Press Release

Following a record-breaking 35th Season, Shakespeare & Company Artistic Director Tony Simotes  announces the 2013 summer lineup of plays that will take place in the Tina Packer Playhouse and the Elayne P. Bernstein Theatre, including a number of special events that will underscore those productions. The highlights of the 2013 Summer Season include two full productions of Shakespeare: Love’s Labour’s Lost and Richard II, both of which will be performed for the first time on the Tina Packer Playhouse stage, as well as the previously announced Mother Courage and Her Children, directed by Simotes and starring Academy Award winner Olympia Dukakis, Apollo Dukakis, and OBIE Award winner John Douglas Thompson. Tickets will go on sale on February 14, 2013, and can be purchased online at or by calling 413-637-3353.

2013 Summer Season

Love’s Labour’s Lost, Shakespeare’s hilarious romp of wit, will open the summer season in the Tina Packer Playhouse, receiving its first main stage production at 70 Kemble Street. Under the direction of Lisa Wolpe, Love’s Labour’s Lost will feature Mark Bedard, who is making his S&Co. debut, and Company favorite Jonathan Croy (King Lear). Wolpe is the Producing Artistic Director of the Los Angeles Women's Shakespeare Company, an all-female Shakespeare company that recently won the "Sustained Excellence" award from the Los Angeles Critics Circle. She returns to Shakespeare & Company, where she last played Sicinius, Brutus, and Valeria in Coriolanus (2001).

The Tina Packer Playhouse will also feature a special limited run of  Shakespeare’s rarely produced history play, Richard II, directed by longtime Shakespeare & Company member Timothy Douglas, featuring three-time OBIE Award winner Rocco Sisto in the title role and Tom O’Keefe as his nemesis, Henry Bolingbroke. Sisto and O’Keefe were featured together in Joan Ackerman’s The Taster, which received its critically acclaimed world premiere at Shakespeare & Company in 2010. This ambitious undertaking will mark the first time Shakespeare & Company has staged a full production of Richard II in its history, and the first in a series of history plays that Shakespeare & Company will produce leading up to its 40th Anniversary Season. Designed to present a cohesive look at Shakespeare’s history plays, audiences will receive a rare chance to enjoy these stunning plays and take a unique, episodic journey that will span five seasons.

Bertolt Brecht’s timeless and profound statement on war, Mother Courage and Her Children, will continue the strong lineup in the Playhouse.The trio of Artistic Director Tony Simotes, Academy Award winner Olympia Dukakis and her brother, Apollo Dukakis, will reteam after their successful collaboration on The Tempest, which enjoyed a sold-out run in the Playhouse this past summer. Joining the cast will be OBIE Award winner John Douglas Thompson, the star of last summer’s Satchmo at the Waldorf. Thompson’s classical work, which includes performances as the titles roles in both Othello and Richard III at Shakespeare & Company, has prompted The New York Times to describe him as “one of the most compelling classical stage actors of his generation.” Olympia Dukakis has previously performed the role of Mother Courage to great critical acclaim. She recently completed a run in the title role of Elektra at the American Conservatory Theater in San Francisco, CA.

The 197-seat theatre, and part of the Bernstein Center for the Performing Arts, will offer a unique blend of provocative new works and modern classics.  Shakespeare & Company will kick off the Bernstein Theatre season with Terrence McNally’s riveting portrait of famed opera singer Maria Callas, Master Class. The role of Callas will be portrayed by Elliot Norton and IRNE Award-winner Annette Miller (Golda’s Balcony), star of last summer’s hit comedy, The Tale of the Allergist’s Wife. Daniel Gidron returns to Shakespeare & Company to direct the production. Gidron previously directed Miller in Golda’s Balcony (2002 and 2009), a performance that garnered Miller an Elliot Norton Award for Best Solo Performance. In addition to his work with Shakespeare & Company, Gidron’s directing credits include productions with the Lyric Stage Company, Gloucester State Company, and Merrimack Repertory, among many others. He is the Associate Director of the Nora Theatre Company in Cambridge, MA.

Following Master Class, Shakespeare & Company will once again revisit the work of Tom Stoppard, whose plays, Rough Crossing and The Real Inspector Hound, the Company has performed in recent years to critical and audience acclaim. This summer, Stoppard’s translation of Gérald Sibleyras’ play Heroes will be performed in the Bernstein Theatre, featuring longtime Company members Jonathan Epstein (The Tempest, King Lear), Malcolm Ingram (The Tale of the Allergist’s Wife), and Robert Lohbauer (Mengelberg and Mahler). The production will be directed by Kevin G. Coleman, who is currently directing Shakespeare & Company’s winter production of The Liar. Heroes is a bawdy and poignant piece about three World War I veterans in a retirement home, recounting their storied (and often hilarious) lives.

Founding Artistic Director Tina Packer will return to the Shakespeare & Company stage shortly after closing her Off-Broadway run of Women of Will in New York, performing in Irish playwright Martin McDonagh’s harrowing play, The Beauty Queen of Leenane. Packer will portray Mag, the manipulative mother of spinster Maureen (Elizabeth Aspenlieder). The play explores the nuances of their relationship, the layers of dysfunction, and a fleeting glimpse of hope for a better future. McDonagh is widely known as one of the most powerful voices in theatre and film, and The Beauty Queen of Leenane embodies all that is astute, provocative, and darkly comic about his work. Film, television, and theatre director Matthew Penn will helm the production.  Penn’s television directing credits include Damages with Glenn Close and Law and Order, for which he directed the Emmy-nominated 200th episode featuring Julia Roberts. He is the co-artistic director of the Berkshire Playwright’s Lab and has directed numerous theatrical productions for the Ensemble Studio Theater in New York City. This will be his Shakespeare & Company debut.

“As we turn the page on our record-breaking 35th Season, I couldn’t be more energized about the future of Shakespeare & Company, and the potential of this great season,” says Artistic Director Tony Simotes. “I’m so proud of what we achieved last year, and confident that our 36th Season will only continue our positive momentum. I’m delighted to welcome back a number of artists who made our 35th Season such an incredible success, including Olympia Dukakis, Rocco Sisto, and John Douglas Thompson, three dear friends of mine, who will be playing very different roles from the ones they portrayed last summer. I’m also pleased to welcome a few new artists, like Mark Bedard, who is amongst the finest Shakespearean actors in the country.

“As President and Artistic Director of Shakespeare & Company, I’m extremely pleased by how far we’ve come over the past couple of years. A financial turnaround of this magnitude is no small feat. It requires a committed staff, a talented core group of actors, and the support of extraordinarily loyal patrons who are inspired by what we do and invested in us as an organization. Our patrons proved last summer that there’s viability for a theatre that produces Shakespeare, new works, and strives to train and educate the next generation of theater makers as well as theatergoers. We’re incredibly blessed to have a fantastic Board of Trustees and Board of Overseers who, along with our Managing Director Nicholas J. Puma, Jr. have ensured that our Company will continue to be on the forefront of Shakespeare performance, actor training, and education. Our medium is very much alive – it continues, in the words of our namesake playwright, ‘to hold, as 'twere, the mirror up to nature.’

“I’m also happy that we’ve had several opportunities to open our doors to new segments of the community. Last year, we hosted the Berkshire British Motorcar Festival, the Berkshire Arts Festival – and we continued as the home of the weekly Lenox Farmer’s Market. I hope to continue this trend again this year, and look forward to any and all possibilities to connect with the public and our business partners.

“Our 36th Season is going to be a very exciting time for our organization. In the fall, we will celebrate the 25th Anniversary of the Fall Festival of Shakespeare, an incredible milestone for our Education Program and a testament to its enduring impact on quite literally thousands of our young people.

“Needless to say, with so many exciting things in store for 2013, I just can’t wait for the summer to arrive.”

Tickets for the 2013 summer performance season may be purchased on or after February 14, 2013, online at

, or by calling 413-637-3353. Ticket prices range from $10 - $95, with discounts from 10% - 50% available for groups, students, seniors, teachers, and the military. Once again, Shakespeare & Company will offer the very popular 40% Off Berkshire County Residents Discount.The Company’s family-friendly Bankside show, which will be announced in the coming weeks, is free for kids and students.

Both the Tina Packer Playhouse and Elayne P. Bernstein Theatres are wheelchair accessible, air conditioned, and hearing-aid assisted. To learn more about discount availability, to order tickets or request a season brochure, visit


For GROUP BOOKINGS, parties, and special event rental information, contact David Joseph, Director of Group Sales and Special Events, at 413-637-1199 ext. 132 or

SAVE BIG NOW! Purchase Shakespeare & Company’s “3 for 99 Deal” and get any three productions of your choice during the 2013-2014 Season for just $99. The “3 for 99 Deal” makes a GREAT GIFT IDEA all year long. Contact the Box Office at (413) 637-3353 or email for details on the “3 for 99 Deal” today! Please note the “3 for 99 Deal” is available for a limited time only, excludes Saturday evening performances and cannot be combined with any other discounts. Please Note: The “3 for 99 Deal” must include at least one show each from the Tina Packer Playhouse and the Elayne P. Bernstein Theatre. For more information, contact the Shakespeare & Company Box Office. 


Love’s Labour’s Lost

June 22 though September 1. Press opening: June 29
By William Shakespeare
Directed by Lisa Wolpe
Featuring Mark Bedard and Jonathan Croy

“They have been at a great feast of languages, and stolen the scraps.”

Love's Labour's Lost is a delightful comedy serving up a feast of language, clowning, dance, and romance. The beautiful Ladies of France meet the Lords of Navarre, and disguises and deception lead to marriage proposals in a whirlwind of good intentions and broken promises. How can you create a lasting relationship while pursuing personal perfection and power? How do you educate the heart as well as the head? These ancient struggles are the stuff of constant confusion in this contemporary exploration of the labyrinth of love.

Love’s Labour’s Lost will feature Mark Bedard (Berowne) making his Shakespeare & Company debut. Bedard recently played Captain Spaulding in Animal Crackers, capping five seasons as a top comedian at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. He is currently starring as Vladimir in Waiting for Godot at San Francisco Bay area Marin Theater. Bedard will be joined by Company favorite Jonathan Croy (King Lear), celebrating his 28th season with Shakespeare & Company. Bedard and Croy will be under the direction of Lisa Wolpe, Producing Artistic Director and Founder of the Los Angeles Women's Shakespeare Company, an all-female Shakespeare company. She will also play Hamlet for that company's twentieth anniversary later this year, directed by Timothy Douglas (director of Richard II).
Richard II
July 5 through July 21. Press opening: July 12
(Special Limited Run)
By William Shakespeare
Directed by Timothy Douglas
Featuring Rocco Sisto and Tom O’Keefe

“Mine honour is my life; both grow in one.”

How does a state contend with a barbarous ruler who is perceived to be appointed by God? King Richard II has designed the murder of his uncle, wasted public funds, and used the influence of his crown to misrule a nation. Not until Richard banishes Henry Bolingbroke does he create an enemy skeptical of his divine mandate who is intent on constructing his demise. 

The production features founding Company member and three-time OBIE Award winner Rocco Sisto in the title role. Sisto was last seen as Caliban in The Tempest, a role he’s performed twice at the Company to critical acclaim. He will be joined by Tom O’Keefe as Henry Bolingbroke, reteaming the duo after a appearing together in the world premiere of Joan Ackerman’s The Taster at Shakespeare & Company in 2010. After appearing in both Shakespeare productions last summer, Timothy Douglas returns to direct Richard II. Douglas last directed at Shakespeare & Company in 2007 with Joe Penhall’s psychoanalytic drama, Blue/Orange, a highlight of the Company’s 30th Season.
Mother Courage and Her Children
July 26 through August 25. Press opening: August 2
By Bertolt Brecht
Directed by Tony Simotes
Featuring Olympia Dukakis, Apollo Dukakis, and John Douglas Thompson

“I won't let you spoil my war for me. Destroys the weak, does it? Well, what does peace do for'em, huh? War feeds its people better.”

Considered by many to be one of the greatest plays of the 20th Century, Mother Courage and Her Children is set against the backdrop of the Thirty Years War and follows the fate of Mother Courage, an artful canteen woman with the Swedish Army, intent on keeping her business and family alive amid the destruction of war. Mother Courage and Her Children still resonates today as a profound insight into the moral implications of war.

Academy Award winner Olympia Dukakis, Apollo Dukakis, and Artistic Director Tony Simotes reteam after the critically acclaimed, sold out run of The Tempest during Shakespeare & Company’s 35th Season. “I had a terrific time last summer exploring The Tempest with Tony and the amazing cast and crew,” Olympia Dukakis said when Mother Courage and Her Children was announced in the fall. “I consider Shakespeare & Company one of my artistic homes – a place of artistic support and enthusiasm. I jumped at the chance to get in the room with Tony and my brother again.”

OBIE Award winner John Douglas Thompson joins the cast in the role of The Cook. Thompson last appeared at Shakespeare & Company as Louis Armstrong in Satchmo at the Waldorf, a role he continued to play to critical and audience acclaim at the Long Wharf Theatre in New Haven, CT and the Wilma Theatre in Philadelphia, PA.

Master Class
May 24 through August 18. Press opening: May 31
By Terrence McNally
Directed by Daniel Gidron
Featuring Annette Miller and Deborah Grausman

“A performance is a struggle. You have to win.”

A master class with famed opera singer Maria Callas is an intimidating affair. Just ask Sophie, her first “victim” in Terrence McNally’s Tony Award-winning Master Class. McNally takes us inside Callas’ infamous sessions, which she conducted late in her career. Callas regales us with the details of her illustrious and controversial professional life, encouraging her pupils (and the audience) to take notes. Master Class prompts the question so often posed by artists: What is the price of fame?

Elliot Norton and IRNE Award winner Annette Miller will embody Callas in a true tour de force performance. Miller was last seen at Shakespeare & Company as the irrepressible Marjorie Taub in the Company’s 35th Season hit, The Tale of the Allergist’s Wife. Joining Miller will be Deborah Grausman, producer of Shakespeare & Company’s Broadway in the Berkshires benefit, the Company’s main fundraiser this year. Gausman’s acting credits include Wendy in Peter Pan, which garnered her a Philadelphia Theater Critic Award nomination for Best Lead Actress in a Musical, Seama in the Off-Broadway production of A Stoop on Orchard Street, and Chava in a national tour of Fiddler on the Roof. Daniel Gidron, who directed Miller in her Elliot Norton Award-winning performance as Golda Meir in Golda’s Balcony, returns to direct Master Class.
June 13 through September 1. Press opening: June 14
By Gérald Sibleyras
Translated by Tom Stoppard
Directed by Kevin G. Coleman
Featuring Jonathan Epstein, Malcolm Ingram, and Robert Lohbauer  

"Nothing revolts me more than a picnic!"

Winner of the Laurence Olivier Award for Best New Comedy, Heroes is the irreverent and poignant story of three World War I veterans confined to a retirement home in their twilight years. The year is 1953, and Gustave, Philippe and Henri have seen more exciting days. They amuse themselves with nostalgic anecdotes, provocative gossip, and generally irritating one another. But life in the French countryside proves to be a bit too calm, and the three war veterans begin to plot their escape. Together, they contrive what might be their last epic adventure. 

Heroes will feature longtime Company members Jonathan Epstein (The Tempest, King Lear), Malcolm Ingram (The Tale of the Allergist’s Wife), and Robert Lohbauer (Mengelberg and Mahler). Kevin G. Coleman returns to the director’s chair, a role he’s currently performing for the Company’s winter production of The Liar. Coleman last directed Epstein in the Company’s acclaimed production of The Winter’s Tale in 2010.
The Beauty Queen of Leenane
August 8 through September 15. Press opening: August 9
By Martin McDonagh
Directed by Matthew Penn
Featuring Founding Artistic Director Tina Packer and Elizabeth Aspenlieder

Irish writer Martin McDonagh has become one of the most powerful voices writing for stage and screen, and his critically acclaimed career began with a Tony Award-winning debut, The Beauty Queen of Leenane. Described by The Wall Street Journal as “the cleverest, most cunningly constructed and assured play in years,” The Beauty Queen of Leenane, steeped with Irish humor and razor sharp wit, quickly unfolds into a darkly comic thriller certain to leave you breathless.

Founding Artistic Director Tina Packer portrays the formidable, aging and manipulative Mag. Longtime Company actor Elizabeth Aspenlieder plays her middle-aged virginal daughter, Maureen. Both of whom are locked in a dance of mutual loathing, which may prove more durable than any love. Matthew Penn, a veteran director of stage and screen, joins the artistic team for his first production at Shakespeare & Company, taking on this award winning and heartbreaking play.

Broadway in the Berkshires – Special Benefit Performance
 July 8 in the Tina Packer Playhouse
On the heels of the hugely successful inaugural Broadway in the Berkshires benefit event in 2011, Producer and Company member Deborah Grausman is bringing together a dazzling array of guest stars, some of whom were previously featured in Broadway in the Berkshires, paired with a new group of performers from both on and off Broadway, and beyond.  This special benefit event will include a brief live auction and all proceeds will benefit Shakespeare & Company’s internationally acclaimed Education and Training Programs.
For more information on the Broadway in the Berkshires special benefit event, contact Ariel Bock, Manager of Institutional Giving and Event Coordinator at 413-637-1199 ext. 117 or
August 5 at 7:30 PM in the Tina Packer Playhouse
The new opera Pearl (offered in a very popular workshop version last year) will be presented at Shakespeare & Company as a special one-night engagement.  All proceeds from this event will benefit the Actor Training Scholarship Program.

A modern retelling of Nathaniel Hawthorne’s timeless novel The Scarlet Letter, Pearl is told from the viewpoint of the daughter of Hester Prynne. The libretto was written by feminist psychologist Carol Gilligan (together with her son Jonathan Gilligan) who also penned a stage adaptation of The Scarlet Letter, which was produced by Shakespeare & Company in 2002.

The project of Pearl was initiated by Grammy-nominated conductor Sara Jobin, a Berkshire County resident, who was the first woman to conduct the San Francisco Opera. The composer is Amy Scurria, who has had pieces commissioned by the Philadelphia Orchestra, the Minnesota Orchestra, and the Fort Wayne Philharmonic, among others. Performers in the opera include Maureen O’Flynn and John Cheek, both regulars on the Metropolitan Opera stage.
25th Fall Festival of Shakespeare
Saturday, October 12 in the Tina Packer Playhouse
A special 25th Fall Festival Gala on Saturday, October 12th will kick off a weekend of celebration and reunion of participants and artists alike.  The Gala will look back on Shakespeare & Company’s most widely acclaimed arts-education program through film / photos / short performance scenes and more.  The evening will include an auction.  All proceeds will benefit the Education Program and the Fall Festival of Shakespeare

Guided by Director of Education Kevin G. Coleman and Associate Director of Education Jenna Ware, the Education Program received the Commonwealth Award in 2005, the highest award for excellence in the arts, sciences, and humanities given by the state of Massachusetts. It was also the subject of the two-year study by Harvard University’s Graduate School of Education (Project Zero), which recommended national replication. The Education program has been identified by the Arts Education Partnership and the President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities as a Champion of Change.

The Declaration of Independence
July 4 on the Bankside Meadow
Our free, ever-popular reading of the Declaration of Independence features some of the most stirring words of political rhetoric ever written, spoken out loud by Shakespeare & Company actors and special guests from the community. Filled with music, barbeque, sweets and treats, this jubilant summer event is always a huge hit, drawing over 1,000 patrons last summer.
Shakespeare & Young Company
August 15 & 16 in the Rose Footprint Theatre at 5 PM
No writer has captured the powerful emotions of adolescence better than Shakespeare. In his words, youth spring eternal. Join our Young Company actors as they perform Shakespeare’s works with a fierce and fiery temperament, exploring their passion for friendship, love, justice, and hope.
Riotous Youth
July 12, July 26, August 9, and August 23 at 9 AM, 10 AM, and 11 AM
Now in its 14th year, Riotous Youth is a two-week program for multiple age groups, designed to introduce young actors to Shakespeare through a series of fun and creative workshops, including exercises involving voice, movement, and acting. Participants play theatre games, create craft projects, and explore Shakespeare’s words through scenes and monologues, either at Shakespeare & Company’s campus in Lenox, MA or down the road in Lenox Memorial High School’s state-of-the-art theatre. At the end of each two-week session, Riotous Youth participants create a performance piece based on scenes from a play, which they share with family, friends, Shakespeare & Company members, and the general public at the outdoor, tented Rose Footprint Theatre.

The Studio Series
July 31 through August 28. Wednesdays at 5 PM in Bernstein Studio One
The Studio Series returns to Shakespeare & Company giving a stage to new and unique works. This weekly series of staged readings features many popular Company actors and directors who delve into the work of provocative contemporary voices. Many of these plays will be under consideration for future seasons.  Last year, Martin McDonagh’s The Beauty Queen of Leenane featuring Founding Artistic Director Tina Packer and Elizabeth Aspenlieder wowed audiences in The Studio Series, and will now receive a full production in the Elayne P. Bernstein Theatre later this summer.
Author! Author!
July 14 through September 1. Sundays at 10:30 AM in the Tina Packer Playhouse
The 2013 Summer Season will also see the return of Author! Author!, Shakespeare & Company’s popular series of talks with bestselling and award-winning authors. Author! Author! showcases authors both local and national and covers a wide array of literary expertise. These lively and informal discussions are sure to entertain and enlighten. Tasty light breakfast items are available at Josie’s Place before and after the discussion, and book signings with the authors always follow the discussion.
Tuesday Talks
July 2 through August 13
Josie’s Place in the Tina Packer Playhouse & Mike’s Place in The Iredale Lobby of the Elayne P. Bernstein Theatre
Join the actors, directors, designers, and scholars of Shakespeare & Company for an intimate discussion of the process behind creating this season’s productions and the key themes of these thought-provoking plays. All talks take place in the lobby of their respective theaters.
Wednesday Q & A’s
July 10 through August 14 in the Tina Packer Playhouse and Elayne P. Bernstein Theatre
The productions have you talking, so why not include Company actors, directors, and designers in your conversation? Wednesday Q & A’s take place after select performances.
Behind the Scenes Tour
July 3 through August 31. Wednesdays and Saturdays at 10:30 AM
Ever wonder what goes on behind the scenes at Shakespeare & Company? Peek around the curtain with this in-depth tour, which takes visitors to the costume shop, scene shop, backstage areas, weapons storage, and more. An interesting and informative two-hour adventure not to be missed!