Shakespeare & Company Announces Expanded 2008-2009 Season

Major Renovations to Lenox Campus

By: - Dec 12, 2007

Shakespeare & Company Announces Expanded 2008-2009 Season - Image 1 Shakespeare & Company Announces Expanded 2008-2009 Season - Image 2 Shakespeare & Company Announces Expanded 2008-2009 Season - Image 3 Shakespeare & Company Announces Expanded 2008-2009 Season - Image 4 Shakespeare & Company Announces Expanded 2008-2009 Season - Image 5 Shakespeare & Company Announces Expanded 2008-2009 Season - Image 6 Shakespeare & Company Announces Expanded 2008-2009 Season - Image 7 Shakespeare & Company Announces Expanded 2008-2009 Season - Image 8 Shakespeare & Company Announces Expanded 2008-2009 Season

     Wherever his soul now resides the Bard, William Shakespeare, would surely peer through the clouds and with a bird's eye view be thrilled by the expansion of the Berkshire based, Lenox campus dedicated to the perpetuation of his name and spirit. With the expanded 2008-2009 season, for the first time attempting to achieve year-round activity, Shakespeare and Company will again offer a strong selection of his works as well as entirely new works and provocative productions. There will be times during the year long presentations when the Berkshire audience will be invited without charge. That is a wonderful and generous outreach to the community and is also a smart strategy for building current and future audiences.

           Among the highlights of the season will be the opening of the new Elayne P. Bernstein Theatre and a Gala on June 28. The program will offer both sides of Shakespeare with the comedy, All's Well That End's Well, and the tragedy, Othello. What follows is the media release and schedule.

    Lenox, Massachusetts: Coming on the heels of a benchmark 2007 season, Shakespeare & Company announces plans to expand its programming and season in 2008-2009, while simultaneously expanding its award-winning education and professional actor training programs. The longer season  running May 2008 through Marc h 2009, is made possible in part by the strength of the Company's year-round artist-manager system. The upcoming season will include the soft opening of the new 155-seat Elayne P. Bernstein Theatre, four East Coast debuts (including three world premieres), the Company's first professional tour of a Shakespeare play in over 20 years, and the first-ever main stage productions of two of Shakespeare's most popular titles.

    Tickets go on sale in January, but season and holiday gift certificates are available now. To receive a 2008-2009 season brochure, purchase tickets and gift certificates, or inquire about discounts and further information, please contact the Shakespeare & Company Box Office at (413) 637-3353 or visit the website at or by e-mail

     Box office revenue in 2007 surpassed the previous year's total, as well as the Company's own internal pre-season projections. The total of $1,042,300 in ticket sales made for the second-highest seasonal total in Shakespeare & Company's 30-year history. This continued growth makes for a 3.5% increase from last year and approximately 20% since 2005. Compared to 2006, the 2007 season saw increases in tickets sold at Founders' Theatre, tickets issued at the Rose Footprint Theatre, donations taken in at the Rose, and total attendance. Total attendance this year was $47, 946, up from $42, 211 in 2006. The season also ran longer than previous years with a successful fall show and a celebrity reading of a new play on December 1. 

      "We had ambitious goals for 2007 and we achieved them," Managing Director Nick Puma said. "It was no easy task to continue the momentum of 2006, which for us was a blockbuster season.  But we not only continued the momentum, we increased it. Next year, the addition of the new theatre, rehearsal and production space will enable us to do even more. The Company can now nurture even more new voices and plays while expanding its education and training programs."

      The 2007 season was augmented by a series of staged readings of provocative new works, many receiving their first Northeast performance in the process: Donald Freed's, Devil's Advocate, David Black's, An Impossible Life, and Adelheid Roosen's, The Veiled Monologues, which then moved on to New York City and the Yale Repertory Theatre.

     "The trend is clear—Shakespeare & Company has been growing, and continues to grow. We are clearly achieving our goal of bringing the transformative power of theatre to more of the community than ever," adds Puma. "We are committed to offering a unique experience that you can't get anywhere else in the Northeast—a chance to be touched to the quick by the power of language, and perhaps to see the world through new eyes."

     Performance titles for the 2008/09 Season include, in Founders' Theatre: the East Coast debut of The Ladies Man by Charles Morey (adapted from Georges Feydeau's, Tailleur pour Dames), All's Well That Ends Well, and Othello, by William Shakespeare. The Elayne P. Bernstein Theatre opening kicks off with two, special, invitation-only performances of Shirley Valentine dedicated to Ms. Bernstein and starring Tina Packer in the title role.  The public opening of the Bernstein Theatre will feature the world premiere of The Goatwoman of Memphis, by Company artist Christine Whitley, the Berkshires debut of Bad Dates, by Theresa Rebek, the Studio Festival of Plays, and The Canterville Ghost newly adapted from Oscar Wilde by Irina Brook and S&Co. Associate Artistic Director Michael Hammond.        

     The outdoor Rose Footprint will feature the world debut of The Mad Pirate and the Mermaid by Company artist Michael Burnet and Wild and Whirling Words by the Company's Education Program Director Kevin Coleman , along with other Bankside Festival events including our popular Lecture Series and pre-show Preludes. Shakespeare & Company takes on another first in September with its national tour of Hamlet, directed by Eleanor Holdridge and featuring Founder and Artistic Director Tina Packer as Gertrude and her son Jason Asprey in the title role. The coming season will also include a holiday-season show and a few soon-to-be-announced special surprises.

     "We're looking to bring the same daring and the same spirit of exploration and discovery to new work as we have done with Shakespeare," says Associate Artistic Director Michael Hammond. "The Company's non-Shakespeare lineup is composed entirely of works by very exciting and challenging new voices in contemporary theatre," he says. "Each of the five new plays will make its area premiere at Shakespeare & Company next season, with three of the shows making their world premieres. It's exhilarating to be able to bring so many promising new works to our audiences even when we're producing the classics of Shakespeare—our emphasis on bringing language alive and making powerful connections with the audience means that patrons walk out feeling they've heard something new, something outside of the ordinary, something they will hopefully enjoy and talk about."

      As aspects of the new production and performance center come on-line, the stage in the new Elayne P. Bernstein Theatre will host what the Company is calling a "Ready, SetÂ…" season in 2008 before its grand opening in 2009, when all of the theatre's amenities will be in place and the new rehearsal and production facilities will be fully operational. The new facility is designed by local architect Stephan Green and his team at Clark and Green Inc. in Great Barrington, MA.

     "At Shakespeare & Company we regard the development of new work essential to a vibrant theatre company and community," says Packer. "Just as Shakespeare's King's Men were committed to putting up new plays, so are we! This year sees several new works and world premieres in our season. Longtime Company artist Christine Whitley has created a provocative script called The Goatwoman of Memphis. We did a staged reading of it this summer in our Studio Festival and now we're delighted to bring it to the stage for its premiere. Another Company actor, Michael Burnet , who gave a tour de force performance in The Servant of Two Masters at the Rose Footprint in 2006, has written a piece especially for that space called The Mad Pirate and the Mermaid. Our Bankside audiences will love it. We are extending our season into Marc h of 2009—further than ever before, with Company actor Elizabeth Aspenlieder featured in the one-woman play Bad Dates by Theresa Rebek, one of the most important writers of the current generation. This is a stew of talent and possibilities! My colleague Michael Hammond is working with my compatriot Irina Brook—who like me was born in England but pursued her career oversees, in her case France—on a new adaptation of Oscar Wilde's The Canterville Ghost, a piece that pokes fun at the differences between the Old World and the New."

     Packer will direct All's Well That Ends Well, which had previously only been presented by the Company at its second stage, The Stables Theatre, at The Mount in 1998. All's Well will be complimented with the deeply moving Othello, a classic story of love, doubt and betrayal that remains as universally fresh today as when it was written 400 years ago. Broadway star John Douglas Thompson, currently starring alongside Kevin Kline and Jennifer Garner in Cyrano de Bergerac on Broadway, takes on the title role, with Hammond as Iago. It will be directed by longtime Company member Tony Simotes. Following up the tremendous success of his production of Tom Stoppard's Rough Crossing last season, Kevin Coleman directs Charles Morey's The Ladies Man, a hilarious new farce adapted from a classic of French theatre.

     "The 2008/2009 season is a preview of the kind of work we want to do even more of in the coming years. The development and nurturing of new voices, while maintaining an artist-manager system that allows these passionate talents to stay with us for much or all of the year, is something allows us to bring performances to the community year-round—to tell our stories in celebration and collaboration," Packer adds.

     The continued emphasis on the development of new works is highlighted by the ongoing success of Martha Mitchell Calling, a play directed by longtime Company artist Daniela Varon and starring Company actress Annette Miller. The show made its world premiere at Shakespeare & Company in 2006, followed by a highly successful run at Stageworks/ Hudson in August 2007 and another production, currently running at the Actors' Playhouse at the Miracle Theatre in Coral Gables, Florida through December 28, both of which feature Ms. Miller in the title role and have garnered much critical praise. Further engagements in Boston and New York are scheduled for 2008.

      The extended 2008/2009 Season brings more year-round programming onto the campus than ever before. The Education Program is expanding its summer Riotous Youth offerings with a new session during the spring school vacation as well as its regular sessions in Marc h and April; in addition, the Program will also offer a new acting course for High School actors taught by Company artist Jonathan Croy . The Arden Seminars moves to England for a special session at Windsor Castle April 27 to May 3, the Spring Shakespeare & Young Company performances are May 10 and 11, the 20th Annual Fall Festival of  Shakespeare culminates November 20-23, the second class of the Company's newest offering The Conservatory Program will showcase its work December 12 and 13, Shakespeare & Company hosts the annual Shakespeare Theatre Association of America conference January 27 through February 1, 2009,  the Month Long Acting Intensive in January '09 features its final presentation on January 23, 2009.


THE LADIES MAN  Written by Charles Morey; freely adapted from Georges Feydeau's Tailleur pour Dames ("The Ladies Dressmaker") Directed by Kevin G. Coleman; Cast TBA Founders' Theatre: 5/28-8/31

ALL'S WELL THAT ENDS WELL By William Shakespeare; Directed by Tina Packer, Founders' Theatre: 6/20-8/31

GALA. June 28, Founders' Theatre

SHIRLEY VALENTINE By Willy Russell. Director TBA; Starring Tina Packer, Elayne P. Bernstein Theatre – special invitation-only event, July 12 & August 16

OTHELLO. By William Shakespeare; Directed by Tony Simotes, Cast includes, John Thompson as Othello, and Michael Hammond as Iago, Founders' Theatre: 7/18-8/31

THE GOATWOMAN OF MEMPHIS , Written by Christine Whitley; Director TBA; Cast TBA, Elayne P. Bernstein Theatre: 7/31-8/31

THE CANTERVILLE GHOST  By Irina Brook and Michael Hammond; adapted from the story by Oscar Wilde, Directed by Irina Brook, Elayne P. Bernstein Theatre: 9/12-11/9

BAD DATES ,Written by Theresa Rebeck Director: TBA. Cast: Elizabeth Aspenlieder, Elayne P. Bernstein Theatre: 1/9/09-3/8/09

Free Outdoor Bankside Festival  On the grounds and in the outdoor tented Rose Footprint Theatre: 6/1-9/1 Generously sponsored by Teddi and Francis Laurin

The Mad Pirate and the Mermaid Written and directed by Michael Burnet – Performed in two-parts see schedule for details,Cast TBA; Original music by Bill Barclay Outdoor Rose Footprint: 6/21-8/29

WILD AND WHIRLING WORDS Written by Kevin G. Coleman Director: TBA; Cast: TBAOutdoor Rose Footprint: 7/31-8/31

SHAKESPEARE & Young  Company,Founders' Theatre: 5/10 & 5/11 AND Rose Footprint: 8/20 & 8/22

Elayne P. Bernstein Theatre: 9/1

THE DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE Outdoor tented Rose Footprint: 7/4 at 3:00 pm