The New Year is fast approaching! Before we welcome 2017, let’s take a moment to look back at what 2016 looked like at the Folger Theatre. From mischievous sprites to lost manuscripts, Austen dance parties to sheep-stealing hijinks, and everything in between, it’s been quite a year!
A Midsummer Night’s Dream
We began the year meeting the cast of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Shakespeare’s classic comedy of mistaken magic and the hilarity that ensues when lovers, amateur actors, and fairies all collide in a wood just outside Athens. Folger resident dramaturg Michele Osherow and director Aaron Posner shared their insights into the production and play, and Folger Spotlight took you behind the scenes of the design process with sneak peaks at the production’s scenic and costume designs. The production was a smash success, receiving an extension as well as a rave review from the Washington Post.
Reduced Shakespeare Company: William Shakespeare’s Long Lost First Play (abridged)
Mayhem continued to reign on the Folger stage when we welcomed the world-renowned parodists, The Reduced Shakespeare Company. Famous for their boiled-down, hilarious takes on everything from Shakespeare to the Bible, the Reduced Shakespeare Company treated Folger audiences to a world premiere production. Actors Austin Tichenor, Reed Martin, and Teddy Spencer guided us through a whirlwind tour of some of Shakespeare’s most beloved characters for a witty irreverent take on what young Will might have created the first time he put quill to parchment
Aaron Posner returned to the Folger in June, this time in the role of playwright with his adaptation of Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice. Posner’s version, District Merchants, moved the action from Renaissance Venice to DC during the Reconstruction and used contemporary language to explore questions of race and religion in an evolving America. Folger Spotlight gave its readers a close look at the rehearsal process, set design, costume design, and the play in performance. After closing at the Folger, the play found new life out West with a second, distinct production at South Coast Repertory Theatre.
Sense and Sensibility
Folger Theatre kicked off its 2016-2017 season with the breakout smash, Sense and Sensibility, adapted by Kate Hamill and directed by Eric Tucker. Boasting a talented cast, gorgeous costumes brimming with lace and neckties, and a mobile set, this production was extended twice and was named one of Peter Marks’ 10 favorite productions of the year. It was also the first time Folger Theatre has hosted a Ladies’ Night, and we can’t wait to do it again in February for As You Like It!
The Second Shepherds’ Play
We said goodbye to 2016 by saying hello to an old friend: The Second Shepherds’ Play, a medieval mystery play first seen at the Folger in 2007. Adapted and directed by Mary Hall Surface, but re-staged with a brand new cast, this charming production featured the music of Folger Consort and puppets created by Aaron Cromie. Patrons could get in the spirit of the season before seeing the show with a number of Community Sing events, while the cast and crew celebrated their rave reviews with a delicious (Second) Shepherds’ Pie.
Through it all, our intrepid Gravedigger Louis Butelli has been sending reports from his time touring Gravedigger’s Tale across America. He hung out with students in Florida, taught a masterclass in Mississippi, celebrated Shakespeare’s birth(and death)day in South Carolina, hit a personal milestone in Hawaii, performed in a West Virginia cemetery, increased audience participation in Alabama, and more! The play toured with Folger’s First Folio! The Book That Gave Us Shakespeare, which forms the basis for our current exhibition, First Folio! Shakespeare’s American Tour, on view until January 22.
And that’s it from us for 2016.
Happy new year!
Thank you for joining us for this year of extraordinary theater! We can’t wait to welcome you back in 2017 with As You Like It, on stage January 24. For tickets and more information, visit us online or call the Folger Box Office at 202.544.7077.