Tuesday, March 8, 2016

STC to Present Midsummer in Macao, China

From our friends at the Shakespeare Theatre Company...

Shakespeare Theatre Company Presents Ethan McSweeny's A Midsummer Night's Dream at China's 27th Macao Arts Festival

Following the Free for All 25th Anniversary performances of A Midsummer Night’s Dream (directed by Ethan McSweeny) the Shakespeare Theatre Company (STC) production will travel to Macao, China, to perform this striking rendition of Shakespeare’s iconic comedy at the 27th annual celebration of the Macao Arts Festival (MAF), which begins April 30 and lasts until May 29. In commemoration of the 400th anniversaries of William Shakespeare’s and famed Chinese playwright Tang Xianzu’s deaths, the MAF will present shows in tribute to these two virtuosos, including STC’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. McSweeny’s production will kick off the festival with performances on April 30 and May 1, 2016 at 8:00 PM.

“Ethan McSweeny’s Midsummer delighted D.C. audiences in our 2012–2013 season and again at our annual Free For All; we are eager to share this production - a love letter to Shakespeare, to the art form, and to the physical environment of theatre itself - with an international audience,” says STC Artistic Director Michael Kahn. “We’ve had STC shows go abroad in the past - with Love’s Labour’s Lost in 2006 at the RSC’s Complete Works Festival in Stratford-upon-Avon and The Oedipus Plays, which traveled to the prestigious 2003 Athens Festival in Greece - and we’re proud of the opportunity to continue this tradition of international exchange.”

In McSweeny’s stunning “ghost light” production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, set in the ruins of an abandoned theatre, love, magic, and wonder fill the air. Hailed for providing "a guarantee of giddy-ever-after" (The Washington Post), "a feast for the senses" (DC Theatre Scene), and "a thoughtful...risky take on a familiar classic" (Washingtonian), the production creates a fantastical, unforgettable realm where reality and the supernatural intersect as four mismatched lovers flee to the forest and find their destinies forever changed.

Midsummer remains a real touchstone in my work as a director and my long-time collaboration with STC, so I was thrilled when the Macao Arts Festival asked if I would bring this production to the other side of the world," says director Ethan McSweeny. “I look forward to welcoming new audiences to the wonder of this play, the magic of this production, and the work of the remarkable company of artists that make up the Shakespeare Theatre.”

The original production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream was sponsored by Arlene and Robert Kogod.

STC Affiliated Artist Adam Green, Helen Hayes Award-nominated for his performance as Philostrate/Puck in the 2012–2013 production of A Midsummer Night's Dream, returns after this summer’s Free For All for these special revival performances in Macao. He has also appeared in the Company's productions of All's Well That Ends Well (mainstage and Free For All), The Two Gentlemen of Verona and The Liar (Helen Hayes nomination, Emery Battis Award for Acting Excellence). In New York, Green has performed at Pearl Theatre, Red Bull Theatre, Second Stage Theatre, Cherry Lane Theatre, Lion Theatre, Theater at St. Clement's, New York City Opera, 59e59, Theatre for the New City and Walkerspace. His regional credits include roles at Arena Stage, McCarter Theatre, Hartford Stage, Alley Theatre, La Jolla Playhouse (Peter in Peter and the Starcatchers), Geva Theatre, Actors Theatre of Louisville, Alliance Theatre and Shakespeare on the Sound.

Sara Topham returns as Hippolyta/Titania. She has performed on Broadway as Gwendolen in Roundabout Theatre Company's production of The Importance of Being Earnest, and has been seen onstage at the Old Globe (Twelfth Night), McCarter Theatre (Travesties) and Hartford Stage (The Tempest, Hedda Gabler). Her extensive international credits include Mrs. Van Buren in the U.K. premiere of Intimate Apparel in London.

Dion Johnstone (Theseus/Oberon) and Tom Alan Robbins (Nick Bottom) return to the show after their delightful performances in this season’s Free For All production. Johnstone has portrayed Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in Katori Hall's The Mountaintop at Vancouver's Arts Club Theatre, and he has nine seasons to his credit with the Stratford Festival, where his roles have included Othello in Othello, Caliban in The Tempest and Edmund in King Lear. He is also a busy film and television actor who has been seen in Underground Railroad: The William Still Story (PBS) and The X-Files: I Want to Believe, and he is featured in the new UPtv series Ties That Bind.

Robbins has appeared on Broadway in The Lion King (Pumbaa), Is He Dead?, Sunset Boulevard, Jerome Robbins' Broadway, The Threepenny Opera, Once Upon a Mattress, and Newsies. His Off-Broadway credits include Brooklynite, On the Verge, Isn't It Romantic, The Rise and Rise of Daniel Rocket, The Cradle Will Rock, and Public Theater productions of Henry V and King Lear. Robbins has also toured as Monsieur Thénardier in Les Misérables, and his regional credits include Charlie in the world premiere of The Whale at the Denver Center Theatre Company.

Other returning cast members include Nancy Anderson (First Fairy), Laura Artesi (Ensemble), Freddie Bennett (Ensemble), Ross Destiche (Ensemble), Chasten Harmon (Hermia), Ralph Adriel Johnson (Demetrius), Hugh Nees (Snug the Joiner), Julia Ogilvie (Helena), Taylor Robinson (Ensemble), Herschel Sparber (Snout the Tinker), Stephen Stocking (Lysander), Jessica Thorne (Ensemble), and Harry Winter (Peter Quince.)

New to the cast of McSweeny’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream are actors Alex Podulke (Francis Flute), John Lescault (Egeus), and Andrew Weems (Starveling.)

Affiliated Artist Ethan McSweeny has directed STC productions of The Tempest, A Midsummer Night's Dream, Much Ado About Nothing, The Merchant of Venice, Ion, Major Barbara, and The Persians, as well as the Harman Center Opening Gala, and served as Associate Director from 1993 to 1997. His Broadway credits include John Grisham's A Time to Kill and Gore Vidal's The Best Man (Outer Critics Circle and Drama Desk Awards, Tony Award nomination), and his Off-Broadway credits include John Logan's Never the Sinner (Outer Critics Circle and Drama Desk Awards), 100 Saints You Should Know (Top Ten: Entertainment Weekly and Time Out magazines), 1001 (Top Ten: Time Out), Rx (world premiere), Sabina, and The Persians for the National Actors Theatre. McSweeny has worked abroad at Dublin's Gate Theatre and the Stratford Shakespeare Festival, and at regional theatres throughout the United States including Arena Stage, Signature Theatre, Center Stage, the Guthrie Theater, the Goodman, the Old Globe, Denver Center Theatre Company, and South Coast Repertory, among others. He has served as Co-Artistic Director of Chautauqua Theater Company, Associate Director of the National Actors Theatre, Resident Director at New Dramatists and Associate Artistic Director of the George Street Playhouse. McSweeny is a member of the Executive Board of SDC, the national labor union for directors and choreographers.

The Macao production of A Midsummer Night's Dream showcases the work of designers from the 2012-13 and Free For All productions, including Scenic Designer Lee Savage, Costume Designer Jennifer Moeller, Lighting Designer Tyler Micoleau, Original Music/Sound Designer Fitz Patton, and Wig and Makeup Designer Leah J. Loukas.

The artistic team includes Choreographer Peter Pucci (choreography re-created by Music Vocal Coach Nancy Anderson), Fight Consultant Brad Waller, Resident Casting Director Carter C. Wooddell (original New York casting by Binder Casting/Jay Binder, CSA/Jack Bowdan, CSA), Voice and Text Coach Ellen O'Brien, Literary Manager/Dramaturg Drew Lichtenberg, Production Stage Manager Cristine Anne Reynolds (original Production Stage Manager Joe Smelser) and Assistant Stage Manager Maria Tejada.

Artists and dates are subject to change.

Organized by the Cultural Affairs Bureau, the Macao Arts Festival celebrates its 27th year this spring from April 30 to May 29. This year’s theme for the festival is “Time,” with the slogan “Reshape your Imagination. Experience the Spirit of the Times.” The festival hopes to convey the message that the performing arts have undergone thousands of years of condensation, development, and transformation. For its 27th celebration, the Macao Arts Festival presents 27 excellent shows and artistic exhibitions as well as an outreach program which totals over 100 activities that bring the audience into the spaces of Chinese and Western cultures. In commemoration of the 400th anniversary of William Shakespeare’s death as well as the 400th anniversary of Ming Dynasty’s famed Chinese playwright Tan Xianzu’s death, the Macao Arts Festival will present thematic highlights in tribute to the two virtuosos.

Recipient of the 2012 Regional Theatre Tony Award, the Shakespeare Theatre Company (STC) is the nation’s leading premier classical theatre company. Today, STC is synonymous with artistic excellence and making classical theatre more accessible to audiences in and around the nation’s capital.

Under the leadership of Artistic Director Michael Kahn and Executive Director Chris Jennings, STC’s innovative productions inspire dialogue that connects classic works to the modern human experience. The Company focuses on works with profound themes, complex characters, and poetic language written by Shakespeare, his contemporaries, and the playwrights he influenced in order to preserve and promote classic theatre - ambitious, enduring plays with universal themes - for all audiences.

A leader in arts education, STC has a stable of initiatives that teach and excite learners of all ages, from school programs and adult acting classes to accessible community programming like play-relevant discussion series and the Free For All. For the past 25 years the Free For All program has offered an annual remount of a popular production completely free of charge to all audience members.

Located in downtown Washington, D.C., STC performs in two theatres, the 451-seat Lansburgh Theatre and the 774-seat Sidney Harman Hall. In addition to STC productions appearing year-round, these spaces also accommodate presentations from outstanding local performing arts groups and nationally renowned organizations. The Company has been a fixture in the vibrant Penn Quarter neighborhood since 1992.