Georgia Shakespeare Announces Expanded 2014 Season

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Georgia Shakespeare announced that it will expand its artistic programming in 2014 to include five all-new productions, including two new Shakespeare productions and a new holiday show.

"We've heard a great deal of feedback from our supporters who have made it clear that they want more theatre from us and more Shakespeare from us," said Garner, "They expect Georgia Shakespeare to tell timeless stories boldly, and we are thrilled to deliver. We are rebuilding in a smart, intelligent way that will make us truly sustainable way. We appreciate our supporters being patient with us in 2013, but we are ready to move forward with our freshest, boldest work yet."

The productions include:

AS YOU LIKE IT. Shakespeare's popular "all the world's a stage" comedy.

ONE MAN, TWO GUVNORS. Richard Bean's hilarious adaption of Servant of Two Masters, which earned great acclaim in London's West End in 2011 and seven Tony nominations on Broadway in 2012.

THE FROG PRINCE (family show). Atlanta playwright Melody Long's adaption of the Classic Brothers Grimm fairytale.

HENRY V. Shakespeare's rousing original "band of brothers" story.

A HOLIDAY PANTO. A raucous show in the spirit of the traditional English holiday "pantomime."

Those titles are highly consistent with Georgia Shakespeare's mission of producing "timeless stories now," with a strong emphasis on Shakespeare. But the formatting of how those shows are produced reflects tangible steps in the company's plan to create a more sustainable business model.

Three changes are particularly notable.

First, AS YOU LIKE IT will open in Piedmont Park as the company's "Shakespeare the Park" production, and then move to the Conant Center on the Oglethorpe University campus, where it will kick off the summer season.

"We've seen that the audiences in the park and at the Conant are very different, without a lot of overlap" said Garner, "And this approach enables us reach both audiences, but with only the cost of a single development and rehearsal period."

Georgia Shakespeare is also in talks with potential partners to expand the "Shakespeare in the Park" production beyond Atlanta. Such expansion could happen as early 2014.

"In major cities across America, outdoor productions of Shakespeare draw large audiences and strong sponsorship," said Garner, "and we see taking our park production to additional venues outside Atlanta as a great potential source of consistently profitable programming."

Second, AS YOU LIKE IT will be produced in repertoire with ONE MAN, TWO GUVNORS, with the company's core group of associate artists performing in both shows. Importantly, the shows will run sequentially, a break from the company's long-time practice of rotating its shows on a nightly basis.

"We believe that simplifying our approach to summer will make it much easier for our audiences to see our shows," said Garner. "It will also restore our traditional role as the summer home for some of Atlanta's very best theatre artists."

Third, the launching of the holiday pantomime will give the company a strong annual offering during the holiday season. It will be developed as part of the company's partnership with one of its new educational partners.

"We picked A HOLIDAY PANTO because it plays to our distinctive artistic strength, it fits well with what our audience expects of us, and it has the potential to draw in new audiences, as well," said Garner. And very importantly, A HOLIDAY PANTO will be very different from the other great holiday shows already established by other Atlanta theaters."

The expansion in 2014 reflects a key step in Georgia Shakespeare's multi-year process of reshaping its artistic programming in ways that will make the theatre truly sustainable. In 2013, following the successful "Save Georgia Shakespeare" campaign, the company moved to reset the base of its annual programming by focusing on four productions, including remounts of the previously produced MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING and METAMORPHESES. The expansion of the 2014 schedule marks a key step toward 2015, when the company expects to produce as much or more theatre as it has ever produced in its history.

The Muse Campaign, an 18 month long campaign to fund annual artistic programming as well as the theatre's recently announced future strategies, educational partnerships, and expansion of Shakespeare in the Park, comes during a critical transition year for Georgia Shakespeare, as the company works through a multi-year process of creating a strong, sustainable business model. By raising more than $75,000 through the "Meta Challenge" from supporters during the four-week run of its summer production ofMetamorphoses, Georgia Shakespeare will receive an additional $50,000 in matching funds from two anonymous donors.

More than 250 supporters made contributions by check or online, and hundreds more contributed cash as part of the "red bucket" collections after performances. Those contributions were particularly strong on two nights when Georgia Shakespeare associate artists performed an informal cabaret following the shows.

"When you look at the large of number of people who contributed, it's clear there is broad, deep appreciation in Atlanta for Georgia Shakespeare," said Jennifer Bauer-Lyons, the company's Director of Company Initiatives. "We're grateful for that support, and it gives us great energy as we move forward with the overall Muse Campaign."

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