TN Shakespeare Company Announces Fifth Season
Tennessee Shakespeare Company (TSC), led by Producing Artistic Director Dan McCleary, today announced its fifth performance season. The Mid-South’s professional, classical theatre and education organization will focus on Hamlet as its seasonal theme, expand its education programming throughout the Mid-South and the state, return to Germantown Performing Arts Centre with a Broadway headliner for its Fourth Annual Valentine’s Gala, partner once again with Dixon Gallery & Gardens and the Poplar Pike Playhouse, and launch its second phase of amphitheatre design with Shelby Farms Park in Memphis.
Record-Setting Season Four
TSC’s recently concluded fourth season, Brave New World, was a record-setting programmatic, financial, and artistic success. The season featured double the number of performances from the previous season and a balanced operating budget that increased by nearly 60%.
In addition to the four indoor/outdoor professional mainstage productions during 2011-12, TSC successfully toured two schools productions (one of them original), created two co-productions with Shakespeare Walla Walla in Washington state, and produced its Valentine’s Gala featuring Broadway composer Charles Strouse which netted more than $100,000 for TSC’s education and performance programming. TSC also partnered with Shelby Farms Park to provide initial renovations to its Wooden O Amphitheatre for a professional pilot season, brought nearly 12,000 patrons to its performances from three states, and produced a cumulative economic impact on its community of over $3 million.
The mission of TSC’s Education program is to move the arts closer to the center of every child’s learning experience. TSC achieves this through student matinees, accompanying study guides, and actor talk-backs; interactive playshops; touring productions; summer camps; residencies; Free Will Kids’ Nights; High School Prelude Scenes; and active participation in theatre and education conferences.
Since 2007, TSC has achieved 100,000 student interactions through these activities. These interactions represent 70 schools in three states. Last season, TSC engaged 46 Memphis-area schools and nearly 8,000 students in its professional, classical education programming. Students under 19 years of age also made up over one-half of TSC’s patrons this past year.
Last season, TSC furthered its education mission through a pilot program conducted at Germantown High School. The pilot objective was for a TSC actor/teaching artist to introduce interactively the characters and opening situation of Romeo and Juliet to the entire ninth grade student body – nearly 1,000 students. The pilot has become a model for multi-school replication.
“Tennessee Shakespeare Company’s fourth season is not an easy one to follow,” says founder Dan McCleary, “and what a wonderful challenge to be handed!
“I am particularly proud of our company’s and Board’s creativity and innovation in producing our plays this past season. Every event was a pilgrimage that required grit, grace, determination, creative vision, and illumination. Each production plumbed new theatrical and philosophical depths for our audiences, and it inspired our patrons, students, and donors to tell me over and over how ‘surprised’ they were to discover something personal for them in the plays.
“We are focusing on this act of surprise, and even delight, in our fifth season of programming. There are few more delightful surprises in humanity than when we discover what makes us unique. In Shakespeare’s works, a search for the authentic self and the question of how one must live his or her life is deeply experienced in his play that not only changed the theatre but also awakened humanity’s awareness of itself: Hamlet.”
Season Five Programming
McCleary will direct Hamlet in an elegant Edwardian production inside Dixon Gallery & Gardens from April 3 – 14, 2013. The intimate, 10-actor piece will use the luxurious Dixon interior as the Prince of Denmark’s home as he frames now-famous questions of life and death in dialogue with the audience.
Also playing inside the Dixon Gallery from December 6 –16, 2012, is an exciting, new family experience of It’s a Wonderful Life: a Live Radio Play adapted from the Frank Capra holiday film by Joe Landry. The Dixon’s Winegardner Auditorium becomes a festive, 1946 cabaret setting for the radio play that will be broadcast live around the country. Complete with period commercials, table seating, drinks, and holiday sing-a-longs, It’s a Wonderful Life features George Bailey asking his own Hamlet questions when faced with financial ruin. Angel 2nd Class Clarence Odbody intervenes with heart-warming success in this endearing story worth re-visiting every year. Stephanie Shine directs. Generously sponsored by FedEx Corporation.
Kicking off the season is the internationally-acclaimed hilarity of The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged) by Adam Long, Daniel Singer, and Jess Winfield. Featuring three clowning actors, the show takes audiences swiftly and absurdly through Shakespeare’s 37 plays in just 97 minutes – with special emphasis on a revised version (both forward and backward) of Hamlet. Considered the play that perfectly brings together audiences who both love and loathe Shakespeare, the TSC production presents the insanity out of love for its namesake. In attempting to play out the entire canon as quickly and hilariously as they can, the actors also find themselves improvising with a little local influence.
Complete Works, directed by Dan McCleary, will be played at the Poplar Pike Playhouse (where TSC’s record-setting Midsummer Night’s Dream played in 2009) featuring David Goldstein (TSC’s Southern Yuletide), Amelia Hammond (TSC’s The Tempest), and improvisational comedian Sam Reiff-Pasarew from NYC’s Story Pirates and Striking Vikings.
On February 8, 2013, TSC will present its romantic Fourth Annual Valentine’s Gala at GPAC, featuring a Broadway headliner soon to be announced.
In addition to the professional season, TSC will conduct its Statewide Schools Tour of its newly-created show, Shakespeare’s Greatest Hits (a fun performance piece that introduces students to a playwright they are surprised to discover they already know) from October 25 – April 19, 2013. TSC’s Mid-South Schools Tour of its self-created Rebel Shakespeare and His Women will tour January 14 – February 1, 2013. Three men play all the women’s roles, as in Shakespeare’s day, to trace the surprising development of the playwright through his writing. School reservations may be made now by calling TSC’s Education Manager Slade Kyle at (901) 759-0620.
The 2011-12 pilot performance season produced on the outdoor Wooden O amphitheatre at Shelby Farms Park proved so artistically successful that a second phase of design has begun in partnership with the SFP Conservancy. The Shakespeare in the Park series drew record attendance and many first-time patrons. Throughout the upcoming season, scope of work and cost estimates will begin in an effort to bring basic infrastructure to the site for public and professional use.