A.R.T. Begins 2009-10 Season With "Shakespeare Exploded!" Festival 12/4-6

American Repertory Theater (A.R.T.) has begun its ambitious 2009-10 season with Shakespeare Exploded!, a festival of theatrical events inspired by three classic plays by The Bard.

For the first weekend in December, Artistic Director Diane Paulus has programmed a jam-packed weekend allowing out-of-towners to feast upon A.R.T.'s diverse Shakespeare Exploded! offerings in one 3 day stretch December 4-6, 2009. Audiences will be able to dance to all the 70s hits they know by heart at The Donkey Show, a disco adaptation of A Midsummer Night's Dream that unfolds around you as a nightclub fantasy (Friday, December 4 at 8:00 p.m. or Saturday, December 5 at 8:00 or 10:30 p.m.). Then one can experience their own sensory journey as you enter the world of Sleep No More (by the acclaimed British company Punchdrunk, in their North American debut), an immersive work inspired by Macbeth and Hitchcock's thrillers (with nightly entry times Friday, Saturday and Sunday at 7:00 p.m., 7:20 p.m. or 7:40 p.m.). Finally, the adventurous theatergoer can celebrate the holidays with Best of Both Worlds, an R&B and gospel musical that takes its story from The Winter's Tale (Friday at 8:00 p.m., Saturday at 2:00 or 8:00 p.m. or Sunday at 2:00 or 7:30 p.m.).

"I can't think of a better way to spend a beautiful December weekend than by having our out-of-town friends come to Cambridge and experience the work of the exhilarating artists bringing us Shakespeare Exploded!," explained Diane Paulus. "I truly meant it when I told the Boston Globe that we expect to do nothing less than change the course of American theater right here at A.R.T.!"
Premium Weekend Packages are available that coordinate accommodations, dining and all weekend activities. This ultimate VIP experience will provide the following luxuries: a 2-Night stay in a Deluxe Suite at the Charles Hotel, a special dinner at La Morra Restaurant, breakfast at Henrietta's Table and tickets to the three unique Shakespeare Exploded! productions plus VIP preferred seating at additional events, such as Robert Brustein's new play Mortal Terror part of the Shakespeare Exploded! reading series featuring new plays inspired by Shakespeare's life and works, and a panel discussion with Oskar Eustis, Marjorie Garber and Diane Paulus.

For tickets, show times, great deals and meals, visit www.americanrepertorytheater.org. To book and customize VIP packages including performances, accommodations, meals and extras, contact Julia Propp via phone at (617) 496-2000 ext. 8832.

Sleep No More is a unique theatrical experience where the line between performer and spectator is extraordinarily blurred. Audiences experience the essence of participation, shedding their customary identity to follow more deeply and enjoy their own imaginations. Sleep No More takes place in the atmospheric environs of The Old Lincoln School (194 Boylston Street, Route 9 Eastbound, near Brookline Village, Brookline, MA). Persons younger than 16 will not be admitted as it contains nudity and may be disturbing to minors. The production involves walking and patrons are advised to wear sensible footwear. Sleep No More, is directed and devised by Felix Barrett and Maxine Doyle, with the Company. Sleep No More is now in performances through January 3, 2010.

Directed by Diane Paulus, the disco sensation The Donkey Show lets audience members party on the dance floor as the show unfolds around them. From its six-year run in New York City to a world tour from London to Seoul, the celebrated smash hit The Donkey Show now takes Boston by storm, bringing you the ultimate disco experience-a crazy circus of mirror balls and feathered divas, of roller skaters and hustle queens. Come party on the dance floor to all the 70s disco hits you know by heart as the show unfolds around you. The Donkey Show tells the story of A Midsummer Night's Dream through the great 70s anthems, including "We are Family," "I Love the Nightlife," "Car Wash," "Ring My Bell" and "Last Dance." The enchanted forest of Shakespeare's classic comedy becomes the glittered world of retro disco as the lovers escape from their real lives to experience a night of dream, abandon, and fantasy. A.R.T.'s OBERon Houses this magical romp. After the show, the party continues into the night so you can live out your own fantasy of disco fever! The Donkey Show is now in performances through January 2, 2010.

Bursting with the sounds of R&B and gospel, the musical Best of Both Worlds is a soulful re-envisioning of The Winter's Tale, Shakespeare's timeless story of heartbreak and redemption. Clap your hands, jump out of your seat and feel the power of love with this holiday treat for all ages. Best of Both Worlds takes audiences on a journey through the rich musical tapestry of R&B, rediscovering Shakespeare's characters with smooth sounds and funky beats. When jealousy rips apart love and friendship, only the revelatory power of gospel can restore the enduring bonds of faith, family and forgiveness. The production will feature a rotating roster of Boston's most celebrated gospel choirs, including community, university and church choirs from throughout the city. Book and lyrics are by Randy Weiner, music is by Diedre Murray and the show is co-written and directed by Diane Paulus. Best of Both Worlds runs November 21, 2009 - January 3, 2010.

American Repertory Theater (A.R.T.) is one of the country's most celebrated resident theaters and the winner of numerous awards, including the Tony Award, the Pulitzer Prize and numerous local Elliot Norton and I.R.N.E. Awards. In 2002 A.R.T. was the recipient of the National Theater Conference's Outstanding Achievement Award and in May of 2003 it was named one of the top three theaters in the country by Time magazine.

Founded by Robert Brustein in 1980, over its twenty-nine-year history the A.R.T. has welcomed major American and international theater artists, presenting a diverse repertoire that includes new American plays, bold reinterpretations of classical texts, and provocative new music Theater Productions. A.R.T. has performed throughout the U.S. and worldwide in twenty-one cities in sixteen countries on four continents. It has presented over two hundred productions, over half of which were premieres of new plays, translations and adaptations.

A.R.T. is also a training ground for young artists. The theater's artistic staff teaches undergraduate classes in acting, directing, dramatic literature, dramaturgy, design and playwriting at Harvard University, and in 1987 the A.R.T. founded the Institute for Advanced Theater Training at Harvard University. In conjunction with the Moscow Art Theater School, the Institute provides world-class graduate level training in acting, dramaturgy and voice.

Last fall A.R.T. welcomed its new Artistic Director, Diane Paulus., who is currently represented on Broadway with her direction of the Public Theater's Tony Award-winning production of Hair. Under her leadership, and with major funding from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Theater has developed a new initiative, EXPERIENCE THE A.R.T., which seeks to revolutionize the theater experience through a sustained commitment to empowering the audience. This initiative recognizes that theater is not just a play on the stage, but also a social occasion for people to come together and experience community. This audience-driven vision speaks directly to the A.R.T.'s core mission - "to expand the boundaries of theater." By expanding its focus to include the audience's total theater experience, the A.R.T. seeks to give audiences a voice, a sense of ownership and a feeling of importance in the theatrical event.

To learn more about the A.R.T. and its season visit www.americanrepertorytheater.org or call the A.R.T. InfoLine at (617) 547-8300.

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