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Irondale Deconstructs Epic 1599 Project Into A Series Of Streams Examining Creativity in Quarantine

While the doors of Irondale, a think-tank for cutting edge, artist-driven theater and the home of the Irondale Ensemble, remain closed amidst the Coronavirus outbreak, the ensemble is re-imagining their critically acclaimed mega-text, The 1599 Project through a 4-part virtual series, streaming live: Henry V on May 28, Julius Caesar on June 4, As You Like It on June 11, and Hamlet on June 18. The project title, which refers to the seminal year that Shakespeare wrote four of his greatest works, was originally performed in 2016 in a four-hour theater marathon with seven actors portraying more than 70 roles.

Inspiration for this project comes from James Shapiro's book, A Year in the Life of William Shakespeare 1599. Shapiro's study was a provocative analysis of how the historical events, living conditions, and literary advances in England in that year sparked the incredible outpouring of creativity, which produced these four plays. Now divided into four separate theatrical experiences, each stream will not only include a contemporary and adapted representation of each work but will also include artist discussions to explore their personal connection to the work and how the current global situation has changed their own perception and interpretation of the texts. With works more than 400 years-old being performed over devices primed for the modern times of 2020, Irondale examines the parallels of the mandated changes for the theater community and its undetermined impacts today, and the ways in which theater was changed after Shakespeare was forced to shutter his own theater doors as the local death toll rose in London.

"We have been grappling with, arguing with and playing with Shakespeare since Irondale started, 37 years ago. Our relationship with the plays has changed with the times. Today, it remains clear that Shakespeare's plays reflect the terror that his contemporaries felt when confronted by the Bubonic plague and the fear of living in quarantine and lockdown-but they also express hope that conditions would improve and that future days would be better," comments Irondale's Executive Director Terry Greiss.

"Shakespeare used his many months and years in quarantine and forced idleness to write some of the world's most beautiful plays", agrees Jim Niesen, Irondale's Artistic Director and the project's director. "It is through revisiting these works in the time of our own modern-day plague like conditions and our own mandated quarantines that we can dive even deeper into these texts with a completely different perspective."


The 1599 Project Series will be held May 28-June 18:

May 28: Henry V

June 4: Julius Caesar

June 11: As You Like It and Hamlet

June 18: Hamlet

All streams will begin at 7:00 p.m. EST and will be live streamed on the company's YouTube page,

This is a free virtual event and open to all ages.

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