Play On Shakespeare Announces Actors And Directors For PLAY ON!
Play On Shakespeare today announces an expansive list of compelling actors and dynamic directors confirmed to participate in the Play on! Festival, presented in association with Classic Stage Company (CSC) and Oregon Shakespeare Festival (OSF). Play on! features 39 readings of new, work-in-progress translations of Shakespeare's plays into contemporary modern English by some of today's most exciting playwrights-May 29-June 30 at the Lynn F. Angelson Theater at CSC (136 E. 13th Street).
In 2015, Oregon Shakespeare Festival launched an ambitious 39-play, three-year commissioning project, Play on!, tasking 36 playwrights-more than half of whom were women and playwrights of color, each paired with a dramaturg-to translate Shakespeare's canon in celebration of the enduring impact of the Bard's work. Supported by a generous grant from the Hitz Foundation and inspired by long-time patron Dave Hitz's passion for Shakespeare, the project was and continues to be led by Lue Morgan Douthit. For more information, visit playonfestival.org.
Participating Playwrights include Christina Anderson, Ranjit Bolt, Aditi Brennan Kapil, Alison Carey, Kenneth Cavander, Christopher Chen, Migdalia Cruz, Amy Freed, Marcus Gardley, Virginia Grise, Lillian Groag, Dipika Guha, Naomi Iizuka, David Ivers, Hansol Jung, Shishir Kurup, Douglas P. Langworthy, Ellen McLaughlin, Brighde Mullins, Yvette Nolan, Lisa Peterson, Amelia Roper, Sean San Jose, Tim Slover, Octavio Solis, Lloyd Suh, Caridad Svich, Andrea Thome, Elise Thoron, Mfoniso Udofia, Jeff Whitty, Josh Wilder, and Tracy Young.
Just as Play on! has engaged an inspiring range of bold contemporary voices to translate Shakespeare's works, the group of acclaimed participating actors displays an equally vast variety of theatrical backgrounds, ranging from downtown experimental performance to Broadway and classical theater, and everything in between. Confirmed performers to date include: Carlo Albán, Frankie J. Alvarez, Tala Ashe, Jordan Baker, Pun Bandhu, Jordan Barbour, Raffi Barsoumian, Cynthia Bastidas, Jerome Preston Bates, Mark Bedard, Tina Benko, Jeff Biehl, Becca Blackwell, Marsha Stephanie Blake, Mark Blum, Benjamin Bonenfant, Sandra Caldwell, Nat Cassidy, Nemuna Ceesay, Vichet Chum, Yvette Clark, Anthony Cochrane, Bill Connington, Greg Cuellar, Angel Desai, Shannon DeVido, Danaya Esperanza, Tasso Feldman, Ceci Fernandez, Vivia Font, Renata Friedman, Chelsea Fryer, Kambi Gathesha, Martha Gehman, Fernando Gonzalez, Michael Gabriel Goodfriend, Christopher Ryan Grant, Kat Griffin, Jake Hart, Annie Henk, Michelle Hurst, David Huynh, Patrice Johnson, Paul Juhn, Vanessa Kai, Mia Katigbak, Patrick Kerr, Kevin Kilner, Lisa Kitchens, Paul Kite, Tracie Lane, Bianca Leigh, Anthony Michael Lopez, Abraham Makany, Sol Marina, Asia Mark, Roberta Maxwell, Ellen McLaughlin, Pooya Mohseni, Jackson Moran, Bobby Moreno, Luis Moreno, Gregg Mozgala, Olivia Negron, Diana Oh, Genesis Oliver, Brooke Parks, Ronald Peet, Flor De Liz Perez, Miguel Perèz, Portia, Christina Pumariega, Ben Quinn, Julian Remulla, Blake Russell, Zo Sakamoto, Mhari Sandoval, Susannah Schulman, Michael Sharon, Constance Shulman, David Ryan Smith, Sathya Sridharan, Allison Strickland, Amanda Sykes, Marie Thomas, Tramell Tillman, Paco Tolson, Tony Torn, Chinaza Uche, Peter Van Norden, Juan Villa, Terri Weagant, Zenzi Williams, Lisa Wolpe, Kim Wong, Jade Wu, and Samy Nour Younes.
Play on! likewise calls upon the talents of a dynamic group of directors to bring these translations to life. They include: Adrian Alexander Alea, Elena Araoz, Michael Barakiva, Drew Barr, Ian Belknap, Margot Bordelon, Devin Brain, Jennifer Chang, Lisa Channer, Desdemona Chiang, April Cleveland, John Dias, John Doyle, Nelson Eusebio, Estefania Fadul, Leah C. Gardiner, Jackson Gay, Lillian Groag, JaMeeka Holloway-Burrell, Lavina Jadhwani, Mariana King, Victor Malana Maog, Ellen McLaughlin, Christopher Liam Moore, Sabrina Peck, Ralph Peña, Lisa Rothe, Rob Salas, Danya Taymor, Awoye Timpo, Eddie Torres, Jeff Whitty, Andy Wolk, and Lisa Wolpe.
Play on! grew out of the belief that every age, while hewing close to Shakespeare's original texts, simultaneously creates a parallel path of experimentation and exploration. Most theaters already make textual choices when they produce Shakespeare: reconciling quarto and folio manuscripts or trimming lengthy plays or rearranging tricky ones. Often, productions modernize Shakespeare's plays by altering the time, place, and political context in which they exist-while maintaining their Elizabethan English text. Douthit, who has served as a production dramaturg for more than 40 productions in her 24 years at OSF, wondered what might be revealed if the opposite approach were taken-updating the language so often perceived as untouchable. At the time of the project's announcement, Douthit posed the question: "What could we learn about these these plays if we looked at them at the language level through the lens of dramatists?" The Play on! festival offers audiences the first opportunity to experience collectively the dramatic, diverse results of this generous and open-ended query.
The Play on! translations are not adaptations. Play on! asked of its writers to take all the accepted given circumstances-character, story, action, etc.-and examine Shakespeare's language line by line, applying the same kind of rigor and pressure that the playwright himself did to his language. The original plays differ enough linguistically from one another that there was no option for codified rules, but every playwright was asked to keep in mind the meter, rhyme, rhythm, metaphor, rhetoric, and theme of the original. Pop-culture references and contemporary slang were discouraged, as was cutting or "fixing" the politics of the plays. In keeping with the open source spirit of the project, the ultimate translations do not belong to OSF, but rather to the playwrights who can, in future productions, call for specific contextual approaches they may want applied. Over the course of its trajectory to date, Play on! has also mirrored Shakespeare's process of working directly with actors across the creation of a new work, leading to a deeper understanding of how these scripts function structurally and emotionally.
Play on! Director Lue Morgan Douthit says, "I can say, by being in the room over the past several years, how humble, sincere, and full of integrity the playwrights, dramaturgs, and actors have been regarding this project. No one felt they're going to out-Shakespeare Shakespeare; that wasn't the project. Instead, the project asked what would happen if we weed and weave the language a little bit? If anything, pound for pound, I think we have even more respect for Shakespeare than we had when we entered this."
John Doyle, Artistic Director of Classic Stage Company, says, "The crux of the mission at CSC is to reimagine classic stories for contemporary audiences. Naturally, this project fits into that mold seamlessly, allowing audiences to experience the works of Shakespeare in a more modern form than they may traditionally expect-and who better to take on this project than 36 of the most daring playwrights penning new works today."
Bill Rauch, Artistic Director of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, says, "I am honored for the Oregon Shakespeare Festival to be in partnership with Classic Stage Company and the visionary leader John Doyle to share the full breadth of the Play on! series with New York audiences. There are so many potential useful applications for these dynamic companion translations, but hearing the words aloud in the mouths of gifted actors is the most thrilling of all. Launching Play on!, giving this extraordinary group of writers the excuse to have a deep dive with a play by William Shakespeare, is one of the proudest achievements of my dozen years in Ashland."
Tickets for the readings featured in the Play on! festival are $26 and can be purchased at classicstage.org. Please see below for a complete schedule.
Play on! - Complete Schedule
Monday, June 17 at 7pm
Playwright: Alison Carey
Dramaturg: Lezlie C. Cross
Director: JaMeeka Holloway-Burrell
Thursday, June 20 at 2pm
Measure for Measure
Playwright: Aditi Brennan Kapil
Dramaturg: Liz Engelman and Andrew Ian Carlson
Director: Lisa Channer