American Shakespeare Center

American Shakespeare Center- Staunton

Lauren D. Rogers

American Shakespeare Center

Gregory Jon Phelps as Bassanio and James Keegan as Shylock in “The Merchant of Venice.”

“We put on as many as 30 titles a year,” says Jim Warren, artistic director and co-founder. “We perform 52 weeks a year.”

The Center’s five seasons are performed in rotating repertory at Blackfriars Playhouse using staging conditions reminiscent of Shakespeare’s productions. “Shakespeare was writing for the audience to be lit as much as the actors and to be part of the world of the play,” Warren says.

The five-play lineup for the fall season features a different play every night. It includes the comic love story, “The Merchant of Venice.” “It’s a tricky play, and it’s a wonderful play,” says Warren. “It does so many things to your heartstrings, your funny bone and your sense of what’s right and wrong. It’s a rich complex tapestry of drama and comedy. That’s one reason we chose it.”

The season also includes “The Lion in Winter,” the story of Henry II and his wife, Eleanor of Aquitaine, a prequel to Shakespeare’s “King John,” which will also be performed. Many of the same actors will appear in both productions.

Shakespeare’s “Cymbeline,” “a different kind of play” with a “fairy tale element to the story,” and “The Two Gentlemen of Verona,” one of Shakespeare’s most beloved romantic comedies, round out the season. Dog lovers should take note that the canines appearing in the production will be looking for homes: “We are partnering with Augusta Dog Adoptions and will have a different dog every week that will be up for adoption,” Warren says. AmericanShakespeareCenter.com

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