Further Collaborations, Partnerships and a New Web Site Will Arrive in Early 2021
Photo courtesy of Play On Shakespeare
Play On Shakespeare, the not-for-profit organization dedicated to exploring the world of Shakespeare through translation and adaptation, today announces their December 2020 calendar (below).
Play On Shakespeare’s mission is to enhance the understanding of Shakespeare’s plays in performance for theatre professionals, students, teachers, and audiences by engaging with contemporary translations and adaptations. In the fall of 2015, the Oregon Shakespeare Festival announced a new commissioning program called Play on! 36 playwrights translate Shakespeare. The project was simple yet enthusiastically ambitious in its original conception: to commission 36 playwrights to translate 39 plays attributed to Shakespeare into contemporary, modern English over the course of three years. The group of playwrights commissioned by the project included at least 51 percent women and writers of color. In its three-year tenure at OSF, Play on! worked with nearly 1,000 actors, directors, stage managers and producers on nearly 80 readings, workshops, productions and demonstrations in 19 different cities, collaborating with 24 different theatres and academic institutions around the world.
Play on! was energized by its overwhelming scope and success, and the project’s producing team secured funding to form their own new, not-for-profit company. On January 1, 2019, they established Play On Shakespeare. Their first endeavor as a new organization saw them producing the Play On Festival in New York City– a series of staged readings of all 39 commissioned translations in an action-packed 33 days. The festival engaged hundreds of artists and was produced in partnership with Classic Stage Company and Oregon Shakespeare Festival.
December 2020 Calendar of Events
Cymbelline, translation by Andrea Thome
David Stradley, Producing Artistic Director
December 5 @ 4:30PM PT / 7:30PM ET
An evil stepmother plots the death of her stepdaughter, the princess, forcing her to escape to the woods and take refuge with friendly forest folk who treat her like family. Snow White? No, it’s Shakespeare’s wondrous adventure – Cymbeline.
Betrayals and battles threaten our heroes, but love and the miraculous save the day in a fairy tale ending. Join us for an online reading with some of your favorite Del Shakes actors.
A special note from Delaware Shakespeare:“One of the questions we get most at Del Shakes is, ‘Do you ever modernize the language of Shakespeare’s plays?’ This reading will feature a modern verse translation by Andrea Thome, commissioned by Oregon Shakespeare Festival as part of the Play On Shakespeare translation project. Come give it a listen and let us know what your experience is like.”
Register here [pay what you can]
Oregon Shakespeare Festival’s O! streaming platform, co-produced with Play On Shakespeare
The Tempest, translation by Kenneth Cavander
Nataki Garrett, Artistic Director
December 8, 2020 – January 8, 2021
The Tempest is the latest in Play On Shakespeare’s First Reads series, a no-frills Zoom play-reading project that aims to capture the excitement of the first table read of a traditional theatrical production by gathering a room of talented actors and other artists, giving them very little prep time, and as a group discovering a script for the first time together.
Play On Shakespeare’s CEO and Creative Director, Lue Douthit: “The special twist about this reading is who has agreed to play with us. In late spring, OSF cancelled the rest of the season, which included a production of Shakespeare’s The Tempest. They were one week away from beginning rehearsals for it, and we thought it would be great fun to gather as many of that cast as possible to read Kenneth’s version. And many of those artists agreed, including director, Nic Avila. Everyone in the reading was part of the 2020 OSF acting company.
400 years ago, this would have been a new play to the actors in Shakespeare’s company. While many of us know Shakespeare’s play, few of us know Kenneth’s version, so what you’re going to hear is this group read what is a new play to them.”
“We’re excited to bring this Play On collaboration to OSF’s digital platform, O!, and be able to share and celebrate the contributions of these exceptional actors with supporters and fans all over the world.” — added Nataki Garrett, OSF artistic director
1623 Theatre Company
Much Ado About Nothing, translation by Ranjit Bolt
Ben Spiller, Artistic Director
December 14 – December 31
Play On Shakespeare’s partners at 1623 Theatre Company present a public reading in the UK of Ranjit Bolt’s translation of Much Ado About Nothing, Shakespeare’s comedy about love and deception. Directed by Ben Spiller, 1623’s Artistic Director. 1623’s mission statement: “We are marginalized people working creatively towards social justice with Shakespeare. We do this by making theatre, supporting artists, inspiring learners, engaging communities and championing diversity.”
Play On Shakespeare’s CEO and Creative Director, Lue Douthit: “1623 Theatre Company’s Zoom reading presentation of Much Ado About Nothing exuberantly displays their values and we are honored that they have embraced the Play on! translations as part of their repertoire.
The British theater artists involved in this reading were well-aware of the artistic gifts of translator Ranjit Bolt. That was moving to me because he is not as well-known in the United States. He is a major translator, and you will hear that he was having some fun with this assignment.
No one ever wants to read the stage directions in a staged reading. It’s too bad, because they are quite important, especially in the Zoomsphere. So what 1623’s artistic director, Ben Spiller, does with these stage directions is a game changer. Ben brings an extra delight to the proceedings that add the perfect frame to this delightful reading by this amazing cast.”
“Play On Shakespeare is an incredibly exciting venture that brings together the voices of living playwrights and Shakespeare’s plays. These fantastic modern translations reboot the plays for artists, audiences, participants and students today. It’s been a total honor to direct 1623 Theatre Company’s weekly online readings of Much Ado About Nothing translated for Play On by Ranjit Bolt. The cast and the audiences have loved the fresh approach to the text, which is accessible to people put off by Shakespeare’s language, and revitalizing to those who love it already. What’s more, students from special needs and mainstream schools have really engaged with Ranjit’s script in our accompanying online workshops with teachers and students. This is a theatrical revolution and we’re thrilled to be part of it.” – Ben Spiller, Artistic Director
Play On Shakespeare recently appointed Kamilah Long as Managing Director. After she was recruited to Oregon Shakespeare Festival (OSF) by FAIR Manager Sharifa Johka, Kamilah Long worked with the festival for the last 5+ years. She served in many roles, including Associate Director of Leadership Engagements, Director of Leadership Gifts, and Sr. Director of Individual Giving and Development Operations. Long says, “I believe in paying my dues, working hard, being authentic, showing mutual respect, collaborating and making dreams come true!”
During her tenure at OSF, Long managed, organized, launched, and completed OSF’s $5.1MM Access for All campaign. As the Senior Director of Individual Giving at OSF, along with the Director of Development, she led strategy and execution for fundraising for the development team and spearheaded the launch of OSF’s first ever crowdfunding campaign with a goal of $5MM. “I am ecstatic to be named incoming Managing Director of Play On Shakespeare and to begin this extraordinary partnership with Lue Douthit, Taylor Bailey, Summer Martin, the POS Board, its artists, and the entire theatre community. I believe in the mission of Play On! and how it wants to engage with the world, what it aims to achieve and its ability to shift the world by shaking things up in such a magnificent and necessary way. This position is a dream come true for me. I am a fan of the work and a fan of the entire POS team and I can’t wait to start this new journey with them.”
Play On Shakespeare also recently announced a commission with UNIVERSES to take on Hamlet. Amrita Ramanan, OSF’s Literary Director, will serve as dramaturg. UNIVERSES is a national Ensemble Theater Company of multi-disciplined writers and performers of color who fuse theater, poetry, dance, jazz, hip hop, politics, down-home blues and Spanish boleros to create moving, challenging and entertaining works for the stage. The group breaks the traditional theatrical bounds to create its own brand of theater. Founded in The Bronx, New York in 1995, the members of UNIVERSES came together in the urban poetry and music scene of the late 1990s; quickly moving through the “downtown” performance scene to build a home for themselves in American Theatre. In their 24 years, UNIVERSES has performed at venues throughout the United States and toured extensively worldwide.
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