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Shakespeare Comes to Alden

American Shakespeare Center performs a double-bill of the Bard celebrating his 450th birthday.

Where and When

"Brush Up on Your Shakespeare" event and American Shakespeare Center performances are at Alden Theatre, McLean Community Center, 1234 Ingleside Ave, McLean.

*"Brush Up on Your Shakespeare" event is Wednesday, Jan. 22, at 8 p.m. Free.

*American Shakespeare Center twin-bill performances are "The Merry Wives of Windsor," Saturday, Jan. 25, at 2 p.m. and "Othello," Saturday, Jan. 25 at 8 p.m. Tickets: $20 MCC District residents and $30 for non MCC District residents. Visit: www.aldentheatre.org or call 703-790-0123.

In such a Shakespeare-rich area, "no one does it like the American Shakespeare Center...Shakespeare is so alive in their hands," said Sarah N. Schallern, Performing Arts Director, the Alden at the McLean Community Center. "They have quite a fan base, and to be able to host them in our beautiful, intimate Alden Theatre is a joy and an honor."

The Virginia-based American Shakespeare Center (ASC) will be performing two Shakespearean works on one Saturday; the comedy "The Merry Wives of Windsor" and the tragedy "Othello."

Schallern indicated that there will also be a free "Brush Up on Your Shakespeare" several nights before the ASC performances. At the "Brush Up" event Shakespeare experts from the Folger Library, the Shakespeare Theatre and others will discuss the history, performances practices and meanings of the Bard's texts in an interactive format. "This is an event that has received great interest when we have done it previously," said Schallern.

“Touring has always been at the heart of what we do,” says ASC Artistic Director Jim Warren. “Part of our mission is to show how accessible, meaningful, and fun Shakespeare can be." This is ASC's 25th year touring.

The ASC traveling tour is called the "World's Mine Oyster" tour. The phrase comes from a line in the "Merry Wives of Windsor": "Why then, the world's mine oyster, which I with sword will open."

"We want to bring people the plays they know and those that they may be less familiar with or more rarely done," said Glenn Schukel, ASC Tour Troupe Manager. He noted that ASC does performances in a unique manner; with the audience not sitting in the dark. "Shakespeare’s actors could see their audience; ASC actors can see you. When actors can see an audience, they can engage with an audience."

"The Merry Wives of Windsor" is a comedy about jealousy, disguises, love and ridiculous situations. "Othello" is the well-known tale about an intense outsider who is doomed by his own jealousy. “O, beware, my lord, of jealousy; It is the green-ey'd monster, which doth mock the meat it feeds on.”

"More than making Shakespeare accessible, we want to provide a strong sense of what his words mean, his intentions and objectives," said Schukel. "Have a good time, don't be scared of the language even if at first some words seem unknown. You will quickly be within the moment of the play."