From left: Topher Embrey, who plays Bottom, and Madeline Calais, who plays Puck, in ‘A Midsummer Night's Dream’ on the American Shakespeare Center National Tour, directed by Nathan Winkelstein.
Photo by Lauren Rogers Parker/McLean Community Center
For more than thirty years, American Shakespeare Center on Tour has been a staple for discerning audiences of all ages. American Shakespeare Center has earned its reputation as one of America’s most respected professional touring theater groups.
At McLean Community Center patron request, American Shakespeare Center on Tour will once again display its signature style to Alden Theatre audiences. The American Shakespeare Center will offer three different plays performed in repertory by the same troupe of actors.
American Shakespeare Center’s style of performance harkens back to how Shakespearean theater was once performed. The audience is a part of the performance. The actors not only perform the dialogue, but will provide live music before the play begins and during intermission. The performers even interact with the audience from the stage with helpful asides.
The plays to be performed include “Imogen” (aka “Cymbeline”), a play about a powerful Princess Imogen catapulted onto an epic journey when her father, King Cymbeline, banishes her soulmate. “The Grapes of Wrath,” Steinbeck’s iconic tale about the Oklahoma drought during the Great Depression forces the Joad family to flee their home for the promise of a new life in California. “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” in which Shakespeare casts a theatrical spell powerful enough to make audiences of all ages believe in anything.
“We chose three plays that showcase the range of our repertory – there’s a gut-busting comedy, a fantastical epic, and an American tragedy – and make the most of our actors’ dynamic, transformational abilities,” said Ethan McSweeny, ASC, artistic director.
“On the surface, ‘Imogen’ (aka ‘Cymbeline’), ‘The Grapes of Wrath,’ and ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ don’t have much in common. But when performed in repertory, a common theme of voyages, survival, and discovery emerges – our characters are chasing love, fleeing persecution, discovering their purpose,” added McSweeny. “But the similarities and relationships between the plays only start here…we invite audiences to draw their own connections between each of the plays.”
Describing the American Shakespeare Center style using universal lighting, minimal sets, character doubling, cross-gender casting, and live music, McSweeny noted, “We believe in creating exciting, imaginative, and inclusive theatre with an emphasis on clarity, language, Shakespeare’s staging conditions, and continued experimentation. ASC’s touring shows are intimate in scale, yet epic in scope, utilizing special performance conditions to blend Shakespeare’s stagecraft with a modern sensibility.”
Where and When
McLean Community Center presents a weekend with the American Shakespeare Center on Tour at the Alden Theatre, 1234 Ingleside Road, McLean. Performances: Saturday, Oct. 26, 2019 and Sunday, Oct 27, 2019. Individual show tickets are $40 for the general public, $35 for seniors and $30 for MCC tax district residents. Note: There is a separate interactive event titled “Brush Up on Your Shakespeare” on Tuesday, Oct. 22 at 7 p.m. The event includes Shakespeare specialists Hannah Hessell Rattner, Cass Morris and Tory Talbot Virchow. Tickets are $5 MCC tax district residents and $7 for non MCC tax district residents. There is also a package for all three ASC performances and the “Brush Up Your Shakespeare” event for $80 MCC tax district residents, and $110 for non-MCC tax district residents.
- Shakespeare’s “Imogen” (Cymbeline)
Saturday, Oct. 26, 2 p.m. Doors open and live music starts at 1:30 p.m. Recommended for age 13+
- Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”
Saturday, Oct. 26, 7:30 p.m. Doors open and live music starts at 7 p.m. Recommended for All Ages.
- Steinbeck’s “The Grapes of Wrath”
Sunday, Oct. 27, 2 p.m. Doors open and live music starts at 1:30 p.m. Recommended for age 13+