2013-2014: An Outstanding Season

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The cast of “Much Ado About Nothing” (2013)

After closing out the financial records for Seattle Shakespeare Company’s 2013-2014 season, Managing Director John Bradshaw announced that the company ended the year in the black with revenues of $1.6 million, a record high for the company.  This is the 13th straight year that the company has ended the year with a positive fund balance.

“In a year when we thought we would be pulling back due to a loss of one production at the Cornish Playhouse, it actually turned into a banner year,” said Managing Director John Bradshaw.

Performances of its indoor productions – Much Ado About Nothing, Richard II, The Importance of Being Earnest, and King Lear – at two different venues – played to 76% of capacity, a 5% increase in attendance from the previous season which also had a larger capacity. The Importance of Being Earnest played to 99% of capacity and was sold-out for the majority of the run.

Seattle Shakespeare Company renewed its partnership with Shakespeare Walla Walla and transferred its productions of Richard II and The Importance of Being Earnest to the Gesa Powerhouse Theatre in Walla Walla for eight performances. The company also partnered with the Seattle Repertory Jazz Orchestra for a presentation of Duke Ellington’s Shakespeare-inspired Such Sweet Thunder Suite in February.

The theatre’s state-wide touring productions of Romeo and Juliet and Othello had 60 performances and played to more than 15,000 people across Washington State, from Spokane to Orcas Island, during its three month tour from March through May.

Attendance at its free Wooden O summer productions of The Tempest and Henry V increased by 14% from the year prior, playing to nearly 12,000 people in park venues as far north as Lynnwood, as far south as Des Moines, and as far east as Sammamish. Roughly half of the total attendance was at Luther Burbank Park on Mercer Island.

Seattle Shakespeare Company’s Education programs reached more than 2800 students in their classrooms with more than two-thirds of those students experiencing multi-day residencies. The company’s student matinee performances served 3,350 students from than 94 different schools and homeschools throughout the region.

At Bill’s Bash, Seattle Shakespeare Company’s annual gala, funds totaling $220K were raised to support the organization’s programs, a record for the event.

Seattle Shakespeare Company employed 95 actors (28% AEA, 100% local) and 111 directors, designers, stage managers, artisans and technicians for its productions during the season.

“What all this says to me is that classical theatre is an important part of contemporary theatre,” said Seattle Shakespeare Company’s Artistic Director George Mount. “There is not only a need, but a hunger for the great stories of the past in today’s world. We’re so pleased to be fulfilling that need for people throughout the Seattle area and across the state.”

What’s in Your Wooden O Picnic Basket?

Picnic

Part of the fun for many Wooden O theater-goers is spreading out a feast on a picnic blanket to dine on the lawn before the show. We’ve seen everything from elaborate set ups with wine glasses and cloth napkins to buckets of fried chicken and a can of soda. After a mishap last summer, we can definitely tell you that fondue is not picnic food.

With our Wooden O productions of “Julius Caesar” and “The Two Gentlemen of Verona” starting performances on July 10, it got us thinking, “What’s in your picnic basket?”  Do you have a tradition of bringing the same foods to the park each summer?  Are you ambitious and try to create show-themed meals? (Julius Caesar Salad, anyone?) Or do you make a quick run through the grocery store on the way to the show, grabbing any item that looks portable and tasty? (Guilty as charged!)

Tell us about your Wooden O picnic traditions (or ambitions) and give us a peek at what’s planned for your picnic basket this summer. Let us know in the comments section.

A Shakespeare Picnic

ESSENTIALS

  • Blanket
  • Picnic basket or cooler
  • Plates, glasses, cups, cutlery, napkins (handi-wipes are helpful)
  • Serving spoons, forks and knives.
  • Bottle opener
  • Wooden cutting board  – totally useful even if you’re not cutting items
  • Small plastic bag for trash
  • Jackets and blankets (it is the Pacific Northwest, after all)
  • Your best behavior … remember you are dining with others in close proximity.

BEVERAGES OF YOUR CHOICE 

Here are some ideas to get you started on creating your own perfect picnic

  • Cheese.  Make it your favorites!  Brie is always a safe choice, but try some of the great local cheeses being created. It’s the perfect time to splurge a little and be adventurous.
  • You gotta have something for that cheese to sit on. Grab a baguette or some crackers.
  • Dips. Hummus is a favorite, or try spinach dip or smoked salmon spread. Good with cut up veggies
  • Sandwiches or sandwich rolls make things easy. Make them up at home with what you like.
  •  Salads. Caprese salad is an easy favorite. Potato salad, coleslaw, mixed green salad; just make sure it’s not too complicated to eat, since you want to enjoy the show and your food at the same time.
  • Fruit. We’ve got a bounty of it at this time of year. Strawberries, melon, cherries, apricots, blueberries.

SWEET ENDINGS

  • Bring your favorite cookies and enough to share
  • Brownies or cupcakes can be fun
  • Pre-sliced banana bread or zucchini bread

Have we got you hungry yet?  Pick a play and park and load up your basket.  We can’t wait to see what you bring.

First Rehearsal for Wooden O 2014

At Seattle Shakespeare Company summer officially starts with the first rehearsal for Wooden O.  This summer we’ve got our biggest casts ever — a total of 30 actors! Both “The Two Gentlemen of Verona” and our all-female “Julius Caesar” feature original music and choreography.  It’s going to be a great summer of Shakespeare.  Make your plans with friends to join us in the parks.

Casting News for Wooden O

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We’re thrilled to announce our casting for this summer’s free Wooden O productions of The Two Gentlemen of Verona and Julius Caesar which start performances on Thursday, July 10. Both productions will perform in park venues throughout King County and then transfer to Walla Walla, WA as part of Shakespeare Walla Walla.

David Quicksall, who staged Seattle Shakespeare Company’s production of Coriolanus and recently appeared in Much Ado About Nothing, will direct The Two Gentlemen of Verona. The production features Jason Marr as Proteus and Conner Neddersen as Valentine. Marr recently appeared in Richard II and Neddersen has performed with Seattle Shakespeare Company’s touring program for three years.

Wooden O veteran Vanessa Miller directs an all-female cast of Julius Caesar. Miller directed the 2010 Wooden O production of Othello and appeared in The Comedy of Errors for Wooden O in 2011. Julius Caesar features Therese Diekhans as Julius Caesar, Suzanne Bouchard as Brutus, and Amy Thone as Cassius. Diekhans appeared in Coriolanus and the Wooden O production of The Winter’s Tale. Bouchard will be making her Seattle Shakespeare Company debut. Amy Thone is currently playing Kent in King Lear and appeared last summer in The Tempest.

The Two Gentlemen of Verona full cast includes: Scott Ward Abernethy (Thurio/Quintet/Ensemble), Bridgid Abrams (Ensemble/Singer), Kevin Bordi (Launce), Keith Dahlgren (Antonio/Host), Angelica Duncan (Julia), Jim Gall (Duke), Rachel Glass (Lucetta/Singer), Eric Jensen (Eglamour/Panthino/Singer), Jacob Livingston (Quintet/Ensemble), Jason Marr (Proteus), Carolyn Marie Monroe (Sylvia), Christopher Morson (Speed), and Conner Neddersen (Valentine).

Julius Caesar full cast includes: Tonya Andrews (Soothsayer), Suzanne Bouchard (Brutus), Aimée Bruneau (conspirator), Rebecca M. Davis (conspirator), Therese Diekhans (Julius Caesar), Karen Jo Fairbrook (Marellus/Caius Ligarius), Macall Gordon (conspirator), Heather Hawkins (Calpurnia), Meg McLynn (Portia/Octavius), Victoria McNaughton (ensemble), Sarah Russell (ensemble), Melissa Slaughter (ensemble), Amy Thone (Cassius), Nikki Visel (Conspirator), Kayla Walker (Lucius), Terri Weagant (Marc Antony), and Kate Witt (Casca).

Set designs for both productions will be by Craig B. Wollam. Costumes for The Two Gentlemen of Verona will be by Jocelyne Fowler and Kelly McDonald will design costumes for Julius Caesar. Evan Mosher will design sound for Julius Caesar and Brian Wagner will compose original music.

Leading Us Into Temptation – Artistic Director George Mount on the 2014-2015 Season

I think the season coming up has some amazing play titles associated with and some amazing directors associated with each of those shows. And again, it’s also coming in as one of those seasons where the directors are coming at the plays from a passion point of view.

The theme of the season this year is built around the idea of what we’re calling “Lead Us Into Temptation.” So each of the plays, somewhere in them, deal with elements of love, desire, lust, ambition…chasing after that forbidden fruit. And how ideas of jealousy, deception, and corruption can bump up against those notions of craven impulses or secret desires.

The thing that’s going to be kicking off the season is going to be a real note for something here in Seattle. Before we get to our four play themed season, of “Lead Us Into Temptation,” we’re going to kick off a 5th full production in early September of “Waiting for Godot,” Samuel Beckett’s masterpiece of the last century. It’s going to be built around an entire city-wide festival of the works of Samuel Beckett. We are involving over 20 arts and education organizations from the period of late August through early November, all coordinating and producing works by or inspired by Samuel Beckett.

We’ll have our show, “Waiting for Godot” performed in cooperation with ACT Theatre at the Falls Theatre in early September. We’re very excited about the opportunity for us, as theatre artists, and all of Seattle as audience members to jointly explore this great and profoundly important writer’s work.

As an artistic director, what I get the great pleasure of doing, is giving other artists an opportunity to explore their passions. And the directors associated with the plays this year have, each of them, brought a particular excitement and a particular dream passion to each of these shows. Jon Kretzu doing “Twelfth Night” is getting a chance to explore some beautiful opulence and sort of faded glory and degradation all at the same time in his production of “Twelfth Night.”

Desdemona Chiang is an exceptionally talented and exciting director whose work with Azeotrope people may be familar with. She’s also got a great history with Shakespeare, and she is over the moon excited about “Measure for Measure.” She approached me about, when I met with her, because I think her talent is so great, I wanted her to get a chance to explore Shakespeare…the first show on her list was “Measure for Measure.”

Makeala Pollock who is directing “Tartuffe” is developing a passion for the works of Moliere. She recently directed “The Bourgeois Gentlemen” at Cornish College and is getting…is chomping at the bit to get some more of that Moliere wit and social commentary expressed in Seattle.

And the great John Langs, whose work we’ve enjoyed with “King Lear,” “The Merchant of Venice,” “Antony and Cleopatra,” has one of the strongest and most distinctive voices in Seattle theatre directing, and to bring it to bear upon this great play of jealousy and passion and deception is going to be right up his alley. I think it’s going to be flexing all the muscles that he has already finely developed.

There are going to be a lot of great plays that you’re going to want to see and a subscription is one of the best ways to ensure that you see every one of them.

Waiting for Godot – September 3-21, 2014

Twelfth Night – October 21-November 16, 2014

Measure for Measure – January 6-February 1, 2015

Tartuffe – March 17-April 12, 2015

Othello – April 22-May 10, 2015