Seattle Shakespeare Company unveiled its 2020-2021 season containing several artist-initiated projects around the theme of “Family Trust.” Highlights include a comedy by a Shakespeare contemporary, the return of upstart crow collective to the Seattle Shakespeare stage, a 20th Century American classic, and the beloved bickering of Beatrice and Benedick.
“Each of the shows this coming season has elements of trust associated with their family units,” said Artistic Director George Mount. “Whom can you trust? How can you build trust? What are the secrets that are underlying that could tear apart families? How do they find ways to bond and bind themselves back together?”
The 2020-2021 season marks Seattle Shakespeare Company’s 30th Anniversary and the 10th season to be programmed by Mount. “The two things we’ve always had going for us are great scripts and great artists,” said Mount. “I want Seattle Shakespeare Company to reflect our environment and our community, and I’ve been actively trying to make that more prominent. We have a number of artist-initiated projects in this season. Our relationship to the artists has always been a key component of what we do. When I first took over as artistic director, I wanted to hear from local artists who were passionate about classical work so that it wasn’t just my voice and ideas. It really takes a village to make a theatre run.”
The 30th Anniversary season launches in October with Ben Jonson’s Volpone, or The Fox directed by Kurt Beattie. Jonson’s play is a satire of greed filled with outrageous characters and situations.
“This is a play that’s been on my radar for a long time, but it moved to the forefront when Kurt Beattie and David Pichette expressed interest in it,” said Mount. “Kurt and David are Seattle stage legends and great practitioners of classical work. Volpone will be our first work by a contemporary of Shakespeare. Ben Jonson was part of the three titans of Elizabethan theatre. The other two being Christopher Marlowe and then Shakespeare, who towered above them both. Having a matchup of two consummate and inventive theatre folk bringing their talent and great history paired with this play about duplicitousness and greed, well, I can’t help but be excited about it.”
Volpone, or The Fox will run October 20-November 15, 2020 and will feature actor David Pichette in the company.
Fresh off of their run of Bring Down the House at Oregon Shakespeare Festival, upstart crow collective partners again with Seattle Shakespeare Company for Shakespeare’s poetic and political power play for the crown: Richard II directed by Rosa Joshi.
“Any time we get to showcase the art and artistry of upstart crow collective is a reason to celebrate,” enthused Mount. “They come at Shakespeare’s work with no preconceived notions and bring a view that’s fresh and immediate. So after Bring Down the House and Richard III, which focused on the later plays of Shakespeare’s history cycle, we’re going back to the beginning. Back to the roots of where all the warfare, all of the family intrigue, and all of the political machinations started. I can’t wait.”
Richard II will perform January 5-31, 2021 and will feature a diverse female and non-binary cast with actor Brenda Joyner in the title role.
Artist Darragh Kennan will direct Seattle Shakespeare Company’s first American classic, Long Day’s Journey into Night. Eugene O’Neill’s autobiographical masterpiece is about a family’s undying love that may lead to their ruin or salvation.
“Long Day’s Journey into Night is one of the most significant plays in American drama. As we start to define and rethink what’s considered a classic, especially if we’re looking to include the American playwriting voice into our mix, I’m glad we’re presenting this one,” mused Mount. “It’s an unfathomably rich, somber, insightful play about the crucible of family dynamics. It’s an actor’s play that lives and breathes on the strength of the way that the characters are brought to life by the artists. Darragh Kennan has appeared on our stage in so many fine productions, and he is passionate about this play. I know he’ll bring such heart and focus to this work. It’s going to be phenomenal.”
Long Day’s Journey into Night will run February 16-March 14, 2021.
Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing will conclude the 30th Anniversary Season directed by Allison Narver, who staged the company’s 2017 production of The Government Inspector. In the play, a comic combative couple, Beatrice and Benedick, join forces to restore a young girl’s honor and don’t know that falling in love may be part of the bargain.
“Frankly, it’s my favorite Shakespeare play. Shh, don’t tell the other plays,” admitted Mount. “I love it! I always have a good time watching this play. The humor, the language, the characters. The dynamic between Benedick and Beatrice is so appealing. Allison Narver has got some of the best comedic directing skills of almost anyone I’ve ever seen work on a comedy. I’m truly looking forward to the antic silliness married with the heartbreak that I know will come from this pairing of artist and play.”
Much Ado About Nothing will perform April 27-May 23, 2021.
“The great thing about classic plays is that the act of retelling them is an active voice,” remarked Mount. “By having a multitude of voices come to these plays from any angle, any direction, in any community, and any perspective, that’s what makes these plays so viable. So alive. So present. They not only get to be reinvented, but re-voiced every time they’re done. And that’s the reason to do them.”
Season ticket packages will go on sale April 21 and range from $88 to $176 for all four indoor productions. Season ticket packages can be purchased by calling the ticket office at (206) 733-8222 or online. Single tickets will go on sale July 1 for all productions.