People often ask us how and why we pick the shows we do at Sweet Tea Shakespeare. As we look ahead to our most ambitious schedule yet, we wanted to share with you some answers to these questions.
Sweet Tea Shakespeare is, first and foremost, a Shakespeare theatre company. This means Shakespeare’s work is at the center of our performances. On the surface, this means we have done and will do quite a number of Shakespeare plays. If you’ve paid attention to our first few productions, however, you’ll know we’ve eagerly and joyfully presented Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest and Anton Chekov’s The Seagull. This is because we believe that to be a Shakespeare theatre company, we need to share and celebrate Shakespeare’s own obsession with words. So we’ll occasionally depart, as Shakespeare’s own company did, to revel in the rich wordscapes of plays that are not by the Bard himself. Over time, this will play out in commitments to more Wilde and Chekov, but also to Jonson, Marlowe, Beaumont and Fletcher, Massinger, Racine, Moliere, Strindberg, Ibsen, Behn, and others.
We also believe that to be doing theatre in the way Shakespeare did theatre, we need to be concerned, as his company was, with developing new works for the stage. Early modern playing companies thrived on new works performed alongside known favorites and we will, too.
We also believe that Shakespeare and the other early modern play-makers were masters at developing plays based around the materials they had on hand and the conventions that dominated the stage at the time. One of these conventions involved using only male actors. Women didn’t appear on stage. Men comprised the leadership positions in the playing companies of the time. Women wrote very few plays during the period. The result is that a lot of Shakespeare and other early modern plays have very few roles for women and, even when there are some great ones, they’re often voiced with a male perspective (sometimes very kind, sometimes not kind at all). Jump forward to the 21st century. We think Shakespeare, if alive today, would embrace women as collaborators, actors, and fellow writers without a second thought.
And so, we look forward to our next several shows with all this in mind. A heart for Shakespeare, a commitment to great language, an entrepreneurial investment in new work, and a love for all kinds of voices. Take a look at what we have planned in our main STS season and in our new Honey series, an initiative for women artists and voices.
Julius Caesar | September 23 at 9:30am, Seabrook Auditorium | September 24-28 at 7pm nightly, 1897 Poe House
Antigone | Honey Series | November 5-9 at 7pm nightly, Capitol Encore Academy
The Winter’s Tale | January 9-11, 16-18, 23-25 at 7pm nightly, Capitol Encore Academy
Sweet Words: New Work | Honey Series | February 11-15 at 7pm nightly, Capitol Encore Academy
Bottom’s Dream | A new, experiential, promenade production based on Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream | March 27-29, 1897 Poe House
The Cherry Orchard by Anton Chekov | June 11-14 and 18-21 at 7pm nightly, 1897 Poe House
The Tempest | July 16-19 and 23-26 at 7pm nightly, 1897 Poe House
Sense and Sensibility | A new adaptation | Fall 2015