The Public Theateranticipating a semi-normal summer this year, are planning two large-scale productions for Free Shakespeare in the Park, including a “Richard III” film starring Danai Gurira in the lead role.
The annual festival, often the highlight of the New York summer, has taken place via radio in 2020 (the play is “Richard II“), and then last year introduced a single show with a small cast in front of a reduced capacity audience (it was called “Happy wives” – even the title is abbreviated) as the theater tries to adapt to changing safety protocols caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
Both channels have won critical acclaim, but this summer, The Public is poised to go strong again, with two seasons and a full audience. “Richard III” will feature about two dozen actors, and will be followed by a remake of “Public’s 2017”As you like,” featuring New Yorkers from all five boroughs alongside professional actors, there will be hundreds of actors.
“Last summer was a lifesaver, and this summer will be a great source of energy,” said Oskar Eustis, celebrity of Public art director, committed in an interview. “We are planning to have a full summer and produce as large and vibrant as we have ever been.”
Of course, the pandemic is not over yet, and there will be rules. For now, Public is still planning to require patrons to present proof of vaccinations, including a booster shot for those who qualify, and to require customers to wear a mask. Additionally, Eustis said the goal will be to keep both works short enough that they can be performed without interruption, which means some serious trimming to the original “Richard III,” is one of Shakespeare’s longest plays.
The production of “Richard III” will be directed by Robert O’Hara (“Slave Play”), who is no stranger to trimming – directing.”The journey of the long day into the night“Currently running at Audible’s Minetta Lane Theater downtown.
Eustis said that he and O’Hara chose “Richard III” because it hadn’t been seen at Shakespeare in the Park in years, and because it felt appropriate.
“Let’s just say that ‘Richard III’ is the first work of art that really examines a political figure totally committed to the big lie – whose entire career has been based solely on telling blatant lies and somehow got away with it,” says Eustis. “The idea that fanfare, without content, has become such a powerful political force makes it very infringing. at this point.”
Gurira, Eustis said, was an obvious choice to star: Best known for “The Walking Dead” and “Black Panther,” she’s also a brilliant playwright (“”Overshadowed“), a member of the Public’s board of directors and a Shakespeare in the Park alumnus (“Measure to measure“).
“She’s a great actress who has become so popular that people don’t necessarily see the work she’s best at,” Eustis said. “Richard III is a spectacular and rich theatrical character to play, and someone with her ferocity and intelligence would make for a spectacular Richard.”
And what if a woman played Richard? “We’re not going to redefine roles, but what exactly that means we won’t know until we’ve completed the testing steps,” says Eustis. “I know where we’re starting, but that doesn’t mean we know where we’re ending.”
“Richard III” has been staged at Shakespeare in the Park four times before, most recently in 1990, starring Denzel Washington.
This summer’s production of As You Like It is a sequel to a brief 2017 work, staged as part of the theater’s Public Works program. integrates amateur performers from across New York City into musical adaptations of Shakespeare’s plays. In the years since its creation in the Public, this film adaptation has been staged 35 times in school, community, and professional theatres, including at the Dallas Theater Center, the Seattle Theater Repertory and National Theater in London. The public had hoped to be fully operational by 2020, but the pandemic has prevented that.
This “As You Like It” was adapted by Shaina Taub and Laurie Woolery; Taub wrote the music and lyrics, and Woolery directed, with choreography by Sonya Tayeh (“Moulin Rouge!”). As with the previous release, this summer production will star Darius de Haas, Joel Perez and Taub.
The dates of the two films as well as the full cast will be announced later.
Shakespeare in the Park since 1962 has been held at the 1,830-seat Delacorte Theater in Central Park, and last week the City Landmarks Conservation Commission approved a $77 million theater renovation plan. Construction is expected to begin this fall, after summer ends; Eustis says he hopes that construction can be carried out in phases and moved into off-season, so Shakespeare in the Park can continue without further disruption.
https://www.nytimes.com/2022/02/02/theater/shakespeare-in-the-park-danai-gurira-richard-iii.html Danai Gurira will play Richard III at Shakespeare in the Park