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Before he vacated his post as artistic producer of The Shakespeare Company to become artistic director of Alberta Theatre Projects, Haysam Kadri planned an ambitious season for the company he headed for 11 years.
Meg Farhall, who will act as interim artistic producer of The Shakespeare Company until the board hires a permanent replacement for Kadri, promises this season will “deliver unforgettable experiences for both Shakespearean purists and modern theatre enthusiasts.”
Only three of the four shows will be presented in Calgary.
In 2019, The Shakespeare Company presented a highly successful and critically acclaimed production of Hamlet, directed by Craig Hall and starring Ahad Raza Mir in the title role. Mir, who received his theatre training in Calgary, is currently a film and television superstar in Pakistan. The Shakespeare Company has been asked to remount its Hamlet in Brampton, Ont., from Oct. 12-18 where there is a large Pakistani community. Kadri will direct the remount, which will be co-produced with Calgary’s Hit & Myth Productions for the 800-seat Brampton Rose Theatre.
“Haysam has recast Hamlet with actors from Ontario. Joel Cochrane, who plays the ghost of Hamlet’s father and The Player King, is the only Calgary actor from the original production. Local designer Hanne Loosen is working with local design teams in Brampton,” says Farhall.
The Shakespeare Company’s second show, and the first for Calgary audiences, is Jessica B. Hill’s The Dark Lady, a co-production with Lunchbox Theatre that will run in the Vertigo Studio Theatre from Oct. 12-29. The Dark Lady is the story of Emilia Bassano, a poet in her own right, who is believed to have inspired Shakespeare’s love sonnets. The play looks at the possibility the two writers were also lovers. Hill developed the play while a member of The Stratford Shakespeare Company, and it has been produced in Winnipeg and Saskatoon. The production for Lunchbox will be directed by Bronwyn Steinberg and feature Luigi Riscaldino as Shakespeare and Natascha Girgis as Bassano. Farhall notes that in both the Winnipeg and Saskatoon productions, the playwright played Bassano, so Girgis will be the first actor to star in the title role.
From April 5-24, The Shakespeare Company will team up with StoryBook Theatre to present the hilarious Broadway musical Something Rotten! which sees a pair of struggling actors/producers trying to create a play to compete with their wildly popular contemporary, William Shakespeare. Something Rotten! opened on Broadway at the St. James Theatre in New York in 2015 where it ran for 708 performances and was nominated for 10 Tony Awards including best musical. StoryBook’s artistic producer JP Thibodeau will direct. This will be The Shakespeare Company’s first full-scale musical.
The season will conclude with Shakespeare’s most popular comedy, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, directed by Edmonton-based director Ron Jenkins, who has previously directed Othello and Romeo & Juliet for The Shakespeare Company. Farhall says Jenkins “is a true risk-taker. He brings a creative edge to any classical work he directs so this Dream will be something very different and very special.” A Midsummer Night’s Dream will run in the Vertigo Studio Theatre from May 17 to June 1.
Tickets for Dark Lady and Something Rotten will go on sale Sept. 5 with tickets for A Midsummer Night’s Dream available later in the month.