Shake It Up: Winter 2014 Shakespeare Performances in NYC
Arts & Entertainment
by Patricia Tisak, 01/15/2014
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Shakespeare's plays were the popular entertainment of his time, performed for the likes of everyone from Queen Elizabeth, who commissioned them for her amusement at court, to "groundlings" who forked over a penny to carouse in a pit below the theater stage. Much has changed since then (just try shouting back at a player in a hushed Midtown theater), but Shakespeare's appeal remains as strong—and universal—as ever, a vital part of New York City's cultural scene. Read on for all things Shakespeare to see in the City.
BAM Harvey Theater, 651 Fulton St., Brooklyn; through February 9
The Chichester Festival Theatre's production of Shakespeare's quintessential political and psychological drama stars Tony Award–winning actor Frank Langella, who certainly has had experience playing a leader in decline (he was a post-presidency Richard Nixon in the award-winning play Frost/Nixon and its subsequent film version). Langella and director Angus Jackson have not revealed many details about the play to maintain an element of surprise for its US audience, but British critics praised the fall 2013 UK production for its authority and clarity. For tickets, visit bam.org; prices range from $20 to $125.
Richard III and Twelfth Night (in repertory)
Belasco Theatre, 111 W. 44th St.; through February 16
Get ready for Elizabethan pageantry as the Bard himself would have experienced it with two of Shakespeare's Globe productions. With musicians playing traditional instruments and on a stage illuminated mostly by candlelight, an all-male cast is putting on two plays from opposite ends of the Shakespearean spectrum, Richard III and Twelfth Night. The accomplished Mark Rylance headlines as the titular Plantagenet humpback in the former play and the plagued-in-love Olivia in the latter. Tickets for Richard III and Twelfth Night are available from Telecharge.
Antony and Cleopatra
The Public Theater, 425 Lafayette St.; February 18–March 23
Shakespeare's Antony and Cleopatra is a doomed love story at the heart of the turbulent rise of the Roman Empire, but this production, a collaboration with the Royal Shakespeare Company and Miami's GableStage, will be set in the French colony of Saint-Domingue right before the revolution that ultimately led to the founding of Haiti. The play, edited and directed by Tarell Alvin McCraney, features Jonathan Cake and Joaquina Kalukango in the title roles. For tickets, visit publictheater.org; they start at $65.
Measure for Measure
New Victory Theater, 209 W. 42nd St.; February 28–March 16
One of Shakespeare's "problem" plays (neither a true comedy nor tragedy), this dark comedy is about a ruler who removes himself from power and watches from the shadows as chaos descends upon his city. Six dynamic actors from ensemble theater company Fiasco Theater will take on all the roles. Among the New Victory Theater's goals is presenting quality theatrical experiences to young people from all backgrounds to help foster a lifelong love of the stage; this production of Measure for Measure has been deemed appropriate for those ages 13 and older. For tickets, visit newvictory.org; prices start at $14.
Theatre for a New Audience, 262 Ashland Place, Brooklyn; March 14–May 4
Theatre for a New Audience's inaugural season includes Shakespeare’s great tragedy that's on one level about the political fallout of a ruler's misguided attempts to settle his estate, and on another, more intimate level, a family falling apart. The play is directed by Arin Arbus, who has staged Othello and Macbeth, among other Shakespeare plays, for TFANA before, and stars seasoned stage actor Michael Pennington in the title role. For tickets, visit tfana.org.