News: Simon Godwin Announces His Debut Season for Shakespeare Theatre Company

“This is not my season, but ours, everybody's season.”

Incoming Artistic Director Simon Godwin today announces Shakespeare Theatre Company’s 2019-2020 Season. Godwin’s debut season highlights his artistic aspirations for the company to create “high quality, exciting, inclusive theatre.” Godwin states, “This is not my season, but ours, everybody’s season.”

In approaching the programming Godwin has re-examined the definition of classic. “We think ‘classic’ means ‘old,’ but it can also mean ‘of the first rank,’ ” Godwin explained in a recent interview with The Washington Post. “Any play, from any age, can be defined as a classic so long as it aspires toward greatness.”

Shakespeare remains at the center of STC’s mission, with two works in the season, both of which will be directed by Godwin: A reimagining of his acclaimed production of Timon of Athens starring Kathryn Hunter, and a new production of Much Ado About Nothing. Godwin chose Much Ado in part as an acknowledgment of the leadership of current Artistic Director Michael Kahn who will be retiring at the end of the 2018-19 season: “Michael inaugurated the Lansburgh Theatre with a production of Much Ado and I think it’s fitting, for my first season to begin here too with this celebration of love and hope and humor.”

Significantly, the remaining four shows in the season are by playwrights that will be produced for the first time on STC’s stages. STC’s canon will grow to include the work of writer and activist James Baldwin, a 15th-century medieval morality play reimagined by Branden Jacobs-Jenkins, and a North American premiere of Emma Rice’s newest musical.

NEW FAMILY-FRIENDLY INITIATIVE

“As a father,” Godwin shares, “I would love to make theatre that we can all bring our extended family to; big, exciting shows that everyone can enjoy.” With this in mind, Godwin announces that STC will begin a three-year initiative to produce family-friendly theatre during the holidays, beginning this year with a world-premiere adaptation of J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan, written by Lauren Gunderson, American Theatre’s Most-Produced Playwright of 2017. From her home in California, Lauren Gunderson said: “It’s going to be inclusive. It’s going to put girls at the center of the story, as well as boys. It’s going to be something for all kinds of audiences, something that can bring families together.” Associate Artistic Director Alan Paul, who will direct the show adds: “The myth of Peter Pan is rich and deep, and I am looking forward to creating a production that explores the paradox of growing up. I am thrilled to have Lauren Gunderson adapt this classic work.”

Godwin first announced the season to an invited group of subscribers, staff, actors and longtime supporters of the company at an event at Sidney Harman Hall last night where he added: “What excites me the most is seeing an old story told anew, not just ‘history’ but also ‘today’ and how they talk to each other. I think this is the perfect season to explore just that.”

Performance dates for the season will be released in the coming weeks.

Simon Godwin’s debut season:
Everybody by Branden Jacobs-Jenkins
Peter Pan by Lauren Gunderson
Timon of Athens by William Shakespeare
The Amen Corner by James Baldwin
Romantics Anonymous by Emma Rice
Much Ado About Nothing by William Shakespeare

EVERYBODY
By Branden Jacobs-Jenkins
Director TBA

Branden Jacobs-Jenkins

“One of this country’s most original and illuminating writers” (The New York Times) shines his light on the 15th-century play Everyman with startling results. ‘Everybody’ – a role assigned each night from a small cast of actors by lottery live on stage – is a happy person, a free person, a person who believes nothing but the best lies ahead. Then Death comes calling and Everybody must go on the journey of a lifetime. Obie Award winner and MacArthur “Genius” Grant recipient Branden Jacobs-Jenkins (An Octoroon) has created an irreverent, rollicking ride that asks deep questions of all who see it. Remixing the archetypal medieval morality play into an explosive experiment of wit and emotion, Everybody “fills the heart in a new and unexpected way” (The New Yorker).

PETER PAN
By J.M. Barrie
A World Premiere Adaptation by Lauren Gunderson
Directed by Alan Paul

Lauren Gunderson

J.M. Barrie’s classic Peter Pan is reimagined for a new generation of theatergoers by American Theatre’s Most-Produced Playwright of 2017 Lauren Gunderson (Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberley, I and You). In this first of a three-year commitment to more family programming, Gunderson places Wendy center stage, a budding scientist breaking free from the constraints of Edwardian traditions. Whisked away by Peter Pan to Neverland, they confront menacing pirates, a formidable crocodile, and the dastardly Captain Hook. With his signature “brilliant theatrical flair” (American Theatre), STC Associate Artistic Director Alan Paul (Camelot) directs this classic tale of adventure and wonder sure to delight adults and children alike.

TIMON OF ATHENS
By William Shakespeare
Directed by Simon Godwin
Co-Production with Theatre for a New Audience

Artistic Director Simon Godwin makes his directorial debut at Shakespeare Theatre Company with a restaging of his recent acclaimed production of Timon of Athens, featuring Olivier Award-winner Kathryn Hunter in an “astonishing performance” (The Guardian). Timon lives in a golden world of opulence and generosity, throwing wild parties attended by politicians, artists, and the celebrities of Athens. When she loses her wealth and her friends abandon her, Timon takes to the forest, exchanging her luxurious gowns for sackcloth and plotting revenge against the city she loves. Godwin’s daring take on this rarely produced play yields “a parable for our times…and perhaps a nifty touchstone for spiritual renewal.” (Daily Telegraph)

THE AMEN CORNER
By James Baldwin
Directed by Whitney White

James Baldwin

In a 1950’s storefront church in Harlem, Pastor Margaret Alexander rails at her congregation and her teenaged son for their vices. With a gospel choir singing of redemption in one room and her son bonding with his ailing father over their love of jazz in the next, Margaret must face the music herself when a figure from her own troubled past returns. James Baldwin’s The Amen Corner tackles the role of the church in the African American community in this landmark work, written immediately after his breakthrough novel Go Tell It on the Mountain. Whitney White, winner of the Susan Stroman Director Award, makes her Washington, DC, directorial debut in this powerful production rich with music, humanity and Baldwin’s lyrical prose.

ROMANTICS ANONYMOUS
Book by Emma Rice
Lyrics by Christopher Dimond
Music by Michael Kooman
Based on the film Les Émotifs Anonymes
Written by Jean-Pierre Améris and Philippe Blasband
Directed by Emma Rice

Emma Rice

A recipe for sweet romance: Whisk together two painfully timid chocolatiers with a dollop of social anxiety and a dash of whimsy in a Parisian setting. The result is a musical comedy that is utterly delectable. Conceived by the brilliant mind of theatrical provocateur Emma Rice (Brief Encounter) and sprinkled with the passionate songs of Kooman and Dimond, this gorgeous musical hailed as “a multifaceted gem, chock-full of love, generosity and joy” (The Guardian) is an effortless confection that will melt your heart.

MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING
By William Shakespeare
Directed by Simon Godwin

The course of true love never did run smooth. Shakespeare’s quintessential romantic comedy finds soldiers returning home and trading their military uniforms for wedding bands, their pistols for love letters. With the kingdom at peace, there’s now time for the “merry war” between Beatrice and Benedick to rage once more. But to bring the witty ex-lovers together will require outrageous rumors, a disrupted wedding, a faked death, the supreme incompetence of the local law enforcement, and the outright double-dealing of their dearest friends. Helmed by Simon Godwin, who “combines a contemporary eye with a fastidious ear for Shakespeare’s language” (The Guardian), Much Ado is a sparkling screwball comedy and a deep affirmation of love.

2019 FREE FOR ALL: HAMLET
By William Shakespeare
Directed by Craig Baldwin
Original direction by Michael Kahn

Michael Kahn’s take on Hamlet, Shakespeare’s classic revenge tragedy, is kinetic, shocking, and “a play for now” (TheaterMania). In a modern surveillance-state Denmark, the characters spy and report on one another, even in their most intimate and vulnerable moments of grief, agony, and despair. After his father’s abrupt death, Hamlet returns home from university to find his mother remarried, his uncle on the throne and a world seemingly gone insane. When his father’s ghost appears demanding vengeance, the increasingly desperate Danish prince must decide: Submit or Resist. Accept or Avenge. Live or Die.

All shows, dates, and artists are subject to change.

To find out about special offers and group bookings or to become a season subscriber call the box office at 202-547-1122 or visit www.shakespearetheatre.org.