Delaware Shakespeare Festival’s 2017 season will feature two nationally renowned artists directing two of the Bard’s most beloved plays, a mix of familiar faces and emerging talent performing around the state, and a new company name that will better reflect the growing diversity of work performed throughout the year:
“The Summer Festival remains a beloved centerpiece of our year, but is now joined by the Delaware Shakespeare Community Tour as a second pillar in an annual calendar that includes a spring Community Cornerstone program, our ‘Shakespeare + St. Valentine’ and ‘Shakespeare/Poe’ performances, and much more,” says David Stradley, producing artistic director of Delaware Shakespeare. “Our mission does not change, whether we’re performing at Rockwood Park or inside Dew Point Brewing or at a homeless shelter in Dover. We will continue to produce theater in which people from all walks of life can celebrate and explore their shared humanity through the lens of Shakespearean works.”
The name Delaware Shakespeare better encompasses the variety of vibrant theatre and learning experiences the company now offers around the state, which stretches far beyond the company’s three-week festival at Rockwood Park. That summer production will continue to be known as the Delaware Shakespeare Summer Festival.
The 2017 Delaware Shakespeare season will include two full-scale productions, the Summer Festival production of “Henry V” and the fall Community Tour production of “As You Like It.” A Two-Show Package ticket is now available online for $39; a Festival Pass Package, which allows for unlimited entry into the Summer Festival show and one ticket to a Community Tour performance, is $59.
On the Summer Festival stage at Rockwood Park, Delaware Shakespeare presents “Henry V,” Shakespeare’s vigorous examination of leadership that tells the ultimate against-all-odds victory story, as directed by Jessica Bedford. Bedford, most recently seen on stage in Delaware and New York in Delaware Theatre Company’s “White Guy on the Bus,” is a Philadelphia-based actor, director, dramaturg, playwright, teacher and former associate artistic director at Montgomery Theatre. Her play “Blessed Are,” produced by Passage Theatre, was a finalist for the 2012 New York Stage and Film Founders’ Award. As an actor, Bedford has also been seen at McCarter Theatre Company, Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival and Walnut Street Theatre. Actors returning to Rockwood Park include Adam Altman (“A Midsummer Night’s Dream” and others), Savannah Jackson (“The Comedy of Errors”), Len Kelly (“The Taming of the Shrew”), David Pica (“Hamlet”). Michael Hahn will once again compose all-original music. “Henry V” runs from July 14-30 at Rockwood Park.
The 2017 Delaware Shakespeare Community Tour will visit shelters, community centers and prisons across Delaware with “As You Like It,” the story of cousins Rosalind and Celia, who escape from their kingdom to live in exile in the Forest of Arden, where they learn about love and life away from the comforts of home. “As You Like It” will be directed by Madeline Sayet, a director of new plays, classics and opera based in New York and London. Sayet is a 2016 TED Fellow, an MIT Media Lab Director’s Fellow, an O’Neill/Kennedy Center/NNPN National Directing Fellow and a recipient of The White House Champion of Change Award from President Barack Obama. She was the resident director at Amerinda (American Indian Artists) Inc. in New York from 2012-2016 where she developed new plays by Native playwrights and launched the Native American Shakespeare Ensemble. Danielle Leneé, now receiving rave reviews off-Broadway in “White Guy on the Bus,” will return to the Community Tour to play Rosalind. Three other actors from 2016’s inaugural tour—Trevor Fayle, J Hernandez and Bi Jean Ngo—also return, joined by multiple Barrymore award-winner Liz Filios. “As You Like It” will tour Delaware from Oct. 25-Nov. 9, with three ticketed performances on Nov. 10-12 at OperaDelaware Studios.