- November 2019
The Comedy of Errors is one of William Shakespeare's earliest plays. It is his shortest and one of his most farcical comedies, with a major part of the humour coming from slapstick and mistaken identity, in addition to puns and word play. The Comedy of Errors is one of only two of Shakespeare's plays to observe the classical unities. It has been adapted for opera, stage, screen and musical theatre.
The Comedy of Errors tells the story of two sets of identical twins that were accidentally separated at birth. Antipholus of Syracuse and his servant, Dromio of Syracuse, arrive in Ephesus, which turns out to be the home of their twin brothers, Antipholus of Ephesus and his servant, Dromio of Ephesus. When the Syracusans encounter the friends and families of their twins, a series of wild mishaps based on mistaken identities lead to wrongful beatings, a near-seduction, the arrest of Antipholus of Ephesus, and false accusations of infidelity, theft, madness, and demonic possession.
- October 2019
Titus Andronicus is a tragedy by William Shakespeare, and possibly George Peele, believed to have been written between 1588 and 1593. It is thought to be Shakespeare's first tragedy, and is often seen as his attempt to emulate the violent and bloody revenge plays of his contemporaries, which were extremely popular with audiences throughout the sixteenth century.
The play is set during the latter days of the Roman Empire and tells the fictional story of Titus, a general in the Roman army, who is engaged in a cycle of revenge with Tamora, Queen of the Goths. It is Shakespeare's bloodiest and most violent work and traditionally was one of his least respected plays. Although it was extremely popular in its day, it fell out of favour during the Victorian era, primarily because of what was considered to be a distasteful use of graphic violence, but from around the middle of the twentieth century its reputation began to improve.
- September–October 2019
Phèdre is a dramatic tragedy in five acts written in alexandrine verse by Jean Racine, first performed in 1677.
- May 2019
The Taming of the Shrew is a comedy by William Shakespeare, believed to have been written between 1590 and 1592.
The play begins with a framing device, often referred to as the Induction, in which a mischievous nobleman tricks a drunken tinker named Sly into believing he is actually a nobleman himself. The nobleman then has the play performed for Sly's diversion.
The main plot depicts the courtship of Petruchio, a gentleman of Verona, and Katherina, the headstrong, obdurate shrew. Initially, Katherina is an unwilling participant in the relationship, but Petruchio tempers her with various psychological torments—the "taming"—until she becomes a compliant and obedient bride. The subplot features a competition between the suitors of Katherina's more desirable sister, Bianca.
The play's apparent misogynistic elements have become the subject of considerable controversy, particularly among modern audiences and readers. It has been adapted numerous times for stage, screen, opera, and musical theatre; perhaps the most famous adaptations being Cole Porter's musical Kiss Me, Kate and the 1967 film version of the original play, starring Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton. The film 10 Things I Hate About You is also loosely based on the play.
- April 2019
Chess is a musical with music by Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus, formerly of ABBA, and with lyrics by Tim Rice. The story involves a romantic triangle between two top chess players, an American and a Russian, in a world chess championship, and a woman who manages one and falls in love with the other; all in the context of a Cold War struggle between the United States and the Soviet Union, during which both countries wanted to win international chess tournaments for propaganda purposes. Although the protagonists were not intended to represent any specific individuals, the character of the American was loosely based on chess grandmaster Bobby Fischer, while elements of the story may have been inspired by the chess careers of Russian grandmasters Viktor Korchnoi and Anatoly Karpov.
As had been done with Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Jesus Christ Superstar, and Evita, a highly successful concept album of Chess was released in 1984. The first theatrical production of Chess opened in London's West End in 1986 and played for three years. A much-altered U.S. version premièred on Broadway in 1988, but survived only for two months. Chess is frequently revised for new productions, many of which try to merge elements from both the London and Broadway versions; however, no major revival production of the musical has yet been attempted either on West End or Broadway.
- March 2019
The Government Inspector, also known as The Inspector General, is a satirical play by the Ukrainian-born Russian dramatist and novelist Nikolai Gogol. Originally published in 1836, the play was revised for an 1842 edition. Based upon an anecdote allegedly recounted to Gogol by Pushkin, the play is a comedy of errors, satirizing human greed, stupidity, and the extensive political corruption of Imperial Russia.
According to D. S. Mirsky, the play "is not only supreme in character and dialogue – it is one of the few Russian plays constructed with unerring art from beginning to end. The great originality of its plan consisted in the absence of all love interest and of sympathetic characters. The latter feature was deeply resented by Gogol's enemies, and as a satire the play gained immensely from it. There is not a wrong word or intonation from beginning to end, and the comic tension is of a quality that even Gogol did not always have at his beck and call."
The dream-like scenes of the play, often mirroring each other, whirl in the endless vertigo of self-deception around the main character, Khlestakov, who personifies irresponsibility, light-mindedness, absence of measure. "He is full of meaningless movement and meaningless fermentation incarnate, on a foundation of placidly ambitious inferiority". The publication of the play led to a great outcry in the reactionary press. It took the personal intervention of Tsar Nicholas I to have the play staged, with Mikhail Shchepkin taking the role of the Mayor.
- March 2019
The Cherry Orchard is Russian playwright Anton Chekhov's last play. It premiered at the Moscow Art Theatre 17 January 1904 in a production directed by Constantin Stanislavski. Chekhov intended this play as a comedy and it does contain some elements of farce; however, Stanislavski insisted on directing the play as a tragedy. Since this initial production, directors have had to contend with the dual nature of this play.
The play concerns an aristocratic Russian woman and her family as they return to the family's estate just before it is auctioned to pay the mortgage. While presented with options to save the estate, the family essentially does nothing and the play ends with the estate being sold to the son of a former serf, and the family leaving to the sound of the cherry orchard being cut down. The story presents themes of cultural futility — both the futility of the aristocracy to maintain its status and the futility of the bourgeoisie to find meaning in its newfound materialism. In reflecting the socio-economic forces at work in Russia at the turn of the 20th century, including the rise of the middle class after the abolition of serfdom in the mid-19th century and the sinking of the aristocracy, the play reflects forces at work around the globe in that period.
- November 2018
Mamma Mia! is a stage musical written by British playwright Catherine Johnson, based on the songs of ABBA, composed by Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus, former members of the band. The title of the musical is taken from the group's 1975 chart-topper "Mamma Mia". Björn Ulvaeus and Benny Andersson, who composed the original music for ABBA, were involved in the development of the show from the beginning. Anni-Frid Lyngstad has been involved financially in the production and she has also been present at many of the premieres around the world.
The musical includes such hits as "Super Trouper", "Lay All Your Love on Me", "Dancing Queen", "Knowing Me, Knowing You", "Take a Chance on Me", "Thank You for the Music", "Money, Money, Money", "The Winner Takes It All", "Voulez Vous" and "SOS". Over 42 million people have seen the show, which has grossed $2 billion dollars worldwide since its 1999 debut. A film adaptation starring Meryl Streep, Colin Firth, Pierce Brosnan, Amanda Seyfried, Christine Baranski, Stellan Skarsgård and Julie Walters was released in July 2008.
- August 2018
The Imaginary Invalid is a three-act comédie-ballet by the French playwright Molière with dance sequences and musical interludes by Marc-Antoine Charpentier. It premiered on 10 February 1673 at the Théâtre du Palais-Royal in Paris and was originally choreographed by Pierre Beauchamp.
Molière had fallen out with the powerful court composer Jean-Baptiste Lully, with whom he had pioneered the comédie-ballet form a decade earlier, and had opted for the collaboration with Charpentier, Lully's rival and arguably a more gifted composer. Le malade imaginaire would turn out to be Molière's last work. He collapsed during his fourth performance as Argan on 17 February and died soon after.
- August 2018
Measure for Measure is a play by William Shakespeare, believed to have been written in 1603 or 1604. It was classified as comedy, but its mood defies those expectations. As a result and for a variety of reasons, some critics have labelled it as one of Shakespeare's problem plays. Originally published in the First Folio of 1623, the play's first recorded performance was in 1604. The play deals with the issues of mercy, justice, and truth and their relationship to pride and humility: "Some rise by sin, and some by virtue fall".
- August 2018
A Doll's House is a three-act play in prose by Henrik Ibsen. It premiered at the Royal Theatre in Copenhagen, Denmark, on 21 December 1879, having been published earlier that month.
The play is significant for its critical attitude toward 19th century marriage norms. It aroused great controversy at the time, as it concludes with the protagonist, Nora, leaving her husband and children because she wants to discover herself. Ibsen was inspired by the belief that "a woman cannot be herself in modern society," since it is "an exclusively male society, with laws made by men and with prosecutors and judges who assess feminine conduct from a masculine standpoint." Its ideas can also be seen as having a wider application: Michael Meyer argues that the play's theme is not women's rights, but rather "the need of every individual to find out the kind of person he or she really is and to strive to become that person." In a speech given to the Norwegian Association for Women's Rights in 1898, Ibsen insisted that he "must disclaim the honor of having consciously worked for the women's rights movement," since he wrote "without any conscious thought of making propaganda," his task having been "the description of humanity."
- August 2018
42nd Street is a musical with a book by Michael Stewart and Mark Bramble, lyrics by Al Dubin, and music by Harry Warren. The 1980 Broadway production, directed by an ailing Gower Champion and orchestrated by Philip J. Lang, won the Tony Award for Best Musical and became a long-running hit. The show was produced in London in 1984 and its 2001 Broadway revival won the Tony for Best Revival.
Based on the novel by Bradford Ropes and the subsequent 1933 film adaptation, it focuses on the efforts of famed dictatorial Great White Way director Julian Marsh to mount a successful stage production of a musical extravaganza at the height of the Great Depression.
- July 2018
Richard III is a history play by William Shakespeare, believed to have been written in approximately 1592. It depicts the Machiavellian rise to power and subsequent short reign of Richard III of England. The play is grouped among the histories in the First Folio and is most often classified as such. Occasionally, however, as in the quarto edition, it is termed a tragedy. Richard III concludes Shakespeare's first tetralogy.
It is the second longest play in the canon after Hamlet, and is the longest of the First Folio, whose version of Hamlet is shorter than its Quarto counterpart. The play is rarely performed unabridged; often, certain peripheral characters are removed entirely. In such instances extra lines are often invented or added from elsewhere in the sequence to establish the nature of characters' relationships. A further reason for abridgment is that Shakespeare assumed that his audiences would be familiar with the Henry VI plays, and frequently made indirect references to events in them, such as Richard's murder of Henry VI or the defeat of Henry's queen Margaret.