- August 2019
Lysistrata is one of the few surviving plays written by Aristophanes. Originally performed in classical Athens in 411 BC, it is a comic account of one woman's extraordinary mission to end The Peloponnesian War. Lysistrata persuades the women of Greece to withhold sexual privileges from their husbands and lovers as a means of forcing the men to negotiate peace — a strategy, however, that inflames the battle between the sexes. The play is notable for being an early exposé of sexual relations in a male-dominated society. The dramatic structure represents a shift away from the conventions of Old Comedy, a trend typical of the author's career. It was produced in the same year as Thesmophoriazusae, another play with a focus on gender-based issues, just two years after Athens' catastrophic defeat in the Sicilian Expedition.
- July 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.
- June–July 2019
Cyrano de Bergerac is a play written in 1897 by Edmond Rostand. Although there was a real Cyrano de Bergerac, the play is a fictionalization of his life that follows the broad outlines of it.
The entire play is written in verse, in rhyming couplets of 12 syllables per line, very close to the Alexandrine format, but the verses sometimes lack a caesura. It is also meticulously researched, down to the names of the members of the Académie française and the dames précieuses glimpsed before the performance in the first scene.
The play has been translated and performed many times, and is responsible for introducing the word "panache" into the English language. Cyrano is in fact famed for his panache, and the play ends with him saying "My panache." just before his death. The two most famous English translations are those by Brian Hooker and Anthony Burgess.
- September–October 2018
Uncle Vanya is a play by the Russian playwright Anton Chekhov. It was first published in 1897 and received its Moscow première in 1899 in a production by the Moscow Art Theatre, under the direction of Konstantin Stanislavski.
The play portrays the visit of an elderly Professor and his glamorous, much younger second wife, Yeléna, to the rural estate that supports their urban lifestyle. Two friends, Vanya, brother of the Professor's late first wife, who has long managed the estate, and Astrov, the local Doctor, both fall under Yelena's spell, while bemoaning the ennui of their provincial existence. Sonya, the Professor's daughter by his first wife, who has worked with Vanya to keep the estate going, meanwhile suffers from the awareness of her own lack of beauty and from her unrequited feelings for Dr. Astrov. Matters are brought to a crisis when the Professor announces his intention to sell the estate, Vanya and Sonya's home and raison d'être, with a view to investing the proceeds to achieve a higher income for himself and his wife.
- June 2018
War Horse is a play based on the book of the same name by acclaimed children's writer Michael Morpurgo, adapted for stage by Nick Stafford. Originally Morpurgo thought "they must be mad" to try to make a play from his best-selling 1982 novel. He was proved wrong by the play's instant success. The play's West End and Broadway productions are directed by Marianne Elliott and Tom Morris, with "horse choreography" by Toby Sedgwick.