The Illinois Shakespeare Festival is staging an EVENT (not just a press conference, in other words) to announce what they'll be performing next summer at the Theatre at Ewing.
Tuesday, September 17, at 6:30 pm, the big announcement will be made. To make it more festive, Two Blokes and a Bus, the red doubledecker bus featuring street cuisine, will be parked in the driveway to provide food. They'll pull up the bus at 5:30 to give you time to get a snack (or dinner) before the announcement.
This summer, you will recall, we saw a bloody good Macbeth, a fizzy and funny Comedy of Errors, and the sweet, sad, eccentric beauty of Failure: A Love Story, a new play by Philip Dawkins. If past history is any guide, we can expect two Shakespeare plays and one "something completely different" again this time out. What will it be?
I'm betting against As You Like It, The Merry Wives of Windsor, A Midsummer Night's Dream and The Taming of the Shrew, since those are the most recently seen comedies. My money is on Twelfth Night, which hasn't been seen at the Festival since 2005 and is, after all, one of Shakespeare's best. On the other hand, Two Gentlemen of Verona, a play I consider a lesser light, has a thing for years ending in 4 -- it hit the schedule in 1994 and 2004 -- so I wouldn't bet against it for 2014. Or maybe Much Ado About Nothing, which enjoyed a high-profile movie directed by Joss Whedon this year, will get the nod.
On the darker side, Othello, Romeo and Juliet, Richard III and Titus Andronicus have all shown up in recent years, but it's been awhile for stalwarts like King Lear, Hamlet, Julius Caesar and The Merchant of Venice. Of those, Julius Caesar seems the most likely to me, but who knows? It could be a wild card choice like Timon of Athens or Troilus and Cressida, neither of which has been done at the Illinois Shakespeare Festival, or even Two Noble Kinsmen, the tragicomedy attributed to John Fletcher and William Shakespeare that's only recently been included as part of the Shakespeare canon.
And as for that third spot... Well, that could be most anything! Restoration comedies have filled that slot, as have Cyrano, The Three Musketeers, Tom Stoppard's Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, and the Reduced Shakespeare Company's The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged). Last summer's Failure was probably the most completely different of all the completely different options, which makes handicapping next year's choice pretty much impossible.
If you'd like to refresh your memory of the summer of 2013, click here to see the pictures the Festival is currently offering. And if you're dying to know what's coming in 2014, you'll be at Ewing Manor on the 17th at 6:30 pm for the announcement.