Anyone who wants to can see a production of Hamlet, MacBeth or A Midsummer Night's Dream, but other Shakespeare plays, such as King John and Titus Andronicus, are rarely produced.
David Ivers and Brian Vaughn, artistic directors at the Utah Shakespeare Festival, want audiences to have the opportunity to see all of William Shakespeare's 38 plays over the next 12 years as a part of the festival's new "Complete the Canon" project. The program kicks off this year with the rarely produced Titus Andronicus, complementing the more popular Merry Wives of Windsor and Hamlet as part of the 2012 season.
"The Festival is committed to produce all of the Bard's work, which will provide everyone with the opportunity to experience the complete breadth and scope of his talent as a playwright," said Vaughn. "Some of Shakespeare's plays may be less well-known, but all have something to say about the human experience, and, as a whole, present an amazing picture of the world around us."
In 2013, the Festival will begin producing Shakespeare's History Cycle. Audience members can expect to see all of Shakespeare's 10 history plays in chronological order starting with King John and ending with Henry VIII. The directors plan to use the same designers to produce scenery, costumes, lighting, and sound for all 10 plays. Ivers and Vaughn also hope to hire a single actor to play Prince Hal as he matures from the young prince of Henry IV Part I to the king of Henry V.
I'll be interested to see how festival directors deal with the more challenging material, since many of Shakespeare's lesser-produced plays lack the same intrinsic appeal as his more popular works. I imagine the "Complete the Canon" project will build loyalty among members of the audience, many of whom will be excited to see all 38 plays, especially the histories in chronological order.
Utah Shakespeare Festival
Randall L. Jones Theatre and Adams Shakespearean Theatre in Cedar City, Utah
June 2-Sept. 16, 2012
435-586-7878 or 1-800-PLAYTIX
Photo: Jacqueline Antaramian plays Tamora in the Utah Shakespeare Festival's 2012 production of Titus Andronicus, one Shakespeare's rarely produced plays. (Photo by Karl Hugh, © Utah Shakespeare Festival 2012.)