Tennessee Shakespeare Company
Announces Full Ninth Season of Plays and Educational Activities for 2016-17

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(Memphis, TN; August 11, 2016) -- Tennessee Shakespeare Company, the Mid-South’s professional, classical theatre, today announced its full 2016-17 season of plays, outreach programs, and Education initiatives in the Memphis area and beyond.

Launching TSC’s ninth season is its first production of Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird.  Directed by TSC Founder and Producing Artistic Director Dan McCleary, the adaptation will perform in the Wiener Theater on the campus of The Hutchison School in East Memphis from September 20 through October 2.  The play is produced in partnership with Hutchison.  The cast of 20 actors features Broadway veteran Patrick Ryan Sullivan as Atticus Finch, Memphian Ainsley Geno as Scout, and the return of TSC favorite Tony Molina, Jr. as Rev. Sykes. 

Early Bird tickets are on sale now for To Kill a Mockingbird: the first 24 seats sold to each performance will be located in the new Best Seats section of the theatre.

In the winter, TSC returns to Dixon Gallery & Gardens for the holiday season with an elegant, celebratory Much Ado About Nothing befitting the season of cheer.  Shakespeare’s romantic comedy, directed by McCleary, plays on the Winegardner Auditorium stage December 8-18.

The fun continues in early summer with Shakespeare’s boisterous comedy of mistaken identities.  The Comedy of Errors, produced in partnership with the University of Memphis’ Department of Theatre & Dance, will play the U of M mainstage June 8-18, 2017.

The Southern Literary Salons return, featuring the works of Eudora Welty (Mississippi Myth) on January 27 and Flannery O’Connor (Georgia Gothic) on April 21.  These literary parties in beautiful, private homes from 6:00-8:00 pm curate readings, light fare, and writer-specific libations.

Back by popular demand is The Shakespeare Brunch, featuring abbreviated, staged readings of a redemptive The Winter’s Tale (November 20) and a provocative The Merchant of Venice (May 21) preceded by an expansive brunch buffet and bar.  Acted by some of TSC’s best-known actors, the Brunches run from 12:30-3:30 pm inside the elegant Memphis Hunt & Polo Club. 

The season also includes the Eighth Annual Shakespeare Gala, bringing to Memphis a new Broadway headliner on Friday, March 10, 2017, at Germantown Performing Arts Center.  The Gala, complete with lavish dinner and open bars located throughout the theatre, supports TSC’s nationally-acclaimed Education Program.

This season, the Education Program significantly expands its anti-violence schools residency and performance schedule of The Romeo and Juliet Project.  Nine actor/teaching-artists will work in over 20 schools, largely underserved, in Shelby County from September through February, reaching more than 6,000 students.  Shakespeare’s Greatest Hits, a fun 2-actor introduction to the playwright’s essential scenes and soliloquies, will tour schools and theatres throughout the southeastern United States.  Both productions are created and directed by TSC Education Director Stephanie Shine.

TSC’s generous Mainstage title sponsors include FedEx; Dorothy O. Kirsch; Ernest, Pat, Martha, & Marian Kelly; Independent Bank; Tennessee Arts Commission; Ann and Wellford Tabor; and The University of Memphis.

TSC’s season partners are Dixon Gallery & Gardens, The Hutchison School, Shelby County Schools, St. George’s Church, and the University of Memphis’ Department of Theatre & Dance.  The season is funded under a Grant Contract with the State of Tennessee.

“Our ninth season is a response both to the world’s recent events and to our patrons’ desires,” says McCleary.  “To Kill a Mockingbird is an American masterpiece of the 20th Century.  It is time for each of us to pick up Harper Lee’s novel and read or re-read it.  In Much Ado About Nothing, we are a nation of peace at home and abroad, and in this dream we go pleasure-seeking.  Still, uninhibited love is surprisingly difficult to give away in this environment, to both comedic and tragic effect.  And in Comedy of Errors, famous for its physical and archetypal humor, we find ourselves in a world in which the mortal threat to immigrants cannot prevent this non-traditional family, even after years of separation, from making a heart-felt discovery.

“I am deeply grateful to our season sponsors, production partners, and over 300 donors who make professional, classical theatre and our education programming possible.  The work we do with children in our schools is immediate, impactful, proven, and a powerful model for successful replication throughout the United States.  We live in a time when the arts, and experiencing Shakespeare’s plays, need to be at the center of our national educational curriculum, not subsisting on the fringes.  They are not a luxury, they are for everyone.  The works of William Shakespeare are our birthright, and if they are supported educationally and financially then we see first-hand how our children enthusiastically embrace his compassion, his poetry, and his open-hearted query of humanity.”

The Season

ROMEO AND JULIET
and THE ROMEO AND JULIET PROJECT

September 28 – February 24, 2017
created and directed by Stephanie Shine
touring schools throughout Shelby County

This nationally-acclaimed residency uses Romeo and Juliet, its characters, and its many pivotal decision moments as tools for students to imagine and rehearse life-saving choices in the face of armed violence, peer pressure, prejudice, and inadequate guidance.  In this urgent, 90-minute, in-school performance, nine intrepid actors create rage-filled Verona using students’ imaginations and Shakespeare’s words.  The Project is part of Shakespeare in American Communities, a program of the NEA in partnership with Arts Midwest.  The Project also is funded under a grant contract with the State of Tennessee.

 

SHAKESPEARE’S GREATEST HITS

September 7 – May 26, 2017
created and directed by Stephanie Shine
touring schools and public theatres throughout the southeastern U.S.

This 45-minute, 2-actor show surprises students with how much Shakespeare they already know – from his life, to his times, to his words and phrases – just by being human.  These essential scenes and soliloquies make students’ and adults’ future experiences with the plays more inspiring and fun.

 

TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD

the daring American masterpiece
adapted from Harper Lee by Christopher Sergel
directed by Dan McCleary
in partnership with The Hutchison School
sponsored by FedEx and Dorothy O. Kirsch
Wiener Theater at Hutchison School
September 20 – October 2

Produced under agreements with the professional entertainment unions: Actors’ Equity Association and The Stage Directors & Choreographers Society
Produced by special arrangement with Dramatic Publishing, Woodstock, Illinois.

The American classic that fought prejudice with integrity, courage, and a child’s compassion proved bigger than Monroeville, Alabama, the American south, and the United States.  With healing power and loving humor, Harper Lee’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel is here adapted for the modern professional stage in a world that has yet to take all of her life lessons to heart.  As poetic as it is prophetic, To Kill a Mockingbird and its literary icons Atticus Finch, Scout, Boo Radley, Tom Robinson, and Mayella Ewell offer hope and democracy to a hurting humanity.

Sept 20            Preview                       7:00 pm
Sept 23            Preview                       7:00 pm
Sept 24            Opening                      7:00 pm with post-show reception
Sept 25            Performance                2:00 pm
Sept 29            Performance                7:00 pm
Sept 30            Performance                7:00 pm
Oct 1               Performance                7:00 pm
Oct 2               Closing                        2:00 pm

 

THE SHAKESPEARE BRUNCH

Back by popular demand, this elegant Sunday brunch includes drinks and an abbreviated Shakespeare reading in a beautiful and unique indoor setting.  Acted by some of TSC’s stalwart actors, the readings are preceded by a delicious buffet with cash bar.  Tickets are $40 and includes all but the bar.  Attire: cocktail/business casual.

The Memphis Hunt and Polo Club
Host Members: Margaret and Owen Tabor

The Winter’s Tale

Sunday, November 20
12:30-3:30 pm
directed by Stephanie Shine
Shakespeare’s late romance features a Bohemian rhapsody of near-magical redemption and forgiveness.

The Merchant of Venice

Sunday, May 21, 2017
12:30-3:30 pm
directed by Dan McCleary
Shakespeare’s early “comedy” was controversial for giving human dimension to the oft-maligned Jewish community.  The controversy remains today, but for entirely different reasons.  Can we discover “harmony in the spheres”? 

 

MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING

a holiday revel of comic romance
by William Shakespeare
directed by Dan McCleary
sponsored by Pat, Ernest, Martha, & Marian Kelly
at Dixon Gallery & Gardens
December 8-18

Produced under agreements with the professional entertainment unions: Actors’ Equity Association and The Stage Directors & Choreographers Society

Decked to delight in tuxedoes and gowns, these holiday revelers merry-make with one of the most popular comedies in the English language. 

Now returning from their victorious war in the trenches, the officers enter the Dixon armed only with cocktails.  The ladies they return to prove more of a challenge than that on the battlefield.  World-weary Benedick and gallant Claudio encompass sharp-tongued Beatrice and fair Hero with altogether different romances – the one in denial and the other aflame.  High spirits play out in the Dixon masque as youthful passions run riot, lovers are deceived, and eternal bliss is threatened – though not before domestic tranquility wins out with the disassembled help of constable Dogberry and his faithful Watch.

Dec 8               Preview                       7:00 pm
Dec 9               Opening                      7:00 pm with post-show reception
Dec 10             Performance                7:00 pm
Dec 11             Performance                3:00 pm
Dec 15             Performance                7:00 pm
Dec 16             Performance                7:00 pm
Dec 17             Performance                7:00 pm
Dec 18             Closing                        3:00 pm

 

THE SOUTHERN LITERARY SALONS

A literary party from 6:00-8:00 pm featuring writer-specific libations, light fare, and at least 30 Southern-inspired minutes of influential writers in a private, gracious home.  Tickets are $55 for one Salon or $100 for both, and include the entertainment, open bar, and fare.

Eudora Welty: Mississippi Myth

January 27, 2017
Hosted by Nancy Copp in her legendary Germantown home

She described writing fiction as “a personal act of vision.”  Eudora Welty (1900-2001) was widely  popular as a writer and photographer from her lifelong home in Jackson, MS.  Welty was at literary  home seemingly only in experimentation, her vast skill-set ranging from comedy to tragedy, realistic to surreal, fiction to biography, fairy tale to history – always in the South. Her canon includes the short stories in A Curtain of Green, The Wide Net, and The Golden Apples, and the novels The Ponder Heart and Pulitzer Prize-winning The Optimist’s Daughter.

Flannery O’Connor: Georgia Gothic

April 21, 2017
Hosted by Melia and Drew Murphy at their gracious Germantown home

“Am I trying to shock with God?  Please don’t let me have to scrap the story because it turns out to mean more wrong than right…or any wrong,” the 20-year-old O’Connor writes in A Prayer Journal.  The author of Wise Blood, The Violent Bear It Away, A Good Man is Hard to Find, and Everything  that Rises Must Converge, O’Connor spent most of her life in Savannah and Milledgeville, GA.  Her  work is often described as birthing the Southern Gothic style. “There is nothing harder than Christian realism…the reviewer always has hold of the wrong horror.”

 

EIGHTH ANNUAL SHAKESPEARE GALA

March 10, 2017 at 6:00 pm
Germantown Performing Arts Center
benefiting TSC’s renowned Education Program

Guests enjoy a Broadway performer on stage, lavish dinner buffet, multiple open bars, and the most fun Live Auction in the Mid-South.  Ten-ticket sponsorships remain priced the same as the last five years.

 

THE COMEDY OF ERRORS

an hysterical, brief exuberance
by William Shakespeare
in partnership with the University of Memphis’ Department of Theatre & Dance
sponsored by Ann and Wellford Tabor; and Independent Bank
at the University of Memphis
June 8-18, 2017

Produced under agreements with the professional entertainment unions: Actors’ Equity Association and The Stage Directors & Choreographers Society

Shakespeare’s rowdiest, earliest, shortest comedy has become a popular foundation for the world’s entertainment over the last two centuries.  Two sets of identical twins are separated at birth on the high seas; and now, as young adults, the immigrant master/servant pairing comes searching for their twin brothers in Ephesus.  Unknown to them, their father has made pursuit, and their mother…well, that’s a surprise.  The immigrants, too, are surprised:  they learn they have a house, a sister-in-law, a housekeeper, a bill due, and wives.  A glorious, rhyming tale of mistaken identities is here gracefully folded into redeeming challenges to the laws of a native land and the strength of a non-traditional family.

June 8              Preview                       7:00 pm
June 9              Preview                       7:00 pm
June 10            Opening                      7:00 pm with post-show reception
June 11            Performance                3:00 pm
June 15            Performance                7:00 pm
June 16            Performance                7:00 pm
June 17            Performance                7:00 pm
June 18            Closing                        3:00 pm

 

Box Office Information

General Admission tickets are on sale now, Monday – Friday, 9:00 am – 5:00 pm at TSC’s office located within The Shops at Forest Hill at 3092 Village Shops Drive, Germantown, TN 38138 (near Target); by calling 901-759-0604, or by going on-line to www.tnshakespeare.org (Twitter: @tnshakespeare).

Ticket prices, unchanged from last season, are $34. Tickets for Preview performances are only $16.  All Thursday night performances are Free Will Kids’ Nights:  Children 17 years and younger are admitted FREE when accompanied by a paying/attending Guardian.  Senior tickets (62 years and older) are $29, and Student tickets (18 years and older) are $16 for any performance.  Dixon members receive 20% off all Much Ado About Nothing performances (no other discounts may apply).  All Opening Night performances include a complimentary post-show reception with the actors.  

Performances are general admission; first come/first seated.  Free parking.  No refunds or exchanges.  Credit card charges require a $1 per-ticket fee.  Plays, casts, and schedules are subject to change with notice.