The University Record, April 24, 2000

Royal Shakespeare Company to give exclusive performances

By Joanne Nesbit
News and Information Services

The Hatcher Graduate Library's Special Collections unit shows off just a few of the 9,000 volumes in its Shakespeare Collection. The Collection excels in collected editions of the plays, beginning with the Second Folio. The Library's collection was built on the private collections of Edward Hughes Thomson and Joseph Crosby. The selection in the foreground is an 1844 edition from Paris titled 'Gallerie des Personnages de Shakspeare.' Note the omission of the first 'e' in the spelling. Photo by Bill Wood, U-M-Photo Services
The University and the University Musical Society (UMS) will celebrate the 2000–2001 academic year with a rich calendar of drama that will feature Shakespeare’s History Cycle performed next March by the Royal Shakespeare Company of Stratford-upon-Avon.

Announcement of the Society’s International Theater Festival was made by UMS Director Kenneth C. Fischer at an April 19 press conference.

Other Festival programs include a Samuel Beckett Mini-Festival performed by the Gate Theater of Dublin; one of Julie Taymor’s earliest works performed by the American Repertory Theater; and a new work co-commissioned by UMS that will be performed by Ensemble Sequentia in conjunction with Ping Chong and Company.

“We cannot attract the very best faculty and the very best students in the country if we do not have the best culture of the world for them,” President Lee C. Bollinger said at the gathering held in the President’s House. “Our special relationship with the University Musical Society must be recognized in Ann Arbor and Southeast Michigan for its special role in bringing the great arts of the world to this area.”

Over the past decade, Fischer noted, “UMS has built its season to include the presentation of a diverse array of art forms, developing internationally regarded series in modern dance, world music, jazz, early and choral music, song recital and family programming, in addition to our 122-year-old classical music series. The one genre that has been missing from that list is theater.

“Now is the time for the University Musical Society to make a major commitment to theater,” Fischer said. “For us to get involved in this is a leap of faith—a leap we couldn’t make without the support of the University, individuals, corporations, government and the cooperation of Lee Bollinger.”

Extending the University’s commitment to theater, Bollinger announced that plans for an Arthur Miller Theater on the U-M campus are proceeding. He will take a proposal to the Regents at their May meeting for locating the facility between the Power Center for the Performing Arts and the University’s power plant. The structure will offer a new location for the 100-seat Trueblood Theatre, now located in the Frieze Building, as well as host the 600-seat Arthur Miller Theater.

“This is a community that loves the word, that loves performance,” Bollinger said. “This is vital to what we are as a community and as an institution. No one can give me a reason not to do it. So, let’s do it!”

Shakespeare’s Histories, Henry VI, parts I, II, III and Richard III, will be performed by the Royal Shakespeare Company only in Ann Arbor. The Company will not be performing the works anywhere else in the United States. Each of the four plays will be presented twice March 10–18.

The four plays are some of the Bard’s most powerful and potent, yet are rarely seen in their entirety in a single series.

The Royal Shakespeare Company, founded as the Shakespeare Memorial Theater on the playwright’s birthday (April 23) in 1879—the same year in which the University Musical Society began—will be celebrating its 40th anniversary as the Royal Shakespeare Company with this co-presentation.

The Royal Shakespeare Company last performed in Michigan in 1913, during its first visit to the United States, with Richard II, Henry IV and Henry V.

The International Theater Festival also will include the Gate Theater of Dublin’s presentation of Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot and Krapp’s Last Tape,the American Repertory Theater production of The King Stag, and the world premiere of Curse of the Gold: Myths of the Icelandic Edda.

Series tickets for the Festival will go on sale May 8. For additional information, call the UMS Box Office, (734) 764-2538.