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Radio ‘Hamlet’ among Old Globe’s plans for racially inclusive 2021 season

Grantham Coleman in the title role of the Old Globe's 2017 production of "Hamlet."
Grantham Coleman in the title role of the Old Globe’s 2017 production of “Hamlet.” It will return with the same cast in a free radio adaptation on KPBS as part of the theater’s 2021 season.
(Courtesy photo by Jim Cox)

The just-announced lineup, with few dates attached, includes three world premieres, two musicals and three Shakespeare plays

The Old Globe unveiled its 2021 theatrical season Jan. 19 with a lineup of online and onstage offerings that include a radio adaptation of William Shakespeare’s “Hamlet,” a new musical, an outdoor production of “Hair” and numerous plays by artists of color.

Because of the uncertainties of the pandemic, the new season has few dates attached to the planned shows. If public health orders permit, Globe Artistic Director Barry Edelstein said he hopes to begin offering outdoor performances on the Lowell Davies Festival stage by late summer or early fall, followed by indoor productions. He’s optimistic that audiences will be eager to return.

“I think there will be a clamor to get out of the house to be in groups again and to be entertained,” said Edelstein, who added that future productions will be captured on high-quality video for home-streaming for those audience members hesitant to return due to health concerns.

Five of the plays originally on the calendar for 2021 — including postponed productions of “Little Women,” “Faceless” and “Henry V” — are still on ice for now, Edelstein said, due to financial, casting and other considerations. But four new projects have been added. Much of the work in the 2021 season will celebrate BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and people of color) artists, in keeping with the company’s Social Justice Road Map, published last fall.

“We’re trying very hard to honor our commitment to amplifying the voices of Black and Brown writers,” Edelstein said. “To me, the fact that these works are diverse and also spectacular and successful, that’s the the brass ring. This is Old Globe work at the very highest level and also acknowledging the rich diversity of the city in which we live.”

Here’s a look at the 2021 season, which kicks off this week. For more details, visit theoldglobe.org.

Online productions

Powers New Voices Festival — Thursday through Sunday:The eighth annual festival will be streamed online this weekend with a dozen new plays and projects written by local and national BIPOC artists. Highlights include four plays by local authors on Thursday; a new translation/adaptation by William S. Gregory and Daniel Jáquez of the 17th-century Spanish play “Fuente Ovejuna” on Friday; an evening with the San Diego Black Artists Collective on Saturday; and the premiere of Jose Cruz Gonzalez’s “Under a Baseball Sky” on Sunday. All performances begin at 7 p.m. Free 30-minute preshow panel discussions will be presented on three nights. Festival admission is free, but reservations are required.

Daniel Jáquez is collaborating on a new translation of the Spanish classic "Fuente Ovejuna" for the Old Globe
Daniel Jáquez is collaborating on a new translation of the Spanish classic “Fuente Ovejuna” for the Old Globe’s Powers New Voices Festival on Jan. 22.
(Courtesy photo)

“A Midsummer Night’s Dream” Streaming begins Feb. 12: Students in the Old Globe/University of San Diego Shiley Graduate Theatre Program will take part in an online production of Shakespeare’s fairy-filled comedy directed by Sam White, who heads up the site-specific Shakespeare in Detroit theater company. The filmed production will include a mix of Zoom technology and on-location video and will be available free to the public on the Globe’s website and YouTube channel.

“Hamlet: On the Radio” — Late April: In its second collaboration with KPBS following the hugely successful radio adaptation of “Dr. Seuss’s How the Grinch Stole Christmas!” last fall, the Globe will revive its 2017 production of Shakespeare’s “Hamlet” in audio form. Edelstein directed the original production and will reunite his mostly non-White cast, including star Grantham Coleman for a radio version that will be trimmed from its previous three-hour running time. Edelstein’s “Hamlet” was the first and only Globe production to break $1 million at the box office. KPBS has yet to announce the air date, or dates, but Edelstein hopes it can be presented around April 23, which is believed to be Shakespeare’s birthday.

Lowell Davies Festival Theatre (outdoor)

“The Taming of the Shrew” by William Shakespeare: Postponed from 2020, this raucous battle-of-the-sexes comedy will be directed by Shanna Cooper of the Woolly Mammoth Theatre in Washington, D.C. It will be presented for a live audience on the outdoor festival stage.

Shanna Cooper will direct "The Taming of the Shrew" for The Old Globe in 2021.
(Courtesy photo)

“Hair” by Galt MacDermot, James Rado and Gerome Ragni:Postponed from the 2020 season, this seminal anti-war 1967 rock musical will be presented outdoors on the festival stage in a production directed by James Vásquez with choreography by Rickey Tripp.

Rickey Tripp will choreograph The Old Globe's outdoor production of "Hair" in 2021.
(Courtesy photo)

Donald and Darlene Shiley Theatre (mainstage)

“Trouble in Mind” by Alice Childress:Moxie Theatre co-founder Delicia Turner Sonnenberg returns to the Globe to direct this 1955 backstage comedy about the racial tensions and misunderstandings that arise between a multiracial cast and their White director during rehearsals for a Broadway play set in the American South. As part of the Black Lives Matter movement in 2020, theater artists in New York published a manifesto called “We See You White American Theatre” that proves that some things haven’t changed over the past 66 years, Edelstein said.

Delicia Turner Sonnenberg directs "Trouble in Mind" for The Old Globe in 2021.
(Courtesy photo)

“The Gardens of Anuncia” by Graciela Daniele and Michael John LaChiusa:Postponed from 2020, this world premiere autobiographical musical will be directed and choreographed by 81-year-old Broadway legend Graciela Daniele, with a book, music and lyrics by Tony Award nominee LaChiusa. The play begins in Daniele’s girlhood in Juan Peron’s Argentina, and it pays homage to the family of women who helped Daniele follow her artistic dreams in America. This show is a passion project for Edelstein, who calls Daniele one of the American theater’s “absolute greats of the second half of the 20th century.”

Graciela Daniele directs and choreographs the autobiographical musical "The Gardens of Anuncia."
(Courtesy of The Old Globe)

Sheryl and Harvey White Theatre (in the round)

“Shutter Sisters” by Mansa Ra:First produced as a reading in the Globe’s 2020 Powers New Voices Festival, this world premiere play will be directed by Donya K. Washington of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. It’s a comic mystery story about two women, one Black and one White, who are living parallel lives on the hardest day of their lives.

“El Borracho” by Tony Meneses:Also produced as reading at the 2020 Powers festival, this world premiere tragicomedy directed by Edward Torres is about an estranged Latinx family brought together again by the father’s imminent death.

— Pam Kragen is a reporter for The San Diego Union-Tribune


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