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Theater Notebook: Old Globe unveils yearlong ‘Henry VI’ Shakespeare project

Barry Edelstein, artistic director of the Old Globe
(Jim Cox)

Also in this week’s San Diego theater news: ‘Rent’ farewell tour ends five-year run in San Diego this month and Graber joins San Diego Opera

Ever since the Old Globe was founded in Balboa Park in 1937, producing the plays of William Shakespeare has been the cornerstone of its mission. Over the next 12 months, San Diego’s largest and oldest theater will expand its devotion to the Bard in a major way.

Beginning later this month, the Globe will launch a yearlong project that will culminate in the presentation of “Henry 6,” a new two-play adaptation of Shakespeare’s history plays “Henry VI, Parts I, II and III” on its outdoor Lowell Davies Festival stage in the 2023 Summer Shakespeare Festival.

Globe artistic director Barry Edelstein, a renowned Shakespeare scholar, is writing the adaptation and will direct the “Henry 6" production. James Shapiro, who is Shakespeare Scholar in Residence at New York’s Public Theater and has written several books on the playwright, will serve as a consultant on the project.

To lay the groundwork for “Henry 6,” the Globe will present a yearlong program of free, citywide arts engagement programs and humanities events leading up to the production. To expand access, the Globe also plans to offer reduced-price and free tickets to the plays, and the Globe will offer outreach programs for community members who want to participate in the creation of “Henry 6.”

Over the past 85 years, the Old Globe has produced all of Shakespeare’s plays except “Henry VI, Parts I, II and III.” Among Shakespeare’s earliest works, the “Henry VI” history plays tell the story of the War of the Roses, a decades-long war between England’s York and Lancaster dynasties in the 1400s. Edelstein has condensed the three plays into two and is focusing on the characters’ quest to achieve power at any cost, and how that single-minded purpose can lead to chaos, violence and anarchy.

“Over the past two years, I’ve had the privilege to adapt these three plays into two and to conceive a production of them that embraces their full sweep, from drama to comedy, from the personal to the political, and from the intimate to the epic,” Edelstein said in a statement. “This will be a grand adventure for the Globe and me, and I’m thrilled to share it with San Diego.”

To kick off the year of events, the annual free “Happy Birthday, Mr. Shakespeare!” event — this time themed to “Henry 6" — will be presented from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. April 16 on the Old Globe’s outdoor Copley Plaza.

Then in May, the Globe will kick off the three-part H6 Epic Workshop Series. The first session, a 10-week theater workshop called “Playing Henry!” will be presented by Globe staffers Katherine Harroff and Erika Phillips. A follow-up public workshop, “Making Henry,” will focus on the stagecraft to create the “Henry 6" designs. And a third, invitation-only workshop led by Edelstein, “Performing Henry,” will prepare select performers for the chance to perform in next year’s “Henry 6" production.

Registrations for all events and workshops is now open at theoldglobe.org.

The cast of the "Rent 25th Anniversary Farewell Tour" production.
The cast of the “Rent 25th Anniversary Farewell Tour” production, which will mark its final performances April 22 through 24 in San Diego.
(Carol Rosegg
)

‘Rent’ farewell tour to conclude in San Diego

How do you measure 25 years in the life of the touring musical “Rent”?

Using the musical’s “Seasons of Love” minutes-in-a-year calculation, that measurement would be: 13,140,000 minutes.

Local “Rentheads” will have the rare privilege of being in the audience when the Tony and Pulitzer Prize-winning musical’s “25th Anniversary Farewell Tour” comes to an end on April 24 at the San Diego Civic Theatre.

For most of the past quarter-century, touring productions of Jonathan Larson’s landmark musical have been touring the world. This “Farewell” tour alone has visited five countries, 237 cities and played more than 1,000 performances.

The “Farewell Tour” launched in January 2017 and was shut down in March 2020 by the pandemic. It relaunched last September in Kentucky and arrives in San Diego later this month after stops in San Jose, Los Angeles, Carmel and San Luis Obispo. The shows April 22 through 24 conclude the tour, though some dates are listed on the tour’s website for May in Japan. “Farewell” tours have a long history of extensions and comebacks, but it will likely be several years before “Rent” makes the touring rounds again in the U.S.

For tickets, visit broadwaysd.com/upcoming-events/rent/.

Matthew Graber is the new chief marketing officer for San Diego Opera.
(San Diego Opera)

Graber moves from SD Rep to SD Opera

Matthew Graber, who spent the past seven years at San Diego Repertory Theatre in external affairs, development and marketing positions, has joined San Diego Opera as its new chief marketing officer.

Graber was hired after a national search to replace the company’s former CMO, who retired last year. During Graber’s tenure at San Diego Rep, subscription revenue grew by 89 percent, and he led the company successful $5 million “Setting the Stage” campaign.

“I had been aware of Matt’s work at the Rep for some time, and I am glad to finally have a chance to work together,” said David Bennett, San Diego Opera’s general director, in a statement. “Matt brings new energy, as well as an incredible depth of marketing knowledge and fundraising skills to San Diego Opera at a pivotal time in the company’s history.”

Kragen writes about theater for the San Diego Union-Tribune. Email her at pam.kragen@sduniontribune.com.


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