Savage Rose Classical Theatre Company has announced its 2013-14 season, which artistic director J. Barrett Cooper is calling “our season of storms.” The next season, which begins in November with the Slant Culture Theatre Festival, is a tribute to William Shakespeare, with full productions of “Twelfth Night,” “King Lear” and “The Tempest” planned.
“We believe Shakespeare is the greatest playwright to have lived, and the spark that lit the fire of all playwrights to come after him,” Cooper said at a season release celebration Sunday night.
Each of the three Shakespeare plays features at least one storm, a connection Cooper says he didn’t notice until the season had already been decided. Cooper says the season will also honor Louisville actor Monte Priddy, a Shakespeare veteran who will play a key part in the upcoming season, including the title role in “King Lear.” Though now mostly retired, for decades Priddy was a fixture at the Kentucky Shakespeare Festival, acting in 33 seasons of free Shakespeare in Central Park.
The company will participate in the second annual Slant Culture Theatre Festival with Anton Chekhov’s one-act farce “The Marriage Proposal,” directed by Tony Prince.
In addition to their full productions, Savage Rose also produces staged readings of under-performed classic plays in their Words, Words, Words play reading series. In the upcoming season, they will focus on what became known as The Wars of the Theatres, a feud between Elizabethan playwright Ben Jonson and his rivals John Marston and Thomas Dekker. The reading series will feature Jonson’s “The Poetaster” and Marston’s “What You Will,” a back-and-forth series of satires in which the playwrights ridiculed each other in their texts—a bit like the battle raps of the early 1600s.
The reading series will also include Nahum Tate’s 1681 adaptation of “King Lear,” a sunshine-y adaptation featuring a contented Lear regaining his throne and a happily-married Cordelia in the end (spoiler alert: in the original, they both die) which Cooper says, in an odd instance of the remix overtaking the original, actually replaced Shakespeare’s tragedy on stages until the mid-1800s.
It’s an niche approach that’s served Savage Rose well, as the young company has built up a fan base that, among other things, netted the organization $10,000 in crowd-funding support over the last year through the Fund for the Arts’ Power2Give campaigns. Going into its fifth season, Savage Rose has produced 16 mainstage productions and 19 play readings from a classical repertoire that covers roughly 2,000 years of theater, from the ancient Greeks to the 20th century modern classics. Cooper says the company will begin offering workshops on classical text analysis and stage combat next season as well.