Kentucky Shakespeare announced its 2022 season Monday. It will be its “longest professional run” in Central Park in the company’s 60-plus-year history, producing artistic director Matt Wallace told WFPL News.
Running May 26 – Aug. 7, the 62nd season of the Kentucky Shakespeare Festival will feature nine weeks of mainstage productions, plus two weeks of performances by guest organizations, including the Louisville Improvisors, Louisville Ballet and Kentucky Shakespeare’s Globe Players professional training program for high schoolers.
Wallace said he’s thrilled that — after this past summer’s truncated season due to the COVID-19 pandemic — they’re able to expand their festival run.
“Even with a shorter season and one less production last season, we still were able to serve 25,000 people, making it the fifth-highest attended season we’ve done,” Wallace said. “We’re now ready to get back to that full season that runs… pretty much that week that school gets out to the week before it gets back.”
The mainstage shows are “Twelfth Night,” “Richard III” and ”The Merry Wives of Windsor.”
Wallace said they’ll be “leaning heavily” into the musical aspects of “Twelfth Night,” one of his favorite Shakespeare plays.
Also on the lineup for the 2022 season, as of now, are a run of “Much Ado About Nothing” from Kentucky Shakespeare’s Globe Players professional training program, the Louisville Improvisers’ “Late Night Shakes” and “Shakespeare in Dance,” featuring the Louisville Ballet.
Wallace said they’ll also welcome back pre-show performances, which will feature a soon-to-launch program called “Community Creates.”
Through a grant from the federal National Endowment for the Arts, Kentucky Shakespeare will partner with community organizations in the spring, creating work around a common theme that will be presented on the Central Park stage Saturday nights during the festival.
Leading up to the Central Park summer season
Kentucky Shakespeare also announced two indoor productions slated for earlier in the new year, starting with Joe Calarco’s “Shakespeare’s R&J” opening at the Henry Clay Theatre in late January.
“This is a show I’ve been wanting to produce for around 20 years,” Wallace said.
It’s a co-production with Pandora Productions, a Louisville theater company focused on telling the stories of LGBTQ+ communities.
“We’re all about taking Shakespeare off a pedestal and finding relevance today with his work,” Wallace said. “And this piece is just a beautiful retelling of ‘Romeo & Juliet.’”
It features four male actors, “set in a very, very strict Catholic boarding school.”
“And the students discover a book and it happens to be the banned play of Shakespeare’s ‘Romeo and Juliet,’” Wallace said. “And from there, they discover the play, truths emerge and it does everything I want to do with Shakespeare: It’s exciting, and it encourages empathy and compassion.”
The company is also adding an indoor show in the spring.
Kentucky Shakespeare will present “King Henry VI: The Wars of the Roses,” which is all three Henry VI plays distilled into one work, at its new facility in Old Louisville March 30 – April 16.
And the annual Shakespeare in the Parks Tour will visit area parks and schools April 1 – May 15, with a six-actor production of “Julius Caesar” directed by associate artistic director Amy Attaway.
“We’re still in the process of casting and finalizing the concept for that,” Wallace said. “But Attaway is leaning into a futuristic take.”