A Partial History
The newly-established Shakespeare Theatre at the Folger
Shakespeare Library’s (since renamed the Shakespeare Theatre
Company) first production, Romeo and Juliet, opens. The production,
which plays to sold-out houses and earns Artistic Director Michael
Kahn a Helen Hayes Award nomination, features a top-notch cast
and designers that make clear Kahn’s vision to create a nationally
STC’s non-traditional casting makes headlines when Pat Carroll
takes on the gender-bending role of Falstaff in The Merry Wives
At STC’s first open rehearsal, theatregoers line up around the
block to watch Stacy Keach rehearse Richard III under the direction
of Michael Kahn. Keach later returns to STC to play the title roles in
Macbeth in 1995 and King Lear in 2009.
STC changes the cultural landscape of the nation’s capital with
its first Free For All. More than 2,500 theatregoers watch each
performance of The Merry Wives of Windsor under the stars at Carter
Barron Amphitheatre. This annual tradition of free Shakespeare
After six years in residency in the Folger Library’s Elizabethan
theatre, STC moves mid-season to a new performance space: the
451-seat Lansburgh Theatre, which provides more flexibility and
more space for STC’s growing audience. At the time the Penn
Quarter neighborhood was not considered desirable by many;
since then, STC has helped drive its revitalization.
STC continues its precedent of non-traditional casting with a
“photo negative” production of Othello featuring Patrick Stewart
and an African-American cast.
Dixie Carter makes her STC debut in A Woman of No Importance.
She later returns for another Oscar Wilde play, Lady Windermere’s
Fan, in 2005.
The Clintons, then the First Family, attend Twelfth Night. In the
words of theatre critic Bob Mondello (WETA Around Town), “I am
almost certain that history was made when the President went to
the Shakespeare Theatre. I uncovered no other instance when a
sitting president attended a regional theatre.”
Hal Holbrook takes the stage as Shylock in The Merchant of Venice.
“Playing a role like Shylock at a place like The Shakespeare Theatre
gives you a real estimate of what you can do,” he says.
The inaugural class of the Shakespeare Theatre Company
Academy for Classical Acting at The George Washington
University begins their one-year intensive MFA program in classical
acting. Nearly 200 actors auditioned for the 24 spots.
Michael Kahn directs a new translation of Sophocles’ The Oedipus
Plays. The then-Greek Ambassador to the U.S. and the Cultural
Attaché attend this one-night production of the trilogy. After their
enthusiastic recommendations, STC is invited to perform The
Oedipus Plays at the Athens Festival in Greece in September 2003.
Michael Kahn directs Five by Tenn as part of the Kennedy Center’s
“Tennessee Williams Explored” program. STC produces five of
Williams’ one-acts including several world premieres. Kahn, a
close friend and collaborator of Williams, is uniquely suited for the
project, which is later produced by the Manhattan Theatre Club.
Michael Kahn directs Love’s Labor’s Lost at STC, followed by two
weeks of sold out performances and rave reviews at the Royal
Shakespeare Company’s Complete Works Festival in Stratfordupon-
Avon later that summer. The Telegraph’s Charles Spencer
writes, “Shakespeare sounds great with an American accent.”
The Shakespeare in Washington celebration, conceived by the
Kennedy Center’s Michael Kaiser and curated by STC’s Michael
Kahn, features the work of more than 70 arts organizations in
more than 500 performances, many free of charge.
After three years of construction, Sidney Harman Hall opens
with a sold-out gala celebration. Sidney Harman Hall features
774 seats and a flexible stage that can accommodate theatre,
dance, music and film.
STC begins Happenings at the Harman, a series of free
performances and discussions that allow audiences to get up close
and personal with leading local artists.
STC hosts Welcome to Washington, an event to introduce
incoming politicians to the city’s professional performing arts
companies. Many local arts groups perform on the same stage for
an audience that includes First Lady Michelle Obama.
STC presents the only North American engagement of the National
Theatre of Great Britain’s production of Phèdre featuring Helen
Mirren. This successful international production paves the way for
other shows in the STC Presents Series including The Great Game:
Afghanistan, Black Watch and Krapp’s Last Tape.
STC kicks off its 25th Anniversary Season under the direction
of Michael Kahn. Special events include presentations of the hit
musical FELA! and Basil Twist’s Petrushka, as well as two Bard’s
The American Theatre Wing announces that STC will receive the
2012 Regional Theatre Tony Award®.