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Polonius is a bit of Joy coming from this production of Hamlet

Joy Robert lo res copyRobert Joy stars as Polonius in the Shakespeare Theatre Company’s upcoming production of “Hamlet.” COURTESY PHOTOWilliam Shakespeare’s “Hamlet,” which many consider the greatest play in the English language, of course focuses on the title character. Hamlet returns from university after the sudden death of his father, the King of Denmark, to find his uncle now on the throne married to his mother – and encounters his father’s ghost who reveals he was murdered and urges Hamlet to take revenge.

But the play is rich in other complex characters, including Polonius. Adviser to the current king, as he was to the late monarch, Polonius is also the father of Ophelia, Hamlet’s erstwhile love interest, and Laertes, who was Hamlet’s friend.

Polonius gives us a famous speech, which appears fatuous on the surface, yet offers such wisdom as: “This above all: to thine own self be true.”

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The tale of two staged readings - one a comedy

9BMRJeterOct2017 copyLiz Galuardi and Paul Reisman in Best Medicine Rep’s reading of “Derek Jeter Makes the Play.” COURTESY PHOTO BY MARY ROBERDSThe historical farce “Philosophus,” by contemporary playwright Colin Speer Crowley, is billed as “clever and funny,” making it perfect fare for Best Medicine Repertory Theater.

The Gaithersburg-based theater began its programming earlier this year, focusing on new works and specifically on comedies, according to John Morogiello, artistic director.

“The Shadow of a Doubt,” on the other hand, was written by Edith Wharton, the author of such classic novels as “The Age of Innocence” and “The House of Mirth,” who passed away in 1937. It is her only known play – planned for a Broadway run that never happened.

“Two scholars working at the University of Texas found the manuscript, which Wharton wrote in 1901, right before she started writing novels,” said Drew Lichtenberg, Literary Manager of Shakespeare Theatre Company, where the play will have a reading. “Like many people, she wanted to write for the stage.”

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It’s a Free for All . . .

Shakespeare company makes "Othello" a free for the summer fest

OTHELLO 121 1 copy photoFaran Tahir stars in the Shakespeare Theatre Company’s Free For All production of “Othello.” COURTESY PHOTO BY SCOTT SUCHMAN  

It’s a long-established practice for theater companies to present the plays of William Shakespeare to the public at no charge during the summer months.

Locally, the Shakespeare Theatre Company in D.C. has been doing that since 1991 – presenting one production during the hot months (although indoors) in what it calls “Free For All.” Shakespeare’s comedy “The Merry Wives of Windsor” was the first Free For All production. Michael Kahn, STC’s artistic director, found inspiration in the pioneering achievements of Joseph Papp. Kahn had worked with the legendary producer and director who established almost 60 years ago New York City’s famed Shakespeare in the Park.

“Michael Kahn wanted to make sure Shakespeare was accessible to as many people as possible,” said Joy Johnson, director of audience services at STC who organizes and manages Free For All. “The best way to do that is through free performances.”

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