Virginia Shakespeare Festival opens 35th anniversary season June 20

The Virginia Shakespeare Festival, recently honored by the Virginia General Assembly as the Commonwealth’s official Shakespeare festival, will begin its 35th anniversary season

The festival will open on June 20 with Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, directed by Mark Lerman, adjunct professor of theatre, speech and dance at William & Mary as well as proprietor and director of the Virginia Theatre Machine, a technically equipped mobile stage best known for an annual production of The Christmas Carol in Merchants Square. The production will run for nine performances through June 30. 

Shakespeare’s The Tragedy of King Richard III, directed by VSF alumnus David Zarko follows and runs from July 11 through July 21. Zarko, who performed in a 1986 VSF, is currently on part-time faculty at the Theatre Program at Marywood University in Scranton, Pa. and a free-lance director and working playwright.

The festival’s final production will be Jeffrey Hatcher’s modern adaptation of the classic Henry James thriller Turn of the Screw. Directed by VSF veteran and current Interim Artistic Director Robert Ruffin, the production will run from July 31 through Aug. 4. Ruffin, who is also an instructor of theatre at William & Mary, teaches classes on playwriting and beginning acting and has 25 years of professional acting experience. Evening shows are at 8 p.m. and Sunday matinees are at 2 p.m.

“In our first year as the official festival of the commonwealth,” said Ruffin, “we are delighted to offer Virginia residents and visitors this season of spills, thrills and chills. A Midsummer Night’s Dream is arguably Shakespeare’s most popular comedy, and our production of Richard III follows on the heels of the historic and breathtaking discovery of his remains in Leicester, England. Turn of the Screw is a notable, classic horror tale and Jeffrey Hatcher’s adaptation has received great critical acclaim for its spell-binding psychological staging.

“We believe this season is tailored to meet a variety of entertainment desires for young and old alike. If you enjoy high quality, professional theatre, I hope you join us for this historic and exciting season.”

The Virginia Shakespeare Festival performs in the 750-seat theatre in Phi Beta Kappa Hall. Tickets are $27.50 for adults, $15 for students ages 14 and up and $10 for children under 14. Season ticket packages to all three shows are $65, and groups receive a 20 percent discount. 

For ticket information, visit the festival website or call the box office at 757-221-2674.