Sydney, Australia: Bell Shakespeare has today announced their 2021 season, which will mark the company’s return to the stage and live performance for the first time since the COVID-19 lockdown in March. As Australia’s national touring theatre company and now in its 31st year, Bell Shakespeare will travel across the country with a program including an evening with company Founding Artistic Director John Bell, a remounting of this year’s popular Hamlet production that closed just 1.5 weeks after opening due to lockdown, and a staging of the popular classic A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
Following a successful online sneak peek filmed with Bell Shakespeare Founding Artistic Director John Bell at the Sydney Opera House earlier this year after a cancellation due to COVID-19, audiences will finally be able to attend the live performance of One Man In His Time: John Bell and Shakespeare. Presented at the Sydney Opera House (11-14 March) and Canberra Theatre Centre (15 April), this intimate one-man performance is a reflection on works by Shakespeare that have left their mark on Bell, the man who believed that Australians could see themselves reflected in the works of Shakespeare, and founded a Company based on his belief. Now in his 80th year, Bell is an icon of the Australian stage and respected by audiences and colleagues alike for his personal and genuine connection to Shakespeare that has inspired Australians for decades.
Audiences will have a second chance to see the seminal revenge tragedy Hamlet which premiered earlier in 2020 to rave reviews, directed by Bell Shakespeare Artistic Director Peter Evans and starring Harriet Gordon-Anderson (The Miser) as Hamlet. Presented at the Sydney Opera House (11 August – 4 September), Arts Centre Melbourne (10-19 September) and Canberra Theatre Centre (24 September – 2 October), the production has been reimagined for contemporary audiences, transporting them to a wintery Denmark scene in the 1960s.
One of Shakespeare’s most popular plays A Midsummer Night’s Dream will debut at Arts Centre Melbourne (15-24 July) before travelling to far corners across the country to over 26 locations including Hobart, Alice Springs and Mackay, and finishing at the Sydney Opera House (14 October – 7 November), bringing Shakespeare’s classic comedy filled with magic and mirth to audiences all over Australia and reflecting the company’s ethos of providing all Australians with access to Shakespeare.
Bell Shakespeare Artistic Director Peter Evans said:
After a challenging year that saw us celebrate our 30th anniversary in a drastically different way than we had planned we can’t wait to get back into the theatre and enjoy live performance once again. We are going to keep celebrating Bell Shakespeare into 2021 and I’m delighted audiences will have a second chance to see our short-lived acclaimed 2020 production of Hamlet as well as an opportunity to see John Bell’s insights, thoughtfulness, deep love of this work and generosity on full display for One Man in His Time. To complete our year in a celebration of the theatre as we return to the stage, my refreshed and reimagined family friendly production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream will tour to over 26 venues in almost every state and territory in Australia.
Alongside this programming, Bell Shakespeare will present their extensive outreach and education program across the country in schools, juvenile justice centres, indigenous communities and community halls.
Company players will also for the first time present Play in a Day, an entertaining performance that is read, rehearsed and performed in just one day and available to season package purchasers. In 2021 the plays featured will be lesser known works by Shakespeare’s contemporary Thomas Middleton including Women Beware Women and The Revenger’s Tragedy.