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A.R.T. Presents Shakespeare Exploded Weekend Festival December 4 to 6, 2009

American Repertory Theater has begun its ambitious 2009-10 season with Shakespeare Exploded!, a festival of theatrical events inspired by three classic plays by William Shakespeare.

For the first weekend in December, A.R.T. Artistic Director Diane Paulus has programmed a jam-packed weekend allowing both Bostonians and out-of-towners to feast upon A.R.T.’s diverse Shakespeare Exploded! offerings in one 3-day stretch, December 4-6, 2009.

Audiences will be able to dance to all the 70s hits they know by heart at The Donkey Show, a disco adaptation of A Midsummer Night’s Dream that unfolds around you as a nightclub fantasy (Friday, December 4 at 8:00 pm, Saturday, December 5 at 8:00 or 10:30pm). They will discover the sensory journey of Sleep No More (by the acclaimed British company Punchdrunk in their North American debut), an immersive work inspired by Macbeth and Hitchcock’s thrillers (with nightly entry times Friday, Saturday and Sunday at 7:00, 7:20, or 7:40 pm). Finally, theatergoers can celebrate the holidays with Best of Both Worlds, a new R&B and gospel musical that takes its story from The Winter’s Tale (Friday at 8:00 p.m., Saturday at 2:00 or 8:00 pm or Sunday at 2:00 or 7:30 pm).

Additional events include Robert Brustein’s new play Mortal Terror, part of the Shakespeare Exploded! reading series featuring new plays inspired by Shakespeare’s life and works, and a panel discussion about Shakespeare’s impact on contemporary culture with New York’s The Public Theater Artistic Director Oskar Eustis, renowned Shakespeare scholar and Harvard professor Marjorie Garber, and A.R.T. Artistic Director Diane Paulus.

“I can’t think of a better way to spend a beautiful December weekend than by having our out-of-town friends come to Cambridge and experience the work of the exhilarating artists bringing us Shakespeare Exploded!” explained Diane Paulus. “I truly meant it when I told the Boston Globe that we expect to do nothing less than change the course of American theater right here at the A.R.T.!”

Premium Weekend Packages that coordinate accommodations, dining, and all weekend activities are available at The ultimate VIP experience provides a 2-night stay in a Deluxe Suite at the Charles Hotel, a 4-course dinner at La Morra Restaurant in Brookline, breakfast at Henrietta’s Table, a 4-course dinner at Rialto, tickets to the three unique Shakespeare Exploded! productions, and preferred seats at the reading and panel discussion.

Sleep No More is a unique theatrical experience where the line between performer and spectator is extraordinarily blurred. Audiences have the freedom to roam the environment and experience a sensory journey as they chose what to watch and where to go. Sleep No More takes place in the atmospheric environs of The Old Lincoln School (194 Boylston Street, Route 9 Eastbound, near Brookline Village, Brookline). Persons younger than 16 will not be admitted as the production contains nudity and may be disturbing to minors.

The production involves walking and patrons are advised to wear sensible footwear. Sleep No More is devised and directed by Felix Barrett and Maxine Doyle, with the Company, and is now in performance through January 3, 2010.

Directed by Diane Paulus, the disco sensation The Donkey Show lets audience members party on the dance floor as the show unfolds around them. From its six-year run in New York City to a world tour from London to Seoul, the celebrated smash hit The Donkey Show now takes Boston by storm, bringing you the ultimate disco experience — a crazy circus of mirror balls and feathered divas, of roller skaters and hustle queens. The Donkey Show tells the story of A Midsummer Night’s Dream through the great 70s anthems, including “We are Family,” “I Love the Nightlife,” “Car Wash,” “Ring My Bell” and “Last Dance.” The enchanted forest of Shakespeare’s classic comedy becomes the glittered world of retro disco as the lovers escape from their real lives to experience a night of dream, abandon, and fantasy. A.R.T.’s new theater club venue, Oberon houses this magical romp. After the show, the party continues into the night. The Donkey Show is now in performances through January 2, 2010.

Bursting with the sounds of R&B and gospel, the musical Best of Both Worlds is a soulful re-envisioning of The Winter’s Tale, Shakespeare’s timeless story of heartbreak and redemption. Clap your hands, jump out of your seat and feel the power of love with this holiday treat for all ages. Best of Both Worlds takes audiences on a journey through the rich musical tapestry of R&B, rediscovering Shakespeare’s characters with smooth sounds and funky beats. When jealousy rips apart love and friendship, only the revelatory power of gospel can restore the enduring bonds of faith, family and forgiveness. The production will feature a rotating roster of Boston’s most celebrated gospel choirs, including community, university and church choirs from throughout the city. Book and lyrics are by Randy Weiner, music is by Diedre Murray and the show is co-written and directed by Diane Paulus. Best of Both Worlds runs November 21, 2009 – January 3, 2010.

Compiled from the press release courtesy of the American Repertory Theater (website | profile | tag archive). Your source for news and information about Boston Theatre. Join our email list, follow us on Twitter @exploretheatre and become a fan on Facebook.

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