Though Connecticut's American Shakespeare Theater has had to give up Shakespeare for this coming summer (money troubles), Canada's Stratford will be celebrating its 25th season with a highly impressive schedule in two theaters.
The first week will introduce seven production in four days. "A Midsummer Night's Dream," "All's Well That Ends Well" and "Richard III" will open in the large Festival Theater the evenings of June 6, 7 and 8. On those afternoons the smaller Avon will present "Romeo and Juliet," "Ghosts" and "Miss Julie," and on the evening of the June 9 "The Guardsman" at the Avon.
Aug. 12 will add "Much Ado About Nothing" and Aug. 17 "As You Like It." Sept. 27 will begin a two-week run of "Hay Fever." It's dizzying repertory schedule, devised by director Robin Phillips.
This year's Canadian company will include Brian Bedford, Maggie Smith, Alan Scarfe, William Hutt, Nicholas Pennell, Eric Donkin, Margaret Tyzack. Martha Henry, Richard Monette, Marti Maraden, Domini Blythe, Douglas Rain and Pamela Hyatt. Starting in July, the Monday concert series will present Gordon Lightfoot, Ella Fitzgerald. Sylvia Tyson and the Preservation Hall Jazz Band. If you've never been to Ontario's great theater center, its 25th year would be a great start.
Next week brings a band of theater experts to town for the USITT annual convention, that being the United States Institute for Theater Technology. Members will be meeting Wednesday through Saturday at the L'Enfant Plaza Hotel. Their interests are improved theater buildings, administration, equipment and more imaginative production techniques, and there will be visits backstage to all the city's theaters.
The first Lorraine Hansberry Award of the American Theater Festival has gone to Judi Ann Mason of Grambling University, Louisiana, for her play "A Star Ain't Nothin' But a Hole in Heaven." Now 22, Mason becomes the first repeat winner in ACTF's nine-year history. She won the Norman Lear Award two years ago for comedy writing. In the award, sponsored by McDonald's, the writer gets $2,000, her college $500. A runner-up award, urged by judged Robert Hooks, goes to Erwin Washington's "Oh, Oh, Freedom," at the university of California. Neither of these scripts will be presented during the April festival.
Returning to Arena Stage with Katherine Squire for the coming "Catsplay" are two noted actresses making their first appearance there, Paula Trueman, who's appeared here with many notables, and Helen Burns, for several season a leading lady at Canada's Stratford. Previews begin Friday night for this play by Hungary's Istvan Orkeny.
National Theater manager Richard E. Schneider is a theater history buff and so is his wife, Mary Jo. Nothing that while theater buildings go on, managements do change and with them go the records of past seasons, the Schneiders are making a start at collecting national programs, posters and memorabilia, aiming in time to make them available to theater students. The collection has a hopeful beginning, including a book I never knew existed about the theater's first 50 years, from 1835 to 1885, but there are vast holes in the eras.
Claudia McNeil joins Baltimore's Center Stage for its production fo Leslie Lee's strong family drama, "The First Breeze of Summer." This opens Friday to run through April 10, with Tuesday-Sunday performances.
Starring Liv Ullmann, O'Neill's "Anna Christie" will open Tuesday at the National; Monday's performance will be a preview so the cast can get the theater's measure . . . This National Park Service desk in the Kennedy Center Hall of States will have what tickets there are for the Musical Theater Lab performances of "Hot Grog" in the Chautauqua Tent. They're free form 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. . . Roy Brocksmith, the Ballad Singer of Lincoln Center's recent "Threepenny Opera," will be the Baron in Gorki's "The Lower Depths," opening April 1 at Arena Stage under the direction of Romania's Liviu Ciulei . . . R. Michael Hogan is the returned soldier in "The Subject Was Roses," which opened a two-week run last night at the Bel Air, Md., Edwin Booth Theater . . . "Caesar and Cleopatra" closed over the weekend at New York's Palace, a loss of $400,000 . . . Archaesus Productions will hold auditions Saturday and Sunday; details at 362-7032 . . .