On May 9, Georgia Shakespeare launches its 27th season with an open-air production of William Shakespeare’s final play, The Tempest. That opening should have a special poignancy for the staff of one of Atlanta’s premier theatre companies; it wasn’t so long ago that Georgia Shakespeare was enduring a tempest of its own, and faced the sobering prospect that it might already have taken its final bow. Alongside Actor’s Express and Theatre in the Square—both fellow long-running mainstays of the city’s theatrical community—the troupe was beset by a mounting tide of debt, and despite nearly 30 years of accolades, its future as a going concern was far from assured.
Having exceeded last year’s “do-or-die” fundraising goal of $500,000 and retired much of its debt, Georgia Shakespeare approaches the coming season with some energetic tweaks. The company’s signature “Shake at the Lake” production at Piedmont Park is moving from its old home at Lake Clara Meer to the Legacy Fountain. In its new configuration, “Shakespeare in the Park” is twice the size of its predecessor.
In addition, the company has upped the ante for its annual Bard’s Bash fundraiser, to be held May 4 at Goodson Yard at the Goat Farm. Titled “A Wilde Night,” the event promises food from some of Atlanta’s brightest culinary stars, including Shane Devereaux, Nick Melvin, Craig Richards, pastry chef Jonathan St. Hilaire and beverage director Eric Simpkins, as well as performances by the Imperial OPA Circus and burlesque troupe Dames Aflame. Tickets are available for $250 and include entry to the “Wilde After Party,” hosted by ScoutMob.
The Tempest stars Carolyn Cook as Prospera, with fellow associate artists Chris Kayser as Ariel and Neal A. Ghant as Caliban. Tickets include $10 general admission seats as well as reserved chairs for $20, picnic spots for two for $40, and a table for six for $500. Each day, a limited number of free general admission tickets will be made available between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. at the Georgia Shakespeare Box Office as well as the Piedmont Park box office, just outside the ground floor exit of the SAGE parking facility. Up to 4 free tickets per person.
Shakespeare in the Park: The Tempest runs May 9-13 at Piedmont Park’s Legacy Fountain. 404-504-1473. www.gashakespeare.org.