Performing Arts: Nero Set to Rule Arena

by Editorial

Arena Stage’s upcoming productions of Equivocation and You, Nero offer up comedy, bloodshed and a gunpowder plot.

Danny Scheie as Nero in Arena Stage at the Mead Center for American Theater’s production of You, Nero. (Photo by Scott Suchman)

Not often does one venue offer two productions about the thrill of war and politics throughout history – but that’s just the case with the upcoming plays at Arena Stage. Both Equivocation and You, Nero take the audience on a whirlwind tour through historical events, with a little creative license  thrown in.

Arena Stage’s production of Equivocation represents its first collaboration with the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. The OSF’s Artistic Director Bill Rauch directs the cast of Anthony Heald, Jonathan Haugen, John Tufts, Richard Elmore, Gregory Linington, and Christine Albright, each of whom was a member of the cast during the 2009 world premiere of the play. The production transports the audience to 1609 London, during the Gunpowder Plot to assassinate King James. Plots collide with the introduction of William “Shagspeare,” a Shakespeare-esque character also involved in the political intrigue.

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The production, which will be the Washington premiere of Equivocation, will run from November 18 to January 1.

A tense political backdrop also sets the stage for You, Nero, written by Pulitzer Prize finalist Amy Freed. Danny Schiele shines in the role of Nero, a part which Freed created for him. Other members of the cast are local favorites returning to the Arena Stage, such as Nancy Robinette, Laurence O’Dwyer, and John C.

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Vennema. The play itself follows an overlooked playwright determined to restore order to Rome through his theatrical talent as the city collapses under the vain and inconsistant rule of Emperor Nero.

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Though the play has been performed before, Freed feels that the performance at Arena Stage will exhibit her work in a new light. “It is a great opportunity to be able to put You, Nero in the round,” Freed reflected, “It offers a completely different angle on the world of it, and I think the script will lend it very well to that fantastic space.” You, Nero will run at Arena from November 25 to January 1. Find tickets HERE.

Jonathan Haugen as Nate, Gregory Linington as Armin, Anthony Heald as Shag, Richard Elmore as Richard and John Tufts as Sharpe in the Oregon Shakespeare Festival’s 2009 production of Equivocation, directed by Bill Rauch. (Photo by Jenny Graham)

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