With 2014 marking the Bard's 450th birthday, the Bell crew has lined up a celebration to keep Robin Goodfellow on his toes. In fact, one of the sure-to-be-a-big-hits of next year's program is a revelatory re-working of A Midsummer Night's Dream. Titled The Dream and designed with children in mind, it's the Bell Company's first main-staging of Shakespeare's most magical comedy in ten years.
2014 will begin with another youth-oriented production - John Bell's take on The Winter's Tale. One of Shakespeare's most radical plays, it combines romance, comedy and tragedy in its telling of the story of the young prince, Mamilius, and his domineering, jealous father. "You will see the play through the eyes of a child; he becomes the central character." Bell says. "The Winter's Tale is his tale, his story."
Four convention-obliterating main stage productions
Following that, Damien Ryan will direct his first main stage production for Bell, Henry V. He'll be bringing a fresh, contemporary perspective to the text, drawing on a true story - that of a bunch of boys who, during the 1941 Blitz, were trapped deep inside a bunker for 71 nights and survived their ordeal by performing a different play each week.
The fourth and final main stage production will be Moliere's Tartuffe, revamped by Justin Fleming and directed by Peter Evans. A riotously funny play about mid-life crises, family, truth and deceit, it's shaping up to be one of Sydney theatre's most boisterous nights out for 2014.
On top of all that, there'll be a very special collaboration between Bell Shakespeare and the Australian Chamber Orchestra. To be held on just one night in each major city, the performance will feature Leos Janacek's final composition, Intimate Letters.
As always, Bell Shakespeare will continue in its mission to keep Shakespeare alive in Australian communities. There'll be a brand new production of Macbeth for school students, further touring of Actors at Work, juvenile justice programmes, more digital workshops and the third year of a residency with refugees and migrant students.