There’s a fun tid-bit about one of the shows we featured in our last edition of Great Evenings Out in Washington, DC — Sense & Sensibility.
When the good folks at the Folger were planning their season, they heard about this great show that a company in New York called Bedlam were doing, a very imaginative new take on Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility. British literary giants are sort of their thing at the Folger, so they were interested.
Originally, they figured that the New York production of this play would be finished by mid-summer, so the plan was for that production to transfer from New York to DC at the Folger. That would mean that everyone in the New York show would travel down here and perform their same parts. There would be some adjustments for the different shape of stage and house, but still, it would basically be the same show.
Transfers are great for a bunch of reasons. All the work that went in to designing and rehearsing the show get to pay off with extra performances in the new place. Also, the more times actors get to perform a show, the better they get at it. Even just knowing that there will be a fresh bunch of performances for a new audience, can give the actors extra motivation, so the audience often gets a better show whether they see it before or after the transfer. Finally, it generates more paid work for all the actors and some of the other artists involved. Benefits all around.
But as it turned out, the New York production from this fairly small company, became a smash hit. As a result it just kept extending and extending – currently it’s still onstage in New York, through November 20th, a week later than the show is expected to run in DC. When it became clear earlier this year, that the production couldn’t transfer, a new plan had to be developed for the DC run. The original production’s director and artistic team started working on a brand-new production reusing many of the concepts but with a new, mostly local, cast, new set, and new everything else. That’s what is playing at the Folger right now. In the world of our dreams, New York playgoers and DC playgoers would be talking smack about which production was better with lots of people traveling back and forth to see both.
The show has done enormously well in DC also, and the run has now been extended through November 13th, so as of this writing there are still many opportunities to experience this Great Evening Out.
(Bonus food for thought: Why do theaters call it a “season”, even though it usually stretches from fall to spring? We don’t know, and no one has ever been able to explain it to us.)