According to the Shakespearean scholar James Shapiro, during the plagues of 1592 and 1603 Shakespeare wrote “King Lear,” “Macbeth” and “Antony and Cleopatra.” Taking a cue from history and the theater adage “The show must go on,” Project Shakespeare’s 26th Summer Season will “go on” with two virtual projects and one socially distanced production. Only Project Shakespeare’s mainstage production of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” originally scheduled for 2020, will be postponed until 2021.

The 2020 Summer Season will include:

“Speak the Speech – The History Plays: A Virtual Class, Workshop and Performance” — Students both new and not-so-new to Shakespeare will explore the texts of “Richard II,” “Henry IV Parts 1 & 2,” “Henry V,” “Henry VI” and “Richard III.” Also offered will be workshops on audition techniques, Shakespeare’s language and scansion, English monarchy and Shakespeare’s contemporary Christopher Marlowe. The virtual project will begin on Monday, June 8, and run 10 a.m. to noon Monday through Friday until July 2. On July 3 a live-streamed performance showcasing the students’ work will be presented and later available on Project Shakespeare’s YouTube page. This project is open to all students ages 7-18. No experience is required.

“Macbeth” — A socially distanced production of “Macbeth” for the advanced actors of Project Shakespeare. Students will adhere to the COVID-19 safety protocols while exploring Shakespeare’s tragedy of a hero turned villain. This production will focus on Shakespeare’s language and the actor’s storytelling with minimal sets, props and costumes. Audiences will also be asked to follow safety protocols at each of the performances. Rehearsals will begin online on July 6 before moving to the outdoor rehearsal space. Venues will include the Cathedral of the Pines in Rindge, the Dublin Community Church, Aldworth Manor in Harrisville and a Jaffrey venue to be announced later. Specific dates and time to be announced.

“Shakespeare in Love” — Project Shakespeare will stage a virtual reading of “Shakespeare In Love” adapted for the stage by Lee Hall and based on the screenplay by Marc Norman and Tom Stoppard. The 1999 film won many Academy Awards including Best Picture and Best Actress. This virtual reading will feature Project Shakespeare alumni from across the country as well as current students. Date and time will be announced later.

As many families struggle during the COVID-19 crisis, Project Shakespeare’s Board of Directors has decided that tuition will be waived for all students this summer and all live performances will be free.

“More than ever our community needs the healing power of live theatre,” said Project Shakespeare’s founder and director Deborah Shakespeare Thurber. “With so many doing so much during these difficult times, Project Shakespeare is honored to do its small part in bringing human connection back to our community.”

Students ages 7-18 who are interested in “Speak the Speech” and “Shakespeare In Love” should contact projectshakespeare@gmail.com. Project Shakespeare is a non-profit organization based in Jaffrey. For more information visit projectshakespeare.org.