The Donkey Show kicks off one of three festivals that are the season's theme setters. This one, called "Shakespeare Exploded," also includes Best of Both Worlds, by Weiner and Diedre Murray, an R&B-and-gospel-infused "soulful re-envisioning" of The Winter's Tale (with a rotating roster of local gospel choirs), and the British troupe Punchdrunk's Sleep No More, which Paulus describes as "vignettes and themes from Macbeth told in a sensory journey through the lens of a Hitchcock film." Best of Both Worlds will unfold at the Loeb Drama Center, but Sleep No More, which invites audiences to wander as if through an art installation, will take place off site.
Neither of the works Paulus will direct contains a word actually written by Shakespeare, but she compares The Donkey Show with a trip to the Bard's stomping grounds nonetheless. "The audience, very much like in the Globe Theatre, is standing like groundlings, watching the action. There are VIP boxes, just like there were in the Globe, if you prefer to sit and watch. You have kind of royalty side by side with the working class, which was also very Studio 54. It was considered democracy on the dance floor; you could be a kid from Queens dancing next to Elizabeth Taylor." And you will get to dance at The Donkey Show. You will also get to drink, socialize, and text your digits off if you feel like it.
We will finally get to see Elevator Repair Service's Gatz and, strangely enough, a new musical about the Red Sox.
Most intriguing to me though is Clifford Odets' Paradise Lost.
There is also a festival called Emerging America, which will be a collaboration with the Huntington and the ICA.