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National Building Museum 2020 Summer Block Party, Shakespeare's Playhouse

The National Building Museum announced today its partnership with Folger Shakespeare Library, in association with the University of South Carolina, to design the 2020 Summer Block Party exhibition for the Museum’s Great Hall. Shakespeare’s Playhouse, will be the seventh in the Museum’s annual summer series and the stage for Folger Theatre performances from July 4 through September 7, 2020.

Shakespeare’s Playhouse is an exciting Elizabethan-inspired outdoor stage, developed at the University of South Carolina, which comfortably fits into the immense—and air conditioned —atrium of the National Building Museum. By day it provides unique experiences related to Shakespeare’s world—from stage combat to ruff-making.  At night the Playhouse transforms into a stage for Shakespeare’s most famous, fairy-filled comedy: Folger Theatre’s production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

“We look forward to exploring the interconnections of architecture, construction, theater, performance, and design,” said Chase Rynd, executive director of the National Building Museum. “The Museum is honored to host this living art in a way Washington has never seen. We present a building within a building, engaging in one of Shakespeare’s best-loved plays through the lens of the building arts.”

Shakespeare’s Playhouse follows Lawn by LAB at Rockwell Group, FUN HOUSE by Snarkitecture, Hive by Studio Gang, ICEBERGS by James Corner Field Operations, the BIG Maze by Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG), and Snarkitecture’s The BEACH.

“The Folger already knows a thing or two about glorious buildings, which is why we are particularly delighted to partner with the NBM to bring Shakespeare’s playhouse to a new space,” said Michael Witmore, director of the Folger Shakespeare Library. “Shakespeare said ‘all the world’s a stage.’ But stages are buildings too. We want to explore the space of play with a whole new generation of Washingtonians, and this is our golden opportunity.”

Robert Richmond of the University of South Carolina directs the creation of the Playhouse and Folger’s Midsummer. Both will explore the role of place and architecture in shaping a unique theatrical experience. Folger Theatre’s Artistic Producer, Janet Alexander Griffin, says, “This colorful, portable, and freestanding theater provides a perfect platform for entering this dream of a play, where real and imagined worlds blend. Bringing favorite Folger actors and artistic team members to undertake this theatrical adventure is the extraordinary beginning of partnerships and performances off-site during the Folger’s renovation.”

Folger Theatre’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream will perform Tuesdays through Sundays from Sunday, July 7 through Sunday, August 30, 2020. Tickets to Midsummer will be available in advance to Folger Theatre subscribers starting January 15, 2020 and to the public on April 1, 2020, online at folger.edu/theater and by phone at 202-544-7077.

Details of the installation design are forthcoming. Shakespeare’s Playhouse will be complemented by programs and events, and ticket purchasers will be able to visit all of the Museum’s exhibitions, including the forthcoming The Wall/ El Muro: What is a Border Wall and Architecture is Never Neutral: The Work of MASS Design Group.

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