Play On Shakespeare

Play On Shakespeare

Re-imagined for current audiences, ACMRS Press is proud to publish these modern verse translations of thirty-nine of Shakespeare’s classic plays.


The most anyone can hope for is to be wrong about Shakespeare in a new way.

— T.S. Eliot

Play On Shakespeare was an ambitious undertaking from the Oregon Shakespeare Festival that commissioned new translations of 39 Shakespeare plays. These translations present the Bard’s work in language accessible to modern audiences while never losing the beauty of Shakespeare’s verse. Enlisting the talents of a diverse group of contemporary playwrights, screenwriters, and dramaturges from diverse backgrounds, this project reenvisions Shakespeare for the twenty-first century. These volumes make these works available for the first time in print—a new First Folio for a new era.


Translations?

It’s been difficult to define precisely. It turns out that there is no word for the kind of subtle and rigorous examination of language found here. We don’t mean “word for word,” which is what most people think of when they hear the word translate. We don’t mean “paraphrase,” either.

This project looked at Shakespeare’s plays through the lens of the English we speak today. How much has the English language changed since Shakespeare? Is it possible that there are conventions in the early modern English of Shakespeare that don’t translate to us today, especially in the moment of hearing it spoken out loud as one does in the theater?

How might we “carry forward” the successful communication between actor and audience that took place 400 years ago? “Carry forward,” by the way, is what we mean by “translate.”


Contemporary Modern English

The Play On Shakespeare project aimed to tease out what we mean by contemporary modern English, and a matrix of writers was created who embodied many different lived experiences: age, ethnicity, gender-identity, experience with translations, geography, English as a second language, knowledge of Shakespeare, etc.

What the playwrights had in common was a deep love of language and a curiosity about the assignment. Not everyone was on board with the idea and I was eager to see how the experiment would be for them.


The Festival

To celebrate the completion of the translations, all 39 plays were presented in a staged reading format at a festival in June 2019 in partnership with The Classic Stage Company in New York. The blend of Shakespeare with another writer was seamless and jarring at the same time. Countless actors and audience members told us that the plays were understandable in ways they had never been before.


The Book Series

Now it’s time to share their work through this exciting new book series. These editions are based on the festival readings. They mark a moment in time. The translations aren’t definitive; they never will be. The original commission asked for two drafts, which is enough to put the ball in play. The real fun with these texts is when there are actors, a director, a dramaturg, and the playwright wrestling with them together in a rehearsal room.


More Information

For information on release dates, reviews, publicity, or other inquiries, please contact [email protected]


Please look for all 39 titles in the Play On Shakespeare series, and the playwright who wrote the translation, which will be published over the next several years:

  • All’s Well That Ends Well
    • Virginia Grise
  • Antony and Cleopatra
    • Christopher Chen
  • As You Like It
    • David Ivers
  • The Comedy of Errors
    • Christina Anderson
  • Coriolanus
    • Sean San José
  • Cymbeline
    • Andrea Thome
  • Edward III
    • Octavio Solis
  • Hamlet
    • Lisa Peterson
  • Henry IV
    • Yvette Nolan
  • Henry V
    • Lloyd Suh
  • Henry VI
    • Douglas P. Langworthy
  • Henry VIII
    • Caridad Svich
  • Julius Caesar
    • Shishir Kurup
  • King John
    • Brighde Mullins
  • King Lear
    • Marcus Gardley
  • Love’s Labour’s Lost
    • Josh Wilder
  • Macbeth
    • Migdalia Cruz
  • Measure for Measure
    • Aditi Brennan Kapil
  • The Merchant of Venice
    • Elise Thoron
  • The Merry Wives of Windsor
    • Dipika Guha
  • A Midsummer Night’s Dream
    • Jeffrey Whitty
  • Much Ado About Nothing
    • Ranjit Bolt
  • Othello
    • Mfoniso Udofia
  • Pericles
    • Ellen McLaughlin
  • Richard II
    • Naomi Iizuka
  • Richard III
    • Migdalia Cruz
  • Romeo and Juliet
    • Hansol Jung
  • The Taming of the Shrew
    • Amy Freed
  • The Tempest
    • Kenneth Cavander
  • Timon of Athens
    • Kenneth Cavander
  • Titus Andronicus
    • Amy Freed
  • Troilus and Cressida
    • Lillian Groag
  • Twelfth Night
    • Alison Carey
  • The Two Gentlemen of Verona
    • Amelia Roper
  • The Two Noble Kinsmen
    • Tim Slover
  • The Winter’s Tale
    • Tracy Young