Bell Shakespeare’s 2011 is love plus hate plus the odd uprising.

After a very successful and exciting anniversary year for Bell Shakespeare in 2010, the 2011 season marks the beginning of a new chapter for the Company. Melbourne director, Peter Evans has been appointed as the new Associate Artistic Director. Together with Artistic Director John BellAO, Peter will be responsible for the artistic leadership and direction of the Company as it embarks on its next phase.
After his appointment Evans said: “Having had a long and fond association with Bell Shakespeare over many years, I am honoured to have been invited by John to join him in the leadership of the Company, and be part of shaping its future.”
2011 also marks the engagement of Bell Shakespeare’s own ensemble of travelling actors known as The Players.These eight actors, half of whom are Victorians, will present the many different Learning Programmes throughout the year, all over Australia. They’ll perform as Actors At Work teams, present student master classes, facilitate teacher Professional Learning and conduct regional and remote residencies.
The Company will present two plays in Melbourne next year and Bell is excited about the theme of his choices:  “There is risk involved in giving up a part of one’s self, whether it’s in relationships or for religious or political reasons. This is one theme we’ve enjoyed exploring in putting together this season.”
The first is Much Ado About Nothing. Set in Sicily in the 1950s where there are unwritten but iron rules of behaviour – a focus on family pride, vendettas, and the notion of male honour. Directed by John bell and starring Toby Schmitzand Blazey Best. Melbourne shows run 9 – 25 June at The Arts Centre Playhouse.
Bell says about MAAN: “Each of Shakespeare’s comedies has a unique charm; to my mind Much AdoAbout Nothingis the most earthy and warm-hearted. Here there are no enchanted forests or amazing coincidences, just the hammer and tongs of gender politics with all their attendant rages and hilarity.”
Next is Julius Caesarto be directed by Peter Evans who takes this momentous piece of Roman history and transports it to the corridors of backroom politics where protagonists risk losing their integrity and forsaking their ideals. Melbourne shows run 6 -17 September at The Arts Centre Fairfax Studio.
Evans has this to say about the play: “I find this story constantly relevant. We witness the original pre-emptive strike and the irony of the ‘honourable assassination’ with all the carnage that a power vacuum creates. Julius Caesar is a play that is never out of date, in fact feels today relentlessly modern.”
For the first time in the Company’s history, rehearsals for Julius Caesarwill take place in Melbourne, and the production premieres in Victoria before travelling the rest of the country.
In addition to his role as Associate Artistic Director, Peter Evanswill be the Artistic Director of the Company’s research and development arm Mind’s Eye, the vehicle through which the Company works with artists to create new and innovative ways of exploring Shakespeare and the canon of classic texts.
As Bell Shakespeare embarks on its third decade, it is estimated that its plays will be experienced by more than 200,000 Australians in all corners of the country in the coming year.