Reception for Patrons of the Shakespeare Theatre Company / The Harman Center in advance of its Annual Gala
Residence of France, October 14, 2012
Cher Michael Kahn, Artistic Director of the Shakespeare Theatre Company,
Gala Chair Melissa Moss,
The Hon. Jane Harman,
Ambassador Fairbanks & Mrs. Shannon Fairbanks,
The Honorable & Mrs. Gerald Rafshoon,
Chère Laura Pels,
Chair Michael Klein and members of the Board of Trustees of the Company,
- Ambassador François Delattre and Director Michael Kahn
It is a great pleasure for Sophie and for me to welcome you all to our Residence this evening. This Residence was originally a British mansion and so we feel perfectly at ease in supporting the “Shakespeare Theatre Company”. More seriously, we are very proud to partner with one of the very best theatre companies in the world, as you will celebrate on Monday the Annual Gala of the Harman Center for the Arts and the Shakespeare Theatre Company.
I understand that the theme of Monday’s gala is “Shakespeare’s Timeless Characters.” Indeed, I think this is the very key to the legacy of Shakespeare. We all marvel at Shakespeare’s mastery of words…
But it is Shakespeare’s characters that we remember.
The jovial rogue Falstaff, the painfully tragic King Lear, the scheming and treacherous Iago… these are characters who are so real, who speak so directly to the drama of humanity, that we cannot forget them.
And you, dear Michael, are also a master – a master of bringing these and other characters to life for us in landmark productions that engage and challenge us. You have guided The Shakespeare Theatre Company not just to national but indeed, to international prominence! Because you are more than an exceptional professional, you are a true visionary and you succeeded in transforming theater in Washington and beyond.
In 2012, the Shakespeare Theatre Company received the 2012 Regional Theatre Tony Award. It is a well-deserved recognition of all that you, your staff, and your many friends and supporters have achieved. Congratulations!
And if I may say, I have been very pleased to see a number of French offerings in your repertoire, including our upcoming collaboration in December for a French-language version of “Les Liaisons Dangereuses.”
Our good friend Laura Pels — who has supported many of our own French theater productions at The Embassy of France — originally staged this production at her Théâtre de l’Atelier in Paris. We thank her for her determination, which will allow all of us to see this acclaimed interpretation of “Les Liaisons Dangereuses” here in Washington.
My thanks also to the staff of the Maison Française – her new head Catherine Albertini and Kimberley Heatherington - to The French-American Cultural Foundation, and to Dr. Paul Carter and Mrs. Rose Carter for their support of “Les Liaisons Dangereuses.”
What an amazing artistic combination — of you, Michael, and actor/director John Malkovich… I am certain that the reviews will be as stellar here in D.C. as they were in France. Indeed, The New York Times has already taken notice, including it in their “New Season in Theater” list.
I should briefly mention that we at the Embassy of France and the European Union are also partners with the Shakespeare Theatre Company for “Kids Euro Festival”, the largest children’s performing arts festival in the United States. The Shakespeare Theatre Company has a legendary commitment to the community with its “Shakespeare Free For All”, and your support to the “Kids Euro Festival” is a wonderful illustration of this commitment.
Of course, great theater can’t happen without great governance — and for this, we must all thank the Board of Trustees of the Shakespeare Theatre, including the members who are here with us this evening.
Special recognition goes to board member and gala chair Melissa Moss. Dear Melissa, while Monday night’s gala will indeed be a wonderful artistic celebration, we also know the critical importance it has for the day-to-day life of The Shakespeare Theatre. Its success means so much to the success of all your operations, and we all applaud your exemplary commitment.
If I may say so, all of our guests this evening play a “starring role” in the success of the Shakespeare Theatre Company. Your dedication and generosity are at the very core of its being.
So my warmest thanks and congratulations again to each and everyone of you, and I wish you a wonderful evening — tonight, and at Monday’s gala.