American Shakespeare Center
You don't have to hop across the pond to experience a little bit of Jolly Old England -- just head south on I-81 and pay a visit to the American Shakespeare Center (10 S. Market St., Staunton, Va.), about 150 miles from Downtown D.C.
The center's Blackfriars Playhouse is a replica of an ornate 16th-century theater where many of Shakespeare's plays were performed. Down to the lighting and sets, the playhouse and its company strive to make each performance as historically accurate as possible.
While the company has been performing under different names since 1988, Blackfriars has only been open since 2001. Since then, it's grown quite a reputation, attracting guests like Dame Judi Dench and lit scholars from the world over.
The current season offers plenty of options that will appeal to the discriminating viewer as well as Shakespeare newbies.
Recent performances have included oft-quoted "Hamlet," bewildering masterpiece "The Tempest," and "Henry V," a historical epic about England's heroic king.
"A Mid-Summer Night's Dream," bewilderingly enough, offers some sneak-peek performances in early winter. Catch it Dec. 1 and 4, or Jan. 1, before regular showings kick off in April 2012.
More fittingly, "The Winter's Tale," a late-era Shakepearean play, mixes romance, comedy and tragedy. You can catch sneak peaks of that Dec. 3 and 31.
But you can even see something written by someone other than the Bard... which, admittedly, is a bit contradictory, this being the Shakespeare Center and all. Just go with it.