If The Bard from Stratford-on-Avon were around today, he would be in for the surprise of his life. In his day, all the roles in his plays were played by men. The younger and fairer of the gentlemen usually took on the women’s parts, but how things have changed.As Shakespeare & Company celebrates the 447th anniversary of the birth of William Shakespeare, the celebration will include a gender neutral Hamlet in which Katharine Abbruzzese takes on the role of the Danish Prince who must avenge his fathers death. Not having been open to review, that leaves it up to the reader to decide how it works as theatre. Those who journey to Shakespeare & Company will be able to see this novel performance as part of the April 23 celebration. The company has always quietly embraced non-traditional casting, and audiences love the performances which focus on the strength of the acting.
The day begins at 1 pm with a performance of Shakespeare and the Language that Shaped a World in the Elayne P. Bernstein Theatre, followed by a hands-on performance workshop for audience members of all ages. Then at 7pm, the company will offer the aforesaid 90-minute production of Hamlet, which has been touring New England for the past three months. Featuring six young and talented actors, Hamlet will be performed in the Founders’ Theatre.
Afterwards, everyone is invited to join the company for cake and a celebratory toast in the Founders’ Theatre lobby. Attendees will participate in a raffle with special prizes, including tickets to the company’s summer season.
Tickets to Shakespeare and the Language that Shaped a World are $5 for children and $10 for adults, with a maximum admission fee of $30 per family (Up to six people per family discount). Shakespeare and the Language that Shaped a World plays April 21, 22, and 23 at 1pm in the Elayne P. Bernstein Theatre. Tickets for Hamlet are $10 for students and $20 for adults. Hamlet plays April 23 and May 6 at 7pm in Founders’ Theatre, with the complimentary toast and birthday cake to follow the April 23 Hamlet performance. Tickets are available from the Box Office at (413) 637-3353. The Elayne P. Bernstein Theatre and Founders’ Theatre are located at 70 Kemble Street in Lenox.
About Shakespeare and the Language that Shaped a WorldCreated by Kevin G. Coleman, Director of Education at Shakespeare & Company, Shakespeare and the Language that Shaped a World is a combination of biographical information about the life and times of Shakespeare, and fast-paced snippets of scenes from many of the Bard’s greatest plays.
Shakespeare and the Language that Shaped a World clocks in at 45 minutes, the show is a fun and accessible introduction to Shakespeare, but also has just enough depth to please kids of all ages.
Shakespeare and the Language that Shaped a World is directed by Associate Director of Education Jenna Ware, who will also be directing The Venetian Twins during this summer’s Bankside Festival 2011, as well as a one-woman show starring Founding Artistic Director Tina Packer.
In addition to its Elayne P. Bernstein Theatre performances, Shakespeare and the Language that Shaped a World will be touring elementary and middle schools throughout Western Massachusetts, Connecticut, the greater New England area, and New York City.
The Shakespeare and the Language that Shaped a World presentations are followed by a participatory hands-on workshop, during which audience members will get their own shot at playing with scenes from Shakespeare’s As You Like It. Children under the age of seven must be accompanied by an adult for the workshop.
Shakespeare and the Language that Shaped a World takes place Thursday, April 21, 22 and 23 at 1pm in the Bernstein Theatre.
About the New England Tour of Shakespeare’s Hamlet
Directed by Jonathan Croy (director of 2010’s Richard III, Twelfth Night 2009, and countless Tours and Fall Festival productions over the past 26 years), Shakespeare & Company’s non-Equity tour of Hamlet includes a 90-minute production featuring a six-member cast who take on multiple roles, placing the focus on a clear and powerful delivery of Shakespeare’s text. The actors are Katherine Abbruzzese, Samantha Cullen, Paul D’Agostino, Emily Ehlinger, Sam Parrott, and Brendan Sokler.
Now in its 30th Anniversary year, The New England Tour of Shakespeare is one of the Company’s longest running Education programs, reaching over 25,000 students and teachers every year. It performs for 14 weeks, through May 6. The Tour offers both in-school and public venue performances, as well as in-school workshops associated with the play. Schools receiving the Tour experience this year expressly because of the NEA’s Shakespeare for a New Generation grant include the William S. Hackett Middle School (Albany, NY), the Turnbridge Central School (Chandler, VT), and The Reach Performing Arts Center at the Deer Isle-Stonington Elementary School (Deer Isle, Maine).
Considered by many to be the greatest English-language plays ever written, Hamlet is renowned for its stunning language and gripping story. When Prince Hamlet returns to Denmark, he discovers that his father has been murdered, and must decide how to seek revenge. This timeless tale of grief, love and the enduring ties of family is a staple of school curricula, and is a favorite choice for Shakespeare newcomers and scholars alike. Hamlet will be performed on Saturday, April 23and May 6 at 7pm in Founders’ Theatre. Tickets are available from the Box Office at (413) 637-3353. The Elayne P. Bernstein Theatre and Founders’ Theatre are located at 70 Kemble Street in Lenox. For futher information: www.shakespeare.org