When the Williamstown Theatre Festival lights up the Northern Berkshires, often the stars are names and faces you recognize, but the local residents have become pretty blasé when they run into them at the sandwich shop or tapping away on their iPads at Tunnel Cafe.
The other side of that coin are the many lesser known talents who are working on their craft here, both on and off stage. One of the best ways to see some of this raw talent is to attend the WTF’s annual Free Theatre Production. This year it is Shakespeare’s most screwball work, The Comedy of Errors.
(Seen above is Chris Bannow who did a stint at the WTF Late Night Cabaret and will also appear in the Free Theatre production described in this article. He sang his own original song “Backwards Please”. Photo by Clay Barron.)
Jenny Gersten announced this year’s Free Theatre production which will take place outdoors at Poker Flats Field (45 Stetson Road, Williamstown). Performances begin July 13th and continue through July 22nd, 2011, with an opening night on July 15th.
Many locals were delighted to learn that the Festival’s signature Free Theatre production was returning to the outdoors in a delightful setting – a bustling, open air Farmer’s Market. Similar to those that are the core of grand old European cities, they have also been popping up all over the Berkshires, including the local Spring Street market on Saturdays.
Shakespeare would feel right at home staging his Comedy of Errors nearby. As director, Johanna McKeon will try to control this raucous, uproarious, and beloved classic. You have a part in this too. All you need to do is to bring a picnic, bring the kids, and enjoy a perfect Berkshire evening of al fresco theatre.
The story is a fun one. Two sets of identical twin boys, the Antipholi and their servants the Dromios, are separated by a shipwreck and raised in different cities. Years later, Antipholus of Syracuse, his father Egeon, and his servant, Dromio of Syracuse, arrive in Ephesus. There, unbeknownst to him, his long-lost brother and Egeon’s long-lost son Antipholus of Ephesus now lives as one of the wealthiest merchants in town with his servant, Dromio of Ephesus. Mistaken identities abound in Johanna McKeon’s contemporary take on Shakespeare’s classic comedy.
In the video above you see Director Johanna McKeon (Schmoozy Togetherness at WTF; Grey Gardens) who directs Chris Bannow as Dromio of Syracus, Jon Bass as Dromio of Ephesus, Sophie Bell as Market Vendor, Quentin Brown as Second Merchant, Greg Coughlin as Antipholus of Syracuse, Josephine Ganner as Courtesan, Kate Hopkins as Luce, Gabby Hornig as First Mercahnt, Katherine Kerrick as Emilia, Gabriel King as Antipholus of Ephesus, Patrick Madden as Balthasar, Nicola Martin as Messenger, Molly McAdoo as Market Vendor, Alex Mickiewicz as Solinus, Jake Pitkow as Dr. Pinch, Max Reinhardsen as Market Vendor, Danielle Thorpe as Adriana, Gerrit Thurston as Egeon, Michael Wieser as Angelo, Jim Wilner as Officer, and Ariel Woodiwiss as Luciana.
The design team includes Ryan Grossheim (Set Design), Christopher Metzger (Costume Design), Wilburn Bonnell (Lighting Design), and Leo A. Martin (Sound Design) with original music by Steven Lighty.
SCHEDULE AND DIRECTIONS
Free Theatre is performed on Poker Flats Field (45 Stetson Road) in Williamstown. Admission is free to everyone! Performances are at 7:00 p.m. July 13 – 16 and July 19 – 22, 2011. For more detailed information, visit www.wtfestival.org
WILLIAMSTOWN THEATRE FESTIVAL
The Williamstown Theatre Festival brings award-winning actors, directors, and playwrights to the Berkshires, engaging a loyal audience of both residents and summer visitors. A WTF season covers a broad range of theatrical endeavors, revisiting classic plays with exciting new productions on its Main Stage, developing and nurturing bold new works on the Nikos Stage, and offering audiences a rich array of cultural events including Free Theatre, Late-Night Cabarets, readings, workshops, and educational programs like the Greylock Theatre Project–a program for children in neighboring North Adams. While best known for its acclaimed productions, WTF is also home to unparalleled training and professional development programs serving new generations of aspiring theatre artists and managers. WTF was honored with the Tony Award for Outstanding Regional Theatre in 2002 and the Commonwealth Award for Achievement in 2011. The Festival welcomes Jenny Gersten as its new Artistic Director for the 2011 season.