Amherst, MA – Drawing from the well of Shakespeare’s best known plays, Hampshire Shakespeare Company will stage two very different plays whose names tell much of their stories. Sheila Siragusa, who directed last summer’s hit comedy, Much Ado About Nothing, returns to HSC to explore the uses and abuses of power in the tragic King Lear. In the second show of the season, director Steve Henderson pulls out all the stops in the Bard’s first (and funniest!) comedies, The Comedy of Errors. The Company returns to The Hartsbrook School at 193 Bay Road in Hadley for its seventeenth season in the magnificent outdoor setting backed by the Holyoke Range.
Hampshire Shakespeare’s staging of King Lear may shake up preconceived notions of this dark vision of betrayal and madness. Siragusa sets her production in 1929 at the pivotal historic moment when the nation was plunged into economic depression of unprecedented scale. As a monarch and father, Lear knows only the language of power, and when confronted with a daughter seeking meaningful contact with him, he responds in the only way he understands – by forcibly rejecting her. Thrust out into a world of poverty by his other daughters who have learned their brutal father’s language only too well, the deposed king finally comprehends the enormity of his loss and must accept the consequences of his actions.
This summer’s production of King Learfeatures veteran actor Steve Angel in the title role, with WFCR classical music host Walter Carroll as The Fool. Kelsey Flynn appears as Lear’s youngest daughter, Cordelia, in a solid cast of HSC regulars and several newcomers. The season opens in previews on June 20 and 21, with regular performances running Wednesday through Sunday at 7:30 PM from June 22-July 8.
Our production of The Comedy of Errors will prove that, while on the surface, this is a play of hilarious hijinx and slapstick mayhem, Shakespeare never serves us merely a single course to enjoy. The strength of the family bond underlies and even propels the comic bedlam. Only the love and yearning for togetherness that exists in families could drive the characters to such extremes in this classic comedy of mistaken identities and reunified relatives. Previews for The Comedy of Errors are July 11 and 12, with the opening show Friday, July 13. Comedy runs Wednesdays through Sundays until July 29 with curtain time 7:30 PM for all shows.
On August 3, 4 and 5 at 7:30 PM, the Hampshire Shakespeare Young Company presents their own production of The Comedy of Errorsunder the direction of Barry Magnani. As members of the Young Company, young actors (teens) are cast in smaller roles in the mainstage production and will then step into the principal roles for their own production. Additional young actors will join this company for one intensive week of rehearsal culminating in the fully produced weekend of performance. In addition to this program, a full schedule of Summer Theatre Workshops led by theatre professionals is offered for children from 5 through 17, with classes in Amherst and Northampton. Christine Stevens heads the educational program (413-549-4881).
All seating is general admission, with early comers seated first. Blankets and lawn chairs may be used in designated areas. Seat cushions will be available to rent. All performances proceed on a weather-permitting basis. Umbrellas are offered to the audience in the event of a sudden downpour or light rain. In the event of rain, the performance may proceed inside where there is limited seating available. In the event of cancellation, all tickets will be honored at any future performance.
Tickets are $15 general admission, $10 for students and seniors, and $6 for children under 18. Preview night tickets are $10 general admission, $5 for students and seniors. Tickets for the Young Company show are $5. Tickets for all shows may be purchased at the following bookstores: Amherst Books (8 Main Street, Amherst), Broadside Bookshop (247 Main Street, Northampton), and the Odyssey Bookshop (South Hadley Village Commons). Groups of 10 or more can purchase blocks of tickets for regular mainstage shows at 20% off regular prices. For the schedule of performances, group sales and ticket information, visit the Company’s web site (www.hampshireshakespeare.org) or call 413-788-4750.
The venue at The Hartsbrook School is handicapped accessible. Chairs are provided, and audience members can also choose to sit on the grass. Audience members are welcome to bring picnics to enjoy in the beautiful rural setting. Hampshire Shakespeare Company is grateful for the generous support of our 2007 Season Sponsors: Public Radio 88.5 FM -WFCR, Millennium Press, and Teddy Bear Pools.
Now in its seventeenth year, the Company remains true to its mission to make accessible to audiences and actors a range of theatre experiences from the most profound to the most playful. Included in this mission is the group’s dedication to education through the medium of the performing arts.
Consult this web site for complete details about all the Hampshire Shakespeare Company’s many activities (www.hampshireshakespeare.org) or call 413-788-4750.