May 20, 2006
Amherst, MA - However much we may abhor war and its consequences, we cannot deny its power to engage our deepest emotions. In its 2006 season of Shakespeare under the Stars, Hampshire Shakespeare Company will explore two very different plays, both set in the aftermath of war. Chris Rohmann, who directed last summer’s hit comedy, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, returns to HSC to stage a vigorous production of Macbeth that explores the thin red line between war and murder. In the second show of the season, director Sheila Siragusa sets Shakespeare’s biting war of the sexes, Much Ado About Nothing, in post World War II America. The Company returns to The Hartsbrook School at 193 Bay Road in Hadley for its sixteenth season in the magnificent outdoor setting backed by the Holyoke Range. This year for the first time, all performances will begin at 7:30 PM, a change from previous years, to allow patrons time to enjoy a leisurely dinner before attending the show.
Hampshire Shakespeare’s production of Macbeth marks the 400th anniversary of the play’s first performance. Under Rohmann’s direction, Macbeth is not the usual study of motiveless evil, but of evil acts unleashed when humane standards break down. Macbeth is a war hero, a successful and honored general. But it’s the most effective soldier who has the most blood on his hands, and blood has its price.: It seeps into the soul, warping judgment and subverting reason. Once bloodletting is accepted as not only tolerable but as the norm the first-strike option the results are tragically inevitable. In this production, the three witches are not spooky sorceresses, but shrewd, eccentric women who can see the future but are powerless to prevent it. And the production’s unique twist on the famous “drunken porter” scene will surprise and delight all fans of Shakespearean comic relief.
This summer’s production of Macbeth features veteran actor Daniel Kennedy in the title role, and award-winning actress Mary Kearney as Lady Macbeth. Kelsey Flynn, Kathryn Lynch and Vivienne Carey portray the three Weird Sisters, with Dan Barnes as Macduff. The season opens in previews on June 21 and 22, with regular performances running Wednesday through Sunday at 7:30 PM from June 23-July 9.
Much Ado About Nothing opens with a burst of patriotic fervor as weary soldiers return to a country ready to throw off its wartime sobriety and dance! dance! dance! HSC’s own Steve Angel as Benedick matches wits with UMass Theater grad Katie Lynch’s Beatrice, while behind the scenes the dark Don John plots to disrupt the happiness of the young lovers Claudio (Jeremy Browne) and Hero (Lindsay Robitaille). Actors from HSC’s Young Company join the adult actors in supporting roles. Previews for Much Ado About Nothing are July 12 and 13, with the opening show Friday, July 14. Much Ado runs Wednesdays through Sundays until July 23 with curtain time 7:30 PM for all shows.
On July 28, 29, and 30, at 7:30 PM, the Hampshire Shakespeare Young Company presents their own production of Much Ado About Nothing under the direction of Stephen Eldredge. 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. All performances proceed on a weather-permitting basis. Umbrellas are offered to the audience in the event of a sudden downpour or light rain. We do not perform in torrential rain. 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. 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 2006 Season Sponsors: Public Radio 88.5 FM -WFCR, Integrity Development & Construction, Inc. and Millennium Press.
Now in its sixteenth 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 the web site for complete details about all the Hampshire Shakespeare Company’s many activities or call 413-788-4750.