Reaching into Shakespearean canon
By CAITLYN KELLEHER
Thursday, June 20, 2002 -- HADLEY - One principle of the Hampshire Shakespeare Company is to present works by the playwright that are not often produced.
For its 12th season, which begins next week, the company will stage "Measure for Measure" and "The Winter's Tale," two of Shakespeare's less well-known plays.
Timothy Holcomb, a founding director of the company, says this summer's lineup not only reaches deeper into the canon, it teases out issues, particularly for women, that remain timely.
"My hope is that the audience takes away an evening that enriches in language, [and] in drama," said Holcomb.
Lucinda Kidder, the company's new publicity manager, said the two plays balance the comedic and the tragic. They are "more mature Shakespeare," she notes.
"Measure for Measure" is about the Duke of Vienna, Vincentio, who wants to concentrate on his studies and has appointed Lord Angelo to act in his place. Angelo is a strict ruler and has sentenced Claudio to die for impregnating his lover. Claudio's sister, Isabella, fights on her brother's behalf.
The play's themes of sexual morality, the behavior of rulers and women's roles in society have parallels today, Kidder says.
Director Andrew Lichtenberg said his production of the play will focus on the humanity of its characters. "I love the characters of this play," he said. "They seem like contemporary characters."
Lichtenberg's cast includes his wife and two sons. "Measure for Measure" will be staged Wednesday through July 14. On June 27, the day after its opening, the play will performed as a benefit to raise money for the renovation of the Amherst Cinema Center. This performance will cost $35 a ticket and will start at 6 p.m.
The season's second play, "The Winter's Tale," is a story about family problems. It will be presented July 17 to July 28.
In "The Winter's Tale," the King of Sicilia distrusts his wife and does not believe that the newborn child is his. He banishes the baby and is told that wife has died of grief. The play takes the audience through the king's grief, as he realizes his family cannot be replaced.
Benjamin Ware, the director of "The Winter's Tale," said he and his cast are already working to take the play out of reality - and put it into the realm of the fantastic and magical.
"It starts as a tragedy and end as a comedy," said Ware. He says the important part for his cast, in its early work, has been to find the unifying factors between the two halves.
The theater's Younger Company will perform "The Winter's Tale" for three nights, Aug. 2 through 4, following the close of the adult company's production.
The company performs outdoors at the Hartsbrook School at 193 Bay Road in Hadley.
"Acoustically it's fabulous," said Kidder. There are cows near by and the mountains in the background. She said the only drawback to the outdoor setting is the far-off noise of an airplane passing overhead.
The shows, which start at 7 p.m., have daylight at the beginning but by the time the show ends, it is dark. Kidder said it was similar to the open-air theaters in Shakespeare's time. The shows are performed Wednesday through Sunday
Tickets are available for $12 for adults, $9 students and seniors and $6 for children under the age of 18. For more information call 498-2210.