Pittsfield Shakespeare in the Park to return with Youthful “Romeo and Juliet”

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Pittsfield Shakespeare in the Park and the Office of Cultural Development announced today the second annual free outdoor summer production, a youthful and energetic Romeo and Juliet directed by PSP’s artistic director Enrico Spada. The production will run for an extended three weekends, July 16–August 2, in the brand-new performance pavilion at the First Street Common. Additionally, this spring Pittsfield Shakespeare will present a series of free Pop-Up Shakespeare readings in venues around the city, beginning March 21 at the Lichtenstein Center (titles and future dates TBA).

Major funding support for Romeo and Juliet is provided by Berkshire Bank, with additional support from the Feigenbaum Foundation, Greylock Federal Credit Union, the Lenox Cultural Council and a host of local businesses with in-kind support provided by Qualprint, the Zion Lutheran Church of Pittsfield and the City of Pittsfield. An Indiegogo crowd-funding campaign of individual supporters will round out the funding.

“It was a great inaugural year for Pittsfield Shakespeare in the Park,” said Mayor Dan Bianchi (who made a cameo appearance on stage one evening). “We are looking forward to seeing this free event brought to the newly renovated Common, and hope it becomes a new Pittsfield tradition.”

“Last year’s incredible run of A Midsummer Night’s Dream at Springside Park, and the way in which the community stood behind the project, was thrilling,” says founder Enrico Spada. “I’m excited that the broad base of community support is allowing us to increase our number of performances to give more families a chance to experience Shakespeare for free, under the beautiful night sky.”

Shakespeare’s indelible story of star-crossed lovers moves from rowdy comedy to genuine tragedy with the flick of a rapier in this production, which will feature a cast of local teenagers alongside professional actors playing characters true to the ages that Shakespeare wrote them.

The production is scheduled to open on July 16, following Pittsfield’s 3rd.Thursdays street festival that evening, and runs Thursdays–Sundays at 8pm for twelve performances ending August 2. Admission is free.

An INDIEGOGO Campaign

The Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign launches today with a goal of raising $7,500 in 40 days to cover the costs of the 2015 production of Pittsfield Shakespeare in the Park.

To make an online tax-deductible contribution to Pittsfield Shakespeare in the Park via the Indiegogo campaign, visit http://igg.me/at/pittsfieldshakespeare.

For more information about sponsorship opportunities for businesses, contact Enrico Spada at enrico@pittsfieldshakespeare.org. Pittsfield Shakespeare in the Park is a sponsored project of Fractured Atlas, a non-profit arts service organization. Contributions are tax-deductible to the extent permitted by law.

Auditions Announced for February 20 & 22

Auditions for Romeo and Juliet will be held on Friday, February 20 from 6pm to 10pm and Sunday, February 22 from 10am to 4pm at the Lichtenstein Center for the Arts (28 Renne Avenue, Pittsfield). Local actors and students aged 14 and up are encouraged to audition. All experience levels are welcome. All roles are open. For info and audition scenes, visit www.pittsfieldshakespeare.org/auditions. Email enrico@pittsfieldshakespeare.org for an appointment.

What is claimed to be the actual balcony that inspired the late night visit of Romeo in Verona.

What is claimed to be the actual balcony that inspired the late night visit of Romeo in Verona.

About the Play

A contemporary synopsis. You might call Romeo and Juliet a Romance Action play. That’s because it starts off with a duel between the servants of two enemy families of Verona: the Montagues and the Capulets. Exciting! After the swords are sheathed, Verona’s Prince shows up to say that the next person who fights is going to get killed, and he means it this time.

Along comes Romeo Montague, mooning over some chick named Rosaline. Meanwhile, Juliet Capulet, age thirteen, has just heard that Verona’s most eligible bachelor Paris has his eye on her. They’re going to check each other out that night at a masquerade ball at the Capulets’ house. Romeo and his friends have decided to crash the Capulet ball—in costume—because Rosaline is on the guest list.

Things take a turn when Romeo meets Juliet. They fall instantly in love, obviously, but then—gasp!—find out they’re from rival families. It’s all very dire, but, being two crazy kids in love, they have a secret meeting and decide to get married.

Romeo meets with Friar Laurence to arrange the marriage, and Juliet gets her nurse to be a go-between. The Nurse meets Romeo and his friend Mercutio, and they arrange to get Juliet to Friar Laurence.

Benvolio, another member of the Montague posse, runs into Tybalt Capulet, who is angry about the Montagues crashing his family party the other night. Romeo, freshly married, strolls into the middle of a tense situation—which gets way tense when Tybalt kills Mercutio and Romeo promptly kills Tybalt in return. Romeo jets, but the Prince still shows up to banish him.

Juliet hears from the Nurse that her new husband has murdered her cousin, which is a major bummer—but not enough of a bummer to keep her from being super stoked about her wedding night. The Nurse finds Romeo hiding at Friar Laurence’s, and the Friar hatches a plan. Romeo can spend his wedding night with Juliet, but then he has to leave town while the Friar finds some way to get the Prince of Verona to pardon Romeo.

Meanwhile, back at the Capulet house, Lord Capulet decides a wedding (to Paris) is just the thing to distract Juliet from her grief. Juliet checks with the Friar and comes up with a plan that is 100% guaranteed to work and doesn’t sound risky At All: giving her an herbal concoction that will make her appear to be dead for 42 hours. Yes, exactly 42. So, she runs home, agrees to marry Paris, and takes the poison so she can be taken to the Capulet tomb where Romeo can find her and everyone can live happily ever after.

Sadly, Romeo is a little out of the loop off in Mantua, and the news of Juliet’s “death” makes it to Romeo before word of the Friar’s plan. He buys some poison so he can go to Juliet’s grave and kill himself, which is obviously the mature response. But first, he murders Paris and then spends some time with Juliet’s “dead” body.

He drinks the poison and dies just in time for Juliet to wake up and find him dead. The Friar, who apparently shows up at some point, tries to convince Juliet to run away, but she refuses and kills herself with a dagger. Just then, literally everyone shows up to the tomb at the same time and finds the dead lovers. Friar Laurence confesses everything, and the two lords of the rival houses are moved by their dead children’s love story and agree to end the feud.

About the Performances

Launched in the summer of 2014, Pittsfield Shakespeare in the Park presents fully-produced performances of Shakespeare’s plays under the evening air for free to the public. Over 1500 audience members attended 2014’s inaugural production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream in Springside Park.

About Enrico Spada

Pittsfield Shakespeare in the Park founder and director Enrico Spada holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Theatre & Education, and for the past 9 years has taught, directed and performed at Shakespeare & Company in Lenox, Mass. He has directed in their Fall Festival of Shakespeare high school residency program for eight years, plus other K-12 residency programs. Enrico also served as Marketing Manager and then Marketing Director at Shakespeare & Company for several years and also runs his own business as a freelance graphic designer and director of a small co-working community in Lenox.

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