Director Kelly Galvin Brings Seldom Produced Love’ Labors Lost to a Wider Audience

Kelly Galvin has been an actress, an educator, a student, an assistant director, and has worked in the box office and the costume shop over her nine seasons with Shakespeare & Company. Now she returns, with a brand new MFA from Boston University in hand, to take up the reins as director of Love’s Labors Lost, being staged this summer outdoors in The Dell at The Mount.

“I am so happy to be back working with this group,” Galvin said. “I’ve had a great experience of being part of the company on many different levels. It feels like a natural next step here at my artistic home.”

Galvin has directed regionally and throughout the country, including this past season’s WAM Theatre MainStage production of The Last Wife, and is familiar to Shakespeare & Company audiences for her roles in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, King Lear, The Venetian Twins, The Winter’s Tale, The Learned Ladies, and Les Liaisons Dangereuses.

Love’s Labors Lost is not a widely produced. It was last performed by Shakespeare & Company in 1999, before they moved to their current Kemble Street campus, on their outdoor Main Stage at The Mount. Current Artistic Director Allyn Burrows played Berowne in that production, and it was his idea to bring it back to the grounds of The Mount in a 90-minute, family friendly version.

The play begins with the King of Navarre dedicating himself and his country to a life of scholarship. The King and his courtiers – Berowne, Longaville, and Dumaine – have made an oath renouncing worldly pleasures and have commanded all the townsfolk of Navarre to do the same. But when the Princess of France and her ladies arrive on a diplomatic visit, the King and his friends find the enticements of summer love more powerful than they had imagined.

“In working to cut the script to 90 minutes, we found that William Shakespeare was sending up the trend in his time for people to use five words when one would do and quoting copiously in Latin. We have no reference for that nowadays, so the jokes weren’t going to land, no matter what,” Galvin explained. “Once those cuts were made the play was already quite condensed. To make it family friendly, we cut out the more archaic jargon, and are playing up the witty word-play and the clowning. Love’s Labors Lost has some of the funniest comedy scenes in the Shakespearean canon.”

(The play also features the single longest word in all of Shakespeare’s plays – honorificabilitudinitatibus – which can be translated as “the state of being able to achieve honors.” Galvin promises it will be pronounced correctly by the character of Costard at every performance. Listen for it!)

“I am excited to get to direct this project exactly because it is family friendly,” Galvin continued. “An 8-year-old can have a great experience, but so can an 80-year-old with a deep knowledge of Shakespeare. Bringing a broad, diverse audience together, gives people a deeper experience and I find that very exciting.”

“This is my first time directing in The Dell,” Galvin explained, “And it is a beautiful challenge. Being out in nature is so inspiring.”

Audience members bring blankets and folding chairs (there are also a few chairs available to rent for $2 a piece), and often picnics, and spread out on the grassy hillside ranging three quarters of the way around the stage proper, although the action can take place anywhere, including in and around the audience itself.

“Oh yes, we’ll be running through the audience,” Galvin laughed. “In Elizabethan theatre you always engage with the audience and we have lots of fun, interactive surprises planned. We have talked about the audience. We are well rehearsed but the audience will change the show, as will the nature around us. If someone from the audience does something, use that. If there is a sudden breeze, breathe it in, go with it.”

“And outdoors we can see the audience, and the audience can see each other and experience each other more deeply. When a kid laughs at a line I never thought of as funny, I can see her and it gives me a new insight.”

“It was challenging rehearsing in last week’s heat wave because the show is very high energy and physically demanding, but we have strategically placed water bottles available and the cast has been building their stamina.”

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But Galvin notes that it is also very challenging in terms of sight lines and acoustics, since there is no predicting how and where exactly the audience will sit, and there is no hard surface beyond the playing area for the actors’ voices to bounce off of.

“We have been working on how to tell the story as clearly as we can visually,” said Galvin, who was still in rehearsals at the time of this interview. “How do we make the voice big enough to convey the hugeness of Shakespeare’s text and also carry? Through working with our Linklater-trained voice coach, Gwendolyn Schwinke, these young actors have really risen to the occasion and are doing a beautiful job of sharing their voice in the space.”

The shows in The Dell are typically cast with younger actors. “This season we have a wonderful cast,” Galvin enthused. “Rory Hammond, daughter of Michael Hammond and Diane Prusha, two actors well known to Shakespeare & Company audiences, who has literally grown up steeped in the work of the Company is a great leader. She is playing the Princess of France, who in turn is a powerful character and very much her own woman. Scholars think that Shakespeare was paying a bit of homage to his monarch, Queen Elizabeth I.”

“David Bertoldi, who plays Berowne has impeccable comic timing and a great rapport with audience. And Rylan Morsbach, who is well known to Berkshire audiences, is bringing fresh energy and a wonderful nerdiness to the role of the King of Navarre.”

The cast also includes Caroline Calkins, Emily Eldridge-Ingram, Lori Evans, Luke Haskell, Fiona Herter, Caitlin Kraft, Madeleine Rose Maggio, Devante Owens, Bella Pelz, Thomas Reynolds, and Dara Silverman. The creative team includes Devon Drohan (Set Design), Elizabeth Magas (Costume Design), Deborah Morris​ (Composer), and Cindy Wade (Stage Manager).

“I fell in love with Shakespeare as a kid seeing the plays performed. I love reading Shakespeare too, but that is not how his plays are intended to be received,” Glavin concluded. “So the opportunity to direct in this space for our widest ranging audience is really special for me

Tickets for Love’s Labor’s Lost are available online at shakespeare.org, or by calling Shakespeare & Company’s box office at (413) 637-3353. The show is family-friendly, general admission, and tickets are $25 for adults and $10 for youth. Performances will run approximately 90 minutes with no intermission, and will be followed by short talk-back with the actors. The Mount is located at 2 Plunkett Street in Lenox, Massachusetts. The grounds open 90 minutes before each performance. Audience members are encouraged to bring chairs or blankets and a picnic; chairs are also available to rent for a fee of $2 per chair.

Rain Policy:

From time to time weather may affect your enjoyment of the performance in the outdoor at the Mount or the Roman Garden Theatre. Most often the show will go on and depending on the severity of the rain, will be performed as scheduled. Performances at the Mount may be held for 20 minutes to see if the rain will let up. If the weather may cause a safety risk for you, the performers, and the staff, the performance will be cancelled.

If a performance is cancelled for any reason, please contact the Box Office within 48 hours of the cancelled performance and choose one of the options listed below.

EXCHANGE– Exchange your ticket for any of our other schedule performances. The Exchange fee will be waived.

DONATE – Show your support for the great work across all of our stages and donate the value of the tickets back to the Festival.

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