Drilling Company's Shakespeare in the Park(ing) Lot Presents CORIOLANUS, 8/2-8
"Coriolanus" will be re-envisioned as a modern day election fable in the second production of the Drilling Company's 2012 Shakespeare in the Park(ing) Lot series, to be presenTed August 2 to 18 in the Municipal Parking Lot at the corner of Ludlow and Broome Streets. Hamilton Clancy directs.
This "Coriolanus" is set during an election year, when money can buy power and working class citizens feel threatened by a dwindling patrician class who are seeking to solidify their political power by manipulating political figures. The title character, played by Arash Mokhtar, is a potential leader who is vaunted for his success as a warrior but is completely out of touch with the every day citizen's experience of hunger and joblessness.
The adaptation makes changes in the gender, age and race of many critical roles to reflect the diversity of the face of modern politics. Coriolanus' chief political adversaries are Brutus, played by a young man, Corey Triplett, and Sicinius, played by a young woman, Sara Oliva. These roles regularly are reserved for older males.
Director Hamilton Clancy explains, "We chose the play, first and foremost because of the strong conflict between the rich and the poor and and the political fervor of the citizenry. It reminded us of the Occupy This movement. We thought that an election year was the time to present a story about a candidate trying to connect to the people." He adds, "One of the reasons T.S. Elliot thought this was Shakespeare's greatest play is the argument for peace within the play by the warring sides. The play was written 400 years ago and based on history that's a thousand years old. It's a tragedy and things don't end well, but it plays out in ways we all recognize today."
Arash Mokhtar (Coriolanus) recently filmed the pilot episode of the new show, "Political Animals," starring Sigourney Weaver, directed by Greg Berlanti. He guest starred in an episode of a new CBS show, "NYC 2-2," which has executive producers Robert DeNiro, Richard Price and Jane Rosenthal. He recently played Stanley Jerome in Neil Simon’s "Broadway Bound" at FAPC Theatre Fellowship (NYC) and just returned from a run of a new Christopher Durang play at the Firehouse Theatre Project in Richmond, Va.
The cast also includes Drilling Company members Elowyn Castle and Paul Guskin along with newcomers Kate Heverin, Alexandre Delare, Corey Triplett, Andrew Start, Sara Oliva, Alana Williams, Kristie Larson, Leila Okafor, Louisa Ward, Adina Bloom and Stephen Sherwood.
Director Hamilton Clancy is founder and producing Artistic Director of The Drilling Company. He staged "Julius Caesar" in the parking lot in 2010, "Hamlet" there last summer and "The Merry Wives of Windor Towers" this season (now running through July 28). He staged The Drilling Company's much-acclaimed production of "Reservoir," a modern adaptation of "Woyzeck" by Eric Henry Sanders, in 2010-2011 in The Drilling Company's intimate theater at 236 West 78th Street. He is also an actor.
Designer is Rebecca Lord-Suratt, recently of NYU Tisch school of design and now in her fifth year of designing work for the Municipal Parking Lot.
Free Shakespeare in the parking lot at Ludlow and Broome Streets on Manhattan's Lower East Side is a New York tradition dating back to 1996. It has been passed down through the years to the Drilling Company, which has produced free Shakespeare there since 2006. "Coriolanus" is The Drilling Company's 16th production there. All told, there have been over 50 productions of Shakespeare's plays for over 40,000 patrons since the innovative summer festival started. The concept has been imitated in other American cities and in Australia.
The plays are presented in a working parking lot, so you can drive there but you should expect to pay the Muni-meter. Why a parking lot? The Drilling Company's founding artistic director Hamilton Clancy writes, "It is a tremendously accessible gathering place in the heart of the city. Like most companies that do Shakespeare we are following the spirit of Joseph Papp. But putting our own spin on it by placing it in a parking lot, making an urban wrinkle."
Shows are offered while the lot is in use. The action sometimes happens around a parked car which drives away during a performance. At such times, The Players stop and the audience moves its chairs, pausing the performance the same way a show would stop for rain uptown in Central Park. It's all part of the fun.
Seats are available on a first come first serve basis, with audience members often arriving as early as 7:00 PM to secure a place. You are encouraged and welcome to bring your own chair. Once seats are gone, blankets are spread out. "We've never turned anyone away and there's never a wait for tickets!" brags Clancy.
The productions are typically intrepid, bare-boned and often gloriously ingenious adaptations of the classics. For example, in 2010, Hamilton Clancy staged "Julius Caesar" as a battle for control of an urban school system, with women playing Brutus and Cassius. In 2011, director Kathy Curtiss set "The Comedy of Errors" in a pizzeria in Little Italy.
The company stresses that the Parking Lot has now become a versatile theater where it presents its work, not unlike the Globe was to Shakespeare. Hamilton Clancy writes, "We believe the Parking Lot can be a container for a range of directorial interpretations and perspectives. We're in the Parking Lot because it's a great place to present the play, not as a site specific interpretation."
This summer's offerings are supported by the Department for Cultural Affairs and the the New York State Council on the Arts, Con Edison, and the Department of Transportation.
All performances will be staged in the Municipal Parking Lot at the corner of Ludlow and Broome Streets, Manhattan. (Subways: F to Delancey Street, walk one block south.) Performances are FREE and play Thursdays - Saturdays at 8:00 PM. For more info call 212-873-9050 or visit www.shakespeareintheparkinglot.com. Running time is approximately 2:30. Critics are invited on or after August 4.
Photo credit: Jonathan Slaff