The Drilling Company to Present MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING in Bryant Park, 5/19-6/4
The Drilling Company's Shakespeare in the Parking Lot ensemble opens the third season of Shakespeare performances in Bryant Park with "Much Ado about Nothing" set in the Post World War I Suffragette movement. This free production, directed by Hamilton Clancy, is one of three plays that is included in Bryant Park Presents Shakespeare and is offered from May 19 to June 4 on the Upper Terrace of Bryant Park, behind the New York Public Library.Having provided free Shakespeare performances for an estimated 20,000 theatergoers in 2014 and 2015, Bryant Park is now offering these classics as part of Bryant Park Presents, an outdoor performing arts series with over 50 free events. The Drilling Company, known for its intrepid, bare-boned Shakespeare in the Parking Lot productions, is exclusive producer of the Park's Shakespeare offerings. The Drilling Company made its Bryant Park debut in 2014 with "Hamlet" (as the inaugural production of Shakespeare in Bryant Park). Last year, the troupe produced "Two Gentlemen of Verona," "Romeo and Juliet" and "The Taming of the Shrew" in the park. The midtown location is a most welcome venue for free Shakespeare with several food kiosks, beer and wine tent, capacious rest rooms, and seating for unlimited crowds on bistro chairs and blankets. Best of all, at Bryant Park, there is never any waiting in line for tickets. "Much Ado About Nothing" is a comedy about courtships: a hasty one that nearly goes wrong and a reluctant one that leads to success. The reluctant wooers are the delightful Beatrice and Benedick, who are onstage through most of the play. The hasty wooers are Hero, Beatrice's cousin, and Claudio, Benedick's comrade in arms. In the original play, the men have returned from a military campaign in Sicily with hearts bent on marriage. Here they are World War I vets. The women are Suffragettes and their zeal for new women's roles introduces a new level of complexity to the witty, agile, sometimes insulting repartee between the lovers that is the play's trademark. The plot centers on the high trickery it takes to bring Beatrice and Benedick together and the bumbling of Dogberry and Verges, who bring villainy to light before it separates Hero and Claudio. Director Hamilton Clancy explains, "We are setting it in the Suffragette Movement because we are interested in interpreting Beatrice as an original fighter for women's rights. In a time when we may elect a female President, it seems right for this. The language and conflict of the characters in 'Much Ado' suggests a lot of the values and mores of the early 20th Century. The soldiers returning from World War I were eager to settle down and society was preparing for the emergence of powerful women. It's a natural fit." Anwen Darcy (who stole the show last year as a female Mercutio in "Romeo and Juliet" in Bryant Park) plays Beatrice opposite McKey Carpenter's Benedick. Andrew Gombas plays Claudio and Mary Linnihan plays Hero. Drew Valins plays Dogberry, James Davies plays Leonato and Bill Green plays the Friar. The cast (still in formation as of this writing) also includes Jarrod Bay, Gracie Winchester, Michael Bernstein and Eric Pateriani. Set design is by Jennifer Varbalow and Sound design is by Anna Grossman.Hamilton Clancy (Director) is Artistic Director of The Drilling Company and the most frequent director of Shakespeare in the Parking Lot, for whom he has staged 17 Shakespeare productions to-date. He has also acted there as Henry V, Julius Caesar, Petruchio and Benedick, among others. He played Tor, a Norwegian mobster, in the Drilling Company's long-running comedy, "The Norwegians" and appears routinely on TV's "Orange is the New Black" as C.O. Kowalski. The Drilling Company is producing three other outdoor Shakespeare events in Bryant Park this year: A celebration of Shakespeare's 452nd Birthday and the 400th Anniversary of his death (April 22), a Steampunk version of "As You Like It" with music by Natalie Smith (July 21 to 23), and "Measure for Measure" (September 1 to 18), interpreted as a battle of the sexes in the South. The Drilling Company (www.drillingcompany.org) is well known as the producer of Shakespeare in the Parking Lot (www.shakespeareintheparkinglot.com), a series of free Shakespeare productions that have been presented on the Lower East Side for over 20 years. This summer, the series offers new interpretations of "A Midsummer Night's Dream" July 7 to 24 (directed by Cathy Curtiss) and "The Merchant of Venice" July 28 to August 14 (director TBA). Both productions to be staged in the parking lot behind The Clemente Soto Velez Cultural and Educational Center (CSV), 114 Norfolk Street (between Delancey and Rivington Streets). This is the 22nd season of Shakespeare in the Parking Lot and it's the Drilling Company's tenth year as sole producer of the event. Bryant Park Presents is a performing arts series that creates adventurous and immersive outdoor cultural experiences in the middle of Midtown Manhattan. The season, April 22 - September 17, comprises more than 50 events spanning a broad range of concerts, dance and theater performances, dance parties, and more. All events are held free of charge in iconic Bryant Park, an oasis in a canyon of skyscrapers. Bryant Park Corporation (BPC), a private not-for-profit company, was founded in 1980 to renovate, finance and operate Bryant Park, one of the busiest public spaces in the world, without government or philanthropic funding. In addition to providing security and sanitation services, and tending the lawn and seasonal gardens, BPC creates amenities and activities in Bryant Park for over 6 million visitors each year. BPC's website, www.bryantpark.org, has more detailed information about Bryant Park Presents as well as the plethora of other upcoming free activities, performances, and programs that occur in the park. Patrons of Bryant Park are subject to the rules of the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation.