2006-07-06 / Columnists

From The Artists Studio

Theater And Summer Fun - Very Near And Not So Far
Rockaway Artists Alliance by Susan Hartenstein

Rockaway Artists Alliance
by Susan Hartenstein

Looking to combine the pleasures of summer travel with your love of theater? Regional theaters around the country provide perfect opportunities to experience fine stage productions as part of your vacation. Here are a few that can be found in our own New York and nearby states. And then, of course, there's the Rockaway Theatre Company. Lush and clever, the music and lyrics of Kiss Me Kate were written by the incomparable Cole Porter. The Rockaway Theatre Company (RTC) presents this richly conceived musical on July 7, 8, 15, 21, 27, 28 and 29 at 8 p.m.; July 9, 16 and 22 at 2 p.m. The director is John Gilleece and the musical director is Walter Birkhold. Make RTC a personal "must see." For information and reservations call (718) 850-2450.

One of the most prestigious summer theaters is the Williamstown Theatre Festival (WTF) in Williamstown, Massachusetts. Since its founding in 1954, renowned actors, directors, playwrights and theatrical designers participate in the summer-long schedule of productions in the festival's theaters and stages in the beautiful Berkshire Mountains. Many of these artists received training in the extensive programs and internships offered by WTF. The company presents classic and new plays, cabaret, spoken word events, children's plays and more. This summer includes Anything Goes by Cole Porter, Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare, Tennessee William's Sweet Bird of Youth, music and dance events, a play created in one of the WTF training programs and the contemporary play Double Double , co-written and directed by Roger Rees, which also serves as a fundraiser for the Christopher and Dana Reeve Apprenticeship. The Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art (MASS MoCA), the country's largest center for contemporary art, is one of the many other centers of arts and culture that can be found in the region. For more information about them, about WTF and a full schedule of productions visit: www.wtfestival.org.

Shakespeare and Company is also located in the Berkshires, in Lenox, Massachusetts. In addition to presenting the works of The Bard, the 29-year-old company develops and produces new plays of social and political significance. In their production and collaborative training programs, they are dedicated to providing original, in-depth, classical training and performance methods. This month Shakespeare and Company's schedule includes Hamlet , The Merry Wives of Windsor , Enchanted April and Slapstick, Polenta and the Commedia Dell' Arte, a humorous demonstration and discussion of the characters, masks, clowning and acting style that inspired comedy from the Renaissance to present day. Visit: www.shakespeare.org for more information.

The Adirondack Theatre Festival was founded by a group of theater professionals based in New York City. Their mission was to produce contemporary plays in the Warren County region of NYS and to develop new theatrical projects in New York City. The festival develops young, emerging actors, directors, playwrights and designers. The not-for-profit organization also aims to develop a relationship with their upstate community as audience and as participants in their workshops and discussions. This summer's productions include A Bomb-itty of Errors, a contemporary musical version of Shakespeare's A Comedy of Errors and British playwright Caryl Churchill's A Number. Visit: www. atfestival.org.

The Finger Lakes Region of New York is now reported to be the home of historic theaters, restored opera houses, state-of-the-art university theaters, small intimate performance areas, converted churches and other renovated spaces that present theatrical productions to large audiences. The Hangar Theatre in Ithaca, New York is the restored hangar of a municipal airport. This summer season includes July productions of Bloodline: The Children of Argos, in which are presented four plays by the great Greek playwrights Aeschylus, Sophocles and Euripedes. A schedule of children's plays is always part of the theater's season. Visit: www.hangartheatre.org.

Dimension can be added to any vacation by exploring the playhouses and open air stages that fill our country. And, as always...


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