REVIEW: MOVABLE SHAKESPEARE UNDER THE STARS – “A WINTER’S TALE”

Through August 14, 2016, 7pm
(120 minutes – No intermission)
Castle Clinton
(formerly Battery Park)
Manhattan

I had the most wonderful experience watching an outdoor performance of William Shakespeare’s “A Winter’s Tale” at Castle Clinton (at Bowling Green near South Ferry) presented by The New York Classical Theatre in FREE Theatre in the Parks summer program. New York City is bursting with free Shakespeare performances all summer. What makes this production unique is how the audience moves from one location to the next with each scene change. We (the audience) are included in the production as characters bid us to ‘Come along…’ from scene to scene. The set included various grassy lawns in Bowling Green Park (Lower Manhattan) and both outside and inside the walls of historic Castle Clinton (built in 1808) which lends an interesting historic backdrop thanks to its huge wooden doors and iron framework. Sounds of boat horns as well as overhead airplanes are easily incorporated by the actors who amusingly make mention of them (‘Not again!’) rather than pretend they’re not there. This is Shakespeare as, no doubt, he would have performed it outdoors were he in 21st century New York. I love it!

For years, free Shakespeare in public spaces have included ethnically diverse casts and this production is no exception. David Heron* ( Moon On A Rainbow Shawl; Emperor Jones; Marly -The Musical) makes his debut with New York Classical Theatre as Polixenes, King of Bohemia, who is unjustly accused of fathering a baby with his best friend’s wife, Hermione (Mairin Lee)* who just happen to be the king and queen of Sicilia). The suspicious King Leontes (Brad Frazier)* orders the baby girl to be left in the woods (similar to Snow White, Sleeping Beauty’s Aurora & Oedipus) and his faithful Queen Hermione imprisoned.

Heron, a veteran actor who has often appeared at The National Black Theatre in Harlem is no stranger to classical theater, having appeared in many productions of the bard’s plays performed by Harlem based Take Wing And Soar (TWAS) Theatre Company founded by Debra Ann Byrd. Heron has also appeared in Much Ado About Nothing (The Pennsylvania Shakespeare); The Tempest (North Carolina Shakespeare); The Taming of the Shrew (Virginia Shakespeare) and Robinson Crusoe (Orlando Shakespeare) In his role as Polixenes, Heron effectively incorporates his Caribbean accent while disguised as a stranger to spy on his love struck son, Florizel (Xavier Pacheco). Heron, is also a playwright and producer.

Lisa Tharps* makes her New York Classical Theatre debut as Paulina, the Nurse Maid/ Lady In Waiting to Queen Hermione. Tharps has performed on Broadway/Off-Broadway in August Wilson’s King Hedley II and in numerous plays including A Midsummer’s Night Dream; Romeo & Juliet; Vagina Monologues; Medea; Women of Brewster Place. She has appeared on television and film. A WINTER’S TALE by William Shakespeare, Directed by Stephen Burdman

The New York Classical Theatre is celebrating its 17th season of free classical productions. It’s mission is “to reinvigorate and create audiences for the theater by presenting free and accessible productions of popular classics and forgotten masterpieces…in non-traditional public spaces…”

Kudos to Director /Artistic Director Stephen Burdman and the entire cast and crew of New York Classical Theatre’s “A Winter’s Tale,” for a fun, creative production. Not only do they make the Bard’s words easy to understand, but you sure won’t fall asleep in your seat as you move from scene to scene! (Note: bring a folding chair or blanket since seats are not included)

This off-Broadway production of The Winter’s Tale is performed in The Battery (formerly Battery Park) and inside Castle Clinton. You can get to Castle Clinton, via the 1 train to South Ferry or the 4/5 to Bowling Green.     Actors appearing *Courtesy of Actors Equity

Following its three-week run in The Battery, The Winter’s Tale then moves to Brooklyn Bridge Park for a week-long engagement.

Visit: http://www.newyorkclassical.org/the-winters-tale 

 

Follow Sabura Rashid:

Ms. Rashid is a freelance writer, dramatist, director, artist and proud grandmother who teaches at CUNY.

One Response

  1. Marjorie Johnson
    | Reply

    Thanks for the in- depth review of A Winter’s Tale. Sabura’s incredible description is tantalizing me take that trek out to Castle Clinton a place I never heard of but it sounds like it will be well worth the trip. Thanks for wetting my appetite.

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