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William Shakespeare's "A Midsommer Night's Dreame"
August 15, 17, 18, 22, 24, 26, 27, 30, September 2, 3
Richard Brinsley Sheridan's "The Rivals"
August 16, 19, 20, 23, 25, 29, 31, September 1, 2, 3
Founders Hall Theater of St. Francis College, 182 Remsen Street, Brooklyn Heights
Tue-Sun at 8:00 pm plus Sat and Sun matinees at 2:00 pm
(pre-show one hour before curtain at each evening performance)
Subway: 2, 3, 4, 5 to Borough Hall/ A,C,F to Jay Street-Borough Hall/ M, N, R to Court/Montague.
Suggested donation $5, audience reservations & info 718-398-0546
Kings County Shakespeare Company will present its first completely indoor classic theater festival August 15 to September 3 at Founders Hall Theater of St. Francis College, conveniently located at 182 Remsen Street in historic Brooklyn Heights. This year's plays are a selection of comedies offering a joyous romp through themes of rivalry and its swirling elements: love, contempt, marriage, position and wealth.

Toplining the 2000 festival will be two productions in repertory, "A Midsommer Night's Dreame" by William Shakespeare, directed by Liz Shipman, and "The Rivals" by Richard Brinsley Sheridan, directed by Deborah Wright Houston. Before each evening performance, "Clowns, Villains and Willie's Willful Women," a diverting pre-show, will be performed by the KCSC Young Company. Also presented will be an "urban renewal" version of Shakespeare's comedy, "Midsummer in the Key of Dreams," featuring an original Hip-Hop score performed by an all-teen cast. This production, directed by Reneé Bucciarelli, is a co-production of KCSC with Brooklyn Conservatory of Music.

A MIDSOMMER NIGHTS DREAME -- L-R: Cyrus Farmer (Lysander), Sherri Pullum (Hermia), Andrew Stewart (Puck), Andrew Oswald (Demetrius), Reneé Bucciarelli (Helena). Photo by Jonathan Slaff
"A Midsommer Nights Dreame" by William Shakespeare, directed by Liz Shipman.
August 15, 17, 18, 22, 24, 26, 27, 30 (all 8:00 pm), September 2 (2:00 pm)

This production is acted entirely from the First Folio (thus the spelling of its title). It reflects a growing movement among classical companies to use the "irregularities" of the First Folio edition, smoothed-out by later editors, as a springboard for novel interpretations that are neither genteel nor traditional. This approach challenges the need to modernize or grossly adapt Shakespeare in order to enliven him. The First Folio, originally a compilation of the Elizabethan actors' sides, can now be downloaded from the Internet courtesy of University of Virginia Press. Its availability has empowered many companies in a way that reflects neither elitism nor reactionary classicism. Director Liz Shipman says, "The Folio's spellings, punctuation and irregular capitalization are simply more inspiring to the actors. It gives them more to imagine from."

Ms. Shipman, Co-Artistic Director of KCSC, characterizes her production as "a proper fairy tale" in which the spirit world shadows the urges, desires and dreams of the human one. In the meeting of the two worlds, desire conquers duty and order and chaos converge and balance. Shipman will set the play in its traditional Grecian setting, basing her interpretation on the notion that love turns the senses awry, literally. In the First Folio, she points out, "characters hear with their eyes and see with their ears" and notes that this valuable insight on the play's essence was obscured by later editors who corrected the metaphors for the sake of consistency.

Set and lights are designed by Dan Nichols. Choreography is by Amy Schwartzman Brightbill. Music is composed by Joe Ryan. Props and set dressing are by Lucie Chin. Costumes are by Deborah Hertzberg. Text/acting coaches are Ray Virta and Janus Auman.

THE RIVALS -- L-R: Joseph Small (Sir Anthony Absolute), Vicky Hirsch (Mrs. Malaprop), Ashlynne Holder-Mosley (a page). Photo by Jonathan Slaff
"The Rivals" by Richard Brinsley Sheriden, directed by Deborah Wright Houston.
August 16, 19, 20, 23, 25, 29, 31, September 1, 2 (all 8:00 pm), September 3 (2:00 pm).

This Georgian play, written in 1775, is a sublime example of the Comedy of Manners, in which wit and style were greatly admired but developed in a manner quite different from Shakespeare's. Sheridan's trademarks were bitingly extravagant characters (each with a name emblematic of his/her nature) and delightful twists of plot. "The Rivals," rumored to be based on actual events in the playwright's life (including a romantic courtship, disapproving parents, a rival and a duel) tells of the contest between Bob Acres (a country squire) and Ensign Beverly ("Captain Absolute") for the hand of Lydia Languish. Through Lydia's Aunt, Mrs. Malaprop, a new word came into the English language--malapropism, meaning a mistaken word that sounds like the correct one. Her dialogue is a treasury of delightful nonsense, like "He is the very pineapple [meaning pinnacle] of politeness!" and "She's as headstrong as an allegory on the banks of the Nile."

Director Deborah Wright Houston, Co-Artistic director of KCSC, is crafting an elaborately costumed production, faithful in style to the spirit of the late 18th Century. Every witty turn of phrase, elegant gesture and ounce of hilarity will be extracted from the characters' foibles and from their strenuous efforts to prosper by the arranged marriages of their children. Young people will outwit adults, servants will outwit employers and duels will be arranged, but love will finally prevail.

Set and lights are designed by Dan Nichols. Props and set dressing and fight choreography are by Lucie Chin. Costumes are by Cathy Maguire. Wigs are by Deborah Houston and Cathy Maguire.

"Midsummer in the Key of Dreams," directed by Renée Bucciarelli
August 19, 20, 26, 27 at 2:00 pm only. Absolutely for children of all ages!

An "urban renewal" of Shakespeare's comedy which is spoken, rapped and sung by a company (ages 12 to 20) of eighteen performers, five musicians and three break dancers. The Grecian forest of Shakespeare's version becomes Prospect Park, where the lovers are charmed by Hip-hop fairies who sprinkle rhyming dust with their love charms. The Mechanicals of the original version are replaced by a group of Jazz Wannabees who, instead of "Pyramus and Thisbe," maladapt a jazz classic as entertainment for Bottom's Uncle, who has been made King of Brooklyn for a day. Features an original hip-hop, jazz and Latin beat score by Da Burgos Brotherz (Matthew and Andrew), Anna Chapman and Lesley Ann Giddings. Book is by Renée Bucciarelli, Matthew Burgos and William Shakespeare. Musical Director is Benny Russell. Break dancing is by Lavall "Brisk" Chichester, Eddie "Special Ed" Chaudry and "Red" Reb Alpano. Hosted by KCSC, this is an original project of the Park Slope-based Brooklyn Conservatory of Music, where the production originated under the direction of Renée Bucciarelli, Associate Artistic Director of KCSC. Runs 90 minutes.

"Shakespeare's Clowns and Villains and Willie's Willful Women," directed by Alex Roe
Preceding each evening performance at 7:15 pm

A diverting pre-show of comic scenes from different plays, performed by the KCSC Young Company, directed by Alex Roe, Associate Artistic Director of Kings County Shakespeare Company. This show will also be presented July 29 and July 30 (2:00, 3:00 and 4:00 pm) and August 5 (2:00 pm only) at Brooklyn Botanic Garden, Alfred T. White Memorial Amphitheater, 1000 Washington Ave.

Tim Artz (L) and Ray Virta (R) in "Love's Labour's Lost" (1998). Jonathan Slaff photo
Led by Deborah Wright Houston and Liz Shipman, Co-Artistic Directors, Kings County Shakespeare Company has mounted 24 of Shakespeare's works since its founding, plus several other modern and classical works. The company presented mainstage productions for twelve consecutive years in Prospect Park's Bandshell and Picnic House. During 1999, the company took up temporary quarters at Founder's Hall, St. Francis College, and will be returning there this summer. The location is easily accessible from the other four NYC boroughs and offers wonderful restaurants nearby on Montague Street, Atlantic Avene and throughout the Heights.

KCSC, now 17 years old, is Brooklyn's resident Shakespeare company and has grown to prominence from modest beginnings in 1983, winning increasing respect for its well-staged, well-acted performances and high production standards. The company's reviews have consistently characterized its productions as well-acted crowd-pleasers.

Last summer's "As You Like It" celebrated the play's 400th anniversary. (L) Vincent Barrett as Orlando, (R) Missy Thomas as Rosalind (photo by Jonathan Slaff)
Last summer, D.J.R. Bruckner (New York Times) praised KCSC's staging of "As You Like It" at St. Francis College, writing "every movement and line of this version is so well thought through that seeing it is as intellectually pleasing as it is emotionally satisfying." In 1998, Bruckner cheered KCSC's "Pericles" as one that let's you know why the play has been, for centuries, wildly popular with the crowds down in the pit and described its cast as "devotees who know how to make people feel happy and hear it over and over." Playwright Clark Gesner ("You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown"), writing in the Brooklyn Daily Eagle, urged, "Do yourself a great favor. Make your way through the magic woods of Prospect Park and discover what sort of theatrical wonderland the KCSC has managed to create in the simple confines of the Picnic House."

Allyn Burrows as Pericles in 1998
(Jonathan Slaff photo)
In 1997, Mr. Bruckner (New York Times) characterized KCSC's "Macbeth" as a "galvanizing production," remarking, "Who would have thought the old play had so much charge left in it?" In 1996, Bruckner described KCSC's "The Two Gentlemen of Verona" in the Bandshell as "pretty much what a happy summer theater presentation ought to be," applauding the director and cast for keen exploitation of the play's character types and citing the "boisterous audience response that makes the whole thing very festive."

Reneé Bucciarelli and students of "You Gott Have Bard" in the Prospect Park Picnic House
For the fourth year, July 31-August 4 and August 7-11, Kings County Shakespeare Company will conduct a two-session Shakespeare Day Camp, "You Gotta Have Bard! at the Shakespeare Playground," for children eight to twelve. Twenty one children (many as scholarship students) will participate in each one-week curriculum that includes creative writing, storytelling, dances and the world of Shakespeare with exploration of selected plays. The idea is to excite literacy and creativity through Shakespeare, and students will experiment with simple Shakespearean texts to introduce them to the Bard's language.

Each week culminates in a performance by the children. This innovative program was inspired by like programs of the San Francisco and Stratford (Canada) Shakespeare Festivals and has been developed and spearheaded by KCSC Associate Artistic Director Renée Bucciarelli, who offers similar programs throughout the year under the title "The Shakespeare Playground." (Further information contact: Ms. Bucciarelli at 718-858-7583.)

By Subway: Take the 2,3,4,5 to Borough Hall/M,N & R-express to Court-Montague (exit Borough Hall) A, C, F to Jay Street-Borough Hall (exit and walk North toward Court St. and Remsen).

The persistent, dynamic advocacy of Brooklyn Borough President Howard Golden on behalf of the arts in Brooklyn has been a source of inspiration and encouragement to Kings County Shakespeare Company. Golden has been an effective advocate for the Brooklyn's cultural rebirth and his sponsorship of cultural events has brought new recognition to the Borough.
By Car from Manhattan: Brooklyn Bridge to Cadman Plaza West exit.Turn left. After several blocks, Cadman Plaza becomes Court St. Continue to Remsen. Or Manhattan Bridge to Flatbush Ave., turn right on Tillary St., turn left on Cadman Plaza.

By car from Oueens: Brooklyn-Queens Expressway(BQE) to Cadman Plaza exit, turn right. Same as above.

Municipal parking is available on Atlantic Avenue, off Court Street.

KCSC business office and mailing address: 138 South Oxford Street, #1C, Brooklyn, NY 11217. Audience reservations & info, mailing list: (718) 398-0546.

This festival is made possible, in part, with public funds from the New York State Council on the Arts and is also supported in part with public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs. It is also made possible with generous donations from Brooklyn Borough President Howard Golden, the Jean & Albert Nerken Foundation, the Axe-Houghton Foundation, the Nancy Quinn Fund for Emerging Theatres, the Puffin Foundation, Theatre Without Walls Consortium, as well as individual contributors. [NYTW]

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