IN BRYANT PARK
IN THE PARKING LOT
Shakespeare in the Parking Lot, presented by The Drilling Company (Hamilton Clancy, Artistic Director), is a summer New York institution that performs free Shakespeare productions in a municipal parking lot at the corner of Ludlow and Broome Streets in Manhattan's Lower East Side.
Shakespeare in the Parking Lot was begun in 1993 by Expanded Arts under the artistic direction of Jennifer Spahr. When Ms. Spahr retired in 2000, an organization known as Ludlow Ten was formed under the direction of Leonard McKenzie. The Drilling Company began co-producing SITPL with Ludlow Ten in 2002. After Mr. McKenzie's retirement in 2005, The Drilling Company was asked to continue the great tradition of Shakespeare in the Parking Lot.
Over its 20 years, there have been over 50 productions of Shakespeare's plays for over 40,000 patrons.
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? "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," says founding artistic director Hamilton Clancy. Shows are offered while the lot is in use. (Performances this season are Thursdays through Saturdays at 8:00 PM for both shows.) 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.
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.
Check out our photo album.
A LOOK AT OUR PAST SEASONS
WHO COULD RESIST?
III" WAS SEEN
The company was inspired to interpret the play as a reflection
of the political tides of conflict that are sweeping through our government
centers now. "The current climate is as acrimonious as the War
of the Roses," maintains Clancy. The impulse was to interpret the
play as a sort of modern political fable. That view, and the resultant
yearning for political reunification, was also front-and-center when
the company chose to do "Cymbeline" this season (July 11 to
27), a play that portrays a divided world that is magically healed.
The production was dedicated to the memory of the late Richard A. Harden (d. 2011), a director of The Drilling Company who loved theater that posed political questions. He had been intent on directing "Richard III" in the Parking Lot. When the skeleton of the actual Richard III was unearthed in Leicester in February, "It made it obvious that all the signs were pointing to doing it this year," says Hamilton Clancy. The challenge, then, was "how 'Richard III' would be politically meaningful to us now."
Read our review in the New York Times
2013 Shakespeare in the Parking Lot season opened with "Cymbeline"
Hamilton Clancy, Artistic Director of The Drilling Company, chose "Cymbeline" as the opening show of the 2013 season of Shakespeare in the Parking Lot because it portrays a divided world that is magically healed. The play is a hopeful fable to invoke at a time when the world seems so irrevocably torn, with our own country so polarized and the Middle East ripping itself apart in hopeless religious conflicts. Performances were July 11 to 27 in the Municipal Parking Lot at the corner of Ludlow and Broome Streets.
"More than any other Shakespeare play, the themes of unity come through in the final act of the play," says Clancy. "That is why it seemed like the play to do right now."
"Cymbeline" has a complex, not a simple narrative, and is sometimes classified as a problem play because it is part history, part tragedy and part comedy. The marriage of Imogen and Posthumus is tested in the context of a rebellion of the Britons against the Roman Empire. King Cymbeline blunders in his relationship with his own wife and is led into a seemingly iremediable error in statecraft: he makes an impulsive and needless war on the Roman Empire. In the end, through a difficult but (in its context) believable series of actions, the tangled plot resolves itself with reconciliation and forgiveness. Everyone receives a just reward: the villains die, Imogen and Posthumus are reunited, the British kingdom survives and the Romans are defeated but their lives are spared.
In the love affair of Imogen and Postumus, and its testing by Iachimo, "Cymbeline" is also one of Shakespeare's most romantic plays. Since the birth of blockbuster space sagas, many of our culture's most romantic stories have been set in future centuries with republics battling empires. Hamilton Clancy, Artistic Director of The Drilling Company, wanted to experiment with synthesizing the two genres and says, "It occurred to me that futurism is pretty much the modern day language for romantic storytelling." Thus was born his idea for a futuristic, space-age production. He notes that Imogen's story fits the pattern of narrative identified by Joseph Campbell as The Hero's Journey, which is also the center of other futuristic mythologies. He adds, "Within the landscape of the parking lot, we are always on asphalt. That makes us look like we are on one moon or another."
The actors included Amanda Diller as Imogen, Keldrick Crawford as Cymbeline, Mark Byrne as Iachimo, Lukas Raphael as Posthumus, Carolyn Popp as The Queen, McKey Carpenter as Guiderius, Andy Markert as Cloton, Anton Rayn as Philario, Jonathan Eric Foster as Pisanio, Sajeev Pillai as Cornelius, David Sitler as Belarius and Adina Bloom as Aviragus. The ensemble included Haley Simmons, Skylar Gallun, Mary Linehan, Louisa Ward, Lexie Tompkins, Angie Fontain and Michaela. Puppeteer is Anton Rayn. Costumes were designed by Lisa Renee Jordan. Set design was by Jennifer Varbalow.
Read our review in The New York Times.
"CORIOLANUS" AUGUST 2-18, 2012
"Coriolanus" has been re-envisioned as a modern day "election fable" in the second production of the Drilling Company's 2012 Shakespeare in the Parking Lot series.
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, Alexandra 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 .
Merry Wives of Windsor Towers"
Look around at the SPURA controversy and you will see the same characters and class clashes as Shakespeare portrayed in "The Merry Wives of Windsor." That's the idea behind "The Merry Wives of Windsor Towers," the first production of The Drilling Company's Shakespeare in the Parking Lot series, to be presented July 12 to 28 in the Municipal Parking Lot at the corner of Ludlow and Broome Streets. Hamilton Clancy directs.
This adaptation is set in an imaginary Windsor Towers, a condo which has just gone up on the Lower East Side. (Although it's a fabrication, you can interview Lower East Siders about it and eight out of ten will tell you they know where it is.) Masters Ford and Page are two businessmen urging the passage of SPURA through the City Council (and standing to profit from it). Their eponymous wives are both active in the community. The comic hero, John Falstaff, is a classic Lower East real estate man always looking for the next big score. In this case, the real estate he's angling for are the estates of Ford and Page.
The production is partly an homage to the last time "Merry Wives of Windsor" was presented in the Parking Lot in 2001, Then, it was set on the Upper East Side. In the last ten years the Upper East side has moved downtown and now the Lower East Side is filled with many of the same characters and class clashes that happen on a regular basis in Shakespeare's original "Merry Wives."
SPURA is the acronym for the Seward Park Urban Renewal Area, which covers five vacant plots of land owned by New York City on Manhattan's Lower East Side, acquired as part of a 1965 urban renewal plan, near Delancey and Grand Streets. These sites, all in view of the Williamsburg Bridge, were originally part of a federal program to tear down several tenements and develop low-income housing. Some of the original SPURA property was developed, but five remain vacant to this day, the product of long disagreement over what "appropriate redevelopment" should be: permanently affordable housing, mixed use or large commercial retail. Last month, Community Board 3 broke a half-century long stalemate, approving a mixed-use development with numerous stipulations, including a 60 year guarantee to tenants in "permanently affordable housing," a ban on big box stores, a new public school, a commitment that businesses in the project pay their workers a "living wage" and a guarantee that local residents would would be hired for construction and permanent jobs.
The actors are Dave Marantz as Falstaff, Karla Hendrick as Mistress Ford, Victoria Campbell as Mistress Page, Veronica Cruz as Mistress Quickly, Amanda Dillard as Ann Page, Jean Marc Russ as Master Page, Bill Green as Robert Shallow, Andrew Markert as Hugh Evans, Sajeev Pillai as The Host of the Garter, Grant Turnbull as Master Slender, Shane Mitchell is Master Fenton, Drew Valins as Dr. Caius and Alessandro Colla as Pistol. Other featured actors include Michael Gnat, Leal Vona, Thoe Maltz and Hailey Simmonds. Scenic design is by Jennifer Varbalow and Lisa Renee Jordan is costume designer.
Director Hamilton Clancy is founder and producing Artistic Director of The Drilling Company. He directed "Julius Caesar" in the parking lot in 2010 and "Hamlet" there last summer. He also staged The Drilling Company's much-acclaimed production of "Reservoir," a modern adaptation of "Woyzeck" by Eric Henry Sanders, in 2010-2011at in The Drilling Company's intimate theater at 236 West 78th Street. He is also an actor.