"The Merry Wives of Windsor" and "Coriolanus"


"Coriolanus," with Arash Mokhtar, center.
Photo by Lee Wexler/Images for Innovation.

"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.

L-R: Paul Guskin (Menenius Agrippa), Arash Mokhtar (Coriolanus), Andrew Start (Tullus Aufidius), Sara Oliva (Sicinius). Photo by Jonathan Slaff.

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 .


"The Merry Wives of Windsor Towers"
July 12-28, 2012

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.

David Marantz as Falstaff.
Photos by Jonathan Slaff
Victoria Campbell
as Mistress Page.
Karla Hendrick
as Mistress Ford.

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.

Director Hamilton Clancy and cast members. Photo by Sabrina Herrera.

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.


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