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"Richard III" 2013

Foreground: Alessandro Colla as Richard III. Behind: Rachel Weekly (Messenger), Jenna Bosco (Catesby). Photo by Jonathan Slaff.

NEW YORK TIMES
Art Imitates Life, as a Villain Haunts a Stateside Parking Lot
‘Richard III’ Emerges Outdoors on the Lower East Side
By KEN JAWOROWSKI
August 6, 2013

"The evil all but oozes from Alessandro Colla, who, as Richard III, shuffles across the asphalt in this year's second offering from Shakespeare in the Parking Lot. The king's body is damaged, of course. But, oh, his wicked mind: that's always working.

"After last year’s news that the bones of the real Richard III had been found under a parking lot in Leicester, England, it seemed all but required that the troupe resurrect the tale at its blacktop stage on the Lower East Side. The show proves to be mostly successful, thanks largely to its lead.

"Mr. Colla is a powerhouse actor, particularly early on, when Richard’s plots and inductions are laid into place with the help of his henchman, Buckingham (a dependable Arash Mokhtar). Mr. Colla speaks the speech smoothly, sometimes while smoking a cigarette. He’s alternately elated and enraged, and more than a bit smug and hammy. It’s a shrewd mixture."

Read the full review on nytimes.com

 

"Cymbeline" 2013

Amanda Dillard as Imogen in "Cymbeline."
Photo by Lee Wexler/Images for Innovation.

NEW YORK TIMES
July 15, 2013
Intrigue in an Asphalt Kingdom
‘Cymbeline’ Unfolds in a City Parking Lot
By KEN JAWOROWSKI

"There may have been a dull moment during “Cymbeline” — before the beheading, the swordfight, the cross-dressing, the case of mistaken identity, the news of the kidnappings, the declaration of war, the mysterious sleeping potion, the devious lies and the murder plot by the scheming stepmother. If so, I missed it."

Read the full review on nytimes.com

 

 

"CORIOLANUS" 2012

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

NEW YORK TIMES
August 8, 2012
Angry Romans Occupy Ludlow Street
By CATHERINE RAMPELL

"The new production of 'Coriolanus,' Shakespeare’s drama about an election that pits disdainful elites against the 99 percent, would seem to be a perfect fit for both our time and the inherently populist theater series to which it belongs, Shakespeare in the Park(ing) Lot. (Yes, this Elizabethan tragedy is performed gratis on the pavement of a functioning municipal parking lot, amid cars, trucks and pedestrians ferrying home Chinese takeout.)

"The play has even been recast as an Occupy movement tale....

"Arash Mokhtar is usually compelling as the inscrutable, jaw-clenched Coriolanus, though he is much more convincing in the play’s less tender moments. The director, Hamilton Clancy, also keeps the play unusually energized and brisk, which is no small feat for a two-and-a-half-hour intermissionless production....

"Shakespeare in the Park(ing) Lot has been around since 1996. Yet the pocked concrete and the bugs and the foot traffic seem especially poignant in this particular play at this particular time, given the fresh memories of real mob outrage and unruliness, also staged outdoors, just a couple of miles away."

Read the full review on nytimes.com

 

"MERRY WIVES OF WINDSOR TOWERS" 2012

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

NYTHEATRE.COM
The Drilling Company delivers a modern, sassy version of The Merry Wives of Windsor, directed by Hamilton Clancy, kicking off the 2012 season of Shakespeare in the Park(ing) Lot....

There are some very strong performances which drive this mostly-successful romp. Karla Hendrick's Mistress Ford and Jean Marc Russ as her jealous husband are both very grounded and fully meet each insane moment in the play. Both use the audience skillfully and frequently, letting us into all of their realizations and emotional shifts. No production of Merry Wives could delight without an amazing Falstaff and David Marantz delivers up all the gross, self-satisfied, indignant comedy required. Veronica Cruz, as a sexy-nurse version of Mistress Quickly, was also a fun favorite of mine whenever she was onstage.

The most inspiring aspect of this production to me was the commitment both onstage and around it. While cars and pedestrians come in and out of the open municipal parking lot, the actors are always in character as they make their way around it to make their entrances and exits. The actors all throw themselves completely into their individual character choices in the service of Shakespeare's looney farce. The audience, matching the wide diversity of the characters onstage—theatre die-hards and neighborhood kids alike—were just as committed in receiving it. At 2.5 hours it is not a short play in the YouTube, sound-byte age. But as a tradition 20 years along, Drilling Company audiences get to the parking lot early, many bringing their own chairs (early birds snap up the ones provided) and some stand or sit on the ground. Most stayed for the duration, hung on all the humor of this 400-year-old comedy, and together we had a great time. To me this exemplifies the beauty of free theater in New York. It underlines the fact that theater is still a vital art form very much alive when it is simply made well and made accessible to everyone.

 

"HAMLET" 2011

Karla Hendrick as Queen Gertrude, Alessandro Colla as Hamlet.
Photo by Lee Wexler/Images for Innovation.
David Stiler as King Claudius, Alessandro Colla as Hamlet.
Photo by Jonathan Slaff.

 

NEW YORK POST
Unlike Central Park's Delacorte Theater, where it's easy to forget you're in the city, here it's impossible. And that's part of the fun. Cars come and go during the show -- the other night, one particularly rude driver pulled out right in the middle of Hamlet's "To be or not to be" soliloquy. Pedestrians taking a short cut are bemused, if not particularly alarmed, to pass a sword fight in progress. And one hapless passerby was shooed off a streetlamp that was part of the scenery, not to mention providing the lighting. Considering all those distractions, director Hamilton Clancy's bare-bones production -- performed on a set that consists of little more than a tiny wooden platform resting on milk crates, a few benches and what looked like a shower curtain as a backdrop -- is surprisingly effective
.

CURTAIN UP
The chemistry of this cast is palpable....Naturally, Hamlet, as the titular character, has the lion's share of the play (The Dane speaks 1495 lines in the text). Allessandro Colla has the necessary ferocity for the part, and holds his own on stage for the entire evening. Though I was completely underwhelmed by his opening monologue ("O that this too, too solid flesh would melt, . . ."), I gradually warmed to his gravelly New York voice. Colla possesses an emotional palette that goes from subtle to hard-pounding power. He finds a way to connect to the audience that depends less on hitting the right stress of the iambic pentameters and more on honest down-to-earth feeling. His is a hard-boiled Hamlet with a gritty New York edge.

NYTHEATRE.COM
In director Hamilton Clancy’s vision, Hamlet is the story of a modern dysfunctional family who—like many families—hide their secrets yet strive to connect, with varying success. However, unlike most families, when things don’t go as planned double crosses turn deadly, and the bodies start piling up....What struck me immediately about this production was the strength of its women. Karla Hendrick’s Gertrude reminds me of the comic genius Alex Borstein, with great humor, but her true power lies in her matriarchal command of every scene. The gorgeous Amanda Dillard’s Ophelia begins as an effervescent hippie-groovy Olson twin look-alike, turns into a troubled and pouty tween, and finally morphs into an insistent yet heartbreakingly confused young lady. Jennifer Fouché, who makes a commanding Player Queen, ends the show with an a cappella excerpt of Ophelia’s mad song, and let me tell you, she is amazing, her voice strong and sweet like a young Etta James; I wished the entire play within a play had been sung by her. Fouché is breathtaking....Among the men, standout David Sitler’s Claudius, seeming very like a modern Oliver North, is unafraid to portray a true villain without twirling his mustache; he draws genuine empathy for his struggle under the weight of his crime. James Butler as Osric and Eric Harper as Marcellus/Luciano add a nice energy, and the remainder of the cast all have merit.....Which brings me to our star, Alessandro Colla as Hamlet, and that age old question: is Hamlet cagey and conflicted, or is he just coo-coo for cocoa puffs? In this version, the latter is decidedly so. Colla’s scratchy vocal gymnastics and bouncy physicality are eerily reminiscent of a young Bobcat Goldthwait. While certainly different, the kooky-sexy/smart-ass nature of his Hamlet is exhausting to watch. The audience keeps waiting for the moment Hamlet will put down his clown mask, let us in, show us the terrible pain, the troubled, torn, betrayed boy hiding under the desperate clowning, but he instead keeps up his goofy façade to the bitter end. The cycle of dysfunction continues.

 

"COMEDY OF ERRORS" 2011

Garrett Burreson, Jack Herholdt
Photo by Lee Wexler/Images for Innovation
Grant Turnbull, Lisa Pettersson, Sergio Diaz
Photo by Lee Wexler/Images for Innovation

 

BACKSTAGE
Director Kathy Curtiss takes Shakespeare's mistaken identity comedy to Little Italy, and the casual comedy succeeds with its lighthearted nature and impeccable casting of the central twins.

NYTHEATRE.COM
The acting in this production is terrific across the entire ensemble. In addition to skillfully handling Shakespeare’s language, they make all of their characters appropriate to the neighborhood and are all a blast to watch.....Bottom line: Go. Now. Arrive early. Consider bringing a chair. Bring your sense of adventure. Bring your sense of humor. And bring that friend who thinks Shakespeare is boring and that other friend who thinks theater is too expensive. Above all, go, enjoy this gem of a New York summer tradition!

 


 

HIGHLIGHTS FROM PREVIOUS SEASONS

New York Times, August 5, 2010

By ANITA GATES

A Dictator Is No Match for a Tough School Board

“Julius Caesar”: Selene Beretta as Cassius in the play, given an unorthodox staging at the Municipal Parking Lot on the Lower East Side. Photo by Emily Berl (New York Times)

"When Cassius declares, 'I ... have bared my bosom to the thunder-stone,' what the audience sees is that noble Roman’s open blouse with a black bra underneath."

"Cross-dressing actors and cross-gender casting having become so common, it’s hard to say which would be less surprising these days: an actor in women’s clothing or an actress playing Cassius. In this case, the Drilling Company’s new production of 'Julius Caesar,' it's Selene Beretta as Cassius, and she gives a fierce, powerful performance in a tight skirt and high heels as the leader of the assassins who murder Caesar on the Ides of March."

"Ivory Aquino as Marc Antony gives Ms. Beretta a run for her money. Ms. Aquino’s 'Brutus is an honorable man' speech is so moving that I wish it could be the end of the play. (The soothsayer could just pop in quickly to tell us the conspirators’ fates.)"

"The production’s setting is also notable. The play is presented in the middle of a Lower East Side parking lot, with white plastic chairs for the audience surrounding the 'stage.' The series, which has been around since 1992, is called Shakespeare in the Parking Lot; admission is free; and people strolling across the lot have been known to stop out of curiosity and decide to stay."

"It’s an excellent introduction to 'Julius Caesar' for those who don’t know any more about the play than Caesar’s line 'Et tu, Brute?' And Steven Lee Edwards’s original song 'Caesar Is Back,' which frames the show, sums up Shakespeare’s meaning with crystal clarity."

Read the full review in the New York Times Online


Encore New York City, July 7, 2009


Shakespeare in the Parking Lot

This space reserved for Shakespeare

Henry V . Photo: Federico Rodriguez-Caldentey.

As Shakespeare wrote, “all the world’s a stage…” and the Drilling Company takes Will’s words quite literally, proving the adage again with their sixteenth summer of free outdoor theater, performed in the unique environs of an unassuming Lower East Side parking lot!

Thursday through Saturday (July 9 through August 15), as the sun heads West to set and the concrete begins to sweat out the heat of summer, a patch of asphalt—67 parking spaces large—is transformed by lawn chairs unfolded along the parking lines into aisles and actors in modern dress taking their places on the “stage.”

The delightful downtown alternative to the other Bard-focused festival, long-running Central Park staple, Shakespeare in the Park, Shakespeare in the Parking Lot attracts hundreds rather than thousands, but demand is still high and audiences grow with each passing year. Thankfully, on Ludlow street you’re not likely to incur the long lines or swarms of picnicking Upper East Siders with Zabars take-out that throng Central Park, though limited provided seats motivate some eager audience members to arrive up to an hour early. However, they’re typically noshing on pizza and tallboys. In the parking lot, props consist of cardboard cutouts and occasionally solid furniture that looks as though it was dumpster dived; costumes are Elizabethan-free; refreshments are minimal. Despite the pared-down staging, the productions are compelling enough to draw crowds out to the simple lot for two-hour performances. Best to be prepared and bring your own chair—a truly necessary supplement to an inevitably too-thin blanket. It’s lot, not lawn, after all!

The simple setting is not without its challenges, however. City sounds compete with the performers for attention, cars continue to enter and exit the active lot, and the actors work to maintain focus while the audiences eyes occasionally wander, distracted by the passing cast of characters, and the confused reactions of those who happen upon the scene.

This year’s artistic directors Hamilton Clancy and Kathy Curtiss ensure you’ll be too captivated to mind the surroundings. Recognizing that theater fans have a lot of choice when it comes to where they get their summer Shakespeare fix, Clancy and Curtiss present two classic comedies, beginning the season with A Midsummer Night’s Dream, followed by Measure for Measure.

So if you find yourself downtown at dusk, seek out the municipal lot for a hassle-free Shakespeare in the Park alternative. And, needless to say, parking is available!

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