LENOX, MA – For many years, the sounds of Shakespeare echoed through the trees at The Mount, Edith Wharton’s iconic Berkshire estate. Now, more than four decades after its founding, Shakespeare & Company is reimagining its history of outdoor performances with the creation of a 500-seat amphitheater on the sprawling campus it has called home since 2000.
Set underneath towering spruce trees, the picturesque performance space is a dream that has been years in the making. “We’ve been considering this particular location on the property for a long time as part of our strategic plan,” said Allyn Burrows, the company’s Artistic Director. “We can imagine Shakespeare’s words resonating amongst these spruce trees as they have with the pines at The Mount and the lilacs of the Roman Garden Theatre. Paying homage to Greek amphitheatres and this company’s history, we’re thrilled that this venue can serve present times and future generations of theatre lovers. In addition, our hope is for this new space to further enable our goal of prioritizing inclusion, diversity, equity, and accessibility — giving us a new stage on which to support that effort.”
Demolition has already begun of the buildings occupying the area where the new performance space, currently known as The New Spruce Theatre, will be situated. Scheduled to be completed in time for the opening of King Lear this summer, The New Spruce Theatre will help revitalize a property that has been a rich part of the arts community in the Berkshires for many years.
With COVID pushing events outdoors, the timing is certainly right for an open-air theatre where Shakespeare & Company can stage its productions. Following a year which saw the Company suspend all of its in-person activity from March onwards, 2021 marks a period of celebration and renewed energy as the Company embraces the possibilities of all that is to come. The New Spruce Theatre will feature comfortable seating in its outdoor setting, beckoning all to relax and enjoy everything the stage has to offer.
Shakespeare & Company will soon announce a combination of digital events and in-person performances as part of its 2021 season. The Company hopes to be able to fill the new space at half-capacity. All live presentations will adhere to state and local guidelines, as well as guidelines set forth by the actors union and other professional unions. A “COVID-19 Code of Courtesy,” requiring visitors to practice social distancing and wear masks at all times, will be in effect for all performances. To enable contract tracing, all ticket buyers will be required to provide contact information for everyone in their party. In addition, visitors from outside of the state will also need to be in compliance with current Massachusetts travel/quarantine guidelines. Anyone not feeling well will be asked to stay home.
Shakespeare & Company is also pleased to announce some of its actor training and education programming. The Center for Actor Training will offer four sessions of a virtual weeklong intensive focusing on Linklater voice, movement, and text work. These sessions will be available for theatre undergraduates and acting professionals beginning June 5. More details will be available soon.
On February 20, enrollment for the Riotous Youth summer theatre program for students ages 7-17 opens. This year’s program, which will be held outdoors on the beautiful Shakespeare & Company property, will invite young actors to learn text from The Comedy of Errors, King Lear, and Much Ado About Nothing. For information about Riotous Youth, the advanced high school-aged program Riotous Company, or to enroll your student online, please visit www.shakespeare.org/education/riotous-youth.
About Shakespeare & Company
Located in the beautiful Berkshires of Western Massachusetts, Shakespeare & Company is one of the leading Shakespeare festivals of the world. Founded in 1978, the organization attracts over 40,000 patrons annually. The Company is also home to an internationally renowned Center for Actor Training and award-winning Education Program. Learn more at www.shakespeare.org.