AHA! A House for Arts

S7 E7 | CLIP

AHA! 707 | Shakespeare & Company

The Bard is back in the Berkshires. Join producer Matt Rogowicz on a trip to Lenox, Massachusetts to get a look at what's new at Shakespeare & Company. Artistic Director Allyn Burrows discusses King Lear on the New Spruce Theater stage, and looks ahead to their upcoming Fall productions.

AIRED: August 25, 2021 | 0:05:24

(upbeat trumpet music)

- The place, the thing here at Shakespeare and Company,

I'm here to speak with artistic director, Alan Burrows

to learn more about what's happening on stage.

(tense music)

- Last spring 2020, we realized

that we had to pull up the drawbridge on the season

and that meant taking everything off the dock.

Everyone went on furlough for the summer of 2020.

"King Lear" was lined up as our main stage show

with Christopher Lloyd.

He then signed on for 2021,

and that meant that we had kind of an anchor show

that we could build 2021 around.

People really came to our aid and said,

"We want live theater back and we want you to do it."

- Which of you shall we say doth love us most?

- "King Lear" is a mammoth play, as you know,

King Lear basically gives away his kingdom

and then asks which of his daughters loves him the most.

And when he finds out that his favorite daughter

refuses to answer the question.

- Nothing, my Lord.

- Nothing?!

- Well, then he kind of takes great umbrage at that.

- So young and so untender.

- And very slowly and continually goes off the rails

and descends into very articulate madness.

- That she may feel how sharper

than a serpent's tooth it is.

To have a thankless child.



- And I play the fool to Christopher Lloyd's Lear,

and that's been a great ride

and we have a great assembly of actors out there

really throwing themselves at this.

(upbeat music)

I also took the opportunity

to build this brand new 550 seat outdoor amphitheater,

because I felt that people would be more comfortable

assembling out of doors.

And indeed, that turned out to be true.

So, we've had "King Lear" on this stage,

the new spruce theater all summer.

We do it in the afternoon, goes into the evening.

People can enjoy the sunset

while the poetry kind of flows over them.

It's been a great long run

and we're looking forward to more.

Well, the education programs

are really one of the lifebloods of the organization.

It means that kids in the community

get exposed to not only to this beautiful poetry,

but how to interact on that level with other kids.

But also it gives them the confidence

to stand up in front of a group of people

and speak to something that both is important to them

and globally as well.

- When I'm on stage, it's one of the places

where I feel I can be completely myself.

I feel like I'm not judged, that I'm free to live fully

and not feel like I have to restrict myself

the way I do sometimes as a woman

or as living in a predominantly white environment.

So, I just feel so much more free when on the stage.

For the world at large, for all of humanity,

it is a way for us to, I guess remember why we're here.

I think that one of the main reasons

we are here in this world is just to help each other.

art reminds us of that because it shows us,

in all of our glory as well as in all of our weaknesses,

it allows us to see each other more fully.

- You can define how you look at current events

through Shakespeare's poetry

and acting is really how you enliven that poetry.

We could have come out of this pandemic

and people could have been kind of ho-hum.

"Oh, we didn't really miss you that much

while you were away."

The opposite has been true.

So, we hope people will continue to come out

for the rest of the summer

because it's a great way to spend those afternoons.

We also have a lot of online programming coming up.

We have productions coming into the fall

with Debbie Tucker Green's "Hang"

and then the absurd comedy, "The Chairs" by Eugene Ionesco.

Reggie Life is directing "Hang"

and James Warrick is directing "The Chairs".

So, we have a lot of programming still to come

for the rest of the season.


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