Curtain Call: Three theater lovers prepare to launch Shakespeare in Sharon
How do theaters come to be? If you ask John Taylor, actor, director and producer, he’ll tell you to think back about a couple of hundred years ago. “That’s when actors would arrive in horse and buggies and come into a town and present a play. Afterwards, they would pass a hat around for donations and then move on to another town.” That’s how it happened. While Shakespeare in Sharon is not about to move from town to town, the plan started when John asked what and when the next production at the Sharon Playhouse was going to be? The response by those nearby took him by surprise: “Who would come?”
Still when you get theater people together, ideas start to grow. We do have Shakesperience, a successful theater whose home base is in Waterbury, but travels to schools and moves from town to town producing Shakespeare’s plays. There are a few other venues as well. However, the scope of this new venture not only holds promise but has financial backing behind it.
These three incredibly talented actors and directors with incomparable theater experience include John Taylor, Jane Farnol and Katherine Almquist. They came together and realized that they could start a Shakespeare event that would draw audiences from near and far. Considering this formidable trio, this is the best theater news to come about in a very long time. Imagine - three people planning a new theater during this wretched time of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Having extensively covered the Shakespeare Theater in Stratford for more than 10 years, before it finally fell into ruin and eventually was burned to the ground by arsonists in 2019, this new Shakespeare in Sharon will draw audiences craving theater and Shakespeare. Massachusetts and New York have huge Shakespeare festivals. These three celebrated and renowned thespians will make the Shakespearian theater happen here.
“We first approached nearby Kent with our plans. Kent does not have a theater. It would have been the perfect place. However, they were not enthusiastic about it,” said Taylor, obviously disappointed in the response.
“It has to be outdoors,” said Taylor, noting that for people to come together, they have to feel safe. Being outdoors with safe distancing practices will allow people to come out to enjoy theater and feel comfortable doing it.”
The plan so far is to charge $25 per car. People can bring chairs or blankets to sit on. There’s plenty of space to spread out on Almquist’s 36-acre parcel in Sharon. It doesn’t matter how many people are in the vehicle.
Farnol will hold auditions in April and rehearsals will run through May. Tentatively, the production will run the last three weekends in June.
“I think by June people will have adjusted to the new normal,” said John who plans on a grand opening with a very big bang. “We’re impatient to have it happen. I wish it were next year already.”
Farnol recently directed “Macbeth” at the Brookfield Playhouse. There’s little doubt that when she announces auditions for the inaugural production actors from everywhere will come out. Actors are aching to act. She too was surprised that Kent’s Land Trust didn’t jump at the opportunity to have a Shakespeare festival in their town, but thrilled to have Shakespeare in Sharon. Almquist is so excited about working on this project. Her husband David is busy clearing the land. “It’s the perfect setting,” she said of her property. She also noted that the designated area is near a beautiful pond.
What is so special is that all three ended their conversations with: “It will happen.” They definitely answered the question “Who will come?” Apparently anyone who loves theater, Shakespeare, and wants to feel safe and comfortable outdoors. Stay tuned for updates.
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