Shakespeare & Co has been our favorite performance group for over 20 years. Their individual shows, actors, and events remain at the very highest level of artistic excellence. I am familiar with the amazing contribution they make to the regional education community with their programs within the Berkshire school system. Their training program for career actors and acting students is also incredible. My family is thrilled to be able to enthusiastically recommend S & Co as a Great Non-Profit that adds to the community locally and regionally in so many ways.
William Shakespeare himself would give a standing ovation to the plays presented by Shakespeare & Co. I first happened upon a Shakespeare & Co. performance in July 1999 while traveling in the Berkshires. The play was Richard III, and I was enthralled by director Tina Packer's revival of the lamentation rituals of women. There were many notable performances in the play, not the least of which was Jonathan Epstein in the title role. I was hooked, and now I try never to miss a Shakespeare play presented by this dynamic company. Energy, enthusiasm, and talent are evident in every production, and the Shakespeare plays presented by Shakespeare & Co. are always head and shoulders above productions I've seen elsewhere. The Shakespeare & Co. artists give new meaning to the words penned by Shakespeare more than 300 hundred years ago. In 2002 Tina Packer directed Macbeth because of the traumatic events that occurred the year before. Her hope was to understand why people perpetrate violence on others and to discover the role that actors play in the desire for power and dominance. Although the play is a tragedy, laughter makes it bearable. To this day I still chuckle when recalling Michael Hammond’s depiction of the Porter in this otherwise very serious, tragic play. At Shakespeare & Co. the artists' vitality and love of Shakespeare is evident not only in the words they speak but also in their facial expressions and body language. The company also has an education program that brings the poetry of Shakespeare to students through performances and workshops. I've seen Shakespeare and the Language that Shaped a World (SLAW) three times and plan to see it again. SLAW is a delightful combination of historical information and brief scenes from Shakespeare's plays. It includes music and sword-play, is fast-paced, and is a great introduction to one of the world's greatest authors. If you are in the Berkshires, be sure to see a performance by the Shakespeare & Co. artists. If you aren't in the Berkshires, make a special trip. You won't regret it.
We visit the Berkshires every summer and would not miss Shakespeare and Company for any reason. Their old venue at Edith Wharton's home The Mount provided excellent spaces for intimate plays as well as a natural ampitheater for large productions. There are some that stand out... first, a three person play called "The Aspern Papers" in Mrs. Wharton's drawing room; the stables productions like "Two Gentlemen of Verona," "Laughing Wild," and "Good Night Juliet, Good Morning Desdemona" (or was that the other way around?); and third, a lavish production of "A Midsummer Night's Dream" in which the Pyramus and Thisbe play-within-a-play made me laugh so hard that my husband was afraid I would induce labor. The current digs are far more civilized; no more porta-potties, thank goodness; although I do miss Spring Lawn. I saw a riotously funny rendition of "Lettice and Lovage" there that I will never forget. In recent years, there has been some repetition of previous productions, and since we saw the originals, we have been less attend less often, but we did see a simply delightful "Twelfth Night" last summer, so it shows that the possibilities are still there. Neither my husband not I has been moved by any of the productions in the small theater; the Founder's is where to go to see something worthwhile.
I have been a long-distance supporter of Shakespeare and Company since I participated in their month-long intensive for theater professionals in May-June 1995. It was one of the most remarkable experiences of my life, and I continue to admire the company's amazing work and contributions to the worlds of Shakespeare performance and education.
I am the parent of a lucky 15 year old boy who has the opportunity to work with Shakespeare and Co. personnel each fall to produce an adapted Shakespeare play for the Fall Festival of Shakespeare. In addition, before my son reached high school, I worked as a volunteer at the National Endowment for the Arts during a panel meeting discussing granting funds to various performing arts festivals around the nation. The proposal discussing the 20 year old Fall Festival of Shakespeare was remarkable in the way it engages the teen-agers to make the play happen. Nothing else being considered that day gave the kids that kind of active role. This is a great program, run by a great company!