News: Free Productions of "A Midsummer Night's Dream" and "Richard III" in All 5 Boroughs, LI, and NJ

Photo credit: Ann Price
Hip to Hip Theatre Company, dedicated to stimulating and developing interest in the theater arts in underserved communities by providing free, family-friendly, professional productions of popular classics and free theatre workshops for children, has announced its 2019 Free Shakespeare in the Parks summer tour. Hip to Hip will present A Midsummer Night’s Dream (directed by S.C. Lucier), and Richard III (directed by David Mold) in repertory. After this, the company's season will culminate with an indoor winter production of Troilus and Cressida (directed by Jason Marr).

The Free Shakespeare in the Parks summer tour will run from July 24 to August 25 at fourteen parks throughout Manhattan, Queens, Brooklyn, Staten Island, and the Bronx. Performances will also take place in Jersey City and Southampton. In addition, Hip to Hip’s popular interactive children’s workshop “Kids & the Classics,” designed to give children ages 4 to 12 a chance to interact with the text by previewing the characters and situations and creating links between the text and their own lives, will be offered thirty minutes before each performance. 

Audience members are encouraged to bring a blanket or low chair and picnic fare and enjoy a Shakespeare play in the open air. No tickets are necessary. The tour schedule will be announced in mid-June.

Artistic Director Jason Marr said of one half of this summer's pairing, “Both as a producer and as an actor, Richard III has hovered near the top of my 'yet-to-do list' for years. It's never made the cut, because on some level the play doesn't quite sing for me. After thirteen years with Hip to Hip, and with my "yet-to-do list" getting shorter and shorter, it seemed time to take another look at Richard III.” He went on to say, “I came across the fascinating documentary, “The King in the Car Park,” which tracks the exhumation and reburial of the remains of Richard III, which culminated in 2012. With the discovery of Richard III’s remains, we now know that Shakespeare’s portrait of Richard's deformity is grossly exaggerated. The exhumed skeleton reveals Richard had severe scoliosis, but it bears no suggestion that he was a hunchback with a withered arm and unequally sized legs. Hip to Hip’s new radical adaptation of Richard III attempts to bridge the divide between the real man and the caricature the Tudors, aided and abetted by Shakespeare, perpetuated.”

The repertory cast includes Leah Alfieri, Kendall Devin Bell, Katie Fanning*, Rebecca Wei Hsieh, Kurt Kingsley*, Tristan Land, Jason Marr*, Joy Marr*, Josh Miccio, Austin Nguyen, Anuj Parikh, Sophia Parola and Colin Wulff*.
*appears courtesy of Actors Equity Association

This season's plays are briefly described below:

A Midsummer Night’s Dream
Four young lovers escape the tyranny of the court to find love in a magical forest. On the same night and in the same forest, the king and queen of the fairies declare war on each other and a company of amateur actors meet to rehearse a play. See what happens when a mischievous sprite called Puck weaves their three stories into one.

Richard III
After a long civil war, England enjoys a period of peace under King Edward. But Edward’s younger brother Richard, who helped him to the throne, grows restless in the shadows. Shakespeare’s searing drama chronicles the bloody rise and fall of the last English king to die on the battlefield.

Troilus and Cressida
Seven years into the Trojan War, would-be lovers Troilus and Cressida pine for each other, encouraged by the hilarious Pandarus. Meanwhile, Paris, Hector and Achilles fight over the fate of Helen of Troy. A rare opportunity to see Shakespeare’s funny, insightful and cynical take on the heroes of the Iliad.


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