Last Saturday, The Halcotsville Shakespeare Company presented its inaugural performance of Romeo & Juliet at the Round Barn at Pakatakan Market. This Saturday, August 19th, at noon will be its second and final performance. The production is unique in that it is performed amongst the crowds of market goers. The event was organized by Tom Hughes an NYC educator and writer who has worked with kids in the theatre with Epic Theatre Ensemble for many years in the Bronx. This production brings young actors together from both the Catskills and New York City.
The intent “is to make the shoppers part of the performance, turn the farmer’s market into Verona,” says Hughes.
UPDATE: In some places, the event is being billed as beginning at NOON not 12.30pm as previously reported. Get there earlier to guarantee being able to experience the whole performance.
Last Saturday’s performance began at 12.30pm. About ninety minutes before the market closed, a bell tolled, and speakers that were placed around the market introduced the play to customers. The players were wearing microphones, so they could be heard wherever customers were shopping. The infamous balcony scene and the sword fight took place right by the musician’s nook at the entrance to the Round Barn.
It was a challenge to find young, local high schoolers who wanted to take part and nobody turned up for the auditions in April in Halcottsville. Most of the players were female: there were four boys and six or seven girls. All the girls were local and the girl playing Juliet grew up in the Catskills. Romeo lives in the Bronx, however, and all the boys are from NYC.
Next year, Hughes wants to partner with the Catskill Recreation Center to be part of their summer program. The project “is a small beginning to a big idea” and eventually he would like to run a two week long intensive workshop and rehearsal to culminate in performance: Camp Shakespeare in the Catskills. If you have high school age children who wish to take part you can email Tom Hughes at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The project was made possible by a NYS Decentralization Grant administered by the Roxbury Arts Group.