The First of Fifteen Summers
Fourteen summers ago, Chesapeake Shakespeare Company was a tiny group of about 15 people who wanted to do Shakespeare in a different way. We’d performed one show in the Howard County Center for the Arts Black Box Theatre and maybe a hundred people saw the production. We had no money and no plan for a second show.
Then, out of the blue, the Friends of the Patapsco Female Institute invited us to look at the beautiful Howard County park that is home to the ruins of the former girls’ school. They loved the park. They took care of the park. They had no idea what to do with the park until someone suggested Shakespeare. Could we produce a play outside at PFI? You bet we could! We could do anything! We absolutely, positively could produce Romeo and Juliet with almost no budget!
Founding Artistic Director Ian Gallanar could get terrific young actors to perform beautifully for next to nothing. Four people, led by Dan O’Brien (our wonderful Technical Director today) could build a set out of scavenged materials and pallets. We could find a talented young costume designer named Kristina Lambdin (our Resident Costumer today) to create and beg gorgeous Renaissance costumes for a song. A friend of mine who’d never had anything to do with theatre before could run the box office. We could set up worklights instead of renting expensive lights. We could send out press photos and get a little newspaper coverage (pre-Facebook!). We could convince people to trudge up a hill to see a theatre company they’d never heard of. We could make Verona come to life on top of Mount Ida!
And it worked. Thanks to you, our fledgling organization spread its wings. You liked us and came back for more the next year and then the next and now you all have been coming for 15 summers. We may have a theater with a roof in Baltimore City, but the PFI Historic Park will always be our outdoor home.
Happy Fifteenth Summer to all of you who make coming home again so sweet.
|A Little Conversation About Art|
In this illuminating new series of lively conversations,
Founding Artistic Director Ian Gallanar exchanges ideas
with Chesapeake Shakespeare Company’s leading artists.
No. 1: “A Space to Tell the Story”
with Technical Director Dan O’Brien, resident scene and lighting designer
IAN: You have multiple roles with the Chesapeake Shakespeare Company, but for the sake of this conversation, I’m mostly interested in your roles as scenic and lighting designer. In your view, what does a scenic designer do?
DAN: Designs the scenery. Just kidding. A scenic designer comes up with the visual and physical pieces that the actors will be interacting with onstage. In my view, the initial ideas or direction need to come from the director, but then the scenic designer’s job is to take that direction and give it a shape, a form, and a look, and to give the actors spaces in which to tell the story. Sometimes this means you’re trying to create a very realistic, historically accurate setting, and sometimes it can mean you’re just trying to come up with a more abstract design whose main function is to give the audience something cool to look at while the story unfolds in and around it.
IAN: As an artist, how do your ideas about scenic and lighting design intersect with CSC’s aesthetic?
DAN: I think CSC’s aesthetic is about not hiding things. It’s a very honest aesthetic that usually lets the audience see a lot of the process in the final product (although I hate the term “product” when discussing what we do). So, I think in terms of the scenic design, it means that we let the audience see a lot more of what’s happening behind the scenes, and that we treat everything that’s happening in the room as something worth looking at and paying attention to. We tend to be interested in playing with the idea that the audience is aware that they’re in a theater watching a play, rather than trying to transport them to some other place for two hours (although I think that both things can be happening simultaneously).
IAN: I think our aesthetic doesn’t exist by itself. The aesthetic is from the people who created it and their collaboration. You’re one of those people. Since you’ve been here since the very beginning of CSC, how do you see your work changing over the past 15 or so years?
DAN: The biggest moment of change has been, of course, when we moved into the theater downtown.
IAN: Yeah, but I’ve seen a change in your visual style. Maybe that has to do with the new theater. But even since we opened the theater, I’ve seen the visuals become more complex. Do you see that?
DAN: Part of it is due to the fact that we get to play over and over again in the same space, so we’re trying to stretch and grow rather than just put up the same thing over and over again. I’m a minimalist at heart, but seeing a minimalist set for every show would get pretty boring very quickly. That’s one of the reasons that we’ve been bringing in outside designers as well as just relying on the things that I do well. They can really shake up how we look at the space and the things that are possible in it.
IAN: Some of my favorite designs for CSC happen when it seems like the designers are building off each other’s ideas and one cohesive design evolves along the way. I think of our productions of Much Ado About Nothing from last season and The Taming of the Shrew from this season, in which the overall design had that quality. Can you speak to that process of collaboration with other designers?
DAN: It’s the best. It’s something that I think we can take for granted sometimes until the feeling isn’t there. A lot of the designers and actors at CSC have worked together frequently in the past, and after doing a few shows together, designers can develop a sense of what each other’s strengths and weaknesses are. When everyone’s ideas gel, it is a very exciting thing to watch and be a part of.
The play’s the thing…to give.
Shakespeare-Santa makes it easy for you: Give a romance, a musical, a drama, a comedy — or all four!
Here’s the Chesapeake Shakespeare Company Gift Guide with easy-to-order presents — always classic, affordable, fun, and memorable. Tickets are delivered fast by email, or mailed by USPS (first-class reindeer) at your request. New this year — we have electronic gift cards, too. Share a compelling theatre experience.
SHAKESPEARE-SANTA GIFT GUIDE
GIFTS $150 and under
- For the Shakespeare-lover: One adult BASIC subscription to Richard III, The Taming of the Shrew, The Fantasticks and The Tempest: $116
- For the family who loves Shakespeare outdoors in the summer: Picnic table plus tickets for 2 adults + 4 children for The Tempest in-the-Ruins in Ellicott City: $150
- For the musical-lover: The Fantasticks, book and lyrics by Tom Jones and music by Harvey Schmidt, New York’s longest-running musical. It’s an endearing story about a boy and girl next door and their meddling dads. You won’t have to Try to Remember these classic songs. For romantics of all ages! A pair of PRIME seats is $130.
GIFTS UNDER $100
- For the history-lover: Now is the winter of our discontent… Two PRIME seat tickets to Richard III: $84 – $98
- For the comedy-lover: This is the way to kill a wife with kindness… Two PRIME seat tickets to The Taming of the Shrew: $84 – $98
- Kindergartners through high schoolers: CSC theatre gift cards are redeemable for a week of Shakespeare day camp: $225
- For everyone age 25 and under: Student subscription to Richard III, The Taming of the Shrew, The Fantasticks, and The Tempest: $76
CSC GIFT CARDS FOR EVERYONE: $10 – $500
CSC Gift Cards are redeemable for Chesapeake Shakespeare Company play tickets, subscriptions, workshops, and camps. You choose the gift level on this reloadable, electronic gift card. Fits all sizes, good for all plays, always in fashion. It is delivered by email: Perfect for everyone on your gift list!
Call the Box Office at 410-244-8570, Tues – Fri, 11am – 3pm or send an email to BoxOffice@chesapeakeshakespeare.com.
Photos and photo illustrations by Teresa Castracane, Alan Gilbert, Sandra Maddox Barton, and Jean Thompson.
A Christmas Carol – on stage now through December 23, 2016
BALTIMORE (November 27, 2016) – Catch the holiday spirit: Chesapeake Shakespeare Company’s original adaptation of A Christmas Carol delights kids of all ages as it celebrates Baltimore’s heritage.
Spiced with local history, joyous carols, and dazzling special effects, A Christmas Carol is a best-seller and crowd-pleaser. Reservations are strongly recommended: Performances close to Christmas tend to sell out.
This isn’t a “hon” Christmas Carol. Founding Artistic Director Ian Gallanar brings the play’s timeless message home by setting it in Victorian Baltimore. The script closely follows the plot of Charles Dickens’ novella: Scrooge awakens to visits from the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, and Yet to Come. They spirit the lonely miser away from his bedroom to help thaw his frozen heart and teach him a lesson about the importance of giving.
Scrooge & Marley’s counting house has the address of the 1885 Mercantile Safe Deposit & Trust Company building in Baltimore’s old financial district. Chesapeake Shakespeare Company converted this bank building into a gorgeous theatre for the classics in 2014.
“We placed the story in the Baltimore business district of the 19th Century in honor of this magnificent building housing our theater, and this amazing city in which we perform,” says Gallanar. The script includes references to familiar streets, watermen, and the diverse cultures of the early port city.
Gregory Burgess, a Chesapeake Shakespeare Company resident company member known for his great warmth, returns for his third season portraying the irascible and ultimately redeemable Scrooge. Associate Artistic Director Scott Alan Small directs a professional cast of local artists, including company members and 11 child actors from area schools.
A Christmas Carol runs December 2 through December 23, 2016, at the Chesapeake Shakespeare Company, 7 South Calvert Street (at Redwood Street), Baltimore, MD 21202.
There will be two public preview performances, on November 30 and December 1.
Ticket prices range from $25 – $65 for adults, $25 – $59 for seniors, and $19 – $33 for children and students.
Group discounts are available for parties of 10 or more.
For a complete schedule and tickets, visit ChesapeakeShakespeare.com or call the Box Office at 410.244.8570.
Box office hours: Tuesdays-Fridays, 11am-3pm, and 45 minutes before every performance.
MEDIA CONTACT: Jean Thompson, Communications Manager, 410.244.8571, ext. 116, or 443-845-6130 or Thompson@chesapeakeshakespeare.com
A Legendary Queen
The fiery courtship of Anne Boleyn and King Henry VIII rends their nation in the splendid and surprisingly topical play Anne of the Thousand Days by Maxwell Anderson, October 21 through November 13 at Chesapeake Shakespeare Company.
Anderson gives Boleyn her due, capturing her duality as both a victim of the womanizing Henry VIII and as a leader of a changing England. Audacious, sparkling, intelligent, obstinate Anne refuses the advances of the most powerful man in England, gambling everything in her bid to be more than a mistress. At great cost, she becomes Henry VIII’s second and most legendary queen.
Anne of the Thousand Days is about Henry and Anne’s passionate and ultimately tragic love story. Though written in 1948, its theme of women and power is surprisingly current.
“When I chose Anne six months ago, I could not have predicted the recent headlines of the political campaigns,” says Lesley Malin, Managing Director at the theatre company and producer of the play. “Those issues are powerfully reflected in this particular play, with its protagonist declaring, ‘I, too, can say no,’ to a predatory and controlling monarch.”
Award-winning director Kasi Campbell leads a cast that includes the theatre’s Resident Acting Company Members Lizzi Albert and Ron Heneghan as the royal couple.
The production also features Chesapeake Shakespeare Company’s first all-women design and technical team, chosen to showcase local talent in theatre trades and bring their insights to the design of a nuanced story about a powerful woman. The result is a period-piece blockbuster, a re-creation of the Tudor court for the eyes and ears. The music of the play will include compositions by Henry VIII and sound designer Sarah O’Halloran.
Anne of the Thousand Days will be performed Thursdays-Sundays, from October 21 through November 13, 2016, at Chesapeake Shakespeare Company’s downtown theater at 7 South Calvert Street, Baltimore, 21202. Tickets are $19 – $49 adults, and $15 -$25 students. Click here for tickets and details.
Two community events are scheduled with Anne of the Thousand Days.
DESIGNING WOMEN On Saturday, October 29, at 6:30pm, meet the women of our design and technical team who have helped bring this tale to life. Admission to a pre-show panel discussion is free. The designers will discuss their contributions to the play and career opportunities for women. Audience members are welcome, as are college professors and students interested in theatre tech and design fields. Combine the free event with a paid ticket to the 8pm performance for an evening of insights and entertainment. Get details here.
SEDUCTIVE TEMPTRESS or RELIGIOUS AND POLITICAL CHANGEMAKER? On Saturday, November 5, at 6:30pm, learn all about the real Anne Boleyn. Join us for a conversation with Professor Amy M. Froide, a historian of women in early modern England. She’ll help us separate the fact from the legends about the fascinating Anne Boleyn. Admission to the pre-show conversation is free. Combine it with a paid ticket to the 8pm performance. Get details here.
For tickets, visit ChesapeakeShakespeare.com or call the Box Office at 410-244-8570.