Make a Donation

Consider making a donation to support SHAKSPER.

Subscribe to Our Feeds

Current Postings RSS

Announcements RSS

Home :: Archive :: 1995 :: August ::
Re: *WT* Production; Shakespeare and Company
Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 6, No. 0657.  Wednesday, 30 August 1995.
 
(1)     From:   Charles Crupi <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
        Date:   Tuesday, 29 Aug 1995 16:22:57 +0000 (EASTERN)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 6.0642  Re: *WT* Production
 
(2)     From:   Tom Dale Keever <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
        Date:   Wednesday, 30 Aug 1995 03:34:56 -0400
        Subj:   Shakespeare and Company
 
 
(1)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Charles Crupi <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Tuesday, 29 Aug 1995 16:22:57 +0000 (EASTERN)
Subject: 6.0642  Re: *WT* Production
Comment:        Re: SHK 6.0642  Re: *WT* Production
 
To Dale Lyles:  Just so you know you are not alone, I am directing WT at Albion
College in February.  And yes, it's scary.  --Charles Crupi
 
(2)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Tom Dale Keever <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Wednesday, 30 Aug 1995 03:34:56 -0400
Subject:        Shakespeare and Company
 
I have drafted and will soon send my letter of support for Shakespeare and
Company.  Though it is not one of the theaters where I have performed
Shakespeare, I stage managed there one summer and have fond memories of the
place and the people.  I hope others will join me in supporting this company.
 
Their current plight is a cautionary tale for everyone who has to navigate the
hazards of arts funding and some background history is instructive.
 
When Tina Packer was looking in the late seventies for a place to house her
projected theater troupe she happened upon Edith Wharton's old summer home with
spacious grounds in The Berkshires.  It was on the market because the previous
tenant, the all-girl Foxhollow School,  had gone bankrupt in 1971 or '72 and
the building had been standing idle for years.  It might as easily have been
taken over by a developer, knocked down, and replaced with a subdivision, but
Packer was able to strike a deal.  Her company built an outdoor stage near the
house and set out to bring Shakespeare to the community and to the area's many
summer visitors.
 
Though the actors and tech crew pitched in to renovate the large old house it
was clear  that it needed more work than the fledgling theater company could
afford to give it.  The funding that was available for historic buildings could
not be granted to a non-profit corporation devoted to the production of
theater, so Packer's associates, Dennis Krausnick and Mitch Berenson, created
another non-profit corporation in '79 or '80 devoted to restoring and
maintaining the building and grounds. The mortgage was assigned to The National
Trust for Historic Preservation and the house was placed on the Historic
Register about 1982. The new group's board of local amateur preservationists
set to work conducting guided tours about the newly designated "Historic
Building" and beating the government and foundation bushes for restoration
money so that Packer and her colleagues could get on with the business of
putting on plays and training actors.  Mind you, had it not been for the
theater company, the building would not have come under the protection of the
National Trust and might well have perished.
 
"Edith Wharton Restoration, Inc." proved as grateful and hospitable to its
parent as Goneril and Regan.  Its board members, bigger fans of dead buildings
and brick-a-brack than of living theater and actors, soon decided that the best
improvement they could make to the mansion would be to rid it of  those pesky
actors.
 
By the time I arrived in 1984 the tension between the theater company and the
preservationists was already serious.  I stage managed two plays by and about
Edith Wharton in the mansion's sitting room. We were at constant logger-heads
with the lady who bitterly resented not being able to lead her guided tours
across the stage during the performances.  I eventually reached an amicable
accomodation with her boss, but not before I had to endure the sight of
bewildered tourists being ostentatiously sheparded past the French windows in
the middle of my show.
 
The most ardent of the preservationists have long wanted to evict the theater
company completely and with the help of The National Trust they may finally
succeed.  The company's "lease" on the space they created is up in three years
and if the National Trust isn't persuaded to let them stay they will have to
start over somewhere else.  Please lend your support!
 
The lesson to all of you who consider incorporating under the byzantine rules
that govern non-profits is NEVER CREATE A BOARD YOU CAN'T CONTROL !  I could
cite a few other examples in New York and elsewhere of people who built
theaters out of nothing and then found themselves fighting, too often
unsuccessfully, to control or even survive in their own creations. Prospective
theater founders, take heed!
 
To help out, address letters to:
 
Frank Sanchis, VP
National Trust for Historic Preservation
1785 Massachusetts Ave NW
Washington, D.C. 20036
 
and send them to Washington or to
 
Shakespeare and Company,
The Mount, Lenox, MA 01240
 
for forwarding.
 
If you have never had the pleasure of sitting under the stars and watching this
company do Shakespeare trust me - this is a troupe worth saving!
 

Other Messages In This Thread

©2011 Hardy Cook. All rights reserved.