Updated 07/27/2012 09:57 AM
Local Theater Troupe Takes Shakespeare On Road
The Public Theater's Mobile Shakespeare Unit is currently on the road and bringing theater to the masses. NY1’s Frank DiLella filed the following report.
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Think of it as William Shakespeare sans a stage, free of charge and all for a good cause.
With a mission rooted in honoring the work of the Bard, the Public Theater recently launched a new production of "Richard III" through its Mobile Shakespeare Unit. The company of "Richard III" is currently on a local outreach tour, playing for communities with limited or no access to the performing arts.
“The Public Theater was founded by the great Joseph Papp, one of the great New Yorkers, and his whole mission was to bring Shakespeare to as many people as possible, regardless of economic background, race, educational level, national origin or anything like that,” says Barry Edelstein, director of the Shakespeare Initiative.
The three-week tour includes stops at homeless shelters, prisons and adult community centers. Recently the unit set up shop at the Theodora G. Jackson Adult Center in Jamaica, Queens.
“We don't play in theater spaces. Here we're in a cafeteria. We play in gymnasiums. We play in all-purpose rooms. We play in classrooms. And the whole idea is to create a kind of community where the play is shared immediately by the audience and the actors,” Edelstein says.
New York stage vet Ron Cephas Jones leads the "Richard III" company as the manipulative title character.
“Theatricality comes basically just in the story and the actors bringing the story out. So, that's what we're trying to do, tell the story to audiences that don’t normally get the opportunity to see a Shakespeare play,” Jones says.
As for the show's reception? The company certainly has fans in Queens.
“I think it was beautiful. Especially the young man that was playing the king,” says Queens resident Louise Jackson.
“Couldn't expect anything better,” says Queens resident Avis Brown.
“It's fantastic!” says Queens resident Mavis Hall.
Following their time on the road, the company of “Richard III” will conclude their run at home at the Public Theatre, starting on Aug. 6. For more information on the Mobile Shakespeare Unit, log onto www.publictheater.org.