NY Troupe Opens Play, ‘Love’s Labour’s Lost in a Parking Lot’

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“Love’s Labours Lost,” open Drilling Company’s Shakespeare in the Park(ing) Lot for the 2010 season. Directed by Kathy Curtis, “Love’s Labours Lost,” shares the season with the Hamilton Clancy directed “Julius Caesar.” Shakespeare in the Park(ing) Lot is a summertime favorite in New York. It is a free cultural treat performed in a municipal parking lot at the corner of Ludlow and Broome Streets, Manhattan.

It is the 19th consecutive year for?Shakespeare in the Park(ing) Lot.

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Ensemble of Love’s Labour’s Lost- clockwise from left: Stephen Drabicki, Paul Guskin, McKey Carpenter, Dave Marantz, Jordan Feltner, Amanda Dillard, Jasper Stoffer, Jasmine Monet, Tim Realbuto. Photo by Jonathan Slaff.

In this updated version of Shakespeare, royalty is traded for celebrity. Shakespeare’s original romp in the park outside the castle of Navarre turns into a Celebrity Challenge/Survivor-like competition between the royalty of the Rock Music Industry. We get to see a “boy band” and “girl band” face off in a variety of media-watched challenges.

Considerations of love or romance are set aside while the challengers get ready to compete. True to Shakespeare’s text, the boys didn’t know just how attracted to their female competitors they would become, which is a great setting to explore Shakespeare’s themes of pride and ambition versus the affairs of the heart.

The pairing of “Love’s Labours Lost” and “Julius Caesar” for this year’s Shakespeare in the Park(ing) Lot was actually a thematic choice, not a marriage of convenience. Says Artistic Director Hamilton Clancy, “We thought it was a good time to explore two works about folks getting along–and not–in love and politics.”

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LR: (peeping in) Tim Realbuto, Stephen Drabicki; (standing) Jasper Stoffer, Amanda Dillard, Paul Guskin, Jasmine Monet. Photo by Cathy Rocher.

Artistic Director Hamilton Clancy explains that the play was chosen for its fit to the core cast of the company’s “Midsummer Night’s Dream” last summer. This includes pairing the romantic talents of Jordan Feltner and Jasper Soffer (Berowine and King of Navarre in LLL) together with the impishly gorgeous Amanda Dillard (Rosaline in LLL), who has emerged in the Drilling Company production of “Over the Line” and “Midsummer Night’s Dream.” Director Kathy Curtiss, a director of five Shakespeares in the Park(ing) Lot, was chosen for her great physical theater style and the showmanship in her direction.

The Drilling Company (www.drillingcompany.org) took over as producer of Shakespeare in the Park(ing) Lot seven years ago. [A history of Shakespeare in the Park(ing) Lot will be available soon on the Drilling Company website.]

The The Drilling Company troupe was founded in 1999. They are a prolific presenter of new works in its permanent home at 236 West 78th Street (one block south of the #1 train at 79th Street), where it nurtures and produces new works by emerging playwrights. It has developed and produced works by such well known playwrights as Will Eno, Brian Dykstra, C. Denby Swanson, Tom Strelich, Vincent Delaney, Eric Henry Sanders and Trish Harnetiaux. The company is led by Artistic Director Hamilton Clancy, who has been an actor in Coen Brothers “Burn After Reading” and Ridley Scott’s “American Gangster” and recently appeared at Playwrights Horizons in “The Retributionists” by Daniel Goldfarb, directed by Leigh Silverman.

Director Kathy Curtiss was director of Michael Chekov Ensemble’s production of Sam Shepard’s “A Lie of the Mind” and was assistant Director to Tony Walton on the Rodgers and Heart musical “Spring is Here.” She has been commissioned to write a review with Charles Strouse on his life’s work. She has received awards from the National Theatre Museum, The Shakespeare Festival, the Castle Theatre Festival in Utah and Center Stage.

The mostly-equity cast includes Jordan Feltner, Jasper Soffer, Anwen Darcy, Amanda Dillard, Anna Parratore, Mckey Carpenter, Dave Marantz, Jack Hevholds, Matt Burns, Stephen Drabicki, Nicola Murphy, Michael Gnat, Paul Guskin, Abe Koogler, Gabriella Mazza, Tim Realbuto and Jasmine Monet. “Love’s Labours Lost” is designed by Lisa Renee Jordan (costumes), Brittany Vosca (scenery) and Chris Rummel (sound).

“Julius Caesar” will be a gender-neutral production in a futuristic setting, exploring the idea that some day, a woman may be powerful enough to ascend to the seat of ultimate power. It will feature Ivory Aquino, cousin to the former Philippine president Corazon Aquino, as Marc Antony and Selena Beretta, a member of The Amoralists and The Drilling Company, as Cassius.

Performances are Thursdays through Saturdays at 8:00 PM for both shows. Seating is on a first come first served basis, with audience members often arriving as early as 7:00 PM to secure a place. You are encouraged and welcome to bring your own chair. Once seats are gone, blankets are spread out. “We’ve never turned anyone away and there’s never a wait for tickets!” brags Clancy.

The plays are presented in a working parking lot, so you can drive there but you should expect to pay the Muni-meter. Why parking lot? “It is a tremendously accessible gathering place in the heart of the city. Like most companies that do Shakespeare we are following the spirit of Joseph Papp. But putting our own spin on it by placing it in a parking lot, making an urban wrinkle,” says founding artistic director Hamilton Clancy. Shows are offered while the lot is in use. The action sometimes happens around a parked car which drives away during a performance. At such times, the players stop and the audience moves its chairs, pausing the performance the same way a show would stop for rain uptown in Central Park. It’s all part of the fun.