In Shakespeare’s First Folio edition, “The Two Gentlemen of Verona” opens with Valentine leaving Verona for Milan to finish his education, leaving his friend Proteus at home to woo Julia. The Drilling Company’s version, which opens the second season of Bryant Park Shakespeare, is set in NYC’s Little Italy and Shakespeare’s two cities are transformed into two rival New York restaurants. This free Shakespeare production will be offered in Bryant Park, where food kiosks serve affordable meals, capacious rest rooms are close at hand and seating on bistro chairs is guaranteed for everyone. Best of all, there will be no waiting in line for tickets.
The Drilling Company, known for its intrepid, bare-boned Shakespeare in the Parking Lot productions, made its Bryant Park debut last spring with “Hamlet,” the inaugural production of Bryant Park Shakespeare. This year, the troupe has been invited back by Bryant Park Corporation for a three-show season in Bryant Park, and will present “Two Gentlemen of Verona” May 15 to 31, directed by Hamilton Clancy; “Romeo and Juliet” July 17 to August 2 (rescheduled from July 10 to 26), directed by Dave Marantz and “The Taming of the Shrew” September 4 to 20, directed by Alessandro Colla.
“The Two Gentlemen of Verona” is Shakespeare’s first comedy about being in love with love. It adopts the device of making Italy the spiritual home of its comic characters, arousing a mood of strange wonder and the same time, making this wonder seem real and true. Could anybody resist transferring this play to Little Italy? While Valentine and Proteus move from Verona to Milan, the characters in this production move from working at one establishment to another. Boy meets girl, boy loves girl, boy’s best friend meets girl and also loves girl. To director Hamilton Clancy, the spirit of joy and adventure that all these mismatched lovers have is the spirit that many people come to NYC with. “In making the world of the play smaller,” he says, “we are calling attention to the larger journeys of the heart that all the characters take.”
The actors are Brian Patrick Murphy as Proteus, Andrew Gombas as
Valentine, Eric Paterniani (who is actually Italian) as Launce, Drew Valins as Speed, Kristin Piacentile as Silvia, Lauriel Friedman as Lucetta, Tori Ernst as Julia and Zlatomir Moldovanski in a variety of ensemble roles. Crab, Launce’s ornery hound, is played by a dog named Chewy who is described as “a kind of a terrier.” Scenic and costume design are by Jennifer Varbalow. Sound design is by Anna Grossman.
Hamilton Clancy (Director) is Artistic Director of The Drilling Company and the most frequent director of Shakespeare in the Parking Lot, for whom he has staged sixteen Shakespeare productions to-date. He has also acted there as Henry V, Julius Caesar, Petruchio and Benedick, among others. He played Tor, a Norwegian mobster, in the Drilling Company’s long-running comedy, “The Norwegians” and appears routinely on TV’s “Orange is the New Black” as C.O. Kowalski.
Bryant Park Corporation (BPC), a private not-for-profit company, was founded in 1980 to renovate, finance and operate Bryant Park, one of the busiest public spaces in the world, without government or philanthropic funding. In addition to providing security and sanitation services, and tending the lawn and seasonal gardens, BPC creates amenities and activities in Bryant Park for over 6 million visitors each year. BPC’s website, www.bryantpark.org, has more detailed information plus a complete schedule of upcoming free events, activities, and programs. BPC invites New Yorkers and visitors to Midtown Manhattan to experience live theatrical productions of Shakespeare plays, as well as the NYC summer traditions of HBO/Bryant Park Summer Film Festival and Broadway in Bryant Park.
The Drilling Company, producer of the event, is well known as the producer of Shakespeare in the Parking Lot, a series of free Shakespeare productions that have been presented on the Lower East Side for over 20 years. (The Drilling Company began co-producing Shakespeare in the Parking Lot in 2002 and became its exclusive producer in 2005.) This year, the series is moving from its original space in the Municipal Parking lot at Ludlow and Broome Streets to a new parking lot behind The Clemente Soto Velez Cultural and Educational Center (CSV), 114 Norfolk located on the east side of Norfolk Street between Delancey and Rivington Streets. “As You Like It,” directed by Hamilton Clancy, will be presented July 9 to 26 and “Macbeth,” director TBA, will be staged July 30 to August 15.
The Drilling Company, under the direction of Mr. Clancy, has also been an incubator of new American plays since 1999, working in its intimate theater space at 236 West 78th Street, which was formerly 78th Street Theater Lab. That theater space was lost to them this past year when it was re-purposed into a residence. At the same time, Shakespeare in the Parking Lot was forced to vacate the municipal lot at Ludlow and Broome Streets when the Seward Park Urban Renewal Area gave way to Essex Crossing. Losing two performance venues in one year was a blow, but the company has been energized by its new opportunities to produce at Bryant Park and the parking lot adjoining Clemente Soto Velez. It continues to search for a new indoor venue where it can resume developing and producing new modern plays.
Productions of The Drilling Company are supported in part this season by a grant from the Brad and Melissa Coolidge Foundation.
Bryant Park Shakespeare presents “The Two Gentlemen of Verona” produced by The Drilling Company May 15- 31, 2015 at Bryant Park, 6th Avenue at 42nd Street, Manhattan. Performances are Fridays and Saturdays at 6:30 PM and Sundays at 2:00 PM. Admission is Free. For Info call 212-873-9050 or visit www.shakespeareintheparkinglot.com and www.drillingcompany.org.