Hamilton Clancy, Artistic Director of The Drilling Company, chose “Cymbeline” as the opening show of the 2013 season of Shakespeare in the Parking Lot because it portrays a divided world that is magically healed. The play is a hopeful fable to invoke at a time when the world seems so irrevocably torn, with our own country so polarized and the Middle East ripping itself apart in hopeless religious conflicts. Performances will be July 11 to 27 in the Municipal Parking Lot at the corner of Ludlow and Broome Streets. The idea for a futuristic adaptation has evolved, to be titled “Cymbeline- A Space Fairytale!”
“More than any other Shakespeare play, the themes of unity come through in the final act of the pay,” says Clancy. “That is why it seemed like the play to do right now.”
“Cymbeline” has a complex, not a simple narrative, and is sometimes classified as a problem play because it is part history, part tragedy and part comedy. The marriage of Imogen and Posthumus is tested in the context of a rebellion of the Britons against the Roman Empire. King Cymbeline blunders in his relationship with his own wife and is led into a seemingly iremediable error in statecraft: he makes an impulsive and needless war on the Roman Empire. In the end, through a difficult but (in its context) believable series of actions, the tangled plot resolves itself with reconciliation and forgiveness. Everyone receives a just reward: the villains die, Imogen and Posthumus are reunited, the British kingdom survives and the Romans are defeated but their lives are spared.
In the love affair of Imogen and Postumus, and its testing by Iachimo, “Cymbeline” is also one of Shakespeare’s most romantic plays. Since the birth of blockbuster space sagas, many of our culture’s most romantic stories have been set in future centuries with republics battling empires. Hamilton Clancy, Artistic Director of The Drilling Company, wanted to experiment with synthesizing the two genres and says, “It occurred to me that futurism is pretty much the modern day language for romantic storytelling.” Thus was born his idea for a futuristic, space-age production. He notes that Imogen’s story fits the pattern of narrative identified by Joseph Campbell as The Hero’s Journey, which is also the center of other futuristic mythologies. He adds, “Within the landscape of the parking lot, we are always on asphalt. That makes us look like we are on one moon or another.”
The actors include Amanda Diller as Imogen, Keldrick Crawford as Cymbeline, Mark Byrne as Iachimo, Lukas Raphael as Posthumus, Carolyn Popp as The Queen, McKey Carpenter as Guiderius, Andy Markert as Cloton, Anton Rayn as Philario, Jonathan Eric Foster as Pisanio, Sajeev Pillai as Cornelius, David Sitler as Belarius and Adina Bloom as Aviragus. The ensemble includes Haley Simmons, Skylar Gallun, Mary Linehan, Louisa Ward, Lexie Tompkins, Angie Fontain and Michaela. Puppeteer is Anton Rayn. Costumes are designed by Lisa Renee Jordan. Set design is by Jennifer Varbalow.
Director Hamilton Clancy is founder and producing Artistic Director of The Drilling Company. He directed “Merry Wives of Windsor” and “Coriolanus” in the parking lot last summer, “Julius Caesar” in 2010 and “Hamlet” in 2011. He also staged The Drilling Company’s much-acclaimed production of “Reservoir,” a modern adaptation of “Woyzeck” by Eric Henry Sanders, in 2010-2011at in The Drilling Company’s intimate theater at 236 West 78th Street. He is also an actor.
Shakespeare in the Parking Lot continues this summer August 1-17 with “Richard III,” directed by Hamilton Clancy, to commemorate the bones of King Richard III having been found beneath an English parking lot.
ABOUT SHAKESPEARE IN THE PARKING LOT
In over 20 years, there have been over 50 productions of Shakespeare’s plays for over 40,000 patrons in the Municipal Parking Lot at Ludlow and Broome Street on Manhattan’s Lower East Side.
The plays are presented in a working parking lot, so you can drive there but you should expect to pay the Muni-meter.
Why a parking lot? The Drilling Company’s founding artistic director Hamilton Clancy writes, “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.”
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.
Seats are available on a first come first serve 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 productions are typically intrepid, bare-boned and often gloriously ingenious adaptations of the classics. For example, in 2010, Hamilton Clancy staged “Julius Caesar” as a battle for control of an urban school system, with women playing Brutus and Cassius. In 2011, director Kathy Curtiss set “The Comedy of Errors” in a pizzeria in Little Italy.
The company stresses that the Parking Lot has now become a versatile theater where it presents its work, not unlike the Globe was to Shakespeare. Hamilton Clancy writes, “We believe the Parking Lot can be a container for a range of directorial interpretations and perspectives. We’re in the Parking Lot because it’s a great place to present the play, not as a site specific interpretation.”
This summer’s offerings are supported by the Department for Cultural Affairs and the the New York State Council on the Arts, Con Edison, and the Department of Transportation.
All performances will be staged in the Municipal Parking Lot at the corner of Ludlow and Broome Streets, Manhattan. (Subways: F to Delancey Street, walk one block south.) Performances are FREE and play Thursdays – Saturdays at 8:00 PM. For more info call 212-873-9050 or visit www.shakespeareintheparkinglot.com.