Shakespeare in The Park(ing) Lot Presents ‘Hamlet’ in 20th Season

The Drilling Company will present “Hamlet” directed by Hamilton Clancy on 28th of July to August 13, 2011 as the final show of the 20th season of Shakespeare in the Park(ing) Lot, a summer New York institution performed free in a municipal parking lot at the corner of Ludlow and Broome Streets in Manhattan’s Lower East Side. In an unusual interpretation, the production is intended to illuminate the modern dysfunctional family unit.

Shakespeare in the Park(ing) Lot typically presents intrepid, bare-boned and often gloriously ingenious adaptations of the classics.”Hamlet” departs from The Drilling Company’s normally political edge. It’s a gaze into an impaired family from a contemporary perspective. Director Hamilton Clancy writes, “We began rehearsing the play with an understanding that so much is falling apart around us economically and politically.

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Alessandro Colla as Hamlet. Photo by Clarissa Marzan.

We discussed how the disillusionment of the left with Obama is mirrored in Hamlet’s disillusionment with his family situation. We saw Hamlet holding everything together. We discovered the Hamlet we were trying to reveal was a son trying to keep his family together in difficult times and failing at every turn because of the corruption within the the ties that bind.”

The cast includes Alessandro Colla as Hamlet, Amanda Dillard as Ophelia , McKey Carpenter as Laertes, Paul Guskin as Polonius, Karla Hendrick as Gertrude, David Sitler as Claudius, Bill Green as The Ghost, Jennifer Fouche as The Player Queen, Jed Q. Peterson as Guildenstern, Miguel Govea as Marcellus, Graciany Miranda as Horatio, Andrew Markert as Rosencrantz, Kate Garfield as Bernadine and James Butler as Osric. Production design is by Rebecca Lord-Seuratt.

Unlike the company’s preceding Shakespeare in the Park(ing) Lot presentation this season, “The Comedy of Errors” (July 7 to July 23), “Hamlet” will stick fairly faithfully to Shakespeare’s words. However, cuts have been made and scenes reordered to streamline the storytelling and to reduce the running time to two and a half hours.

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L: Alessandro Colla as Hamlet, R: McKey Carpenter as Laertes. Photo by Jonathan Slaff.

It is interesting to note that four members of the cast-Alessandro Colla, Karla Hendrick,McKey Carpenter and Amanda Dillard-appeared together last November and January in The Drilling Company’s much-acclaimed production of “Reservoir,” a modern adaptation of “Woyzeck” by Eric Henry Sanders, directed by Hamilton Clancy. Sanders’ play remade Buchner’s masterpiece into the tragic homecoming of a Mideastern War veteran-a lowly truck mechanic with PTSD. The unsettling, provocative new work, presented in The Drilling Company’s intimate theater at 236 West 78th Street, had an extended run and a return engagement.

Seats at Shakespeare in the Park(ing) Lot 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 chairs. 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 company stresses that the Park(ing) 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.”

The 2011 season of Shakespeare in the Park(ing) Lot will also include”Comedy of Errors” directed by Kathy Curtiss July 7 to July 23. That production will also feature a novel concept. It adapts Shakespeare’s comedy of mischance and mistaken identity to a modern pizzeria in Little Italy. The rivalry of the houses of Syracuse and Ephesus is updated to a struggle between two prominent Italian restaurant families.

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Marc Antony (Ivory Aquino) whips up the people after the death of Caesar. Photo by Jonathan Slaff.

The plays are presented in a working parking lot, so you can drive there but you should expect to pay the Muni-meter. Why in a 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. (Performances are Thursdays through Saturdays at 8:00 PM for both shows.)

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.

Over the 20 years of Shakespeare in the Park(ing) Lot, there have been over 50 productions of Shakespeare’s plays for over 40,000 patrons. 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.

The Drilling Company will present “Hamlet,” the closing show of the 20th season of Shakespeare in the Park(ing) Lot, July 28 to August 13 in the Municipal Parking Lot at the corner of Ludlow and Broome Streets, Manhattan. The location is one block south of the F train station at Delancey Street. All performances are FREE. Shows are Thursdays through Saturdays at 8:00 PM. For more audience info, visit or call 212-873-9050.