Shakespeare in the Parking Lot with ‘As You Like It’ in Steampunk-style

The Drilling Company’s Shakespeare in the Parking Lot ( has found a new home in the Parking Lot behind The Clemente Soto Velez Cultural and Educational Center (CSV), 114 Norfolk Street between Delancey and Rivington Streets.

The troupe will kick off the third decade of Shakespeare in the Parking Lot there July 9 to 26 with “As You Like It,” directed by Artistic Director Hamilton Clancy. The production will offer delightful lessons of love, starting off in a stately English Victorian world and moving into a Steampunk paradise when the scene shifts from a conventional Duchy to the mythical Forest of Arden.

In 2014, having lost its space in the municipal parking lot at Ludlow and Broome Streets, The Drilling Company sought a new location in the Lower East Side to continue the 20 year tradition of Shakespeare in the Parking Lot. After a nine-month search, this new location adjacent to CSV was arranged. Like the previous location, it is a working parking lot and it will have the urban, gritty atmosphere that made these productions memorable through the years.

Cast ensemble
Foreground: Eric Paterniani, Rachel Colllins, Alessandro Colla, Aly Talley. Behind: Aaron Scott, Andrew Dahreddine, Jane Bradley, Scott Baker, Emanuel Elpenord. Photo by Jonathan Slaff.

The concept of free Shakespeare in a parking lot, presented with a “poor theater” aesthetic, is now widely imitated around the US and around the world, with productions as far away as New Zealand. The new location is just three blocks from the municipal parking lot where the gritty annual Free Shakespeare festival originated in 1995.

“As You Like It” is a perennial favorite among Shakespeare’s comedies. Its plot follows the banishment of Duke Senior, Orlando, Rosalind (who goes about in male drag to beguile the gallant Orlando), Celia, Oliver and Touchtstone to the Forest of Arden. In this refuge for those driven out of society, everybody gets lessons in love. The action is fierce in the first half: murders are attempted, ribs are cracked in wrestling matches, a brother is disowned, a niece is exiled and loyalties are sorely tested.

For those who end up in the Forest of Arden during the second half, the perils are chiefly falling in love or being outwitted by wit. “As You Like It” introduces some of Shakespeare’s most memorable characters, notably the sharp-tongued, ever-jaded Jacques. Each major character represents a quality of love: familial love is personified by Rosalind and Celia, brotherly love by the Dukes, Orlando and Oliver, the blind love of devotion by Silvius, the love of service by Adam and Corin, the love of self by Jacques and the love of lust by Touchstone.

In keeping with the play’s magical spirit, director Hamilton Clancy is transporting this “As You Like It” into a timeless period with costumes that hint of the classical Victorian era. They become Steampunk when the scene shifts to the Forest of Arden. The idea is to address the core elements of romance and love by savoring the romantic magic of retreating from modern culture to an imaginary place where lovers can be free. “There is freedom in history, in a bygone era” says director Hamilton Clancy.

The production will be designed by Leontine Greenberg. There wll be original music composed by Natalie Smith and sound design by Abby Grossman. The actors are Jane Bradley as Rosalind, Ahmed Koudous as Orlando, Elaine Ivy Harris as Celia, Emanuel Elpenord as Oliver, Alessandro Colla as Touchstone, Hayley Simmonds as Audrey, Aaron Scott as Duke Senior/Fredrick, Sott Baker as Jacques, Andrew Dahreddine as Corin/Charles the Boxer, Rachel Collins as Phoebe, Brandon Reilley as Silvius, Bill Green as Adam, and Sara Glancy and Aly Talley as Company Players.

In setting the play in Victorian England, it seemed appropriate to perform it in British accents. This will be the company’s first production in such a dialect, although its performing season started out in dialects, to be sure. Last month, for Bryant Park Shakespeare, The Drilling Company performed “Two Gentlemen of Verona” in Noo Yawk accents, since the play was transported to Little Italy.

The choice of “As You Like It” to open the new Shakespeare in the Parking Lot location was partly sentimental. When The Drilling Company took over as sole producer of Shakespeare in the municipal parking lot on Ludlow and Broome Streets in 2006, “As You Like It” was in the first season it presented there.

The next production of Shakespeare in the Parking Lot will be “Macbeth,” directed by Jesse Ontiveros, July 30 to August 15, also in the new location.

This year, The Drilling Company is setting some kind of New York record by performing five free Shakespeare productions in five months. (Ironically, a Shakespeare play has five acts.) For Shakespeare in the Parking Lot, it is presenting “As You Like It” July 9 to 26 and “Macbeth” July 30 to August 15. For Bryant Park Shakespeare, it has perfomed “Two Gentlemen of Verona” May 15 to 31 and will perform “Romeo and Juliet,” directed by Dave Marantz, July 17 to August 2 and “The Taming of the Shrew,” directed by Alessandro Colla, September 4 to 20.

The Drilling Company will present Shakespeare’s “As You Like It” from July 9 to 26, 2015 in the Parking Lot behind The Clemente Soto Velez Cultural and Educational Center (CSV), 114 Norfolk Street (E. side of Norfolk St. between Delancey and Rivington). Performances are Thursdays through Saturdays at 8:00 PM. Admission is Free. You can travel there by subway using the F to Delancey Street and M to Essex Street. For more information call 212-873-9050 or visit the company’s website,

Jonathan Slaff writes on cultural events from the brainy, the edgy and the good. He helps us keep ahead of the curve in the world of the arts and culture.