News Column

Shakespeare in Santa Fe revives after long hiatus

August 10, 2013

YellowBrix

Aug. 10--The long-lost Shakespeare in Santa Fe is up for a revival after a decade on hiatus.

The company that produced 15 years of professional performances is returning to offer a Shakespearean medley Aug. 16-18 at St. John's College.

"We're referring to it as the second coming," co-producer John Andrews deadpanned.

Shakespeare in Santa Fe started in Amelia White Park in 1987, then moved to St. John's and then to The Lensic Performing Arts Center before ending at the Armory for the Arts. It shut down due to financial issues in 2003, Andrews said.

During its heyday, it was known for hiring equity and even Broadway actors, as well as an outdoor festival atmosphere that included picnics and live music.

Much of the revived group is comprised of the old Shakespeare company veterans, Andrews said.

The cast is starting the comeback with snippets of some the Bard's most famous works, combined with music, he added.

"This is just a kind of feasibility festival," he said. "It's a weekend at St. John's."

Andrews worked for the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, D.C. When he moved to Santa Fe about five years ago, people often reminisced about the old theater group.

"People would tell us how much they enjoyed what happened at St. John's," he said, "and how much they'd like to see it revived."

Veteran Shakespeare in Santa Fe actor and artistic director Rachel Kelly bought the shuttered company's costumes, sets and props when it all collapsed. She is a co-producer of the revived group.

"I was hopeful" for a return, she said.

Even 10 years later, people still approach her, asking when the theater will return, she added.

It was "that feeling of sitting outdoors and hearing the birdsong and the diversity" of the audience," she said. "Those memories didn't die."

Today the group is more cautious, announcing no longterm plans beyond a single weekend.

Playwright Nagle Jackson stitched together the collection of largely comic scenes from "As You Like It," "A Midsummer Night's Dream," "King Lear," "Othello" and "The Taming of the Shrew."

"We thought we might have a quiz at the end" to see if the audience can identify the original plays, Andrews said with a laugh.

Jackson directed the original company for seven years and boasts a resume that includes Princeton University's McCarter Theatre, Broadway and the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. He began at the prestigious Oregon Shakespeare Festival.

Since the original Shakespeare in Santa Fe group dissolved, others have formed, including the Arden Shakespeare Festival and the Santa Fe Shakespeare Society.

"They are doing fully staged plays," Andrews said. "We don't want to do that, at least at the outset."

Kelly quoted Rosalind from "As You Like It":

"Can you have too much of a good thing?"

"We hope we'll at least break even," Andrews said. "But we don't expect to get rich on it."

If you go

WHAT: "All for Your Delight," a medley of scenes and songs from five Shakespeare classics. WHEN: Pre-show music at 6:30 p.m.; performances at 7:30 p.m. Aug. 16-18. A 6 p.m. buffet reception will precede Friday's opening night. WHERE: St. John's College, 1160 Camino Cruz Blanca. COST: $20/general; $12/ students. Opening night festivities $100. CONTACT: 988-1234 or visit www.ticketssantafe. org.

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(c)2013 the Albuquerque Journal (Albuquerque, N.M.)

Visit the Albuquerque Journal (Albuquerque, N.M.) at www.abqjournal.com

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