As associate artistic director of the Saratoga Shakespeare Company, David Girard is always looking for a few unique, eye-opening conventions that will enhance a theater experience.
Last year, for example, in “Romeo and Juliet,” Juliet’s bed was actually placed in the middle of the audience. This year, who knows what surprises will be in store when free outdoor summer theater comes again to Congress Park in Saratoga Springs with a production of “A Midsummer Night’s Comedy,” opening July 18. Wesley Broulik, a New York City based-actor, is directing the production.
“I know Wesley Broulik is bringing a bold, physical approach to his production,” said Girard, “particularly with adapting an aesthetic that we’ve been developing over the last several seasons of making the work as interactive as possible. We want to really bring it to the audience.”
Broulik, has played Don Adriano de Armado in Saratoga Shakespeare’s 2015 production of “Love’s Labour Lost,” spends much of the year teaching at the Johnny Carson School of Theatre & Film in Lincoln, Nebraska.
“A Midsummer Night’s Dream” will run through Saturday, July 29, at the Alfred Z. Solomon Stage in Congress Park. “The Winter’s Tale,” meanwhile, directed by Philadelphia-based Liz Carlson-Guerin, will be mounted on the Solomon Stage from Tuesday, Aug. 1, through Saturday, Aug. 5.
A number of the Capital Region’s top professional actors, including Brenny Rabine, John Romeo and Tim Dugan, will be joined by other actors from around the Northeast.
“We have a lot of new folks and just the right amount of local stalwarts,” said Girard. “It’s a really sexy, talented, funny group, and I’m very excited about this cast. There are some terrific folks we’re bringing in this summer.”
Girard is anxiously awaiting the collaboration of Carlson-Guerin and Skidmore College’s Garett E. Wilson, who will be doing the stage design.
“Garett is incredibly talented, and bringing him in to follow through on Wes’ and Liz Carlson-Guerin’s vision is really a boon for our company,” said Girard. “As for Liz, she’s also a very ‘in space’ kind of director, very well-versed in physical and devised performance. People are still talking about her production of ‘Twelfth Night’ for Curlo Theatre Company in Philadelphia. She’s incredible in creating wonderfully theatrical moments with just actors in space.”
As always, Saratoga Shakespeare productions are free to the public. Performances begin at 6 p.m. each day Tuesday through Saturday and 3 p.m. on Sunday.
“There are few options for free theater, so this is very valuable to us,” said Girard. “Shakespeare is our greatest dramatist, our greatest poet and arguably the greatest prose writer in the history of the English language. We understand how important that tradition is, and I think it’s important that we continue to present Shakespeare in ways that are relevant to our audience.
“This season is about magic,” continued Girard, “and not just the magic inherent in these plays, but also the magic of the language, the magic of seasons, the magic of Saratoga.”
Saratoga Shakespeare was founded in December of 1999 by William Finlay and Michaela Reilly Wilson, and held its first production, "Twelfth Night," during the summer of 2000 in Congress Park.
The group also offers the Saratoga Shakespeare Young Theatre Professional Company, which will mount its community outreach production of "Twelfth Night" during the first week of August in Congress Park and at Skidmore's Suzanne Corbet Thomas Amphitheater. Members of this troupe, all college-aged aspiring actors, will also perform with the professional cast in "A Midsummer Night's Dream."
Saratoga Shakespeare Company
WHAT: 'A Midsummer Night's Dream,' July 18-29 and 'The Winter's Tale," Aug. 1-5
SHOWTIMES: 6 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, 3 p.m. Sunday
HOW MUCH: Free
MORE INFO: www.saratogashakespeare.com