Actors' Shakespeare Project Hosts Winter Festival in Vacant Storefront
Somerville’s resident Shakespearean theater troupe has an unusual new venue and a new festival--and both debut this week.
No, it’s not London’s Globe Theatre. But Somerville’s own Shakespearean theater troupe, the Actors' Shakespeare Project, has been busy transforming its latest venue—the storefront at 255 Elm St. in Davis Square—into a one-of-a-kind theater space that they’ve lovingly dubbed The Storefront on Elm. And it’s almost ready for its big debut.
On Feb. 9, the troupe will open its Winter Festival in the space, staging three works in succession, including Shakespeare’s Cymbeline, followed by two original plays written by local artists.
Founded in 2004 and based out of the Center for Arts at the Armory, the Actors' Shakespeare Project has performed in many unconventional theater spaces ranging from warehouses to art galleries. The Winter Festival is no exception.
“We work in a lot of nontraditional spaces. The Storefront used to be the ‘Poor Little Rich Girl’ store. We’re working on transforming it into a performance space,” said Laura Sullivan, marketing director for the group.
The festival kicks off on Feb. 9 with Shakespeare’s Cymbeline, directed by Doug Lockwood and performed by Ken Baltin, Danny Bryck, De'Lon Grant, Brooke Hardman, Marya Lowry, Neil McGarry, and Risher Reddick. It’s classic Bard-style romance, trickery and suspense.
The festival then continues with another Shakespearean tradition: two original plays written by local artists.
“Back in Shakespeare’s day, he provided new theatrical works to be played for the audience, so we wanted to carry on the tradition of offering new plays,” explained Sullivan. “We thought, what better way to do so than with plays written by artists in our own backyard.”
The Hotel Nepenthe, by Actors Shakespeare Project company member John Kuntz (who also acts in the play), is appropriately set on a cold winter night. It focuses on the lives of 17 strangers that somehow have only one thing in common: The Hotel Nepenthe. It runs Feb. 23 to March 6. It’s directed by David R. Gammons and features Marianna Bassham, Daniel Berger-Jones, and Georgia Lyman.
Living in Exile, by company member John Lipsky, concludes the festival with performances March 9-20. An original war story, it is in part a retelling of the classic Iliad that draws parallels to modern wars. The troupe bills it as “a compelling war story, but more importantly a story of compassion and the human heart.” The cast includes Tamara Hickey and Robert Walsh, and Allyn Burrows directs.