At this years Capital Classics’ Greater Hartford Shakespeare Festival, Love’s Labour’s Lost, a Shakespearean classic edited by David Watson, is being performed outdoors at the University of Saint Joseph in West Hartford through July 30.
By Jackie Palermo and Gillian Hixson
Capital Classics has been providing the Greater Hartford area fun, affordable, and friendly classical arts experiences since 1991, and this year’s Love’s Labour’s Lost is no exception.
David Watson, the director of this summer’s Shakespeare performance, told We-Ha.com that Capital Classics has performed Shakespearean theater in the same spot at the University of Saint Joseph for the past 25 years. He explained that the production is meant to be performed outside under the night sky for families and friends to enjoy picnics, socialization, and have a unique summer experience.
However, he assured that the performance is always prepared to move inside to the auditorium in the case of inclement weather. “We’ve got it down to a science,” Watson said. “But usually we get away with it outside.”
Though dark clouds threatened above on Thursday evening, families, the young and the old, and Shakespeare-lovers alike set up lawn chairs and blankets in front of the beautifully crafted and elegantly simple stage. People sipped drinks and ate food picnic-style, chatting as they awaited the start of the show.
This year’s particular choice of play is one not often done, Watson explained. Though each year Capital Classics puts on a Shakespearean play, Watson revealed that he said to himself, “Let’s do a comedy hardly anyone does.” In fact, Watson went as far to say that Love’s Labour’s Lost is “done the least of all of Shakespeare’s comedies.”
Yet, “the language is the most beautiful,” according to Watson. The play is most known for its “beautiful monologues,” “lots of conversation,” and “elevated language.”
“It’s not a very active play,” Watson told We-Ha.com before the show began.
Watson also explained the history behind the play, saying it was written and created during the plague years, around 1593 and 1594, for the court and was not originally open to the general public. This explains the elevated language and word-play, Watson pointed out.
This is Watson’s fourth time directing a Capital Classics production. Currently teaching at the Hartt School, Watson explained there are several students in the show, and for many this is their first Shakespearean performance.
“The actors are bringing tremendous light to the language,” Watson said. “It is perfectly wonderful.”
Nicole Qualls and Giovanni Taylor were two of the many people sitting on picnic blankets, laughing, and enjoying the night of classical comedy. Qualls told We-Ha.com how excited she was to find that she understood all the language of the play, even in its Old English peculiarity.
She explained how she had never been to a Shakespearean performance and found that when the actors put so much into their expression and ”emphasized their words, they make you really understand the meaning behind them.”
Another set of people enjoying the show were not new to the experience. In fact, Rorie Rueckert and Amy Ben-Kiki said that this might have been their 10th year at the Greater Hartford Shakespeare Festival. Rueckert added that the productions are always fantastic. “This is a gem! And it’s right down the road!”
Rueckert explained that the “quality of production is unbelievable … and for only fifteen dollars.”
“St. Joe’s is so welcoming, and the performances are always good,” Ben-Kiki added.
Capital Classic’s Greater Hartford Shakespeare Festival continues until July 30, with performances on Thursdays, Friday, Saturdays, and Sundays.
Marketing and Public Relations Director Herb Emanuelson encouraged all audience members to tell “anyone you meet on the street” to come to the next performance. Visit Capital Classics’ website for more information.
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