This month, audiences have the extraordinary opportunity to see Shakespeare's murderous play, Richard III. Chesapeake Shakespeare Company, Maryland's premier professional classics stage company, will present the bloody tragedy outdoors among the stone ruins of the PFI Historic Park.
This Movable Shakespeare production allows the audience to follow the actors throughout the grounds of the ruined antebellum boarding school as they watch the outrageous Richard manipulate, marry, and murder his way to take the crown of England and then battle to keep it. CSC Resident Actor Vince Eisenson is cast as Richard.
One of Shakespeare’s greatest hits, the conclusion of his Wars of the Roses histories, this entertaining, horrifying, energetic play is as popular now as it was 400 years ago. Chesapeake Shakespeare’s production will transport the setting from medieval England to World War I. Staying true to the original Shakespeare text, the show incorporates the historic ruins of the Patapsco Female Institute, which was used during the Great War as a hospital for wounded World War I soldiers.
“I love to be able to connect the text with the physical space in which we work both metaphorically and literally,” explains Chesapeake Shakespeare Company’s Founding Artistic Director Ian Gallanar and director of Richard III. “I strive to find connections between the PFI space and the plays themselves.”
Gallanar plans to take Richard III, which is set among powerful warring families in Europe, and place it in an environment which is similar, but more familiar to contemporary audiences. Chesapeake Shakespeare Company will adapt the PFI grounds into a World War I battlefield complete with barbed wire, trench warfare, the sound of explosions, and chilling prisons. “It should be an exciting theatrical experience, especially fit for the Halloween season,” says Gallanar.
Movable Shakespeare has become one of Chesapeake Shakespeare Company's signature production styles and previous productions have often sold out. Past audiences have been enthralled by the opportunity to follow the actors from place to place, one moment joining a crowd in front of an enormous staircase, and then peeking through a window as a private scene unfolds, and then moving to gather around a field for a bloody battle. While there are opportunities to sit, much of the time the audience will be mobile, so patrons are encouraged to wear comfortable walking shoes and dress in layers appropriate to the weather. Movable Shakespeare productions have a limited audience size, so advance ticket purchases are strongly encouraged.