HVSF will expand its commitment to engaging Hudson Valley communities in 2018, beginning with a series of theater-making workshops in April, culminating with HVSF’s first-ever mainstage commission, and led by our new Director of Community Engagement.
Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival has announced a permanent programming initiative focused on community engagement within the Hudson Valley known as FULL CIRCLE. Inspired by the success of 2016’s citizen-driven production of OUR TOWN, and energized by similar initiatives at other national theaters, such as The Public Theater’s PublicWorks program, HVSF established FULL CIRCLE to build and sustain community through radically participatory art-making, featuring workshops, community gatherings, and performance opportunities. The program’s creation signals the Festival’s increased commitment to making theater by, with, and for its Hudson Valley neighbors, led by HVSF’s new Director of Community Engagement/Associate Producer, Elizabeth Audley.
“We believe that the creative impulse belongs to everyone,” said Audley, a 20-year veteran of theater and community organizing, and a Beacon resident. “Making art together makes communities stronger and more resilient, and we hope to broaden and deepen the ways that local Hudson Valley residents can connect with the arts and with one another. We’re so excited to embrace the vibrancy, diversity, and creativity of our community – up, down, and along both sides of the river.”
To formally launch FULL CIRCLE in 2018, HVSF invested in its first-ever mainstage commission: a world premiere adaptation of Washington Irving’s Rip Van Winkle titled RIP VAN WINKLE; OR, CUT THE OLD MOON INTO STARS, by acclaimed writer/director Seth Bockley (Long Wharf Theatre’s February House). Combining classic Hudson Valley/Catskills lore – including content from two additional Irving texts – with other tall tales of the region, RIP VAN WINKLE is an old story being told in a new way: by including the voices of today’s Hudson Valley residents. This joyful, hilarious, music-filled celebration of the region will feature a cast of over 40 citizen actors and non-actors alongside four professional cast members, with many other avenues for participation by community musicians, dancers, and performers of all types, plus visual artists, textile artists, and anyone looking to join their neighbors in art-making.
Area residents can participate in the creation of RIP VAN WINKLE by attending a series of free storytelling and design workshops hosted in six Hudson Valley towns throughout the month of April. Auditions will be held on April 28th and 29th, and rehearsals for the production will be held locally in July and August. Four free performances will take place over Labor Day weekend, with three presented at HVSF’s open-air Theater Tent at Boscobel House and Gardens and one at an off-site location to be announced. Over 2,000 audience members will see their friends and neighbors on stage. To be eligible to audition for RIP VAN WINKLE, participants must first attend at least one of the following pre-audition workshops:
What’s your story? RIP VAN WINKLE is an old tale, but we want to tell it in a new way – with the voices of today’s Hudson Valley. We need you! Bring your tall tales, your stories of love, loss, change, and coming home again, and we’ll turn them into theater together. Led by RIP VAN WINKLE writer/director Seth Bockley, this workshop is for all ages and all backgrounds! No experience necessary, no need to RSVP. Just come ready to play and move.
- Wednesday, April 4, 7:00pm – 9:00pm, Safe Harbors of the Hudson, Newburgh, NY
- Thursday, April 5, 7:00pm – 9:00pm, Desmond Fish Library, Garrison, NY
- Friday, April 6, 7:00pm – 10:00pm, The Old VFW Hall, Cold Spring, NY
- Friday, April 13, 7:00pm – 10:00pm, Beacon Recreation Center, Beacon, NY
- Saturday, April 14, 1:00pm – 4:00pm, Peekskill Youth Bureau, Peekskill, NY
- Sunday, April 15, 1:00pm – 4:00pm, Washington Irving’s Sunnyside, Tarrytown, NY
“Designing Stories” Workshops
How can objects and spaces help tell a story? Participants will work with HVSF’s 2018 Scenic Consultant, Sandra Goldmark, to explore this questions through a fun, hands-on, imaginative exercise that translates a story from page to stage. This workshop is for all ages and backgrounds. No experience necessary, no need to RSVP.
- Sunday, April 8, 5:00pm – 8:00pm, Garrison Art Center, Garrison, NY
- Wednesday, April 11, 7:00pm – 9:00pm, Safe Harbors of the Hudson, Newburgh, NY
Reflecting on the tidal wave of support for HVSF’s 2016 OUR TOWN workshops, one participant noted, “people need to come together in a sectarian way in this country. We don’t farm together; we don’t make music together… the invitation to participate in OUR TOWN has uncorked something big.”
Artistic Director Davis McCallum shares that sentiment: “When we produced OUR TOWN in this community-based way in 2016, the experience was transformational for many of those who took part in it, and electrifying for audiences, but it was also revelatory for our theater company. The launch of FULL CIRCLE signifies our ongoing commitment to engaging our community in a genuine conversation, and to making space and time for people to connect in meaningful ways with each other. When you come down to it, this is of course what making theater is all about. We’re deeply grateful for all the support and interest we’ve already received from our neighbors and community partners, and look forward to what we will discover together.”
Running in parallel with RIP VAN WINKLE, 2018 FULL CIRCLE programming will also include summer playwriting workshops at local libraries (June 9 – 10, June 16 – 17) and the third-annual HVSF2 BAKEOFF, a three-day festival of new short plays written by citizen playwrights and read by professional actors at the Philipstown Depot Theatre (August 3 – 5). Workshop and play submission details will be announced in the coming months. Plans for future FULL CIRCLE programming are already in the works. To learn more about FULL CIRCLE, HVSF’s 2018 Season, and other programming, visit hvshakespeare.org.