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Juliet (Annie Considine) speaks from her balcony.
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Lori Gazzillo, director of the Berkshire Bank Foundation.
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Teen-Led 'Romeo & Juliet' Comes to Pittsfield Common This Summer

By Morgan MiddlebrookPittsfield Correspondent
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Enrico Spada and city officials unveil this year's Pittsfield Shakespeare in the Park production — 'Romeo and Juliet.'

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The announcement was about the Bard — but Romeo stole the show.

"But, soft! What light through yonder window breaks! It is the east, and Juliet is the sun!" declared David Joseph, as he ran through the Lichtenstein Center for the Arts, interrupting Lori Gazzillo, director of the Berkshire Bank Foundation.  

As Gazzillo quickly found her way out of the spotlight, Joseph admired the beautiful Juliet, played by Annie Considine, as she appeared from behind the press conference podium.

Through the staging of the famous balcony scene on Tuesday morning, it was announced that Pittsfield Shakespeare in the Park, led by founder and artistic director Enrico Spada, will continue its collaboration with the Office of Cultural Development, directed by Jen Glockner, for a second year to present "Romeo and Juliet."

The free outdoor play will premiere on July's Third Thursday, July 16, at the First Street Common's brand-new pavilion.  

After some 1,500 spectators enjoyed the two-week run of "A Midsummer Night's Dream" last July in Springside Park, "Romeo and Juliet" will extend for 12 performances over three weekends, from July 16 to Aug. 2 at the Common. The play will feature 12 teenage student actors since, Spada emphasized, Shakespeare intended the title characters to be young teens. The other seven members of the cast will be rounded out by adults.  

Mayor Daniel Bianchi spoke about how the free theater made him realize that Shakespeare is still relevant and enjoyable. After last year's launch, he received an enormous amount of positive feedback about Pittsfield Shakespeare in the Park.  

"I'm really excited to think that we're going to have Pittsfield Shakespeare in the Park right in our premiere park, the Common, in the new performance platform ... the gazebo," the mayor said. "It is going to be so much fun."

Accessibility to the community was a strong theme during Spada's remarks. He is planning outreach to local schools to continue to involve more of the community and said he was "so pleased" that last year's audience members included many families with children who came multiple times over the course of the eight performances.   

"I think it's a great opportunity for people who might be a little bit nervous about Shakespeare, a little unfamiliar, to have the opportunity to go every night for a weekend or two weekends, and let it wash over them and become more familiar with the play, I think is really exciting," he said.

Spada said the Common will give the play more "texture" with a much more urban setting. Romeo and Juliet's characters are teenagers and Spada points to the dome of Pittsfield High School as making the play feel in the present.

"It is a much wider and flatter space," he said of the newly renovated park and pavilion. "It's more embedded in Pittsfield."

Further, the Common can accommodate a larger audience.

"We can get a lot more people than we could at Springside Park," Spada said.

He recognized the importance of sponsorship and support, including The Berkshire Bank Foundation, the Feigenbaum Foundation, Greylock Federal Credit Union, the Lenox Cultural Council, QualPrint, and the Office of Cultural Development.  More sponsors are welcome to come on board; individuals can support PSP through its Indiegogo campaign, starting at donations of $25. PSP's goal is to reach $7,500 in the next 40 days to defray the costs of mounting the production.

In addition, PSP will be presenting "Pop-Up Shakespeare Readings" beginning on March 21. These free monthly staged readings of Shakespeare's plays will be presented in various venues, beginning at the Lichtenstein. Details and casting information will be announced at a later date.  

Auditions for "Romeo and Juliet" will be held for high school-age actors on Friday, Feb. 20, and Sunday, Feb. 22, at the Lichtenstein Center. For more information, visit www.pittsfieldshakespeare.org.


Tags: free theater,   outdoor performance,   Pittsfield Common,   public parks,   shakespeare,   

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