Shakespeare, Summer and You – Perfect Together

June 17, 2009

Laura Aden Packer, Program Director, Arts


I just received a postcard announcing the Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey‘s summer schedule, which features their production of The Tempest (see a recent article about the production in the Daily Record).

For me, summertime is inextricably linked to Shakespeare.

As a teenager, big trucks pulled up to my neighborhood playground one hot summer day and set up a stage in the middle of the basketball court. My friends and I learned that the New York Shakespeare Festival was touring a musical production of Two Gentlemen of Verona around to city parks and that for the next two nights, there would be a show right there, in our playground.

Well, what a show it turned out to be! Raul Julia and Clifton Davis were Proteus and Valentine, and that show spoke to me, and many of my friends, in a way we had never experienced before.

After that, we spent our summers at the Delacorte Theatre in Central Park, watching free Shakespeare in the park; throughout the rest of my school years and well into my professional life, I devoured Shakespeare plays and worked for theatres devoted to Shakespeare, including the exquisite, outdoor American Players Theatre, in Spring Green, Wisconsin, which is renowned as one of the country’s finest Shakespeare companies.


American Players Theatre (Spring Green, Wisconsin)

Although I no longer work for a Shakespeare-related organization, summer still means Shakespeare to me, and folks in New Jersey need look no further than the campuses of Drew University and the College of St. Elizabeth in Madison where the Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey, under Bonnie Monte’s inspired artistic leadership, presents brilliant productions of Shakespeare (and other classics), night after night, in the Kirby Theatre at Drew and under the stars (my favorite) at St. Elizabeth’s.


Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey (A Midsummer Night’s Dream) at St. Elizabeth’s

You won’t want to miss their production this summer of The Tempest, which opens on June 24th and will be presented in the beautiful outdoor Greek amphitheatre on the St. E’s campus. Pack a picnic and treat your family to the show. You can buy tickets here or call (973) 408-5600.

We want to know: what are your favorite Shakespeare experiences? Do you have favorite memories of Shakespeare in the summer too?