Press release, photo submitted:
Shake on the Lake, Wyoming County’s Professional Shakespeare Festival celebrates its sixth season by producing its first tragedy, "Romeo & Juliet." This year’s tour is the largest to date and takes the company to eight counties – Wyoming, Livingston, Genesee, Orleans, Erie, Niagara, Monroe and Cattaraugus.
Josh Rice, co-founder and producing artistic director of Shake on the Lake, organized the company in 2012 to fulfill a life’s dream to bring professional theater to his hometown of Silver Lake. Since then, this rural-based company has grown from three professional theater artists to nearly a dozen and from four live shows to 16 during this year’s "Romeo & Juliet: tour.
“After producing comedies for the first five seasons, this year we are doing our first tragedy,” Rice said. “ 'Romeo & Juliet' is Shakespeare’s best-known play and is actually quite funny for the first three acts. Then, things get really interesting. We are excited to show people how we can put a mirror up to these 400-year-old plays and reflect back to audiences things that are still as relevant now, in 2017.”
Chad Bradford, associate artistic director, and founding company member is directing this year’s performance. He has helped shape the creative and collaborative process that Shake on the Lake is known for in their fast, physical, and fun style of adapting Shakespeare.
“When wrestling with a play as beautiful, iconic and famous as 'Romeo & Juliet,' one is tempted to take the bits and pieces of their favorite productions and cram them into a single performance,” Bradford said. “However, with the collaborative, ensemble-based working model that we have established here at Shake on the Lake, I’m learning things about the play that I never knew before.”
Both men are both alumni of the National Arts Strategies Creative Community Fellowship program, which specializes in creative placemaking through the arts.
Rice’s program, the Mnemonic Theatre Project (MTP), develops theater programs for seniors living with Alzheimer’s and dementia. After four years of successful programs in Westchester County, he is launching the inaugural MTP workshops in Wyoming County in conjunction with the Office of the Aging, and Alzheimer’s Caregiver Partnership of WNY.
Bradford’s project, Voices UnCaged, brings theater to inmates in New York and Arkansas. For the second year, he will bring this program to Groveland Correctional Facility in Livingston County. The one-week theater outreach program, with teaching artists from Shake on the Lake, will culminate in an original performance by the students for an audience of their fellow inmates and prison administrators.
The company returned for its residency in Silver Lake in mid-July. In addition to performing, the company has a full schedule of K-12 educational programming (Perry, Lyndonville, Belmont and Niagara Falls), community outreach, and performances throughout Western New York.
“We’re thrilled that Shake on the Lake is welcomed in so many communities throughout Western New York,” said Managing Director Pilar McKay. “This year we also joined the Theatre Alliance of Buffalo to strengthen our ties to the regional theater community and to represent professional theatre in rural areas.”
Performances in Wyoming County are scheduled as follows:
• Attica: July 31 at the Attica Historical Society, Main Street. Performance is free;
• Arcade: Aug. 1 at the Village of Arcade Park (sledding hill), Main Street, rain location at the Hope Lutheran Church, Main Street. Performance is free; and
• Silver Lake: Aug. 3, 4 and 5 at the Public Beach, with a rain location at Epworth Hall, Silver Lake. Cost is $10 per person or $35 for five people.
All performances begin at 6:30 p.m.
Shake on the Lake partners with organizations in many of the tour venues including Lyndonville Area Foundation, Lyndonville; Niagara Falls Air Force Base, Niagara Falls; Springville Center for the Arts, Springville; Ellicottville Chamber of Commerce, Ellicottville; Western Monroe Historical Society, Brockport; GO ART!, Batavia; Orleans County Tourism, Point Breeze; Arts Council for Wyoming County (Wyoming County shows), Perry; Wyoming County Tourism (Wyoming County shows), Warsaw; and Dansville Rotary, Dansville.
Shake on the Lake is a live theater festival and is the first live outdoor theater festival in Wyoming County. The mission of the festival is to entertain, engage and enrich those in the community by creating professional theater productions in a natural, outdoor setting.
This program is supported by the NYSCA-A.R.T./New York Creative Opportunity Fund (a statewide Theatre Regrant Program), the Lyndonville Area Foundation, the Conable Family Foundation, and the Austin Community Foundation.
For more information on Shake on the Lake, including updates on events and fundraising, volunteer, and sponsorship opportunities visit www.shakeonthelake.org or email firstname.lastname@example.org.