By Kate Day Sager
An evening of Richard, the Duke of Gloucester, wooing Lady Ann will be presented in a delightful performance under the stars when William Shakespeare’s “Richard III” is performed at 8 p.m. Aug. 10 at the downtown gazebo in Ellicottville.
The free performance, sponsored by the Ellicottville Chamber of Commerce and the Tri-County County Arts Council, will draw on the talents of the Shake on the Lake Shakespearean troupe of Silver Lake.
Brian McFadden, executive director of the Ellicottville Chamber, said the troupe has been bringing the “bard’s pieces to Western and Central New York since 2012.”
He said when Shake on the Lake performed “Romeo and Juliet” last year for the first time in front of the community at the gazebo it was well-received. McFadden said the acting group use cost-effective, green production practices and have been known to use refurbished and repurposed items in their productions.
“Shake on the Lake also helps sponsors find ways to make performances low-cost to offer a higher accessibility to quality performances,” he explained. “The organization’s goals are creating a fun, family-friendly, outdoor production of Shakespeare to high artistic standards.”
McFadden said the event is not intended to be a fundraiser, rather it is hoped to provide an evening of classic theater for the community.
“It’s one of those things we do in the community — we do live music in the gazebo every Thursday night in the summer for six weeks,” he added. “This (Shake on the Lake) is one thing that we added last year that we really liked. We got a great crowd last year.
“We’re very under-serviced in this community for this kind of thing,” he said of Shakespeare productions. “We get lots of music, lots of bands and arts and crafts, but we really don’t have this type of performance here.”
He said that can be attributed to the lack of an indoor venue in the community to accommodate such a performance.
“But outdoors at the gazebo is wonderful — especially when it’s dark out,” he continued. “Doing it in the evening is nice, too, because they down-light it on the grass so it’s really cool. Their version is a little bit irreverent — this isn’t the version you see in Carnegie Hall.
“This is really meant for the average person to enjoy Shakespeare,” he commented.
Tina Hastings, executive director of the arts council, said the agency is “again happy to co-sponsor” the event with the Ellicottville Chamber.
“These types of public art events are such a great opportunity for small communities to experience live performances and come together as a community to celebrate the vibrancy that art brings to our lives,” Hastings remarked. “I was able to attend last year’s presentation of ‘Romeo and Juliet’ and everyone loved it. Tri-County Arts is pleased to be a part of bringing the Shake on the Lake Theatre Company to Ellicottville this summer for what is sure to be another wonderful night.”
On a final bit of advice, McFadden asks visitors to bring blankets, chairs and picnic baskets to make the evening more comfortable and complete.
For more information on the event call the Ellicottville Chamber at 699-5046.