Kate Hamill’s Top 7 ‘Musts’ for an Ideal Mr. Darcy

When considering Jane Austen’s aloof, hard-headed Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy, which devilishly handsome leading man comes to mind? If you’re like anyone with access to BBC or A&E in the mid-’90s, Colin Firth may be your go-to embodiment of this unlikely romantic hero, having appeared in 1995’s made-for-television Pride & Prejudice directed by Simon Langton.

“Women being attracted to [Mr. Darcy] took me by surprise,” Firth recently told The Daily Mail. “When I took on the role it seemed to me that he was imperious and stiff and forbidding, and I didn’t know what there was to play apart from him scowling all the time. I thought it would be quite fun and liberating to play someone who was completely and utterly dislikeable, unsympathetic, judgmental and snobbish.”

Darcy may find a foe in Firth, but a friend in playwright Kate Hamill. Hamill’s playful adaptation of PRIDE AND PREJUDICE makes its debut under the HVSF Theater Tent this summer, and not without the weirdo women (and men) who’ve become signature players in a Hamill adaptation.

“I’m so disinterested in beautiful, perfect people,” beamed Hamill. “Lizzy Bennet’s a total weirdo and should be treated as such. She and Darcy are both odd ducks… odd ducks that swim together.”

So how will Hamill’s Odd Duck Darcy shape up this summer? Here are her top seven must-haves in an ideal leading man:

  1. Righteous: “He tries to do the right thing all the time”
  2. Smart: “He’s capable of being quite nerdy.”
  3. Stubborn: “That’s a big one!”
  4. Principled: “He has to be someone with a lot of integrity.”
  5. Funny: “Intentionally and unintentionally, for sure.”
  6. Magnetic: “Someone you feel a deep connection with.”
  7. But, above all: “HUMAN! There’s just no other way to put it.”

PRIDE AND PREJUDICE is in previews June 10 – June 23, 2017 and runs June 24 – September 4, 2017. Are you between the ages of 16 and 35? Consider joining our Revelers or Teen Revelers program for exclusive discounts, events, and more.

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2016: Your Top Ten Favorite Moments

Kurt Rhoads in drag. Contemporary context for a ‘problem play.’ Costume snafus. Unruly weather and a little magic. We take a quick look back at some of your favorite moments from the 2016 Summer Season…

1. Ewan, New Audience Member: Curiosity & Cadences
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LeRoy McClain as Claudio, Annie Purcell as Isabella in MEASURE FOR MEASURE

“We attended and were swept away by Measure for Measure. Sure, we had to listen carefully to the language, but that kept me on the edge of my seat. The phenomenon of the language, with its cadences, inflections, stresses, and nuances, drew me right in – and although I didn’t understand everything because of my unfamiliarity with the mother tongue – I was drawn toward an understanding of what was happening before me. What a curious feeling.”

2. Laura, HVSF’s Company Manager: AS YOU LIKE IT’s First Preview
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Mark Bedard as Touchstone, Nance Williamson as Audrey in AS YOU LIKE IT

“The truly magical first preview of As You Like It (and first preview of the whole summer!), when somehow – and very unexpectedly – Nance-as-Audrey’s red velvet glove went flying and Mark-as-Touchstone’s hand shot out and caught it mid-air. The shock and laughter of the audience and especially the actors was so genuine and true. It was so special – like magic was just breathed into the tent on that first night.”

3. Stephen, Audience Member: A Hyper-Local Work of Art
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Jim Cairl, Joseph Merriam, Timothy Harbolic in OUR TOWN

“I can’t remember a work of art that has stayed with me, and moved me, in a thoroughly modern sense, to wake up to the precious life that is all around me every day. It sounds like a cliché, but in the hands of that dramatist, and that production, the call to wake up and live in the moment could not have been more beautifully conveyed.”

4. Anne, Audience Member & HVSF Supporter: Literally Everything.
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The Sun Sets before OUR TOWN, Photo by Anne

“Sunset before Our Town! Rosalind in As You Like It! Everything in So Please You! Lucio in Measure For Measure! Boscobel every time! The conservatory company! But the very very best: the Our Town Bake-Off playwriting workshop and HVSF2 reading!”

5. Elena, Audience Member: “The Seven Stages of Man”
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Maria-Christina Oliveras as Jacques in AS YOU LIKE IT

“I saw As You Like It with a friend and our sons. It was delightful — a very special evening. As we often find, the actors interactions with the audience are such an enhancement to the experience. We always buy front row so we feel right in the action, and this evening exceeded our hopes. The nuance, energy, expressiveness, creativity…it was a most memorable night. Our ‘schoolboys’, who were given a nod during the famous soliloquy, are sure to never forget it. The play came to life and was completely accessible.”

6. Nora, HVSF’s Associate Director of Education: A Hilarious Snafu
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Conservatory Company Members Plead for “The Play” in SO PLEASE YOU

“During the So Please You dress rehearsal, the moment came when the book was supposed to fall from the sky but the rig wasn’t working and it wouldn’t fall. In the spirit of the production, the actors accepted the challenge and spiraled into a couple minutes of complete hilarity while crying, begging, pleading and praying that the book would fall. And once it did…the show went on!”

7. Emma, HVSF’s Director of Marketing & Communications: The Traveling Box Office
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An OUR TOWN Traveling Box Office Ticket Voucher

“I loved being on the road with the Our Town Traveling Box Office at the end of August. It was such a pleasure meeting new audience members on their home turf and learning about what this hyper-local production meant to them. Plus, any day spent bouncing around the Hudson Valley is a good day in my book!”

8. Kate, HVSF’s Managing Director: Conjuring Gale-Force Winds
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“Enter Macduff” During Our All-Female MACBETH

“My favorite moment was the first preview of Macbeth, which was a wildly windy and eerie night with just the craziest gusts and cold temps. And the wind continued to blow at just the right moment. When the three women said in unison “enter Macduff” The gale made the whole tent shudder and it felt like our three witches were truly conjuring something magical.”

9. Kim, Audience Member: Independence Day on the River
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Independence Day Fireworks Over AS YOU LIKE IT

“Seeing the July 4th fireworks at West Point during As You Like It‘s intermission!”

10. Regina, HVSF’s Business Manager: Painting Cold Spring Red
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Zachary Fine as MEASURE FOR MEASURE’s Lucio

“My favorite moment of the season was when Kurt Rhoads, Zack Fine and Sean McNall came bursting into the office in full costume for Measure for Measure on their way to a video shoot. It is unforgettable! Kurt’s dramatic sashay in leggings and high heels was particularly hilarious! They all caused a stir on Main Street here in Cold Spring that day.”

 

 

HVSF Welcomes Drama Desk and Drama League Award Nominee Julia Coffey!

ActingCo_2016_CoffeyCoffey will take over the roles of Rosalind in AS YOU LIKE IT and Mariana/Mistress Overdone in MEASURE FOR MEASURE.

Artistic Director Davis McCallum has announced that Drama League and Drama Desk Award nominee Julia Coffey will join the company this week, first appearing in AS YOU LIKE IT on Sunday, July 31.

Coffey was nominated for a Drama Desk Award for her performance as Mrs. Janus in Mint Theater Company’s production of London Wall, directed by McCallum. She received a Drama League nomination for her performance of Mrs. Holroyd in The Widowing of Mrs. Holroyd, also at the Mint.

Though this will be Coffey’s debut at HVSF, she is no stranger to the character of Rosalind! This will be her third production of AS YOU LIKE IT following those at Santa Cruz Shakespeare, and Baltimore’s Center Stage. Of her performance in Santa Cruz, the San Francisco Chronicle wrote, “Julia Coffey is an ever-more delightful Rosalind, infectiously confused, then irresistibly slipping more deeply in love. Her banter with Celia sets the play’s tone, and her cross-dressed wooing of Orlando leavens affecting romance with sharp comic second thoughts.” Among her other New York credits are The Trip To Bountiful at Signature Theater and Perfect Arrangements at Primary Stages. Most recently, Coffey appeared as Hedda in Studio Theatre’s production of Hedda Gabler. Other reginal credits include: Arcadia (Lady Croom) at A.C.T., Tales from Hollywood (Helen) at the Guthrie Theater, The Merchant of Venice (Portia) at Shakespeare Theatre, Importance of Being Earnest (Gwendolyn) at PlayMakers Rep, Romeo and Juliet (Juliet) at Chicago Shakespeare, and Macbeth (Lady Macbeth) at A Noise Within.

Jessica Love, currently playing Rosalind in AS YOU LIKE IT and Mariana and Mistress Overdone in MEASURE FOR MEASURE, will depart from HVSF’s acting company on August 1 to take up a role in the world premiere of Aubergine by Julio Cho at Playwrights Horizons.

Of the transition, McCallum says, “Julia is one of the most gifted actors I know, and I loved working with her on London Wall, so her name immediately came to mind when this vacancy became known. We look forward to welcoming Julia to the HVSF family, and can’t wait to share her work with our audiences at the Tent. It was a pleasure having Jessica Love with us this season, and we wish her well at Playwrights Horizons.”

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AS YOU LIKE IT and MEASURE FOR MEASURE run in repertory with MACBETH through August 28, 2016.

Giddy and Exhausted and Grateful and Shocked: An Interview with Understudy Kimberly Chatterjee

ActingCo_201615It’s not unusual for an HVSF understudy to make their ascent to the mainstage at some point during a given season… but to embody one-third of a production in a few day’s time? Conservatory Company member Kimberly Chatterjee did just that when she learned she’d be stepping in for Stacey Yen in last weekend’s preview of our three-player MACBETH.

When did you hear the news about needing to step in for Yen? What were you up to?

I found out with the rest of the company on a Wednesday that she’d be leaving, and I knew her AS YOU LIKE IT understudy would be performing a few days later. But it was unclear for a while when Stacey would return. In the meantime, I still had rehearsals for AS YOU LIKE IT and MEASURE FOR MEASURE previews, so I started preparing just in case. I officially found out I’d be stepping in for the June 12 MACBETH on June 10–it was a bit of a whirlwind!

How did you prepare for your appearance?

My fellow understudies and I had seen the dress rehearsal for MACBETH, and earlier in the week we attended the first preview, furiously writing down what blocking we could as we watched [in contemporary theater, the director usually determines blocking during rehearsal, telling actors where they should move for the proper dramatic effect, ensure sight lines for the audience, and work with the lighting design of the scene].

There are a lot of specific formations and stage pictures in the show that delineate scenes and character transformations, and I tried to mark Stacey’s track as specifically as possible by drawing little recreations of the stage in my script and charting her every move. The next day I had a brief rehearsal with Stage Management and Nance Williamson to write down and walk through the staging for the second half of the show, which I had yet to mark in my script. Then I was given a fresh script, redrew my charts more clearly, and reviewed the show in my head as best I could each night.

When I got official word on Friday, I truthfully had a little moment of panic, but then the next morning went straight into rehearsals with Lee Sunday Evans (the show’s director), Nance, and Maria-Christina Oliveras. We had two full days of stepping through the show, making cuts, changing some staging and adding a song, and then it was time to perform!

At the end of the day I had to trust all the reading and memorizing I had done prior to that week, and hope that the work I had put in up to that point would be enough to carry me through the show.

What was it like working alongside longtime company member Nance Williamson and the new-to-HVSF Maria-Christina Oliveras? What sorts of energy did Nance and Maria-Christina bring to the stage? 

It was such a comfort knowing I was working with two consummate professionals who not only knew this show extremely well, but were more than willing to review whatever scenes or blocking I needed extra work on. My biggest worry was getting in their way by making mistakes, but they were so supportive and assured me that if I messed up the blocking or jumped a line that they would survive (which proved true, as I definitely did both at some point!).

They both brought such vibrant, commanding, and grounded energies, that as we walked towards the tent I felt empowered alongside them. I’ve never been on stage for such a sustained amount of time without any exits or breaks, and there was a point about halfway through the show that I doubted whether or not I could maintain my focus and keep myself from panicking. But Nance and Maria-Christina forged ahead and made sure to bring me along with them somehow!

Will your experience with MacB influence your performances in HVSF’s other mainstage shows in any way?

Absolutely! I learned a lot about the amount of vocal volume, resonance and enunciation it takes to be heard in the back row of the audience, and how to engage with all three sides of the tent so everyone feels included in the performance. Playing so many characters in MACBETH allowed me to play with physical and vocal variety to differentiate characters, which will inform how I play Amiens in AS YOU LIKE IT versus Juliet in MEASURE FOR MEASURE.

On a personal level, the support that this artistic community provided for me, and more so for Stacey–who was out-of-state attending to personal matters–was incredibly moving, and all those love songs we sing in AS YOU LIKE IT and MEASURE FOR MEASURE hold a little more meaning for me now.

How did the weather affect your approach?

We knew from rehearsing that day that the night was going to be cold and windy, so the wonderful Robert Serrel [Voice and Speech Coach] helped me warm up my voice and gave me tips to cut through the gusts. I still struggled with volume as the wind blew and buffeted, especially in the more intimate scenes, and the wind was so present that at times I forgot it was there and let my volume drop. But working through the wind also made me commit more fully to my lines and my actions in order to be heard. Just technically speaking, I had to clutch my script tightly to make sure I didn’t lose my page, and therefore my lines and blocking!

I think this show is lucky in that sometimes the wind can be its friend by adding to the magic and spookiness of the story. One moment that was particularly thrilling for me was Lady Macbeth’s speech after reading Macbeth’s letter: “come you spirits/that tend on mortal thoughts, unsex me here.” I felt the wind pick up behind me as I started speaking and it felt a bit like true witchcraft!

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MACBETH, Directed by Lee Sunday Evans, runs June 8 – August 26, 2016.