Tudor tutorials: Arts Mid-Hudson’s Shakespeare fest

Shakespeare-@While summer’s traditional bounty of outdoor Shakespeare productions has ceased for this cycle, there’s never really an off-season for the Bard of Avon. In mid-September, Arts Mid-Hudson launched a six-week extravaganza called “I, Too, Sing Shakespeare” with the opening of an exhibit of Shakespeare-inspired ceramic sculptures by Judy Sigunick at the organization’s Poughkeepsie gallery. You can see them from 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Friday until October 30. On Sunday, October 25 at 1 p.m., Sigunick will talk about the inspirations for her works on view at an Art Brunch at the gallery.

This week, the celebration continues with a fun participatory event at the same venue: a Shakespeare Trivia Night, when you can join a team and compete for awards as you show off your in-depth knowledge of the Bardic canon. It takes place this Saturday, October 3 from 5:30 to 7 p.m. Even more welcoming to us groundlings will be an informal night of public readings of your favorite Shakespeare (or Shakespeare-influenced) passage, to be held at the gallery the following Saturday, October 10 from 5:30 to 7 p.m.

The Saturday-evening series will continue in the same time slot with a Shakespeare lecture and discussion led by Lou Trapani of the Center for Performing Arts at Rhinebeck, on October 17; and “Shakespeare and Food,” readings of favorite banquet scenes from the plays, presented by SUNY-Dutchess’ Ceramics and English Departments on October 24.

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But for truly serious Shakespeareans, the pièce de résistance of the month-and-a-half-long celebration is an on-camera training lab for actors, directors and “interested auditors.” Open on an audition basis both to teens and adults, the three-session series will be directed and taught by Roger Hendricks Simon of Simon Studio. A Yale School of Drama grad, Simon has directed and acted for Yale Rep, the New York Shakespeare Festival, London’s Royal Court Theatre, Dublin’s Abbey Theatre, the Williamstown Theatre Festival, the Great Lakes Shakespeare Festival, Lincoln Center, the Brooklyn Academy of Music and the Roundabout Theatre, and was founding artistic director of the LA Classical Theatre Lab. Among the thespian luminaries he has directed or coached are James Earl Jones, John Lithgow, John Travolta, Samuel L. Jackson, James Woods, Tovah Feldshuh and Bibi Andersson.

​    Those selected will explore and rehearse Shakespeare with contemporary monologues, readings and scenes from a contemporary point of view, working on voice, diction, movement and improvisation, and then present a final showcase presentation. The lab will meet on the premises of Arts Mid-Hudson on Tuesdays, October 6 and 13 from 6 to 8 p.m.; on Sunday, October 18 at 3 p.m. there will be an open in-progress rehearsal of a Shakespeare work. Admission costs $75 for the series of three sessions, $35 each for individual sessions. E-mail inquiries and/or photos and résumés to rhsstudio@gmail.com, or call (917) 776-9209 for further information.

Arts Mid-Hudson’s headquarters and gallery are located at 696 Dutchess Turnpike (Route 44), Suite F, on the eastern edge of Poughkeepsie. For more information call (845) 454-3222 or visit www.artsmidhudson.org/events/i-too-sing-shakespeare.