All the Adirondack Park is a stage.
The Adirondack Shakespeare Company, based in Manhattan and Schroon Lake, will perform four productions at sites across upstate New York as part of its third summer season.
“The summer season is a little different. It’s more intense. We all live together. It’s a very different vibe than what we do in the city,” said Tara Bradway, the group’s artistic director.
The season kicks off Saturday with a performance of “12th Night” at Boathouse Theater in Schroon Lake. Additional productions include “Hamlet, Tom Stoppard’s “Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead” and a children’s version of “The 12 Labors of Hercules” by company member Jessica Hackett, which premiered earlier in the month.
“This season was kind of a big deal for us. People are starting to know more about us, and we’re trying to balance really strong titles with some of the best of Shakespeare’s work,” Bradway said.
The classic tragedy “Hamlet” juxtaposes Stoppard’s “Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead,” a playful take on the exploits of two minor characters from “Hamlet.”
“We’ve always wanted to pair the shows, and use the same cast. The actors will be playing the same roles in both productions. You get to see both sides of the story,” Bradway said.
Audiences also will get to see the comedic side of the Bard with the company’s take on “12th Night,” which in some ways mirrors “Hamlet.”
“Some of the themes in ‘Hamlet’ show up in ‘12th Night,’ but they get resolved in a happier, more satisfying way,” Bradway said.
For the performers, the shows are an interesting way to explore the iconic works of Shakespeare.
Casting began at the beginning of the year, with 100 people audition for 12 spots. The actors had several months to memorize the scripts, and then the group workshopped the plays in early June with University of Delaware Professor Leslie Reidel.
“It’s experimental work for us, but it really opens up the plays,” Bradway said.
Because the cast spends little time together before the first performance, the productions have a sense of immediacy many shows lack.
“It’s very focused and intensive. The first time we actually run through it is when the audience arrives for that first performance,” Bradway said. “The energy is nothing short of incredible. We don’t have a play until we have an audience.”