Posted June 20, 2009

{Lenox, MA}—A delightfully high-energy adaptation of the beloved children’s classic tale, Toad of Toad Hall is the centerpiece of this year’s free, outdoor Bankside Festival, which for three months fills the Shakespeare & Company grounds, gardens, and outdoor Rose Footprint Theatre with a cornucopia of always-free entertainment, featuring the assorted antics of sword-fighting knights, mischievous servants, and musicians—not to mention special, one-time events and a host of lectures and demonstrations.

In addition to Toad of Toad Hall, the popular Bankside Festival includes such fare as the world premiere of Dennis Krausnick’s entertaining and fun for all ages Wordplay (August 13—September 6), the compelling and lively Bankside Humanities Series (July 2—July 30) of talks and demonstrations, three unique, 15-minute Preludes (June 26—September 6) that alternate in performance prior to most evening shows at Founders’ Theatre, and the annual reading of the Declaration of Independence (3pm on July 4). All Bankside Festival events are free, but tickets are required to guarantee admittance to performances at the Rose Footprint Theatre, as seating is limited. Ticket information and the full schedule is available at as well as the Box Office, which can be reached at (413) 637-3353 or

A.A. Milne’s Toad of Toad Hall is a distillation of one of the stories found within the beloved classic Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame. It is directed by internationally acclaimed director Irina Brook, features music by S&Co.’s Resident Music Director Bill Barclay, and is brought vividly to life by a tireless troupe of some of the Company’s finest young actors, many of whom have honed and seasoned their craft in the Education Program’s New England Tour of Shakespeare or past Bankside productions. (Several are fresh from the well-received non-Equity production of Romeo and Juliet that opened S&Co.’s 2009-2010 season.) The cast includes Paul D’Agostino, Danny Coates-Finke, Annie Considine, Kaitlin Henderson, Jennie Jadow, Kelley Johnston, Dan Kurtz, Meg O’Connor, Adam Stoner, and Josie Wilson. Toad of Toad Hall plays in two parts, performed on alternate days. Part A plays on Wednesdays at 5:30pm and Saturdays at 12:30pm, and Part B plays on Fridays and Saturdays at 5:30pm.

Once again, participants in the Company’s professional actor training programs are integrated into the Bankside productions, with Performance Internship Program participants composing the cast of Wordplay and the three Preludes. (They are also spearheading the revival of Shakespeare & Company’s Lunchtime Shakespeare tradition, with a production of Measure for Measure at the Elayne P. Bernstein Theatre that runs from July 10 to September 5.)

In addition, S&Co. continues to offer an eclectic variety of lectures and demonstrations with its Bankside Humanities Series (see press release to come) that will include a host of lively events, including a not-to-be-missed, participatory demonstration on stage combat by new Artistic Director Tony Simotes (also directing Othello in Founders’ Theatre this summer and The Hound of the Baskervilles at the Bernstein Theatre this fall), an Elizabethan food and etiquette demonstration by author Francine Segan, and a resumption of one of the more popular newer traditions in the Bankside Festival, a presentation/performance by Resident Music Director Bill Barclay on the role of music in Shakespeare’s plays.

Banksyde, on the southern bank of the Thames River in London, was where many of Shakespeare’s plays were first performed. It was located in a “liberty”—a sort of legal no-man’s-land where the usual rules governing propriety did not apply. These well-defined zones of relaxed laws and relaxed attitudes gave rise to such questionable activities as gambling, conspicuous consumption of food and drink, the odd treasonous conspiracy, and—Heaven forbid—public theatre. Egads!

All of us who enjoy the transformative power of the words of Shakespeare and his contemporaries are indebted to the vivacious, free spirit of Banksyde. It’s with that in mind that Shakespeare & Company presents the community with its free Bankside Festival. Our grounds, the tented Rose Footprint Theatre, and the Bankside Terrace outside Founders’ Theatre spring to life each summer with an array of free activities for the whole family.

We hope you’ll become part of the merriment for an afternoon or an evening, and enjoy a contagious atmosphere of theatrical fun and music, whirling words, swordplay, jesting and laughter. Bring a picnic, stroll the Renaissance Garden, and enjoy great language, worldly questions and lots of fun!


By. A. A. Milne
Adapted from The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame
Directed by Irina Brook
Cast: Paul D’Agostino, Danny Coates-Finke, Annie Considine, Kaitlin Henderson, Jennie Jadow, Kelley Johnston, Dan Kurtz, Meg O’Connor, Adam Stoner, Josie Wilson
Rose Footprint Theatre: June 20—August 29

This delightful play excerpts the story of Mr. Toad from the beloved children’s classic, The Wind in the Willows. Focusing on Toad’s adventures in the book—including his imprisonment, escape, and daringly successful efforts to win back his home—this is a rollicking tale sure to delight old, young, and anyone in-between. It is performed in two parts, on alternating performance days, with both parts performed on Saturdays.

By Dennis Krausnick
Director: Bill Barclay
Cast includes S&Co.’s 2009 Performance Internship Program participants
Outdoor Rose Footprint: August 13 – September 6

This world premiere, written by Company Director of Training, actor, playwright and Founding member Dennis Krausnick, is an outrageous splash of Shakespeare. This fast-paced performance offers startling bits of some of Shakespeare’s silliest and startling insults with just the right dash of fact, folklore, and surprises thrown in. It is a virtual feast of language that is accessible, provocative, informative, poignant, and always engaging. Presented by the Company’s renowned Training Program, the show runs under one hour.

Wednesday, July 4, at 3:00 pm

Back by popular demand at Bankside this unique community reading and entertainments includes Company artists, neighbors, local dignitaries, and state representatives who will converge on the tented Rose Footprint for a celebration of one of the most historically significant documents ever penned. Past readings have been standing-room-only so audiences are encouraged to arrive early to ensure seating.

For specific Bankside playing times and dates, call the box office at (413) 637-3353, or email Although all Bankside events and productions are FREE, please note that tickets are required for all Rose Footprint shows and lectures. Seating is limited, and events often reach capacity. Pick up tickets in advance. Visit Shakespeare & Company’s website, created by Studio Two of Lenox, MA, online at

Fifteen minute entertainments playing prior to Founders’ performances at 6:45 pm on the Prelude stage, outside Founders’ Theatre
June 26—September 6, playing in repertory

The Preludes provide Company artists an opportunity to explore the age-old traditional form of entertainment: the “street performer.” Thriving for hundreds of years during the Middle Ages, the street performer kept the spirit of the Theatre alive (although often on the run). All Preludes run approximately 15 minutes and end at 7:30 pm, when the doors to Founders’ open for seating for the evening productions of either Hamlet, Othello or Twelfth Night.

Omelet, the Prince of Breakfast
Created by the cast: Poornima Kirby, Aaron Sharff, Michael Dix Thomas
Directed by Kelly Galvin and Enrico Spada

A healthy and nutritious improvement on Shakespeare’s Hamlet. In this rock opera, the waffling Omelet must avenge the eating of his father Ham by defeating the calorie-and-trans-fat-laden new king, Pizza...and restore balance to the state of Breakfast.

The Bardsters Pay a Visit
Created by the cast: Nathan Wolfe Coleman, Emily Hagburg and Tom O’Keefe
Directed by Kelly Galvin and Enrico Spada

Two Elizabethan “ladies”—the Bardsters—appear before a mild-mannered Shakespeare & Company House Manager shortly before curtain. What follows is a hilarious volley of wits as they grapple with the intricacies of the Company’s biggest season ever. But these lovely ladies are quite keen on presenting their own charming take on Shakespeare’s Othello.

Brave New World
Created by the cast: Ross Hurwitz, Emily Karol, Alison Novelli, Gabriel Portuondo
Directed by Kelly Galvin and Enrico Spada

A quartet of clowns find themselves stranded after a shipwreck (the very same from Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night). Lost in a brave new world without words to describe it, it is not long before a fortuitous discovery sparks a transformation—which awakens them to the power of poetry, music and art.

Outdoor Rose Footprint: August 19, August 21

From Romeo and Juliet to Hamlet, no writer has captured the desire, volatility and energy of adolescence better than Shakespeare. In his words, youth lives eternally. For these two special days, join our Young Company actors aged 13-17 as they perform Shakespeare’s works with a fierce and fiery temperament to match his own; and deal with life themes that make teenage years so formative, individual and indelible--filled with unbridled passion for friendship, love, justice, and hope.

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