Submitted photos and press release:
The sounds of laughter, music, and Shakespeare echo inside an old general store building on Main Street in Perry. When the door is opened, the company members of Shake on the Lake – the oldest-running professional Shakespeare Company in Wyoming County – are revealed.
This is their eighth summer season. Shake on the Lake began its 2019 tour in July, traveling to eight counties in Western New York and the Finger Lakes.
Artists from throughout the country are staging Shakespeare’s most musical show, the pastoral comedy, "As You Like It." The resident company rehearses the show on site in Perry, specializing in “fast, fun, and physical” performances, which bring the arts to public spaces in rural communities.
The play will be performed in Batavia starting at 6:30 p.m. this Thursday, Aug. 8, in the city's Centennial Park.
No tickets required (show is free). Show is 90 minutes without an intermission. Bringing lawn chairs and blankets is recommended. All ages welcome.
Theater artist Josh Rice, who grew up in Perry and graduated from Perry Central School, cofounded Shake on the Lake. Eight seasons later, he returns every summer to produce Shakespeare with a company of professional actors from around the nation.
“We started Shake on the Lake with the intention to create a company based around play and trying to inject that spirit of play into our process, as well as our product," Rice said. "From day one, we focus on play-driven play-making where everyone – from company interns to our senior theater artists – can make a creative impact on the play.
"Giving artists ownership in the creation of a work, as well as the company itself, makes for a much-more rewarding and productive process.”
This summer the Artistic Team chose to tackle Shakespeare’s "As You Like It." The company went from script to show in two and a half weeks, during which time they also present young artist educational programming, community workshops, and outreach to Groveland Correctional Facility through their Voices UnCaged program, which recently received national recognition at the Arts in Corrections national conference in California. Actors live in the community for the summer, many of whom return year after year to work and eventually become seasonal residents.
One of those artists is Chad Bradford, who is associate artistic director for Shake on the Lake and is a founding company member. This summer’s tour is the fifth Shake on the Lake show Bradford has directed as he returns to Western New York after performing with Arkansas Shakespeare Theatre.
“When I think about presenting Shakespeare in 90 minutes or less like we do at Shake on the Lake, it means we have to listen to each other and use collaboration to create our fun, fast, and physical shows,” Bradford said. “Our spectacle is original music, improvisation, and in having our actors having fun devising and performing.”
Shake on the Lake first began performing at its home stage, Silver Lake, where it continues to have a four-show residency during the first weekend in August. The company has transformed from a single venue to a region-wide tour with 18 shows.
“In the Elizabethan era, companies of performers would travel to the outskirts of the rural British countryside, set up shop, and perform these same Shakespearean plays,” Rice said. “Shake on the Lake echoes this history, and we thrive in communities that have similar rural sensibilities to those 400 years ago. Shakespeare has been performed everywhere, for everyone, and we’re proving that all communities deserve great theater --especially these rural ones.”
“We regularly have audiences in triple-figures," said Managing Director Pilar McKay. “To me, this shows that we are fulfilling our mission to create art that people want to be part of. Shake on the Lake is special because we live, work, and believe in our rural communities.”
Catch Shake on the Lake on tour this year in Wyoming County (Silver Lake – Perry/Castile, Letchworth St. Park, Arcade, and Attica), Genesee (Batavia), Orleans (Point Breeze and Lyndonville), Livingston (Geneseo and Linwood Gardens), Erie (Springville), Monroe (Brockport), Ontario (Cumming Nature Center), and Allegany (Angelica and Wellsville).
For more information about Shake on the Lake, click here.
Shake on the Lake is a live theater festival located in Silver Lake. Founded in 2012, as the only professional theater company in five adjacent counties in Western New York, the mission of the festival is to “entertain, engage, and enrich those in the community by creating theater productions in a natural outdoor setting.”
"As You Like It" follows the story of Rosalind, who faces an uncertain future after the exile of her royal father by her uncle, the newly installed Duke Frederick. Buoyed by her loving cousin, Celia, and the rascally clown, Touchstone, Rosalind makes the best of her lot, and by chance, entrances the eyes of a brave young man, Orlando. After Orlando’s successful wrestling match against the Duke’s champion, both Orlando and Rosalind must secretly flee to uncertain lands to escape the eyre of the new duke as well as Orlando’s jealous brother, Oliver. They run separately to the Forest of Arden, fearing they will never see one another again, not knowing the magic and romance that awaits them in the forest.
“All the world’s a stage,” and Shake on the Lake is poised to bring the “players with exits and entrances,” playing “many parts,” as they bring Shakespeare’s most musical comedy, "As You Like It," on tour across Western New York this summer. Join Rosalind, one of Shakespeare’s most savvy and strong heroines as she flees to the Forest of Arden with her comedic sidekicks to find her exiled father, Duke Senior. But what fate awaits her in the woods? Come find out as Shake on the Lake puts its fast, fun, and physical-style on display in this comedy about love, longing, and the beauty of the natural world, incorporating classic Shakespearean tropes like cross-dressing, mistaken identity, live music and songs, and...wrestling. All of Western New York is our stage in this 90-minute musical adaptation of William Shakespeare’s "As You Like It," on tour now through Aug. 11.