What: “Lovers’ Spat: Round Two.” Staged readings of scenes involving Shakespeare couples. Hosted by Allison Larkin
When: Saturday evening at 7; Sunday afternoon at 2
Where: Elayne P. Bernstein Theatre, 70 Kemble St., Lenox
Tickets: $25; students $10 Reservations/Information: 413-637-3353; shakespeare.org
LENOX — Love, in all its wit, joy, fury, madness and glory, holds sway this weekend at Shakespeare & Company where last year’s inaugural “Lovers’ Spat” is making a comeback.
“Round Two” — which performs Saturday evening and Sunday afternoon in the Elayne P. Bernstein Theatre — comprises staged readings of 15 scenes from “Henry VI: Parts I, II and III” and “Othello,” “Twelfth Night,” “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” “Romeo and Juliet,” “Taming of the Shrew,” “Richard III” and “Much Ado About Nothing.”
Shakespeare & Company artistic director Allyn Burrows, who assembled and is overseeing the program, thinks of “Lovers’ Spat: Round Two” as “a sort of Shakespeare tapis; small bits but delectable.”
Burrows says there will be lots of sword-play in addition to Shakespeare’s clever word-play
“We do like fighting,” Burrows said, laughing. “[Of this program] I like to say to people ‘we do the fighting, you do the making up.'”
The material was selected in large measure by the actors — Elizabeth Aspenlieder, Martin Jason Asprey, Ariel Bock, Gregory Boover, Sarah Bowles, Burrows, MaConnia Chesser, Johnny Lee Davenport, Jonathan Epstein, Luke Haskell, Tamara Hickey, Kaileela Hobby, Alison Howard, David Joseph, Caitlin Kraft, Madeleine Maggio, Kirsten Peacock, Patrick Toole, Kai Tshikosi and Claire Warden.
“You ask people what they want to play. Everyone wants to do Beatrice and Benedict [from ‘Much Ado About Nothing’], so we’re going to do all their scenes, with different actors, interspersed through the program, ” said Burrows, who will be in one of those “Much Ado .. ” scenes with his wife, Tamara Hickey. Epstein and Bock, another real-life married couple, are another Beatrice-Benedict pair.
Emceeing is comedienne, actress, audiobooks narrator/producer, and author Alison Larkin.
“I have no idea what I’ll be doing,” Larkin said with a bright, sustained laugh during a telephone interview earlier in the week. She won’t be meeting with the actors until Friday. Much of what she’ll be doing Saturday and Sunday, she says, will be improvised.
“She’s a great fit,” Burrows said in a separate phone interview. “She’s got a keen eye, relates to the material and to [Shakespeare & Company’s] connection to the community.”
Burrows and Larkin, who lives in Monterey and whose audiobooks production company is based in Stockbridge, met over lunch (she says), coffee (Burrows says) and hit it off at once (both say).
“We exchanged lots of good ideas,” Larkin said. “I think he’s really good for Shakespeare & Company.”
“Lovers’ Spat” brings Larkin back to her roots, she says. She began her career as an actress with Britain’s Royal Shakespeare Company and then gave that up for a career in stand-up comedy. She’s combining both here.
For Burrows, theater activity on Shakespeare & Company’s campus this time of year is a way of reminding people that Shakespeare & Company operates the year round and, he says, “it encourages people to come out and shed their winter funk.
“There will be revelry; there will be madness; it will be bits of fun,” Larkin said.