Rockland Shakespeare Company

A Little 'RSC' this side of the pond!

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The Rockland Shakespeare Company, through SUNY Rockland Community College, is a community outreach program designed to bring quality classical productions to the community of Rockland for free. Now in our thirteenth year, we continue to grow as a company as well as educational outreach endeavor benefiting the community.

Back in 1998, SUNY Rockland honored William Shakespeare, with a semester of cross-departmental festivities. The Performing Arts Department, headed by Patricia Maloney-Titland was integral in rounding out the performance aspect of the springtime dedication to the most influential writer in the English language, William Shakespeare.

1998 also saw the creation of the annual outdoor summer Shakespeare production created by Artistic Directors/Founders Patricia Maloney-Titland & Christopher Plummer and the Performing Arts Department. The kick-off production of Romeo and Juliet was a truly ambitious and worthwhile endeavor. The fledging, but passionate group of Actors, Directors and Shakespeare enthusiasts attempted something that has never been done here at SUNY Rockland or in Rockland County- Bringing the bard to the community for free. They succeeded.

Romeo and Juliet opened unforeseen doors to the future for the company. With the following season’s comedic production of Much Ado About Nothing, again, they triumphed. Taking the creative process further and further into new dimensions, the company began experimenting with staging and themes for the timeless plays. They were no longer locked down into one particular area of the beautiful campus courtyard. Thus, the second annual outdoor summer Shakespeare production was complete, and word was out, audiences began to grow.

If Romeo and Juliet opened the doors to the future for the company, then the third annual outdoor production blew the doors completely off the hinges, literally. With the companies third seasons production of Macbeth all the barriers were broken down. With Macbeth, the company evolved into a true modern day Shakespeare Company, with the likes to be reckoned. Complete with motorcycles, guns, and leather-clad warriors that would have made Mad Max proud. Macbeth reverberated with intense passion and ambition, not only for the Actors but for the Company and the College as well. The crowds agreed. Macbeth achieved the biggest audience turn-out to date.

The company's next and fourth adventure led them to a beautiful and loveable land called Illiria, as Twelfth Night rounded out the 2001 summer season. Yet again, audiences spoke in word and action as the turnouts continued and the positive feedback rolled in.

In 2001 we not only saw the beginning of a new millennium, but the inception of a new moniker for the courageous young company, the Rockland Shakespeare Company, A little 'RSC', this side of the pond.

In 2002, with our Fifth annual summer Shakespeare production of Othello, set within the neo-political realm of today, we cemented ourselves in the Theatrical community of Rockland County.

Following the jealous General and his tale of marital woes was our 2003’s season’s island themed production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. With ‘Midsummer’ came yet more attention and articles and commentary rolled in about out ‘little’ company. We laughed, we cried, we went home. However, we knew not what we were in for following ‘Midsummer’. Every year we try to alternate between plays and themes to give our audience a well rounded and exciting vision of Shakespeare’s works.

Well, nothing could be more different and exciting following ‘Midsummer’ than Shakespeare’s immortal tragedy, Hamlet. It is a play that we wanted to tackle from the very outset of our company and we felt that the time was right. Our summer 2004 season saw our version of Hamlet, set in Feudal Japan near the end of the Samurai reign. What an ending it was! Hamlet was one of our most ambitious productions with our largest cast to date and one of our largest collective audience attendance numbers since our inception.

In our 2005 season we decided that we and our audience needed a well deserved break after the tragedy of Hamlet so we decided to have some fun, yet again and send up our version of As You Like It. Set in the 1930’s, As You Like It is one of Shakespeare most musical works as well as a staple in the Shakespearean cannon of comedies. You asked for more Comedies and we heard you!

Our 2006, Ninth annual performance deviated from our usual routine of Tragedy-Comedy-Tragedy-Comedy to follow-up our successful run of As You Like It with not one, but two comedies back to back! We staged our first ever double-Bill Shakespeare event with our 1980’s themed musical version of Love’s Labour’s Lost and if that were not enough to dislodge your padded shoulders and get your crimped hair in a knot, we added our first ever work that was not written by the bard, but wholly inspired by him; the irreverently funny and raucous comedy, The Compleat Wrks of Wllm Shakpr (abridged). Our audiences laughed...we cried... I mean, sighed! We did it! Two shows in one summer season! However, the best was yet to come...

In 2007, with these Tenth Anniversary productions we continue to mark a momentous and exciting reality for the company, the fact that we are a company, an enthusiastically ambitious and passionate group of Actors, Directors, Designers...Artists, bringing Shakespeare to people that thought they never liked the Bard. We look forward with great anticipation to many enlightening and thrilling years with Shakespeare, with Rockland County, and with the audiences that have grown in numbers and shown their appreciation over the years.

Our Tenth Anniversary season’s productions were an amazing year-long blitz of the Bard. We celebrated his works by not only producing his words on stage, but words inspired by him. Such as Joe Calarco’s R&J and the hit Broadway musical, Kiss Me, Kate as well as Shakespeare’s first Comedy, The Comedy of Errors, which we set in a Pirates of the Caribbean type port city, to great success. ‘Errors’ garnered our largest audience turn-out to date. HUZZAH!

In 2008, We followed up our version of Shakespeare’s first comedy with his first and by far, most bloody tragedy, Titus Andronicus. ...and Bloody, it was! Never have we enacted so many deaths in such rapid succession as we did in ‘Titus’. A stabbing, a draw and quartered body, a rape, two mutilations, two decapitations, two slit throats with exsanguination and utter desecration of bodies baked into pies, as well as a broken neck, a few more stabbings and finally a drawn-out torture...and a partridge in a pair tree. 

In 2009, we decided to change our compass setting and set our production of The Merry Wives of Windsor in the old west complete with dancing girls at the Garter Inn and thieves and trickery around every corner. No production of Merry Wives would be complete without the loveable rascal Sir John Falstaff, who donned a gun belt rather than a sword this time ‘round! Oh, the wives of Windsor sang that song, doo dah-doo dah and people sang with them, as Merry Wives delivered a wonderful public turnout!

Now, in 2010, with our reprised production of Much Ado About Nothing (the second play and first comedy the company ever produced) we delved into the ever-popular and mystical world of superheroes and villains. This will be a challenging and exciting task for the company, one that is looked upon as fulfilling and ultimately vital for the community, as we are the only adult Shakespeare Company in Rockland County and our productions are free to all who wish to attend and experience the words and passions of one of the greatest writers of all time. Bringing important insight and culture to the community as well as artistic education to the students of Rockland Community College and all who wish to learn and enjoy classic literature performed. That is one of the chief missions of our company.

So join us, if you will, as we share another spectacular season and our decade long and strong tribute to the Bard-of-Avon, at Rockland Community College, with Rockland County and with you, our noble audience.

“The actors are at hand and by their show you shall know all that you are like to know.”


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