Friday, February 08, 2013

Richard the Third Comes to A Parking Lot - AT LAST!

A Parking  Lot  The  Fitting  Place  for any KING

Hamilton Clancy, actor,  founding and  current  artistic  director of  The  Drilling  Company Theatre, the  homw   of Shakespeare  in  the  Parking Lot.

My phone  lit  up .

It  was  another  director  calling  to  volunteer  to  direct our free  summer  production  of  Shakespeare’s  Richard  the  Third.  Why the sudden interest in our  plans? While  it’s a  brilliant  play, up to now our  call  to  Johnny  Depp to play  the title  role  hadn’t  been  returned .

 “Did you hear where they  found  him…??”  an enthusiastic  e-mail  inquired.

A parking lot.

While  others  are  dancing  about  the  contents  we’re  reveling  in  the  location of  those  bones  because  every summer we  produce free  Shakespeare  in an actual parking  lot on  the  Lower East side of Manhattan. We think it’s a perfect place for a great writer like Shakespeare and historically grand figures like Richard. Legend had it they had been thrown into the sea. If  they  had  washed  ashore ,  perhaps  Shakespeare  on  the  Beach  would  be  dancing.  Is it just our luck?

 This isn’t  a one- time  gimmick or  the genius idea of  a director whose  experimental  work the theatre world is  following.  It’s a venerable New York institution, an urban legend now  entering  its  17th or  18th  or  19th  year  depending  on  which  press  release you read. We’re  the  purveyors  and  we’re  still  trying  to  figure  it  out.  Our company has been the caretaker for a long time that’s safe  to say.  The stories  that emanate are as  indelible as an ink  stain on  your  khakis – which is to say  somewhat and  not  so  much at  the  same  time, not  unlike  Richard’s  sometimes  fuzzy history.

Why a parking lot they always ask?  My first answer is always, why not?  Frist,  there is open space,  and  second, in New York City, a  diverse   community of users,  and  third  there  is  the  modern  world  smashing  up  against  a  classic from  the  renaissance, and  thus contrast.  The perfect place to do  theatre  for “the people”. While  others beam about  offering  free drama in a  wooded  public park, we’re surround by a  city,  teaming  with activity. During  performances  the  parking lot  is  even open  for parking except   for a  few  spots  we  use  for  the  stage.  The casualty rate for patrons hit while watching the play is very low.

The point is to make it something everyone can find or access regardless of social caste. There is access to experience and access to community.

 So, it’s only  fitting  in  this  ‘winter of  our [people’s]  discontent’  – fiscal  crisis  , gay marriage, Syria, gun  violence, you  pick – that  Richard  should  come  back to the  spotlight.

Shakespeare’s  drama casts  him as a  power  seeker  but  history  reveals  he  was  more likely just  a leader who  despised  the  other  party  in  power  and  wanted  them  out  of  the  way  by  any  means  necessary.

If  the  narrative  sounds  familiar  it’s  probably  because every  time  we  turn  around  today  we’ve  another   example  of  it in  one  form or  another  and  every  leader  who  employs  ruthless means  to  the  greater  good   is  citing  the  same   historical  precedence. Whether  it’s  Lance  Armstrong,  Asad, Mitch McConnell or Karl Rove we  have  hunchbacks  galore seizing  power  by  any means  necessary.

It wasn’t personal. It  was  simply justice  that  must  be  done  for  the  greater good.

And  with  the  exception  of Armstrong  many  aren’t  very  tall  either.

Finding  Richard’s  bones  in a parking  lot  further  enwraps  us  in  the  mystery  of  how  our  leaders, our  superheroes  and  our  villains  can actually  still be  just  one  of  us

Archeologists in England found  Richard  the Third’s remains in a car park. This summer, with Shakespeare’s assistance, we’ll bring  him  back  to life – in a  parking  lot.

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