Love has its ways this weekend at Shakespeare & Company…

 

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

By Jeffrey Borak, The Berkshire Eagle

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.

Signs of life in Berkshires mid-winter

People ask me why I love living in The Berkshires, even in mid-winter. The answer is in my newest column in The Berkshire Edge!

It’s icy cold in the Berkshires. The Stockbridge bowl has frozen over and the roads are perilous. I have to scrape the snow off my car every day now, the kids are pale and antsy from lack of fresh air, the heating bill is higher than the cost of a flight to England and my driveway is turned into an ice rink.

As any year-round resident will tell you, if you don’t tread VERY carefully on the Berkshire ground at this time of year you’ll fall on the ice and break your arm or get a concussion or die or – worse – fall in a way that your doctor tells you was the root cause of the frozen shoulder that has you yelping in pain months later. Which leads to the second frozen shoulder that makes it too painful to lift your arm high enough to brush your hair. Which explains why so many year-round Berkshire residents wear hats.

Then there are the Snow Birds who, convinced they are beating the system, quietly fly from the Berkshires to Florida in December, returning only when the magic of a Berkshire spring has arrived. Feeling guilty, these people try to resist posting TOO many photos of themselves on a Sarasota beach in January in order not to alienate the friends they’ve left behind in the frozen north.

But I wouldn’t leave the Berkshires for the winter if you paid me. And not just because the idea of spending weeks on a beach in Florida or indeed anywhere would bore me deeply.

As my friend Alan Wilken says, “there’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing.” He should know. At almost 70, Alan bikes an average of 30 miles a day in all weather. He explains that his tires get fatter as the weather gets colder.

(Alan Wilken on Elm Street in Stockbridge)

For me, February in the Berkshires is a magical month. The short, dark days are over and as February rolls on I feel more and more like Tony in West Side Story as he sang “There’s somethin’ due any day I will know right away soon as it shows….The air is humming. And something great is coming.”

I am, of course talking about Spring.

When you’re facing something really tough and you’re so worried you can’t sleep, living through a Berkshire winter can be helpful. Sure, the winters can be perilous and hard here. But it’s the people who for weeks on end have been battling the freezing wind in the Price Chopper parking lot that most appreciate the first hint of spring.

There’s this deep sense of relief and appreciation when you realize the worst is over. It’s the same way we feel on the day we realize that whatever horror was troubling us isn’t anymore.

 

(Alison in mid-winter)

We’re in mid-winter and the President of the United States is still accusing people of treason with as much passion as King Henry the VIIIth. But, if you look carefully, you can already see a yellowish hue at the very edges of the Weeping Willow on the Stockbridge golf course. Warmth and new growth is on its way from under the frozen ground.