WHATCo is bringing the Bard to West Hudson.
In a unique collaboration with the Teaneck New Theatre (TNT) in association with the Hackensack Performing Arts Center (HACPAC), WHATCo will present Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” and “Othello” this summer with outdoor performances at HACPAC. Then in September, performances will return to the WHATCo stage in Harrison marking the first production in our area of these classic works in recent memory.
The opportunity to work with HACPAC was presented to TNT President and WHATCo Artistic Adviser Beatriz Esteban-Messina, who recognized sharing resources and introducing new performers could be valuable to both theaters.
“It’s an amazing opportunity and completely aligns with our ongoing commitment to bring new and dynamic events to our West Hudson audiences,” Esteban-Messina, who will also be directing Othello, said.
The undertaking has prompted WHATCo to create and launch several new initiatives surrounding the performances here in West Hudson.
Since the collaboration has been underwritten in whole by HACPAC’s annual Shakespeare in the Park series, WHATCo will implement a special “Pay What You Choose” ticketing structure for its September performances.
“It’s our mission to ensure that live theater is available to everyone in our community. For some, these productions may be their first experience with a live Shakespearean performance,” WHATCo President Brandi-Leigh Miller said.
A Midsummer Night’s Dream director and WHATCo Board member Matt Masiello said, “to fully appreciate Shakespeare, it’s best to see the plays live on stage … and most students in our area only study his plays out of books.”
For its September run, WHATCo will reach out to middle and high schools in East Newark, Harrison and Kearny to provide a variety of correlative education tools including lesson plans and activities for classroom use to complement its West Hudson performances as well as incentives for students to attend the production.
WHATCo will also launch a new “Education Spotlight” series during the local performances, which will serve as primers that will not only be short power-packed synopses of the plays at the WHATCo theater, but that will also highlight significant themes, discuss ties to pop culture and identify recognizable quotes.
“We know that Shakespeare can be intimidating, so we want to give our audiences both background and context to help them enjoy the performance even more,” Miller said. “It might even give those familiar with the Bard an opportunity to share knowledge or learn new fun facts.”
Production dates at HACPAC, 102 State St., Hackensack, are July 12, 19 and 26 for “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” and Aug. 9 and 16 for “Othello.” All outdoor performances are at 7:30 p.m.
Performances at the WHATCo Theater, 15 Frank E. Rodgers Boulevard S., Harrison, are set for Sept. 23, 24, 29 and 30.
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Kevin A. Canessa Jr. is the editor of and broadcaster at The Observer, a place where he has served on and off since 2006. He is responsible for the editorial content of the newspaper and website, the production of the e-Newspaper, writing several stories per week (including the weekly editorial), conducting live broadcasts on Facebook Live, including a weekly recap of the news — and much more behind the scenes. Between 2006 and 2008, he introduced the newspaper to its first-ever blog — which included podcasts, audio and video. Originally from Jersey City, Kevin lived in Kearny until 2004, lived in Port St. Lucie. Florida, for four years until February 2016 and in March of that year, he moved back to West Hudson to return to The Observer full time. Click Here to send Kevin an email.