Get ready for Shakespeare in Harrison

Shakespeare is coming to the West Hudson Arts & Theater Company later this month.

Performances of “Othello” take place Sept. 23 and 24 at 7:30 p.m., while performances of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” take place Sept. 29 and 30 at 8 p.m., with all shows at the Theater at WHATCo, 15 Frank E. Rodgers Boulevard S., Harrison.

This Shakespeare run marks the first performances of these classic works locally in recent memory. The unique undertaking has prompted WHATCo to create and launch several new initiatives surrounding the performances.

Since the collaboration has been underwritten in whole by HACPAC’s annual Shakespeare in the Park series, WHATCo will be able to implement a special “Pay What You Choose” ticketing structure for the performances.

“It’s our mission to ensure that live theater is available to everyone in our community.  For some, this may be their first experience with a live Shakespearean performance — we want to be sure that everyone is able to attend,” WHATCo President Brandi-Leigh Miller said.

“A Midsummer Night’s Dream” director and WHATCo Board member Matt Masiello says “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.”

As such,  WHATCo says it 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 the performances, as well as incentives for students to attend the productions.

WHATCo will also launch a new “Education Spotlight” series, pre-show audience primers that will not only feature short power-packed synopsis of the plays, but will also highlight significant themes, discuss ties to pop culture and identify recognizable quotes.

The spotlight, sponsored by the PSE&G Foundation, will be presented 30 minutes prior to each performance. Patrons who wish to participate will be invited to join a WHATCo volunteer and cast member in a classroom setting for a brief 10 to 12 minute presentation.

The opportunity to work with HACPAC was first 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 is directing “Othello,” said.

Visit for more information and tickets; some seats may be available at the door the day of performances.

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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.