Shakespeare and Company campus,in Lenox, Massachusetts, 2005. © Shakespeare and Company, courtesy of Internet Shakespeare Editions, University of Victoria (B.C., Canada)
Shakespeare and Company campus,in Lenox, Massachusetts, 2005. © Shakespeare and Company, courtesy of Internet Shakespeare Editions, University of Victoria (B.C., Canada)

LENOX, MA |  In September, the light changes.  The hot summer shifts into early fall.  If you are planning a last hurrah, why not visit the Berkshires in Massachusetts and swing by Shakespeare & Company?

Lenox is a small community nestled in the Berkshire Hills of Western Massachusetts. There are many cultural venues in Lenox, including Tanglewood. The Mount (Edith Wharton’s former home) and Shakespeare and Company.  Recreational activities include downhill and cross-country skiing, hiking, biking and golf. Lenox is located just south of Pittsfield, just north of Stockbridge and a few minutes north of Lee and the Mass Turnpike

Actor Tina Packer is presently playing the lead role in Shakespeare & Company’s Mother of the Maid, a new drama by Emmy award-winning writer, producer and director Jane Anderson (HBO’s “Olive Kitteridge” (with Frances McDormand), Normal, The Baby Dance, It Could Happen to You).  Directed by Matthew Penn, the show runs in S&Co’s Elayne P. Bernstein Theatre through Sunday September 6.

Tina Packer as Isabelle Arc | Photo by Enrico Spada

http://www.shakespeare.org/gallery3/index.php/2015/The-Mother-of-the-Maid/Performance-Mother-of-the-Maid/SCO-MoM-Perf-2015-ESPA-029

Mother of the Maid tells the story of Joan of Arc from an entirely fresh point of view – her mother’s.

Packer plays St. Joan’s long-suffering mommy. Her name is Isabelle Arc. According to the press notes, the play deals with the themes of parenthood, religion, sexuality and politics.  How?  St. Joan’s mommy dearest struggles to accept the fact that her daughter is different. “With visions from St. Catherine, and despite the protestations from her father, brother and Mum, Joan embarks on a journey to lead the French army against England,” the press notes add.

“For me it is first a story of parenthood,” says director Matthew Penn in a prepared statement. “What do you do when your child becomes someone different than the person you expected?  When they love someone you didn’t think they would or could or should?  What do you do when both ambition and celebrity wrap around your child as if predestined?  At the center of this play is the boundless love that a mother feels for a daughter.”

Mother of the Maid gives Packer, S&Co. founding artistic director, a chance to reunite onstage with her real-life son Jason Asprey, who plays Father Gilbert, and her Women of Will acting partner Nigel Gore, who plays Joan’s father Jacques. All three last performed together in Hamlet in 2008).

The cast also features longtime S&Co. actor Elizabeth Aspenlieder and newcomers Bridget Saracino as St. Catherine, Anne Troup as St. Joan, and Nathaniel Kent as her brother Pierre.

If you’re in the Berkshires this weekend, check it out.

WHEN YOU GO:

Tickets for Mother of the Maid are available online at www.shakespeare.org, or by calling Shakespeare & Company at (413) 637-3353 during box office hours.

Performance Dates: July 30 – September 6, Elayne P. Bernstein Theatre
Running time: Act I: 50 mins/Act II: 45mins plus one 15min intermission

The Bernstein Theatre is air-conditioned and wheelchair accessible. Shakespeare & Company is located at 70 Kemble Street in Lenox, Massachusetts.

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:

Located in The Berkshires of Western Massachusetts, Shakespeare & Company is one of the largest Shakespeare Festivals in the country, founded in 1978 by Tina Packer. The Company develops and performs Shakespeare, classics, contemporary, and new plays of social and political significance, generating opportunities for collaboration between actors, directors and designers of all races, nationalities and backgrounds. Shakespeare & Company also reaches more than 45,000 students annually with innovative performances, workshops and residencies. For more information, visit www.shakespeare.org.

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