Shakespeare on the Sound has selected "All's Well That Ends Well" as its 20th anniversary presentation and named nationally renowned Mary B. Robinson to direct The Bard's subtle and poetic comedy in Pinkney Park June 11-28.
The provocative challenge to the conventions of gender unfolds under the stars in the natural outdoor amphitheater of the park in Rowayton where a family-festive audience assembles on blankets and low-slung deck chairs with picnic baskets crammed with goodies. Admission is free and so is parking nearby. At the same time, donations are collected at the gate, $20 suggested for adults, $10 for seniors and students. Reserved seating is also available for $50. To reserve: www.shakespeareonthesound.org or call (203) 299-1300.
"All's Well That Ends Well" was selected for the theater's 20th anniversary from Shakespeare's inimitable 34-play palette that poetically synthesizes what it means to be human and crackles with wordplay and wit. The sheer lyrical force of Shakespeare's top layer is engaging but Robinson is committed to adding a dimension that reveals the Bard's intense passion and extraordinary mastery of the rhythms of life and perplexities of human behavior.
A 3 ½-week-run of the play "Intimate Apparel" at the Westport Country Playhouse last fall—recounting the relationship between an African-American seamstress and a Jewish tailor—is among the 60-plus productions Robinson has directed in New York City and across the U.S. over the past three decades. Judith Ivey has appeared on Robinson's stage. So have Cynthia Nixon, Jeff Daniels and Buck Henry. Her productions have gained her acclaim from Hartford to Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, from Louisville, KY to Seattle and from Cincinnati to Milwaukee.
Her book "Directing Plays, Directing People: A Collaborative Art" (Smith and Kraus, 2012, 188 pages) meanwhile has been described by Pulitzer Prizewinner Edward Albee as "an intelligent and useful guide for both the professional and the casual theater lover." Robinson intends to mount "All's Well That Ends Well" in the round," meaning the audience in Pinkney Park would encircle the stage, just as the so-called "groundlings" did at Shakespeare's Globe Theater 400 years ago outside London. As opposed to the Elizabethan era, however, she is setting the play in an Edwardian time bend, the early 1900s.
The production runs Tuesdays through Sundays—Mondays are dark as they say in the theater—with patrons permitted to stake out space on the grounds with a blanket or deck chair starting at 4 p.m., 3 ½ hours before the curtain. Most night, one hour in advance, there is a special preview presentation for children.