Honestly, I go away for a couple of years …


I’m delighted to be back at The Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey (formerly The New Jersey Shakespeare Festival) rehearsing Tovarich the little known French play about post-revolution Russians in Paris. The picture above is the incomparable, well-known film actor, Ms. C. Colbert in the 1937 film of the play.

Tovarich was a massive hit in Paris, London, and New York in 1932 and for a few years afterwards but fell from fashion and is today largely forgotten. It’s a lasagne of a piece with some style comedy, some class-reversal, and an examination of life’s dark underbelly. One strand among the themes is the perfidy of the banking system and the unholy alliances of big business and government interest … so, nothing too disturbingly topical.

But …

Over and above continuing to produce year-round quality theatre (sort of miraculous in the current economic climate), “NJ Shakes” as we call it in the trade, has acquired a spectacular new facility. 50,000 square feet, a building that was once a valve factory. The building now houses all aspects of the company’s behind the scenes action. The costume, set, and prop shops, the stores, the offices, a large green room—complete with ping-pong table, a climate-controlled rehearsal room, and all the offices.

It is a completely spectacular achievement on the part of the Artistic Director, Bonnie J. Monte to have brokered the deal that made this possible. I heard from other actors what an amazing difference this new facility had made to the company, but until I saw it, I didn’t quite get it.

I last worked at this theatre back in 2010 and all this happened since then. As I said at the top, I go away for a few years … Amazing.

Not entirely paid for, mind you. If you are feeling philanthropic and would like to support the work of live theatre in this part of the world, a tax deductible couple of million would take the company out of the red.

If that sort of money is a little steep for your wallet, donations starting at a single dollar are also immensely welcome here.

Go on: click the link.

It will take you to a kickstarter page detailing an upcoming independent short film. Indie film begins and ends with money. This is the people’s studio.

I mention it here, because that little-known film actor Colin McPhillamy will be playing the Newsman in this one-week end-of-August shoot.