Sunday, September 7, 2008

Field Trip: Much Ado About Nothing

As part of Playlab NYC’s desire for community outreach and to support our local theater companies, we venture out from time to time for a Field Trip.

On Saturday August 24th, Kevin and I took our son, Edison to Astoria Park. As we were walking toward the playground, chalk advertisements along the way told us of some free Shakespeare later that afternoon. I love watching Park Theater, so we decided that after Edison’s nap we would go, which is perfect because he gets up about 3:30 and that would get us to the 4:00 show. I packed up a picnic of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and we were on our way.

There was already a crowd full of little families as we walked to the North Lawn. Curious Frog Theatre Company Executive Director ReneƩ Racan Rodriguez adapted and directed the 90-minute show with a cast of eight. From the difficulties of different terrain in all our city parks, the staging worked well. The actors used the audience for wing space and entrances. Edison is only 2 and he got antsy about a half hour into the show - about the moment we were out of sandwiches. Kevin diverted his attention further back behind the audience so Edison could run around like a crazy person. This allowed me to watch the show better anyway. It was at this time I realized that the whole concept of the show was based around the US Open, for example the watchmen were tennis ball catchers. The cast showed a sense of closeness with each other, for they really seemed comfortable in each role the actors were playing. I loved the scenes with the night watchmen, Dogberry and Verges. Alvin Chan and Devin Moriarity who play the latter two characters were great having fun with the uppity-british English accent.

Curious Frog Theatre Company is an Astoria based company that started in 2007, and it looks like they already have a great core group of actors. Reading their website they are looking to develop an annual Shakespeare Festival that showcases a more diverse group of actors in major Shakespearean roles. They also hope to perform throughout more communities that don’t have an easy access to theatre, and that’s a great feat - congratulations to CFTC for their valiant efforts!

Check out Curious Frog at