A Memory About the American Shakespeare Festival Theatre

Naugatuck Patch Theatre Reviewer Nancy Sasso Janis shares some memories about the American Shakespeare Festival Theatre, affectionately known at the Shakespeare Theatre.

Dedicated to the memory of my father, Austin N. Sasso

It was the norm when I was in high school in Stratford to attend at least one Shakespeare play every year at the American Shakespeare Theatre and no one misses this theater more than me.
– From Nancy Sasso Janis’ review of THE COMEDY OF ERRORS at Hartford Stage

Early Sunday morning, I was heartbroken to read that the beloved Shakespeare Theatre was gone forever. A treasure has been lost…

The theater that I loved had opened in my hometown before I was born. Some of the most famous stars, like Katherine Hepburn, had graced its stage before I was old enough to attend a Shakespeare play. However, I have strong memories of taking field trip after field trip with my middle school and high school English classes to experience high quality productions at our hometown theater after studying the texts in class. I wish I could remember the titles of all of the works of the Bard that we enjoyed; I do remember that when our classes got off the school buses after our brief commute from across town, we got in line with students that had traveled great distances from all around the region.

I am certain that I got to see the renowned performance of Morris Carnovsky in the title role of King Lear. I distinctly remember the teacher who chaperoned our trip to the performance noting how she could tell which teens in the audience had read the play before attending the production. Those students that had studied the tragedy before the show sat forward in their seats at the most dramatic point in the tragedy, the gouging out of Gloucester’s eyes. I know for sure that I saw a play with Christopher Plummer, remembering him from one of the first films I ever saw in a movie theatre, The Sound of Music. Read More…

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