Olivia Charis, Contributing Photographer

After two years of remote programming, the Elm Shakespeare Company held its first performance at the brand new Alexander Clark Playhouse Stage in Edgerton Park as part of its “Shakespeare in the Park” series.

Elm Shakespeare Company is an organization that aims to construct and enrich humanistic environments for people from diverse backgrounds by offering accessible theater experiences in parks and classrooms. The Company believes that Shakespeare’s plays are still meaningful to 21st Century viewers since it’s “not of an age, but of all time,” according to the company’s website. From Aug. 18 to Sep. 4, the Company performed one of the playwright’s most famous plays, “The Tempest.” Over the course of the two-week run, New Haven residents came out to enjoy the free show, which was open to all. 

“The story of the play is about a man (Prospero) who is really wronged and by the end of the play he forgives those people,” play director Rebecca Goodheart said. “He finds the way because of his daughter. And he wants to find a better world for his daughter (Miranda).” 

Goodheart added that she believes “the world needs more than everything to figure out how to forgive each other.” The show was Goodheart’s fifteenth production.

While developing the play, Goodheart’s team faced several challenges. In the original playwriting, Shakespeare draws heavily on the description of magic. But in reality, conveying the effect of magic is not an easy task, according to Goodheart. Eventually, the team decided to combine lighting, sound, music and artificial fog to create an otherworldly effect that mimics magic. 

Before the show, the audience enjoyed a performance from “Three Men of Sin,” a band of actors in the show who — with quirky guitar numbers — prepared the crowd for an evening of laughter and fourth wall breaks. 

“I’m going to miss it,” Aleeki Shortridge, the actress who played Spirit 1 in “The Tempest,” said, reminiscing on her first-ever professional show. 

Shortridge is a senior at Southern Connecticut State University. She took on the role despite having never seen any Shakespeare performed. While she admitted the long hours of continuous rehearsing and performing were intensive, she said the work was rewarding. 

The selection process for actors was particularly competitive this season, with Goodheart and her team receiving over 600 submissions. 

Tyler Cruz DRA ’23, the actress who plays the main female protagonist Miranda, said she was “very intimidated” when she first began working on the show. “In the beginning I felt [the dramatic opening lines were] so forced,” she said. But, Cruz said that she worked overtime on the role and looks forward to working in a future Shakespearan show. 

Nomè SiDone DRA ’23, one of Cruz’s friends, attended the show Saturday night. 

 “I’ve seen this play a hundred times,” SiDone said. “[But this] is iconic.” 

The audience also played a central role in the performance of this Shakespearean comedy. The energy of the crowd, from children to elderly couples, made for a unique encounter. Prospero’s character in particular, played by L. Peter Callender, broke the fourth wall several times, cuing the audience in and making light of the events onstage.  

When Goodheart asked if anyone had attended Shakespeare in the Park for all 27 iterations, at least three hands shot up at the back of the audience. 

Goodheart said she is happy to be in a community that understands “the transformational power of art and the importance of all of us coming together to see it.”
The Elm Shakespeare Company will host a benefit gala and auction at Amarante’s Sea Cliff on Sep. 14.

Olivia Charis is the News' arts editor. A sophomore in Morse College from Marrero, Louisiana, she oversees reporters covering fine arts, music, theater, literature, and museums at Yale and in New Haven.
Ophelia He is a reporter of city and arts desk, covering Arts, Theaters, and Museums in Yale and in New Haven. Originally from Shenzhen, China, she is a freshman from Stiles majoring in History of Art and Cognitive Science.