Celebrating a $22,500 gift from GE Plastics, Berkshire-based Shakespeare and Company now says it is “less than $800,000 from achieving its [fundraising] goal” in connection with the purchase and preparation of a sprawling new home facility in Lenox. Mass. GE will distribute the funds over three years.
As reported earlier, Shakespeare and Company committed itself on Dec. 31 last year to purchase the former home of the National Music Foundation in Lenox, Massachusetts. Eventually Shakespeare and Company, headed by founder and artistic director, Tina Packer will be based on the 63-acre, 22-building property at 40 Kemble Street in Lenox.
Before that happens, Shakespeare and Company will be financing its new purchase and then gradually initiating a multi-phase program that will increase the company's audience base.
Shakespeare and Company is gradually phasing out operations at the Mount, Edith Wharton’s Berkshire estate. When the estate said it did not want to renew the theatre's lease for The Mount, Shakespeare and Company began “house hunting,” with the goal of staying in the Berkshires. Packer feels site specific settings in the mountains can lend themselves to important classic production values.
Shakespeare and Company’s board member Dan McCleary has said the theatre company would need between $8.5 - $9 million -- both to cover necessary renovations and restorations as well as the $4.1 million purchase price of the Kemble Street facility. Shakespeare and Company has a long, six-month season which begins May 8. By 2001, the theatre company had hoped to have one 400-450 seat theatre stage up and running at Kemble. In fact, summer openings now appear more realistic.
Theatre operations will continue at the Mount (that lease is valid through 2004) and at the nearby 500-seat Duffin Theatre.
—By Murdoch McBride