Shakespeare & Company in Lenox, Massachusetts has officially closed on the purchase of its $4.1 million future home, the former headquarters of the National Music Foundation at 40 Kemble Street in Lenox.
"We've just finished the signing and its a done deal," a spokesperson told Playbill On-Line. "The property is officially ours."
Earlier described by theatre founder and artistic director Tina Packard as "the re-invention of the organization," the nonprofit's purchase will lead to additional fundraising and an extensive, multi-million dollar renovation program. Shakespeare & Co. will eventually be based on the 63-acre, 22 building property. From its inception in 1978, Berkshire's leading nonprofit theatre company was located at The Mount in Lenox, the historic former home of novelist Edith Wharton.
As reported earlier, Shakespeare and Company will be financing its purchase and then gradually initiating a multi-phase program that will first increase the company's audience base. In December, some sources placed Shakespeare and Company's funding success at almost $3 million thus far, but the group says that it must raise more. In all, said a company spokesman, the theatre company will 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 will continue operations at The Mount for the time being. The company has a long, six-month season and begins productions on May 8. By 2001, the theatre company hopes to have at least one 400-450 seat theatre stage up and running at Kemble. By then, most of the group’s administrative offices will already be at Kemble. The lease at The Mount is valid through 2004. On April 7, a Shakespeare & Company source told Playbill On-Line that the theatre's fundraising effort is critical to making the real estate program work. In terms of the need for fundraising, for instance, only eight of the 22 buildings at the new Kemble site are usable now. Many of the structures there need extensive restoration due to neglect or deferred maintenance.
-- By Murdoch McBride