A March 1 press conference has been scheduled at The Mount, Edith Wharton's former estate in Lenox, Mass. to announce the early departure of Shakespeare and Company from that historic site. Though not necesarily synonymous, the company and the location have been mentioned in the same breath for more than two decades.
Originally scheduled to move two years from now in 2003, the nonprofit Shakespeare and Company now says it will push up its departure. The transition of Shakespeare and Company from The Mount was to have been gradual, taking place over the months and years remaining on the theatre's lease.
A new schedule is not known and a joint release from both Shakespeare and the Wharton estate offered little information on the change in plan. A new timetable is expected March 1. Details are being embargoed by both the Wharton Estate and the theatre, according to a Wharton spokesperson. A call to Shakespeare and Company was not returned by press time.
In recent times, Shakespeare and Company has been fundraising aggressively and building its subscriber base well ahead of a planned move to a new $4.1 million permanent home. The theatre will occupy the former headquarters of the National Music Foundation at 40 Kemble Street, also in Lenox. Earlier described by theatre founder and artistic director Tina Packer as "the re-invention of the organization," Shakespeare and Company's purchase of the Kemble facility has sparked additional fundraising and an extensive, multi-million dollar renovation program there. Shakespeare & Company expects to use all of the 63-acre, 22 building Kemble facility.
Theatre company spokespersons have said Shakespeare and Company will need to raise between $8.5-$9 million — both to cover necessary renovations and restorations, as well as the $4.1 million purchase price for Kemble. It is not known whether the early termination of the theatre's tenancy was reach amicably, or what the financial impact is to either party.
—By Murdoch McBride