Since 2005, Rye Middle School social worker Peter Green, his wife Carin Zakes, and the LawnChair Theatre Company have brought contemporary versions of Shakespeare’s plays to parks all across Westchester County
By Jamie Jensen
Since 2005, Rye Middle School social worker Peter Green, his wife Carin Zakes, and the LawnChair Theatre Company have brought contemporary versions of Shakespeare’s plays to parks all across Westchester County. For locals, this has become one of the best-attended summer traditions at Rye Town Park. Under the starry skies overlooking Long Island Sound, with simply produced sets that incorporate one of the park’s historic pavilions, couples, families, and friends gather with their lawn chairs, picnic food, bottles of wine, and cups of coffee for wonderful evenings filled with Shakespearean comedy and tragedy.
On Saturday, August 6 and Sunday, August 7 at 6, get ready for “Twelfth Night,” Shakespeare’s “RomCom of gender confusion and mistaken identity.” The Good People are sometimes indistinguishable from the bullies. Standing in for Illyria is San Francisco in 1967, the Summer of Love. Experience Shakespeare’s characters in tie-dye and all manner of ’60s dress, as well as a live band playing some of your favorite ’60s rock ‘n roll — Jimi Hendrix, Cream, the Young Rascals, the Turtles, and of course, the Rolling Stones.
Last year, LawnChair staged “Romeo and Juliet” in 1930s New Orleans, and in 2013 we were treated to the “Taming of the Shrew,” Mad Men style. And who can forget “Much Ado about Nothing” in 2012 when RHS English teacher Mike Limone brilliantly captured the handsome and ridiculously witty Benedict during a performance that included the renewal of wedding vows by a local couple during the play’s intermission.
The LawnChair Theatre Company features multi-generational casts that blend professional and amateur performers. Their goal is to “contemporize Shakespeare without rewriting him.”
Peter Green is best known as a Rye Middle School counselor, famous for the stadium seating lining the walls of his office that he uses to host group lunches with students. When not working with our teens, he can be found running parenting workshops on Wednesday mornings at Rye Rec. Others also know him as an actor, director, and even wedding minister. This summer he is not only directing “Twelfth Night” but also, to raise money for the production, is composing sonnets as “live ads” that will be read by the actors during intermission. For $100, local business and organizations can become part of the production and promote themselves.
Rye residents will recognize, Scott Harris, the beloved Rye Neck Schools Theatre Director, who has plays Orsino. Joining the cast is 2016 Rye High graduate Zoe Patterson. Rye High student Hannah Blake is this year’s company’s stage manager.
Live, local theatre needs sponsors, and the company is fortunate to have Atria Senior Living in Rye Brook supporting LawnChair’s performances in Rye Town Park this year. The theater company operates under the auspices of the Port Chester Council of the Arts.
In case of rain at Rye Town Park, audiences have two other opportunities to see the production: Crawford Park on Thursday, August 11, or Pine Ridge Park on Saturday, August 13.