POLAND — A mini version of Shakespeare in the Park has come to Maine.

Members of the Poland Players are taking the Bard on the road this summer, and area residents at numerous locations are seeing free abridged presentations of “Romeo and Juliet” and “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.”

D’Arcy Robinson, English, theater and dance instructor at Poland Regional High School, is the driving force for this effort. She credits two college students from Poland who are former students of hers with the program’s success.

Bryant Cyr and Alexz Wight, both studying theater in Massachusetts, came home for summer vacation a couple of years ago and told her they wanted to do something like the shows they did in high school. That led to their major participation in the Poland Players’ summer program of Shakespeare.

“They are doing a phenomenal job directing the shows,” Robinson said.

“If you love theater, you are going to find a way to do it,” she said.

The group’s venture into Shakespeare is a community program. The cast includes four or five college and high school students, about five adults and a couple of elementary school students.

They make their own costumes and use some items from the PRHS theater resources. The staging is minimal.

The program is entirely voluntary and does not receive any school department funding, Robinson said. Donations are accepted at the performances.

“It’s a real testimony to kids being creative,” Robinson said.

The shows run about one hour. They were abbreviated by Cyr and Wight, but they retain most familiar scenes and speeches. Shakespeare’s original text has not been changed in these productions.

“We have been pretty lucky with the weather,” Robinson said. Most shows have taken place outdoors.

Robinson said her inspiration for the outdoor Shakespeare productions came from a time when she worked with Joseph Papp and his assistant in Colorado. In the 1950s, Papp founded the New York Shakespeare Festival and its performances in Central Park.

“John Basil of the American Globe Theatre was another mentor of mine whose invaluable training I have shared with my students,” Robinson said.

For more information about the group, contact [email protected]

Upcoming performances:
“Romeo and Juliet”
Aug. 13: Fountain Park, Lewiston, noon
Aug. 19: Fiddlehead Arts Community, Gray, 3:15 p.m.
Aug. 19: Poland Regional High School, 7 p.m.

“A Midsummer Night’s Dream”
Aug. 5: Harrison Library, 6 p.m.
Aug. 9: Poland Spring Campground, 2 p.m. (sold out)
Aug: 12: Fiddlehead Art Community, Gray, 11:30 a.m.
Aug. 13: Festival Plaza, Auburn, 7 p.m.
Aug. 19: Poland Regional High School, 7 p.m.

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