Kathryn Kosto's first summer as executive director at the Ten Broeck Mansion in Albany came with some unexpected challenges, but the folks at the Albany County Historical Association are doing what they can to keep the place busy despite the COVID-19 Pandemic.
The historic 1798 structure, home to the ACHA since 1942, is holding house tours by reservation only, and on Saturday afternoon from 2-3:30 p.m., the mansion will once again collaborate with Confetti Stage to host a live theatrical event, "A Summer Afternoon's Dream: Shakespeare Monologues in the Ten Broeck Gardens."
"We are delighted to be partnering with Confetti Stage again," said Kosto, who moved into her post last September after working for the National Park Service and the Art School of Columbia County. "We've had to make some artistic choices to keep our actors and our audiences safe, so we will require everyone to wear facemasks, and there are several sanitizing stations. We'll also have orange cones set up to make sure people not in the same household are six feet apart."
In past summers, Confetti Stage has produced "Much Ado About Nothing," "Cyrano," and "The Comedy of Errors," all at Ten Broeck. The entertainment this year will not be one of Shakespeare's best plays. Instead, it will consist of many of his most memorable lines.
"Originally, I was supposed to direct a different play at Ten Broeck Mansion," said Ellen Cribbs, who moved to the Capital Region in 2017 and has performed as an actor at Schenectady Civic, Albany Civic and Capital Repertory Theatre. "But we had a discussion and thought one afternoon of Shakespeare's monologues would be best for the actors and the audience. It was important for us to have something, and it's important to give our local actors an opportunity to work at their craft. A lot of them haven't done it for a while."
A Virginia native who moved to the Albany area from Chicago, Cribbs is well versed in Shakespeare's work, having recently directed one of the Bard's most popular plays, "MacBeth," in the windy city.
"We've been rehearsing on Zoom, and before we started I asked our actors for some of their favorite scenes, perhaps with lines that they hadn't had the opportunity to say before," said Cribbs. "I was thinking maybe they would come up with a few things that weren't included in some traditional productions, and I had a good list to choose from. As I started looking at them I noticed a theme. They're about love and revenge, justice and ambition. Those are the big ones."
There are eight actors in the show, including newly engaged Joe Plock and Laura Darling.
"All eight actors do monologues so they are up on the stage by themselves except for Laura and Joe," said Cribbs. "They said they didn't need to social distance because they're from the same household, so instead of a monologue they will actually do a scene."
The set will not be an elaborate one.
"The gardens are beautiful, but we're going to keep it open and simple," said Cribbs. "We'll hang a few drapes on trees, but not much else. People will be able to enjoy the monologues for what they are."
The show is already sold out.
"Per New York State house guidelines, we're only able to have 33 percent of our maximum capacity for an outdoor venue," explained Kosto, a Yale University graduate. "They'll be 30 audience members and people will be seated according to households. Along with masks, people should bring blankets or a lawn chair. It will be family groups by household, and there could be just one person in that household. That's fine."
The other performers are Ryan Palmer, Marquis Heath, Sean Baldwin, Lucy Breyer, Adele Costa and Angelique Powell.