The BSF had a black-tie (or Elizabethan costume) gala to announce its upcoming season. Their first play will be “Henry V” beginning February 14, 2020, and will include an Original Pronunciation production of “King Lear” in April. This will be followed by “Much Ado About Nothing,” “All’s Well That Ends Well” and “The Tragedy of Mariam.” Ending the 1919 season will be “The Knight of the Burning Pestle” a play contemporary to The Bard from November1-24, 2019. The first night is a “Pay-What-You-Will” event.
The BSF is known for its presentation and training in Original Pronunciation of Shakespeare’s work. They also make every effort to perform using Elizabethan theatrical designs and staging.
In addition to announcing next season, the group renamed its theatre now “The Kestrel.” If you have never been there, the theatre is located inside St. Mary’s Community Center, a historic former church in Hampden. It was originally built in 1860 but was robbed and burned to the ground during the Civil War. It was rebuilt in 1873. In 1999 it no longer acted as a church but came a community center. There are still beautiful stained-glass windows, a pipe organ from 1901 and a cemetery adjacent to the building.
Other groups still share the space, but BSF recently with the generosity of woodwright, Thomas Brown, renovated the stage to reflect Elizabethan times as much as possible. The effect is dramatic. (See ‘A Quick 5’ with Thomas Brown.) Inlay wood frame the balcony and curtain. There is a beautiful wood stage floor and now matching steps for entering and exiting to from and to the audience.
There is a window that you can just picture being opened by Juliet and beautiful new ceiling paintings. Attendees of the gala got a first look at all these renovations, a chance to see the intricate plans hand done by Brown and even meet Thomas Brown himself. Brown and his granddaughter cut the ribbon on the new stage of The Kestrel.
Brown was honored for his work as well as their founder, Tom Delise. We all toasted them and “The Kestrel” with a glass of mead. What could be more Elizabethan?
For general information and tickets for “The Knight of the Burning Pestle” contact the Baltimore Shakespeare Factory website.