One of Riverhead’s own will direct the “Shakespeare in the Park” series in Greenport’s Mitchell Park this summer.
Colin Palmer, a 22-year-old Riverhead High School graduate, will head up this year’s production of Henry V – the story of a young English king’s invasion of France.
We sat down with Palmer to learn more:
Q: First of all, tell us a bit about this summer’s event.
A: It’s a free event that will take place 7 p.m. on August 9, 10 and 11 at Mitchell Park in Greenport. Anyone can come and should feel free to bring a picnic, blanket, or chairs. This year we’re performing Shakespeare’s Henry V.
Q: Where are you right now in the preparation process for Henry V?
A: We’re in the final stage of preparations. We’ll be having auditions at the end of the month – May 28, 29 and 30 – at the Holy Trinity Episcopal Church in Greenport.
Q: How many parts are available for audition?
A: Henry V has a big cast. There was originally about 50 parts in the production and there’s 37 parts in this show. Almost all are male with about 5 or 6 female parts. There’s a lot of English and Frency aristocracy, as well as a lot of ordinary people as soldiers.
Q: Why did you pick Henry V for this year’s production?
A: I feel like Henry V is the most accessible of Shakespeare’s history plays. In the beginning of Shakespeare in the Park, they just did his comedies. In the past two years, they’ve done some of his more serious dramas, but I noticed they’ve never done a history play.
Q: How did you become director of this year’s Shakespeare in the Park?
A: The board of NorthEast stage asked me to direct after their usual director, A.D. Newcomer, wasn’t able to take as large of a role in this year’s production. I was ecstatic to be able to do it.
Q: Tell me about your background in theater.
A: I started out acting with the Blue Masques in Riverhead HIgh School and during the summer, would perform with the North Fork Community Theater. I’ve always been interested in theater, but never thought about it as a career until recently. I was a classics student my first couple of years in college, but decided to change my major to theater a year and a half ago. I took a short course on directing at the Central School of Speech and Drama in England, am currently taking theater classes at Suffolk Community College and will finish off my degree at Stony Brook University. I also helped start Management Productions with Tim Ferris because we wanted to start a group where we could do plays that aren’t normally performed. We’ve done one-act plays like David and Amy Sedaris’ The Book of Liz and The Who’s rock ppera, Tommy.
Q: How did you initially get into theater?
A: It started out when I was just in elementary school. I was a very imaginative child and liked to imagine being different people and in different places. I was in “Gulliver Travels” in second grade, absolutely loved it and my parents were very supportive. They took me to broadway musicals and later to some more serious shows, but my mother and father were integral to my learning this particular art form.
Q: As a director, what’s makes a performance a great one?
A: One where the audience gets whatever underlying message [every person involved in the production] is trying to convey through the performance. It’s great for the audience to be entertained and if they are, that’s as much as we can hope for, but if they can understand the underlying messages and maybe connect them to their own life, that’s a great performance. This play is very entertaining, but there’s a lot of underlying messages about war, power and what it means to be a leader that hopefully the audience will get in addition to the entertainment.
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