It was while listening to a Q&A with Saul Elkin, prior to a Shakespeare in the Park Much Ado About Nothing performance, that I learned how successful the season was turning out to be. What is it that continues to draw such large numbers of people to the performances and how would this ever-growing phenomenon react to the increased crowds? I had heard that the push was on to build a new stage – I had even seen renderings of facilities improvements (concept designs by architect Charlie Gordon). This is an exciting time for Shakespeare in the Park, and thanks to driving forces like Saul, founder and artistic director of the series, Buffalo has quite the dynamic stage set for the public to enjoy all summer long. With the stellar attendance, I would hope that Saul and friends get their wishes granted someday…
BRO: Is this really the most attended season?
Saul: Second only to a production of Romeo and Juliet some years ago, this has been the best attended single production for as many years as we have been counting (just under 20,000 people attended).
BRO: Why the increase in attendees?
Saul: I can only think that a combination of glorious weather… the “musical” approach, a terrific cast, and excellent word of mouth accounted for the high attendance… certainly not the Buffalo News review.
BRO: Does that mean that we might someday see construction of a new stage?
Saul: The dream of a new stage continues. The issue is not just my wish for that to happen, nor the wish of our board. But whether or not we can attract the kind of support for capital construction that will be necessary. And… we are working on it.
BRO: Regarding production, how are things changing?
Saul: The approach taken to Much Ado is not necessarily new. In my 35 years of producing, directing and acting in this festival we have previously done productions with music… if anything… we really nailed it this time.
BRO: How have you personally witnessed the current season as opposed to previous years? Weather? Economy? Olmsted advancements?
Saul: The economy has made the task of producing a free festival daunting, but the strength of this festival rests in great measure on the principal that this is a free public event… it helps that we are doing good work and that audiences are pleased.
Saul: The good news is that we are alive and well in spite of the struggle that all not for profit culturals are experiencing.