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'Richard III'' Debuts First of Three Nights in Basking Ridge Park

By Linda Sadlouskos

Thursday, August 21, 2014 • 10:38pm

BERNARDS TOWNSHIP, NJ _ William Shakespeare's "Richard III" brought "the winter of  [his] discontent" amidst the final weeks of "glorious summer" to the outdoor amphitheater at Pleasant Valley Park off Valley Road in Basking Ridge on Thursday night, for the first of three scheduled performances for 8 p.m. on Aug. 21 to 23 at that location. Another three shows of "Richard III" are scheduled for the start of the Labor Day weekend at Mindowaskin Park in Westfield.

The tragic play, produced by Hank Barre of Basking Ridge, and directed by Joe Penczak of Westfield - who also played the title role of Shakespeare's hunchbacked conniving royal Richard - is scheduled to continue its run at 8 p.m. on Friday and Saturday evenings at Pleasant Valley Park. The amphitheater is behind the tennis courts and playground at the township's municipal park.

The performances are joint production of the Basking Ridge-based Trilogy Repertory Co. and A Troupe of Friends from Westfield. Trilogy presented two other "Plays in the Park" earlier this summer.

Before Thursday night's production, which began prior to the rain, Trilogy President Jaye Barre announced that although the play is free to the public, both regional theather companies appreciate donations to keep the long-running local outdoor theater tradition alive.

Richard is portrayed by Shakespeare as an evil conniver with blood on hands in his attempt to obtain the English throne  in an era that preceeded Shakespeare's time. He arrives on stage with a famous soliloquy.

He admits he lacks the ability to produce "sweet and soothing words."

The staging of Richard III was supported by the Bernards Township Parks and Recreation, funding from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts as administered by Somerset County and also by Union County, Barre said.

The same show is scheduled to be staged the following week at 8 p.m. on Aug. 28, 29 and 30 at Mindowaskin Park in Westfield.

The play will last for two hours, and theater-goers are invited to bring lawn chairs.

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