All of Owl’s Head Park’s a stage.
The main knoll in the green space along 68th Street and Colonial Road became an Elizabethan wonderland on Aug. 3, as Bay Ridge theater companies BrooklynONE Productions and Dimensions On-Stage put on the first-ever Brooklyn Shakespeare Festival.
Child performers from Dimensions recited the Bard’s sonnets and danced, while BrooklynONE’s grown-up actors played out scenes from the writer’s most famous stage works. Organizers said they wanted it to be an accessible introduction to William Shakespeare’s art — and to an event that they hope to make a new Bay Ridge tradition.
“We wanted to keep it as family-friendly, kid-friendly as possible, so we decided this time to just do selections,” said Anthony Marino, co-founder and artistic director of BrooklynONE. “This is absolutely something we want to do again. And we want to build from where we started.”
The Dyker Heights native said he envisions the next year’s festival as a full-blown Renaissance fair with games and events for kids by day — then, in the evening, seguing into a full-length production of a Shakespearean play. Marino added that the event would encourage people from other neighborhoods to visit Bay Ridge. At this year’s trial run, many of BrooklynONE’s actors — and their friends and family — came from other parts of the city, and had never visited the neighborhood prior to Saturday.
“Some of them had never heard of Bay Ridge before. We were really able to branch out,” Marino said. “This is a great way to bring people from outside our area into our community, so they can see how it’s culturally thriving.”
Of course, many Ridgites stopped by to check out the performances. Marino said the festival commanded a crowd of around 70 people — not bad, considering the intermittent rain.
“It was a great audience crowd for a first year event, and especially given the weather we had,” said Marino.
It may have been the first Shakespeare festival at the green space, but it certainly was not the first throwback event. Owl’s Head Park — known locally as “Bliss Park” after the man who donated the plot of land to the city — is also home to the annual Viking Fest every MayReach reporter Will Bredderman at wbredderma