The Little Shakespeare Festival
Welcome to The Little Shakespeare Festival at Frigid New York! This festival is a celebration of independent theatre and performance that takes inspiration from the immortal bard, William Shakespeare. Each year, companies are offered a different theme or idea to help guide their work. in 2023, our goal was to celebrate or center gender diversity in the Bard’s canon. This included shows where roles traditionally played by cis men were opened to all genders, where male characters had their gender changed, bent, or broken, or where non-male characters usually left to the sidelines were brought into the spotlight. All performances are in the intimate Under St. Marks theater during August.
Little Shakespeare is curated by Conor Mullen of As You Will.
When considering Shakespeare, we often get so caught up in his legacy we forget that, during his life, he was an independent, working artist, writing plays and trying to get by. His actors worked with all too little rehearsal time, learning the fights and dances sometimes while the audience was already lined up to enter the theatre. His casts often included his good friends–and himself when the need called for it. Even his costumes, which to us seem so extravagant, were donations from wealthy patrons, the Elizabethan equivalent of digging through clothing racks at Goodwill.
Sitting in Under St. Marks, it’s not too hard for me to imagine William Shakespeare working here. He’d have used his words to turn this space into a Roman dungeon, a Scottish castle, or a moonlit Athenian forest. His actors would have loved having the audience so close they could speak with them directly. And, of course, he would have been very approving of a bar inside the theatre, since in his own time audience members who wanted a drink had to leave the theatre and visit a local bar.
It’s a reminder for me that Shakespeare doesn’t just live on when performed in giant, open air amphitheaters or big, Broadway houses; he also lives in these most humble of places, where I think he would have felt quite at home. Here, with you and me, at The Little Shakespeare Festival.
-Conor D Mullen, Festival Curator