Henry IV Cast Announcement: One Grateful Director

Joby Earle announces the cast of Henry IV for Smith Street Stage


A few weeks ago we held callbacks for our upcoming production of Henry 4. It was my first time casting and I can say the view from the other side of the table is a humbling one as you get to witness artist after artist come and wrestle with this impossible task that is the audition process. It is a brave, strange, act, this. On the plane home I felt deeply grateful and confused as to how anyone makes a choice as to whom they are eventually going to go with. I had a few hunches, mostly based on what I perceived to be a shared pleasure in working together, or actors who came in and seemed not afraid to try things at risk of failure.

The rubric I finally decided upon was that of my idea of what it must be like to put a sports team together. Match people’s strengths, get a variety of training, go with those whose collaborative spirit seem to match their talent and facility.

All of this is attempted to be gauged in a total of spending no more than 30 minutes with someone over the course of auditions and callbacks. It’s a harrowing task for both those who are casting and those who are auditioning.

And yet, one by one, actors came in practicing patience, ease, grace, bravery. It was a sight to behold, and I hope more get to experience it.

To all who came in: thank you for your work. For whatever it’s worth, it was a gift to us sitting in that room.

All my best,

Joby Earle


Jonathan Hopkins                    Falstaff

Hannah Sloat                           Prince Hal

Jane May                                 King Henry, Hostess Quickly

Michael Hanson                       Hotspur, Pistol

Lauren Pennline                       Poins, Westmorland

Beth Ann Hopkins                   Bardoph, Douglas, Warwick

Jonathan Minton                      Worcester, Chief Justice

Sam Reiff-Pasarew                  John, Gadshill, Shallow, Doll


The Final Countdown

It’s that time of year again, friends. We are one week away from our annual summer Shakespeare production! This year’s play, Much Ado About Nothing (no, not the Much Ado in the park with Lily Rabe — the OTHER Much Ado in the OTHER park), is one for the whole fam. For real. Tons of laughs, dancing like you’ve never seen at Smith Street Stage, and a live band! Don’t take my word for it though, you should definitely check the facts in person. Preferably at a performance. Want an idea of what you’ll be seeing? Check it:


I don’t think I’m speaking out of bias, but I am in the play (this blog post brought to you by one Sophia Tupy: Summer Assistant and “Ursula” in Much Ado). Here’s the info, just in case you missed the online invite:

These are clickable! Expand away, dear reader.


As we gear up for our tech weekend (that’s theater speak for that time we start to include the smart people who add all the lights and/or sound for the show, among other things), there is a lot to celebrate already with this play. The company has been working incredibly hard, dancing their butts off, and creating a seriously lovely piece of theater. And yes, I mentioned the dancing twice — knew it wouldn’t get past you — because we worked really hard on it, and it will be fantastic. This is surely one for the books, especially since (drum roll) we finally got our 501(C)(3) status!

It’s official, y’all.


This recent (and very exciting) development is a good reminder, being so close to the show. We really are doing this for the people of Carroll Park — our audiences — not for the cash. It’s a community experience, and as of this weekend the whole Smith Street Stage community will have a hand in making this show happen. A lot of energy has been put in by a lot of hardworking, talented people, and I can guarantee the ease and joy of the performances will reflect that. Plus, who doesn’t love free shows, right? So if you missed Lily and Hamish, come see the same play in a different park with (mostly) different people! For no money!


Bring some seating (because rain can happen), and bring some friends — see you soon!

Sincerely — Sophia Tupy and the Smith Street Stage Summer Assistants

(So much alliteration! We could be a band! The possibilities…)

“Summer’s Lease Hath all too short a Date” -Shakespeare


The cast and crew of Julius Caesar- what a ride!

The cast and crew of Julius Caesar- what a ride!

And so does Julius Caesar. If there’s one thing the fourth Summer of Smith Street Stage has taught us, it is that time is fleeting, as are amazing interns. For those of you devoted blog readers, you’ll be sad to hear that the accomplished Katie, our esteemed student assistant has completed her Summer program with Smith Street. As with all our talented young artist/assistants this Summer, she and her charming posts will be missed.

The world's best assistant team, we could not have done it without them!

The world’s best assistant team, we could not have done it without them!

With the staff seasonally depleted of fresh faces and our Caesar cast moving onward and upward to their next artistic challenges we here on the Smith Street Board can’t help but miss the good old days, and by that, we mean last month. The thrill of alarming the neighborhood of Caesar’s death night after night, a cold beer after the show at The Jakewalk, the maintenance workers who were frightened of our prop coffin, little kids sheer delight at fight call, and another Summer of storytelling with new friends… Man that was the best, right?

Sorry Park Staff! We promise it's all pretend, really!

Sorry Park Staff! We promise it’s all pretend, really!

Of course, we’ve been aided in our wallowing with the amazing stills that staff photographer Chris Montgomery has taken of Julius Caesar and our Brooklyn audience. Man, that guy knows how to rub it in.


Our Artistic Director, Beth Ann Hopkins, showing the Love!

Record breaking audience numbers!

Record breaking audience numbers!

A Woman of the People!

A Woman of the People!

Speaking of our patrons, you know, the picnickers who show up in 94 degree heat and were unfalteringly attentive? Those amazing people? Well, they nearly doubled in size this Season. What? YES! close to 2,000 people saw our show! I suppose the word is out, great Shakepearan plays are being staged in Brooklyn’s most charming park, and they’re free to boot! Looking at these pictures serves as a reminder to us just how great this Summer has been. When we stare at them, everyday… Anywho! check out more of Chris’s pictures when you’re liking us on facebook, which you should do now. Right now. You did it? Okay cool. Hey man, thanks for supporting the show, it means a lot.

Leal, charming the audience for donations!

Leal, charming the audience for donations!

Thank you, we love you, tip your waitresses!

Thank you, we love you, tip your waitresses!

Well, nothing left to do but enjoy these last days of Summer, and look ahead to next Season. At least we’re facebook friends now, so you can come to our off season shows and fundraisers and keep up on the latest Smith Street Stage News. Of which there will be plenty! Just you wait….

– Smith Street Stage


“I, your glass”: What doing outdoor Shakespeare will teach you about life

Dear friends and followers,

Thank you, thank you, thank you to those of you who have already treated yourselves to a night of Shakespeare at Carroll Park in Brooklyn! For those of you who are now thinking, “Oh man! I wish Katie’s thanks were directed at me right now!”, you have 4 more chances to include yourself in that group! July 11, 12, 13 and 14th are our last 4 performances of Julius Caesar, and you should get there by 7pm and share in the political intrigue with us!


In the days off between shows, I’ve been thinking a lot about the fact that this weekend will be the last time I get to do this particular show with these particularly wonderful people. As Cassius will tell you, indulging in reflection has the tendency to “modestly discover to yourself, that of yourself which you yet know not of.” And it is in that spirit that I have learned a very important life lesson, which I will attempt to convey through anecdote. This is what people call a parable, I think.


“I was sitting outside Park House at Carroll Park, stroking my signature summer sweat-goatee and running lines with Joby Earle, our supremely talented Brutus and a supremely wonderful person to boot, when I felt an eery premonition. Was there a bug on me? Was it about to rain? No. I assuaged my paranoia with a swig of iced coffee. Then it happened. A squirrel pooped on Joby’s script. I froze, terrified of the fact that 1. I was going to have to find a way to tell Joby that there was poop on his script and 2. I was being pooped on (in that order of priority). The man has been on Broadway, ladies and gents! And I failed to protect his script from an assault by a dyspeptic squirrel.

Somehow I think Shakespeare would have appreciated the direct dichotomy of high- and low-brow in a single moment. On one hand, “In we do meet again, why we shall smile, if not, why then this parting was well made”. On the other hand, potty humor (a brand of humor that both Joby and I discovered we share, thank the gods). In a twist of fate, the squirrel had merely managed to ruin about the only page in the script on which Brutus has no lines.

What I realized after the fact, after finding a new spot for running lines, after Joby had assured me that there was no poop in my hair, and in fact, after getting the chance to perform with my crazy talented cast for an audience so supportive that they came out against the recommendation of every weather report, I had the thought that if I had been pooped on, getting to do this show would have been worth it. The experience of doing this show outdoors under the unpredictable and beautiful open sky, of having to trust my own ability to work under conditions that are beyond my control, of working with an insanely talented company of actors and directors with equal parts passion and playfulness are daily sources of inspiration. Every night I go to work and risk being pooped on…so what?! Every night I also have the chance of seeing the sky turn pink while Brutus and Cassius exchange their final goodbye. I have the chance of seeing fireflies courting each other and cloud castles drifting by and heat lightning flashing, witnessing the strange perfection of a scenic design that will only ever occur once, and be totally different the next night.

Joby Earle and Jonathan Hopkins under our one-night-only proscenium arch.

Joby Earle and Jonathan Hopkins under our one-night-only proscenium arch.

What I learned, ultimately, was that I want always to do the kind of work which would make being pooped on worth it. I found one such extremely worth-it experience at Smith Street Stage, and will forever be grateful for it.”

It’s no “Good Samaritan” or “Prodigal Son”, but it is my firm belief that the lesson gleaned stands as valuable in spite of (or, perhaps, because of) the true events of the story. Thanks for reading!

Adieu for now,



“How many ages hence shall this our lofty scene be acted over!”

Friends and followers!

Our fearless leaders Jonathan and Jess watch at tech rehearsal.

Our fearless leaders Jonathan and Jess watch at tech rehearsal.

It happened! We opened our play last night! Thank you to all who came out for our first performance of Julius Caesar. We held for rain at one point, which could have been a real downer, but our audience stuck it out, and we had a great show. Also, how many times can Cassius talk about baring his bosom to the thunder stone while it’s actually starting to rain?! That’s one of the challenges but also the supreme joys of outdoor Shakespeare—chance plays a huge role in every performance, and every once in a while…it’s magic. Speaking of which, a rainbow came out as we were preparing to re-start the show—that’s all the proscenium we need!

This process has involved text work, memorization, researching historical context, choosing when to ignore historical context, blocking, developing relationships between the characters, designing costumes, composing music, publicity campaignsTech Rehearsal, choreographing stage fights, designing and gathering props, designing programs and posters, building concession stands, late nights rehearsing at our home in Carroll Park, and so many other things. So when I say in a generic way that a lot went into this production…that’s what I mean. And what makes it worth it is seeing the community welcome us and support us. Seeing our friends and family come out to Brooklyn (“Wait, there’s a G train?!”). Seeing families come out to the show, whose kids are seeing their first Shakespeare play, and who GET IT! Those kids know when something is funny and when something is dangerous. And they now have a relationship with Shakespeare and with live theater that might continue for the rest of their lives. That makes it so, so worth it.

So thanks for your support! We’ll see you out there!




“Tell me, good Brutus, can you see your face?”

Happy Monday!

11 DAYS UNTIL OPENING NIGHT OF JULIUS CAESAR! We’ve moved some of our rehearsals outdoors to Carroll Park to start getting a feel for the space, and it’s definitely starting to feel real. We started working on our epic battle fight sequences this weekend. And because I know that you can hardly wait to see the final product, here’s a little rehearsal photo blog. Consider your appetites whetted!

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Can’t wait to see you out there, too, in less than a fortnight!




Words, Words, Words: Blogging Smith Street Stage

Friends, New Yorkers, Countrymen!

Summer has finally found New York! The sun is out, and New Yorkers who have been hunkered down in their studio apartments since last November are out doing what New Yorkers NEVER do… meandering! The 10 blocks you have to walk to work when the 1 train decides to run express is no longer the bane of your existence! And the beginning of summer always, without fail, makes me crave outdoor theater.

I grew up around the Idaho Shakespeare Festival, a regional theater that does Shakespeare every summer outdoors. There’s something about it that became like an addiction to me. The gathering together of a community, the way that the air feels right after the sun sets on a hot day, and of course, the plays! The magic of the theater is so tangible in the summer, and in my opinion there is no better time to bring the glorious stories found in Shakespeare’s plays to life.

Luckily for me, I found a creative home for the summer in Smith Street Stage, an up-and-coming theater company based in Brooklyn who produce Shakespeare in Carroll Park every summer. I applied and auditioned for Artistic Director Beth Ann Hopkins back in March, and I got the chance to sit and chat with her about the company and their upcoming season. After talking to her for about 5 minutes, I knew I was in love…with the company, that is. But also (Okay, okay,  I admit it!) with Beth Ann.  Her passion for the company’s work was contagious and I was thrilled to be offered a position with them for the summer.

Artistic Director Beth Ann Hopkins with Executive Director Jonathan Hopkins–Romeo and Juliet 2010

I’m so excited to get started with this adventure, and will be blogging my way through our development of our production of Julius Caesar!

Adieu for now,

Katie Willmorth