The Hippo


May 28, 2020








This weekend, the Seven Stages Shakespeare Company performs eight Shakespeare histories for ShakesBEERience: Messenger Day. Ben Kramer photo.

See ShakesBEERience: Messenger Day

Where: Throwback Brewery, 7 Hobbs Road, North Hampton
When: Sunday, June 12, from 7 a.m. to 8:15 p.m.
Admission: Free or pay what you will; it’s best to reserve tickets ahead of time online for individual plays or the whole day; audience members can come for as much or little as their schedules allow
Contact:; visit the site to register and get tickets via the eventbrite page

Shakespeare marathon
7SSC performs eight history plays in 12 hours this weekend

By Kelly Sennott

 The longest Shakespeare performance you’ll see in New Hampshire this summer — or, more likely, ever — is this weekend at Throwback Brewery courtesy of the Seven Stages Shakespeare Company.

On Sunday, June 12, from 7 a.m. until 8 p.m., about 80 professional actors will take on nearly 250 roles for a marathon of the bard’s history plays in order, including  Richard II, Henry VI, Parts I and II, Henry V, Henry VI, Parts I, II and III, and Richard III. All scripts have been cut to 90 minutes, courtesy of company Artistic Director Dan Beaulieu and Managing Director Kevin Condardo. Actors will perform with a beer in one hand, script in the other. 
“Left completely uncut, it would probably take about 24 hours straight,” Condardo said via phone. “And that wouldn’t be fun for anyone. The goal is to squeeze it all in, from sunrise to sunset. We’ve streamlined a lot of stuff and condensed the stories. Hopefully Shakespeare will forgive us.”
The only actor performing in all eight is Bruce Pingree, general manager of The Press Room, where 7SSC frequently reads the bard’s work in this ShakesBEERience style. Pingree will play the messenger delivering the bad news, which inevitably happens in all these stories — hence the event’s name, ShakesBEERience: Messenger Day.
Beaulieu, Condardo and co-founder and Producing Director Christine Penney came upon the idea a few years ago and decided to save it for spring 2016, the 400th anniversary of the bard’s death. They began cutting six months ago — a process Beaulieu compared to “grooming an overgrown garden” — and they said seeing these stories back-to-back offers more continuity and character development than you’d notice reading or watching them one at a time.
“They’re written basically as one unit, but it’s so rare to see them presented that way,” Beaulieu said.“One of the challenges is, I would cut something, and then a scene or three scenes, or sometimes a play and a half later, they’d reference that event, and then we’d have to go back.”
Audiences get to see Henry V as a young prince and loose cannon in Henry IV and then as a serious ruler in Henry V. They may even notice characters they might not have before.
“There’s this character Warwick — he’s a character in all three of the Henry IV plays, and in each individually, it’s not a great part, but seeing them put together, there’s an amazing character arc he goes through. When you see what they’re doing over the course of their life and inevitable death, it’s really interesting,” Condardo said.
Throwback Brewery owners Annette Lee and Nicole Carrier will open the doors right at 7 a.m. and serve a variety of food based in English tradition. Carrier named off biscuits, bangers and mash, sausage, grilled tomatoes, fish and chips, though they were still pinning down the exact menu.
And on tap starting that morning will be “ShakesBEERs.” One is wit-based with lemon thyme, the other a Belgian-style abbey ale.
Throwback has been a 7SSC sponsor the past two seasons, ever since the company performed Richard III in its parking lot after the real-life Richard III’s bones were discovered in a parking lot.
“We’ve worked with those guys in the past, and we just absolutely love having them here. Even if you don’t understand what they’re saying, you can’t help but smile because everyone’s having a good time. If they’re willing to perform for that many hours, we’re willing to support them,” Carrier said via phone.
Neither Beaulieu nor Condardo were as familiar with the history plays as the classics before this year, but looking at them back-to-back adds new dimension.
“These plays are not so much about kings and wars as they are about human beings and relationships. … I used to have this idea that the history plays were boring, basic re-enactments of battles, but really, they’re psychological traumas about wearing the crown and what that means for everyone around [that person]. … It’s not unlike the ring in The Lord of the Rings,” Beaulieu said. “You see them become king, and they’re just radically different.” 

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