Hudson Shakespeare Company

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The Hudson Shakespeare Company is a regional Shakespeare touring festival based in Jersey City in Hudson County, New Jersey that produces an annual summer Shakespeare in the Park festival and often features lesser done Shakespeare works such as The Two Noble Kinsmen and Timon of Athens.[1][2][3] The company also produces several modern day productions in non theatrical venues such as their courtroom shows of Inherit the Wind and A Few Good Men in the Hoboken Municipal Courtroom.[4] It produce a yearly educational program that ranges from student workshops to full length Shakespeare productions.[5]


In 1992, Jersey City native L. Robert "Luther" Johnson decided to mount a staged reading of "A Midsummer Night's Dream" in Hamilton Park in Jersey City.[2] Having worked as a technical consultant for such companies as Riverside Shakespeare and New York Gilbert and Sullivan Players in New York, Johnson remarked "I noticed that when you were on one side of the Hudson you couldn't walk five feet without finding a company of actors doing Shakespeare, but on this side of the river there was nothing."[6] He partnered with several theatrical friends who he had worked with previously in such community theaters as the Park Players of Union City and Civic Theater of Hudson County in Jersey City for this first production under the banner of "Hudson Shakespeare Company", named after Hudson County. While this first production featured "13 people on stage and 5 in the audience,[6] he was undeterred and continued to produce Shakespeare under "Hudson Shakespeare Company" and modern works such as Driving Miss Daisy and Waiting for Godot under "Patchwork Theater Company".

In 1996, Johnson met fellow actor and director Jon Ciccarelli and the two reorganized all of the classical and modern productions under "Hudson Shakespeare Company". For the next few years, the company produced Shakespeare and modern programs in Jersey City and Hoboken and became the first theatrical company to produce a live theater showing at Hoboken's Frank Sinatra Park with another production of A Midsummer Night's Dream in 1998. In 2002, the company began touring to Hackensack, South Orange, and as far away as Stratford, Connecticut. Main stay venues such as Kenilworth and Fort Lee followed in 2004 and 2007 respectively.

Lesser Done Works[edit]

Hudson Shakespeare Company has become known for tackling lesser known works and questionable works of the Bard. According to Artistic Director, Jon Ciccarelli, "“Each season we try to produce at least one play that you’ve either never heard of or we put a different spin on known works of Shakespeare.”[7] Lesser known plays tackled by the company: Edward III (2016), Arden of Faversham, (2015) Henry VIII (2013), Cardenio (based on Double Falsehood) (2012), Timon of Athens (2011), Troilus and Cressida (2009), King John (2008), The Two Noble Kinsmen (2007), Coriolanus (2004), Cymbeline (2004 & 2014), Pericles (2006 & 2014), Titus Andronicus (2003 & 2013).[8][9]

Performance Venues[edit]

The following is a list of active venues where the company performs during an average run for a summer production.

Jersey City[edit]

Hamilton Park
  • Hamilton Park[10] - Located at 9th Street and Jersey Avenue, this is the company's original performance space. HSC partners with the Hamilton Park Neighborhood Association and usually performs in front of the park's gazebo. In case of inclement weather, performances are held under the gazebo.
  • Van Vorst Park - Located in the downtown section of Jersey City at Montgomery Street and Jersey Avenue, next to the main branch of the Jersey City library. HSC partners with the Friends of Van Vorst Park Association.
  • Jersey City and Harsimus Cemetery - At 435 Newark Avenue, the cemetery is the oldest in the city and contains remains dating back to before the revolutionary war. HSC partners with the all volunteer group to raise funds for the cemetery's upkeep.


  • Frank Sinatra Park[11] - Located at 400 Frank Sinatra Drive, the venue is Hoboken's main venue for live music and theater acts.[7] All HSC theater programs are produced with the Hoboken Division of Cultural Affairs which schedules, concerts, films and a semi-annual arts and music festival taking place in May and September.

Hackensack, NJ[edit]

Stratford, CT[edit]

  • Stratford Library[13] - Located at 2203 Main Street, Stratford, CT, the library not only hosts HSC but offers speakers on Shakespeare subjects and staged readings by resident theater company -Square One Theatre

Kenilworth, NJ[edit]

  • Kenilworth Library[14] - Located at 548 Boulevard in Kenilworth, NJ. HSC produces the "Bard on the Boulevard" program in association with the Friends of Kenilworth Library.

Westfield, NJ[edit]

Fort Lee, NJ[edit]

Fort Lee Museum

Monument Park at Palisade Avenue adjacent to the Fort Lee Museum. HSC produces programs in association with the Fort Lee Film Commission.

West Milford, NJ[edit]

  • Long Pond Iron Works State Park[15] - Located at 1334 Greenwood Lake Turnpike in Hewitt, NJ, HSC produces programs in association with the Friends of Long Pond Iron Works in their historic village.

Recent Productions[edit]





Educational Programs[edit]

Hudson Shakespeare Company conducts a yearly educational program that ranges from presentation of full Shakespeare shows to selected scene showcases to Shakespeare workshops and stage combat workshops. Shakespeare workshops have included:[44][45]

  • Shakespeare Scene study - (Basic breaking down of text and staging monologues and scenes)
  • Early Modern Theater, Recreating Shakespeare's Theater (Using practices that were utilized during Shakespeare's day such as cue scripts)
  • Shakespeare on Film and On-Camera scene study (staging scenes using on-camera techniques)
  • Unarmed Stage Combat (Instruction on falls, punches, slaps and other stage combat not involving weaponry[46]
  • Armed Stage Combat (Instruction in fighting with stage weaponry such as different types of swords)

Among the educational institutions that the group has worked with are St. Mary's High School and Kenmare High School in Jersey City, Fort Lee High School, David Brearly Middle School (Kenilworth), David Schectner Middle School (West Orange), the Hackensack Cultural Arts Center/Hackensack High School and Misericordia University (Dallas, Pennsylvania).

Notable Mentions[edit]

In 1998, the company produced A Midsummer Night's Dream as the first live theatrical performance held at the newly dedicated Frank Sinatra Park in Hoboken, NJ.

In 2005, company founder L. Robert Johnson was honored with the "Everyday Hero Award" by the newspaper The Jersey Journal. These awards and related feature article chronicle everyday citizens of Hudson County with outstanding contributions to their communities. In Mr. Johnson's case it was for his founding of Hudson Shakespeare Company and promotion of Shakespeare in Hudson County along with spearheading several educational programs mentoring novice acting students.[47]

In 2009, the company was nominated for several awards including for stage fight choreography and costuming in the New York Midtown International Theatre Festival for its production of The Sword Politik by Jon Crefeld.[48]

The company was noted in the New Cambridge edition (2012) of The Two Noble Kinsmen as one of several companies throughout the world that had produced the little done play.[49]

New Jersey City University professor, James Broderick, profiled several Hudson Shakespeare Company actors in his book Greatness Thrust Upon Them: Non-Professional Actors and Directors Discuss Their Encounters with Shakespeare. (2014). The book chronicled the actors' first experiences with the Bard, the intimidation and overcoming these hurdles to fully embrace the work and how it shaped their semi-professional and professional careers[50][51]

In 2015, the company produced Arden of Faversham as the first live show for the newly opened Atlantic Street Park in Hackensack, NJ.[52]


  1. ^ Brown, Bridget (September 11, 2014). "10 British Things About Hudson County, NJ". BBC America. Retrieved 2014-09-18. Established in 1992, the Hudson Shakespeare Company has produced over 100 productions and is still going. The touring company performs in parks, at schools, and even courtrooms, visiting Hoboken and Jersey City in Hudson County. Shakespeare in the Park typically ends after the warm months, but Hudson Shakespeare Company has a fall season....
  2. ^ a b "Hudson Shakespeare Company". Hudson Shakespeare. Retrieved 2014-09-28.
  3. ^ "Hudson Shakespeare group ends season with 'Timon of Athens'". The Jersey Journal. August 12, 2011. Retrieved 2014-09-28.
  4. ^ Schwaeble, Diana (August 22, 2006). "You can't handle the truth! Shakespeare Co. to perform 'A Few Good Men'". Hudson Reporter. Retrieved 2014-09-28.
  5. ^ Sico, Chris (April 12, 2008). "Fort Lee Theater Program Is No "Comedy Of Errors"". New York 1 News (NY1). Retrieved 2014-09-28.
  6. ^ a b Duger, Rose (October 3, 2005). "Bringing the Classics to the People". The Jersey Journal.
  7. ^ a b Wright, Alyssa (August 2, 2012). "Land of the lost?". The Hudson Reporter. Retrieved 2014-09-29.
  8. ^ Minton, Eric. "Readings Give "Apocrypha" Titles a Tryout".
  9. ^ Beckerman, Jim (August 7, 2012). "Shakespeare troup staging play in Fort Lee, Hackensack with dubious DNA". The Record of Bergen County.
  10. ^ "Hamilton Park Neighborhood Association Newsletter" (PDF). Retrieved 1 June 2014.
  11. ^ "Hoboken - Theater in the Park".
  12. ^ "Hackensack Shakespeare in the Park". Retrieved 2014-06-18.
  13. ^ "Stratford Library Summer Newsletters".
  14. ^ "Bard on the Boulevard: Twelfth Night".
  15. ^ "Shakespeare in the State Park 2014".
  16. ^ "Hudson Shakespeare Company Presents "Richard II"". New Jersey Stage. Winetime Publishing.
  17. ^ "Shakespeare's Lost History Romance tours in July". New Jersey Stage. Winetime Publishing.
  18. ^ "Shakespeare's 'The Winter's Tale' coming to the Kenilworth Library on April 7". Cranford Chronicle.
  19. ^ "Hudson Shakespeare Company season opens at Stratford Library". Connecticut Post.
  20. ^ "Shakespeare's 'The Murder of Thomas Arden of Faversham' coming to Kenilworth Library, July 20". Suburban News.
  21. ^ Hortillosa, Summer Dawn. "'Twelfth Night'--with a twist--coming to Jersey City, Hoboken". Jersey Journal. Retrieved June 9, 2014.
  22. ^ Myers, Joe. "Actor directing 'Twelfth Night' at Stratford Library". Connecticut Post. Retrieved June 23, 2014.
  23. ^ Hartman, Kate (July 2014). "Shakespeare's 'Cymbeline', in Wild West Setting, Coming in Stratford". Connecticut Magazine.
  24. ^ Myers, Joe (July 22, 2014). "Hudson touring company plays Stratford". Connecticut Post.
  25. ^ "Shakespeare's 'Pericles' comes to Kenilworth August 14". The Cranford Chronicle. July 29, 2014.
  26. ^ Rodas, Steven (August 1, 2014). "'Pericles' lined up for Jersey City, Hoboken parks". The Jersey Journal.
  28. ^ Piccirillo, Ann (April 13, 2013). "Theatrical Performance of 'Inherit the Wind' to be Performed at Borough Hall". Fort Lee Patch.
  29. ^ "'Cyrano' kicks off Shakespeare series in Kenilworth". Cranford Chronicle. July 17, 2013.
  30. ^ Heck, Charles (June 10, 2013). "The Hudson Shakespeare Company performs 'Cyrano de Bergerac' open-air in Hoboken, Jersey City". The Jersey Journal.
  31. ^ Ki, Alyssa (June 24, 2013). "Hudson Shakespeare Company performs Cyrano de Bergerac on June 24, 2013". The Jersey Journal.
  32. ^ Morris, Paige (July 12, 2013). "Shakespeare's 'Henry VIII' moves into Hudson County parks". The Jersey Journal.
  33. ^ "Shakespeare troupe presents "Henry VIII" in Stratford". Miford-Orange Bulletin. July 11, 2013.
  34. ^ "Shakespeare's Henry VIII comes to Stratford Library". July 8, 2013.
  35. ^ "Shakespeare in the Park". Fort Lee Suburbanite. July 20, 2013.
  37. ^ "Shakespeare in the Park". The Record of Bergen County. July 16, 2013.
  38. ^ "'Bard on the Boulevard' in Kenilworth presents 'Macbeth' with a steampunk twist". Cranford Chronicle. July 29, 2013.
  39. ^ Hortillosa, Summer Dawn (July 30, 2013). "Hudson Shakespeare Company's Steampunk 'Macbeth' Touring JC and Hoboken". Jersey City Independent.
  40. ^ "Theater in the cemetery this weekend 'Macbeth' with Steampunk twist". The Hudson Reporter. August 18, 2013.
  41. ^ "Fear Shakespeare's blood-soaked 'Titus'". The Jersey Journal. October 18, 2013.
  42. ^ Herrick, Timothy. "Graveyard Titus: Lite & Dark". Timothy Herrick. Retrieved 2014-09-30.
  43. ^ ""Titus Andronicus" - performance by Hudson Shakespeare Company". Springfield Patch. October 21, 2013.
  44. ^ "Fort Lee Theater Program Is No "Comedy Of Errors"". New York One (NY1). April 12, 2008.
  45. ^ McKenzie, Criss (May 3, 2011). "Shakespeare in the Fort Lee High School Auditorium". Fort Lee Suburbanite.
  46. ^ ALMENAS, MAXIM (April 30, 2010). "A Lesson in Shakespeare". Fort Lee Suburbanite.
  47. ^ Duger, Rose (October 3, 2005). "Everyday Hero Award: Bringing Classics to the Masses". Jersey Journal.
  48. ^ "MITF would like to congratulate its 10th season award winners!".
  49. ^ Turner, Robert Kean (2012). New Cambridge "Two Noble Kinsmen". Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. p. 225. ISBN 0521686997.
  50. ^ Broderick, James (2014), Greatness Thrust Upon Them: Non-Professional Actors and Directors Discuss Their Encounters with Shakespeare, CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, ISBN 9781499268317
  51. ^ Ciccarelli, Jon (July 16, 2014). "Jersey City Professor Profiles Hudson Shakespeare Actors About How the Bard has Affected Their Lives". Patch. Retrieved 2014-09-29.
  52. ^ "13th Annual City of Hackensack Shakespeare in the Park Series:". Town of Hackensack.

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