Shakespeare & Company Unveils Green Initiative

In response to prevailing environmental and economic concerns, Shakespeare & Company is launching a new green initiative to help both its patrons and its employees find ways to be environmentally conscious while keeping more cash in their pockets, instead of putting it into their gas tanks.

Paraphrasing from Hamlet, the Do But Greenly program includes a top-to-bottom review of ways the Company can increase its own environmental responsibility and that of its 200 summer employees, as well as new ticket discounts meant to make it easier for the community to see great theatre and experience intellectual renewal during anxious economic times–through environmentally friendly methods. It is also donating 10% of the box office revenue from two upcoming performances to Slow Food of Western Massachusetts, a locally grown movement encouraging environmental responsibility in agriculture and the pleasures of traditionally grown and prepared food. For more information about Do But Greenly and its related programming and discounts, consult www.shakespeare.org, contact Publicity Director Elizabeth Aspenlieder at (413) 637-1199 ext 110 or Aspenlieder@shakespeare.org, or contact the Box Office at (413) 637-3353 or BoxOffice@shakespeare.org.

Two new discounts are introduced this month in order to encourage patrons to carpool on their way to the theatre. Starting July 23 and running through August 27, every Wednesday will be Cheaper By The Carload Night. Simply put, the bigger the group arriving in one automobile, the cheaper the tickets. Three passengers arriving in one car will pay a total of $90 for that night’s show; groups of six or seven passengers will pay a total of $72. (Full pricing structure is available here.) Additionally, the Company is offering Four For Two Thursdays throughout the rest of the summer. Every Thursday, patrons may purchase four tickets for the price of two to that evening’s performance in Founders’ Theatre or the new Elayne P. Bernstein Theatre. Shakespeare & Company actively encourages patrons taking advantage of this discount to carpool together, though this is not required.

Seeking to find ways to increase its own energy efficiency and environmental responsibility, Shakespeare & Company will be receiving a top-to-bottom energy audit by Pittsfield-based Center for Ecological Technology. The Company is also looking for ways it may serve these concerns through its day-to-day operation. Unused bicycles on the 70 Kemble Street campus, many in disrepair, have been refurbished with help from Berkshire Bike and Board in Great Barrington, and turned into a fleet of lending bikes. Company employees are encouraged to use these bikes whenever possible, particularly for trips into the Lenox village. A vegetable garden has been created on campus, to help cut food and transportation costs while providing fresh produce to the Company’s kitchen, where it daily serves employees, artistic staff, and visiting actors participating in training programs. A “back to basics” approach toward more aggressive recycling practices and basic energy conservation has been instituted.

Additionally, the new Production and Performing Arts Center, including the Elayne P. Bernstein Theatre, is an example of reusing an existing building rather than demolishing. Approximately 70 tons of steel, light gauge metal, brick and concrete were recycled during its construction. The Center is equipped with state-of-the-art lighting and air circulation systems meant to maximize responsible energy usage.

“It’s not news to anybody that we’re all feeling the pinch at the gas pump and check-out line this year,” says Communications Director Mike Clary. “So we want to do what we can to help out. Each of the performances on our three stages this season is never going to happen again. We don’t want our friends and supporters to miss out if money is tight this year–we want to make it easier for them to join us. What patrons do with the money they save is up to them, but we encourage everyone to get some friends and share the car ride. Whoever wants to do but greenly will save some greenly, and there will be a little more money in their pockets the next time they’re at the gas pump.”

As an additional part of this green initiative, the Company will donate 10% of its box office receipts from the July 24th performance of All’s Well That Ends Well and the August 21st performance of Othello to Slow Food of Western Massachusetts, to help support its varied nutrition and green agriculture programs and community events. In partnership with Slow Food, the Company presents All’s Well Who Eat Well on Thursday, July 24 from 6:00pm to 7:45pm. Tasty Elizabethan morsels will be served, prepared with locally grown produce according to recipes created by Francine Segan, author of Shakespeare’s Kitchen. Berkshire County residents may take advantage of their 40% discount, or alternately take advantage of the Four For Two Thursday discount. Tickets to the All’s Well Who Eat Well food event are $12 for Slow Food members and $15 for the general public. It promises to be a mix of good friends, good food, and great theatre. Guests will learn about Slow Food worldwide, as well as their activities in the Berkshires.

Slow Food is an international organization committed to the principles and benefits of sustainable local agriculture and to the growth of healthy nutrition worldwide. The Western Massachusetts chapter works with local students and community health organizations to get nutritious, locally grown food onto people’s tables. For more information about Slow Food of Massachusetts, contact chapter director Dominic Palumbo of Moon in the Pond Farm in Sheffield at (413) 229-3092 or email info@slowfoodmass.org.

This effort is part of a new tradition at Shakespeare & Company, to support selected community organizations through a combination of financial donations and associated programming. Last year, 10% of box office receipts from two shows were donated to Railroad Street Youth Project, and the Company hosted a special roundtable discussion on race and health care before a performance of Blue/Orange, a play that addresses those themes. In 2006, similar nights were held for Hospice Care of Berkshire County.

More information about Shakespeare and Company’s “Do But Greenly” program can be found here, and an interview about the program with marketing director Mike Clary can be found here.

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