For Hudson Valley’s Bard, New Stage and New Coin

Performances of Henry V run through Aug. 21. Photo: T. Charles Erickson

Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival (HVSF) is a professional non-profit theater company that put down stakes in Garrison in1987. It has served more than half a million people since inception. Prior to the pandemic it sold roughly 30,000 tickets each season and reached another 20,000 people annually by visiting schools and community centers. When the world shut down in 2020, the Shakespeare festival was forced to cancel its entire season, but it was one of the first theater companies in the state to return to the stage in 2021.  

This season, HVSF has moved from its longtime home at Boscobel House and Gardens to its new permanent home on Snake Hill Road in Philipstown. That 98-acre plot of land was donated by philanthropist Christopher Davis. HVSF Artistic DirectorDavis McCallum says they “transformed a golf course into a resource that the community can enjoy.” And they have big plans for that transformation. The new theater will have 495 seats, making it more intimate than the previous space — and the sightlines will be improved as it won’t have any pillars.  

At the same time, more fortune has shined upon the theater company in the form of a $10 million grant from the New York State Council of the Arts (NYSCA). HVSF employs a year-round staff of 10 people, and between 100 and 200 people are on the payroll during the season, casting it as a valued job creator in the region, which presumably didn’t hurt its request for the grant. 

The infusion of funds will be used in part to make its theater one of the greenest in the country. The new structure is slated to become the first purpose-built theater in the United States to achieve Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Platinum certification from the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC).  

LEED certification is globally recognized as the gold standard of sustainability. McCallum says,it’s a real indication of our commitment to environmental sustainability with this project.”  

Jeanne Gang, the founder and leader of Studio Gang, will design the new performance space. She’s an internationally acclaimed, award-winning architect who designed the recently completed Richard Gilder Center for Science, Education, and Innovation at the American Museum of Natural History in New York. 

The Shakespeare Festival has a full slate of plays this season. There’s Henry V, directed by McCallum, a “rock and roll-infused” version of Love’s Labor’s Lost, and a new musical named Penelope. The season runs through the middle of September, so there’s still plenty of time to catch a show.


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About the Author: Larry Epstein