The Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey is not only launching this week its milestone 50th Anniversary Season, it is also set to open a new support facility that will house the entirety of its behind-the-scenes operations, as well as provide new space allowing for an expansion of its education programs.
The 50,000 square foot building, located at 3 Vreeland Road in Florham Park, N.J., will unite the many facets of the Theatre’s administrative, educational, artistic and technical operations under one roof. In addition to office space and education classrooms, the facility will provide areas for the construction of sets, costumes and other scenic elements; a Board room; a rehearsal hall; a Green Room; and ample storage for the Theatre’s extensive collections of props, stock scenery, costumes, stage weapons, archives, and much, much more.
The F.M. Kirby Shakespeare Theatre in Madison and the Outdoor Stage in Morris Township will continue to function as the performance venues for the 50 year old company which is the longest-running Shakespeare Theatre on the East coast and one of the largest and most prominent classic theatres in the nation.
“In this landmark year in our history, The Shakespeare Theatre will enter a new era, and not just by virtue of beginning our second half-century of operation,” said Artistic Director, Bonnie J. Monte. “This long-sought after achievement will eradicate many of the obstacles and difficult issues that we have been struggling with for years. Our support operations will no longer be spread across multiple, temporary sites spanning several counties. Until now, the Theatre has occupied up to eight less-than-adequate locations annually, and we have had to move from one or more locations an average of every two years. We will finally have a centralized facility in which to conduct all of the work that supports and makes our stage productions a reality.”
Ms. Monte elaborated on the project by saying, “There are many other exciting aspects to this acquisition. We are thrilled that we are ‘recycling’ an old building for new use — taking what was an industrial site, and turning it not only into a place where art is created, but that is a work of art in itself. A multi-year plan is in place to create an extraordinary workplace that exemplifies, at every turn, aspects of our art form. I think most people are unaware of the fact that we build our own scenery, costumes, props, and often even furniture, specifically for our productions. The building and grounds will not only provide a unique space in which to produce our work, but one that will allow us to train the next generation of theatre artists, and groom the patrons of the future. We especially look forward to partnering with the town of Florham Park to introduce new education programs for the community.”
The acclaimed Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey is one of the leading Shakespeare theatres in the nation, serving 100,000 adults and children annually. It is New Jersey’s largest professional company dedicated solely to Shakespeare’s canon and other world masterworks. Through its distinguished productions and education programs, the company strives to illuminate the universal and lasting relevance and importance of the classics for contemporary audiences.
The Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey’s Main Stage, the 308-seat F.M. Kirby Shakespeare Theatre, is conveniently located in Madison at 36 Madison Avenue (Rt. 124) at Lancaster Road on the Drew University campus, just minutes from Routes 287, 78 and 10. Parking is free.
The Theatre’s Outdoor Stage is located on the campus of the College of Saint Elizabeth in Morris Township. The F.M. Kirby Shakespeare Theatre is barrier-free with access into the Theatre via a ramp and elevator access to all floors. Wheelchair seating and transfer seating is available. Braille and large print programs are available. Infrared listening devices are available free of charge. Some performances are audio-described. Contact the Theatre for more information or to purchase tickets at 973-408-5600 or visit www.ShakespeareNJ.org.