Thursday, May 8, 2014

ARTFARM's Shakespeare Slam this Saturday with some new twists!

Photo of John Basinger (aka Birthday Boy/King Lear) at a previous SlamBash (Photo: Ben Jordan)

ARTFARM’s Shakespeare Slam is part performance, part party and part fund raiser for ARTFARM’s 2014 Shakespeare in the Grove production of King Lear. Now in its 5th year, the SlamBash has always attracted a big crowd of fun-loving, creative people, but this year’s event, to be held this Saturday at Middletown’s Community Health Center, will have some unique new twists.
The Shakespeare Slam and Birthday Bash will celebrate both the 450th birthday of William Shakespeare and the 80th birthday of local actor John Basinger, who will be playing Lear for ARTFARM this summer. It’s Only Natural Restaurant is creating a huge cake to celebrate the event, and the SlamBash will include assorted Shakespeare and Birthday related games, songs and activities. Throughout the evening participants will be treated to platters of food from local restaurants circulated by costumed servers, draft beer from City Steam Brewery, and Wine from the Wine Cellar and the Bottle Shop.
The centerpiece of the evening is the Shakespeare Slam, in which over 20 performers and groups will perform short bits of Shakespeare, in 2 minutes or less, while competing with each other to raise the greatest number of donations in support of their performances.  The performers – professional actors, musicians, young people, college professors, you name it – are encouraged to create outrageous and unusual interpretations of Shakespeare’s work, which leads to some surprising and evocative performances. The performers who raise the most money are awarded great prizes donated by local businesses and individuals, including the Grand Prize this year of a “Staycation” package including dinner for two, theater tickets, a river cruise, and some upscale wine.
The Shakespeare Slam and Birthday Bash, which begins at 7 pm on Saturday, May 10, will be preceded by an Organic Wine Tasting in the beautiful rooftop garden of the Community Health Center. Patrons who purchase “Guests of Dionysus” tickets are invited to join King Lear and members of the ARTFARM Ensemble for a Tasting presented by Organic Vintages while enjoying a tasty spread provided by Luce Restaurant. The rooftop garden, which includes raised beds, hanging gardens and a waterfall, features one of the best views available of Middletown and the River Valley. Space is limited on the roof, and G.O.D. tickets must be purchased in advance.
Also new this year is an extensive Silent Auction which will take place throughout the evening. Items to be auctioned include a private tour of Wesleyan’s Shakespeare Collection in the Special Collections, lunch and a personal tour of the State Capitol with State Rep Matt Lesser, fine wines, artwork, collectibles, restaurant gift certificates, books, theater and symphony  tickets, classes and more. Bring your checkbook to get some fabulous deals!
2014 SlamBash host Anitra Brooks in ARTFARM's Shakespeare in the Grove 
production of As You Like It (photo: Bill DeKine) 

This Saturday’s Shakespeare Slam will be hosted by actress and musician Anitra Brooks.  Anitra, a Middletown native now living in Greenwich, has appeared on film, stage and television, has been a member of the touring company Big Nazo, performed with Grisha Coleman’s Hot Mouth, tours as a solo singer/songwriter, plays with the Eric Kuhn Group, and appeared in the 2010 ARTFARM production of As You Like It. She will supply charm, style, and a little music to the SlamBash.
Tickets for the Shakespeare Slam and Elizabethan Bash are $25, $15 for those ages 25 and under. “Guests of Dionysus“ tickets, which must be reserved in advance and include the Rooftop Organic Wine Tasting at 6 pm, are $50.  Doors open for the SlamBash at 7 pm at the Community Health Center, which is at 675 Main Street in Middletown. For more information, or to reserve tickets, contact, call (860) 346-4390, or go to
ARTFARM is a Middletown-based nonprofit organization which cultivates high-quality theater with a commitment to simple living, environemental sustainability and social justice. ARTFARM has been producing Shakespeare in the Grove on the campus of Middlesex Community College since 2006.  This summer’s production of King Lear will run July 17 – 27.

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