WHAT WE DO
Original practices and contemporary theatre.
Will Kempe’s Players is a new company based out of Troy, NY with the intention of putting on theatrical works not only by Shakespeare, but also his contemporaries in productions that are both integral and idiomatic to the Elizabethan era. We also intend to produce new works relevant to our experiences in the current times and begin a narrative of regenerative creativity in a world we feel could benefit from it. “...and we’ll strive to please you every day.”
OUR MISSION STATEMENT
"Will Kempe’s Players is a regional theater cooperative from Troy, NY that produces a wide range of theatrical performance utilizing the methods used by William Shakespeare and his contemporaries. Our aim is to create quality experiences by promoting an all inclusive creative environment, and making Shakespeare’s works engaging and accessible to modern audiences while retaining historical authenticity."
Will Kempe’s Players, named to honor the most famous English clown of the late 16th century—was born (auspiciously) at a brunch on April Fools’ Day, 2017. Founding (and current) Artistic Director Sandy Boynton gathered Capital District performers, all former students and artistic associates, to discuss forming a professional theatre troupe that would be grounded in the plays and practices of the English Renaissance theatre and that would use that focus to enliven classic and contemporary plays. The group enthusiastically embraced the idea, and further decided to tour exclusively, performing mostly in the out-of-doors. Since the group included three who perform professionally as clowns, the fledgling company embraced the “patronage” of Will Kempe. The founding members of Will Kempe’s Players (in alphabetical order) were: Victoria Benkowski, Sandra Boynton, Angelina Castro, Dr. Krysta Dennis, Kristoph DiMaria, Michael A. Lake, Michael McDermott, Nick Muscatiello, Jocelynn Joy Murphy, Michael Sinkora, Andrew Vroman, Molly Waters, and Tristen Wood. In the first two seasons, Will Kempe’s a Players rehearsed and performed in residence at Siena College. As a business, it is registered in New York as a worker-owned cooperative, taking for its model the Elizabethan sharing company.
The 2017 season was comprised of a single touring production; Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night played to appreciative audiences from Northville to Troy to Amsterdam. Each performance in a “found” space presented challenges—heat, cold, rain, wind, and noise, including freight train whistles! But despite the challenges, the audiences, sitting on the ground or their own beach chairs, laughed, sang and danced with the players.
Buoyed by that response, WKP’s 2018 season expanded dramatically into a four production extravaganza. The season began in the spring with a production of the modern dark comedy Happy Birthday Wanda June! by Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. The summer tour consisted of Shakespeare’s Othello in tandem with a revival of Twelfth Night. And the season rounded out with a contemporary look at Christopher Marlowe’s Dr. Faustus. We added some new venues—the Albany Barn, the Arts Center of the Capital Region, the Sand Lake Center for the Arts, Cook Park, and Troy’s Gasholder Building (to name just a few). In addition, Will Kempe’s Players crafted “one-off” performances for such events as the Capital Masquerade, the Troy Enchanted City Steampunk Festival, wine events at Troy’s Little Peck’s, and Babes in Troyland. On top of these performances, WKP delivered workshops and classes on English Renaissance acting practices for Union College undergraduates, for Union’s UCALL, and for Siena College’s Stage III.
Our third season has been marked by Will Kempe’s Players finding a new residence at Troy’s Mt. Ida Preservation Hall. In 2019 WKP will offer a summer tour of Hamlet and A Midsummer Night’s Dream—already being booked as outdoor entertainments—and even as dinner theatre! The major production season will end with John Patrick Shanley’s Doubt; and we continue to craft unique, one-off appearances during the entire year.
Please keep in touch with our Facebook Page for performance dates and venues so that you can join us in our revels!
We do a bunch.
Will Kempe's Players is dedicated to training up the next generation of theatre performers. With masterclasses in improvisation, clowning, stage combat, music, and original practices. Contact us to learn more about booking WKP for your school or local community event.
HISTORY OF CLOWNING
"Elizabethan clowning is a tradition of liminality and transgression that is so aware and outspoken regarding systems of power and value in a diverse artistic expression that it transcends boundaries created by class, education, and language. From Tarlton to Armin, and of course, Will Kempe, Elizabethan clowns are agents of joy, truth, and balance among all members of society employing physical comedy, song, dance, and Shakespearean wit. Pied and piping, their tradition persists, even to this day, right in this very company in a world where man has gone completely mad, "...and the foole shall looke to the madman."
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In our off-season, we've previously put together one-off performances consisting of songs and scenes from the Shakespearean and Elizabethan eras. Contact us to learn more about these pop-up performances!