Posted on Jul 22, 2005

The play's definitely the thing for Prof. Finlay, alumni and students

The Bard is alive and well in Saratoga Springs each summer, and increasingly, it's a Union affair, thanks to Union faculty, alumni, students and friends, led by William Finlay, professor of theater.

Finlay is the man behind the Bard – founder and artistic director of the Saratoga Shakespeare Company (SSC), the only professional theater company in Saratoga Springs.

A madcap romp – Spencer S. Christie ’01, center, is flanked by actors Andy Place, left, and Christopher Rickett in Saratoga. (Photo by

The company rings in its sixth season with the production of The Complete Works of William Shakespeare [abridged] in historic Congress Park. Performances typically run for two weeks – through Sunday, July 31, this summer.

Show times are 6 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, July 19-23 and 26-30; and 2 p.m. on Sunday, July 24 and 31. All shows are free; the park lawn is usually a sprawl of families, friends, tourists and culture lovers of all ages who come from the Capital Region and beyond.

“The performance is extremely fast-paced with lots of physical comedy and humorous wordplay,” says Finlay, who directs the production, which features Othello performed as a lively rap, Titus Andronicus as a cooking show and Hamlet reduced to two minutes (and then performed backwards).

“Shakespeare fans will completely revel in the intellectual exploration of the language in this production – where else will they be able to find all 154 of his sonnets rolled up into eight lines?”

Spencer S. Christie '01

The Complete Works features three actors portraying 75 characters in 90 minutes. One of those actors is Spencer S. Christie '01, a seasoned Shakespearean actor (the others are Christopher Rickett and Andy Place). This is Christie's second season with the troupe. 

Other Union connections include Patricia L. Culbert, artist in residence in theater and dance at Union's Yulman Theatre, as director of the SSC Intern Company; Sara E. Friedman '98, a member of Actors Equity, as production stage manager; and Lloyd Waiwaiole, costumer for performing arts at the Yulman, as the show's costume designer.

Justin Silvestri ’07, left, and Joey Hunziker ’08 are interns with the troupe.

Union students who are part of the SSC Intern Company are Carly Hirschberg '06, assistant director; Nina Kalinkos '06, assistant stage manager; Justin Silvestri '07; and Joey Hunziker '08.

“There are a lot of us from Union, there's a lot of Shakespeare and it's a lot of fun,” said Culbert, now in her fifth season with SSC.

Finlay founded the not-for-profit troupe in 2000 in response to the need for live, professional productions of the works of William Shakespeare in the Capital Region. Past productions have included Romeo and Juliet, The Tamng of the Shrew, The Comedy of Errors, A Muidsummer Night's Dream and Twelfth Night.

The Complete Works has somethng for everyone.

“After last summer's production of Romeo & Juliet, we sat down with the feedback from our audience surveys to figure out which work we would focus on for our sixth season,” he said. “The suggestions included such a wide range of the Bard's work that we couldn't narrow it down to just one.

“So, we decided to do them all.”