However, as opposed to Shakespeare's day where the single gender casts were all male, the ASC's production will be portrayed by an all-female cast.
"This is the first time we have done this single gender production in any capacity with the company," said Jordan Meadows, play master for the ASC's The Taming of the Shrew. "We are testing the waters with this, and it's a nice opportunity for women to explore and play roles that they may not be able to play anywhere else at anytime."
With a cast of about 11, this is Meadows' first time as play master for the ASC, which he first joined in 2002 and also participates in as an actor. For him, the all-female cast also offers new perspectives on this play, which generally carries preconceived notions or stereotypical views about women.
"It's a nice way to explore the energy, and gives the audience permission to not feel uncomfortable when the play [delves into the stereotypical idea] of women," said Meadows.
Bringing the Bard to the stage
According to Meadows, the company has "play masters" for their productions, not directors, because when plays first started, there were none. As a play master, the person served as director, but in another capacity by working with the actors and giving suggestions as opposed to concrete directions.
"The play master encourages everyone and the actors work together as an ensemble, while still allowing them that freedom," said Meadows.
Since their inception in 2000, the ASC has been producing one to two main stage productions a year out of the Debaun Theatre in Hoboken. Artistic Director and Co-Founder Collette Rice then helped launch the Bare Bard Reading Series for the first time last year, which allowed the company to bring more Shakespeare's works to the stage but on a smaller scale without the big stage production.
"One of the nice things the series offers is the opportunity to explore other Shakespeare productions without the [high end] production," said Meadows.
The Bare Bard Reading series was first brought to the Jersey City Museum last season, but was only able to produce one performance per piece. This year with the inclusion of the Park PAC, the company will be able to showcase more than once.
The whole mission is to preserve Shakespeare's works in its most original text, and present it to the mainstream public.
The company was founded on two main principles. One is how the company applies the text, which is in its original folio or text copy to preserve the bard's authenticity, and two is their relationship with the audience. "We try to incorporate the audience, and have them become part of the action," said Meadows.
The only other contemporary theatre to still use this method is the Globe Theatre in London. The company plans to continue their reading series with both the Jersey City Museum and the Park PAC.
In addition to their expanding Reading Series program, the ASC has also recently formed a new partnership with New Jersey City University, who will be giving them access to their newest facilities on West Side Avenue for the company's annual main stage productions.
"We knew that we wanted to move to a three-quarter thrust [which allows the audience to sit on three sides of the stage], and the Debaun Auditorium [in Hoboken] didn't offer the type of theatre we wanted to do," said Meadows. "We started taking to NJCU last fall and that's when the partnership started forming. This is our first season with them."
They will also be working with university students, where they will be able to intern and perform with the ASC gaining experience in the theatre field.
"They are putting the final touches to the West Side Theatre, and it should be ready by production," said Meadows.
For this first year the ASC will be presenting Romeo and Juliet at the West Side Theatre, 285 West Side Ave., Jersey City, from April 17 through 30 with a preview performance on April 15. All shows will be presented at 8 p.m. except Sunday's performance, which is set for 3 p.m.
The Taming of the Shrew will first be appearing today (Sunday) at the Jersey City Museum at 1 p.m., and will showcase at the Park PAC the following Sunday (April 10) at 2 p.m.
For more information visit www.ascnj.org, or call (201) 459-1117.