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A Town Transformed: Locals Join Pros in Shakespeare Production

Monika O'Clair Photography
Advice to the Players "The Tempest"

When Caroline Nesbitt decided to start a theater company in Sandwich in 1999 she was met with a little resistance.  People in town knew her as the woman who raised Connemara Ponies and gave riding lessons.  What they didn’t know was that Nesbitt was also a professional actress. 

Now, 17 years later, Nesbitt’s Advice to the Players Company has become an integral part of town life – with local actors and teens joining with professionals in Shakespearean productions throughout the year.  

Before the first day of rehearsal at the Sandwich Fairground stage, property lawyer Chris Boldt changed his voice mail message. “I am in our Meredith office briefly this morning,” the recording begins, “I’ll then be in rehearsals for the Tempest all afternoon. I’m sorry I’m not able to take your call at this time.”

“I play the evil brother Antonio,” Boldt says. “I am the usurper. I am the snake. I'm the bad guy!”

Credit Sean Hurley
Chris Boldt as the evil Antonio.

Boldt delivers a line of Antonio’s: “Hang, cur! Hang, you whoreson insolent noisemaker! We are less afeared to be drowned than thou art!”

“It's been said before that there's not that much difference between the theater and the law,” Boldt says. “We each have our script, we each have our audience you know whether it's a judge or jury or a client or a zoning board of adjustment.”

Before the first day of rehearsal, Lilly Cardaropoli spent the morning directing a group of 7 year olds through a scene from the Tempest at the Advice to the Player’s theater camp. “My riggers are on the side, the captain's in the back, the boatswains right here.  Ready?” Cardaropoli says to her young cast.  

While these kids won’t be in the main stage show, they will get to watch it – and watch their camp counselor perform. “I'll be playing Miranda in the Tempest,” Cardaropoli  says. “Miranda is Prospero's daughter and she was just a child when she was taken to the island with her father.”

Credit Sean Hurley
Lilly Cardaropoli, Theater Camp Counselor...and Miranda.

Cardaropoli delivers a line of Miranda’s:Oh, I have suffered with those I saw suffer.  A brave vessel no doubt with some noble creature in her, dashed, all to pieces!”

Before the first day of rehearsal, Kim Miller practiced her registers – singing opera in the car as she drove to the fairgrounds.  

“The brilliant thing about being in a car,” Miller says, “is nobody else can hear you and you can be as loud as you want without people looking at you like you're a freak.”

Credit Sean Hurley
Kim Miller is Caliban.

Miller delivers a line of Caliban’s:You taught me language. And my profit on it is?  I know how to curse!”

On the morning of the first day of rehearsal, the director of the show, Andrew Codispoti, chanted before his yoga routine. “We can't do special effects,” Codispoti says. “You know our ability to do great scene changes and even makeup and costumes, it's limited out here - we have limited means. And we have to dig deep into that and Shakespeare is very good for that because Shakespeare had very little in the way of special effects - you know his lights were the sky just like ours are.”

Credit Sean Hurley
Andrew Codispoti - the Director of the Tempest, and the Artistic Director of Advice to the Players - watches the first rehearsal.

Before the first day of rehearsal, Caroline Nesbitt, who plays Gonzalo, spent time with her Connemara Ponies. “Gonzalo is sort of an ancient counsellor who was very close to Prospero,” Nesbitt says, “and when Prospero is usurped from his position, Gonzalo is the person that makes sure that all of his magic books make it into the leaky boat that carries him to this desolate island.”

Nesbitt delivers a line of Gonzalo’s:Now would I give a thousand furlongs of sea for an acre of barren ground: long heath, brown furze, anything. The wills above be done, but I would fain die a dry death!”

Credit Sean Hurley
Caroline Nesbitt, founder of Advice to the Players - and Gonzalo.

“You think of The Tempest and you think it's a big effects and stuff,” Nesbitt says, “but in fact if you bring it back to kind of the bare bones and to human imagination you unlock a whole world of text that is actually what creates the magic. In the end it's the beautiful words.”

Before the first day of rehearsal, the beautiful words were printed and bound for the thousandth or millionth time. The two dozen scripts sat in a stack by the door in the old barn building in Sandwich the theater group calls home.

Advice to the Players “The Tempest” can be seen outside at the Sandwich Fairgrounds, 5:30pm, August 10 & 11, and inside at the Town Hall Theatre, August 12-14, Friday & Saturday 7:30pm, Sunday 2:00pm.

For more information, visit the Advice to the Players website.

Sean Hurley lives in Thornton with his wife Lois and his son Sam. An award-winning playwright and radio journalist, his fictional “Atoms, Motion & the Void” podcast has aired nationally on NPR and Sirius & XM Satellite radio. When he isn't writing stories or performing on stage, he likes to run in the White Mountains. He can be reached at shurley@nhpr.org.
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