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Centenary Presents The Pleasure of His Company: Our Love Affair with William Shakespeare and the First Folio

originally published: 04/10/2017

Centenary Presents The Pleasure of His Company: Our Love Affair with William Shakespeare and the First Folio

PHOTO: Randall Duk Kim; Then Came Each Actor, 2015 (photo credit: Robert Eberle)

HACKETTSTOWN, NJ) -- Honoring the anniversary of the birth and death of William Shakespeare, Centenary Stage Company is pleased to present classical theatre giants Randall Duk Kim and Anne Occhiogrosso starring in, The Pleasure of His Company: Our Love Affair with William Shakespeare and the First Folio, an evening of personal recollections, dramatic scenes and stories of Shakespeare's influence on Kim and Occhiogrosso's lives and careers for more than four decades on Sunday, April 23  at 3:00pm in the Lackland Performing Arts Center.

The two-character performance piece, conceived and written by Kim and Occhiogrosso for the celebration of Shakespeare’s 400-year legacy, combines performances of signature Shakespearean dramatic scenes with performance pieces which celebrate Shakespeare’s contribution to world literature. The evening is also a tribute to the First Folio, the 1623 collection of Shakespeare’s plays which scholars cite as the most authentic and reliable versions of a majority of the playwright’s texts. 

The Pleasure of His Company made its world premiere to a sold – out audience at the University of Wisconsin presented by The Arts Institute and the Wisconsin Union Directorate.  The premiere performance was a prelude to the Folger Shakespeare Library's national exhibition of an original edition of the First Folio.

The Sunday, April 23 performance will include signature scenes from Hamlet, King Lear, Macbeth and many other Shakespeare plays. The performance will be followed by a Q&A session with the artists. It is free to the public with reservations strongly recommended.

For over 40 years, Randall Duk Kim and Anne Occhiogrosso have devoted their lives to the classical theatre through acting, directing, teaching, commissioning new translations of classical works and developing a singular approach to classical text interpretation which combines, research, training and production. Central to their work with William Shakespeare is their dependence upon the First Folio as an interpretative guide. This life-long dedication to classical theatre led to their founding, in 1979, along with founding partner Charles J. Bright, now deceased, of American Players Theatre, Spring Green, WI, the only professional, outdoor classical rotating repertory theatre company in America at that time. 

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As the pioneers of Centenary Stage Company’s ever popular Great Authors Out Loud Series, Kim and Occhiogrosso have created a corner-stone in the CSC season that provides an in-depth exploration of classical text while engaging its audiences in lively talk back discussions.  Kim and Occhiogrosso have organized and performed in 10 installments of the series bringing to life the classics ranging from Shakespeare and Moliere to Ibsen and even highlighting the works of Mark Twain, James Thurber and Dorothy Parker.  Additionally, Kim and Occhiogrosso’s original piece Then Came Each Actor, highlighting the men and women of the Classical Theater, made its world premiere with Centenary Stage Company in the spring of 2015.  The production celebrated the lives and works of such theater greats as Sarah Siddons, Henry Irving, Julia Marlowe, Edwin Booth, Eleanora Duse, Paul Robeson, Morris Carnovsky and many others of whom, through their tireless dedication to the craft of acting, shaped the face of modern theater.  Additionally, Then Came Each Actor featured Kim and Occhiogrosso’s personal collection of photos, programs, stories and theatrical treasures which have provided the inspiration for their own work in the theater.

Winner of the OBIE Award for Sustained Excellence, Kim began his early career with the legendary Joe Papp and the New York Public Theatre's Shakespeare Festival and performed leading classical roles at some of America's finest regional theatres including Hamlet, Shylock, King Lear, Falstaff and Oedipus Rex, among many others. He has been seen on Broadway in Flower Drum Song, Golden Child and The King and I but perhaps is most universally recognized as "The Keymaker" in the film Matrix Reloaded and the voice of "Oogway" in the DreamWorks' animated films Kung Fu Panda 1 and 3. Mr. Kim's TV and film work includes the BBC Special Prisoner in Time, Anna and the King, Memoirs of a Geisha, Dragonball, Ninja Assassin, Elementary and John Wick.

Director Anne Occhiogrosso received national attention for her body of work at American Players Theatre where she was co-artistic director. An acclaimed director, dramaturg, acting coach and actress, her focus has always been classical theatre with a special emphasis on the works of William Shakespeare. At the American Players Theatre, she directed 16 Shakespearean plays along with works of by Moliere, Ibsen, Plautus, and Chekhov. She also performed the roles of The Nurse in Romeo and Juliet, Gertrude in Hamlet, Natalya in The Proposal, Madame Arkadina in The Seagull, Jocasta in Oedipus Rex and Anna Petrovna in Ivanov, a production which was co-directed by Morris Carnovsky and Phoebe Brand who have served as career mentors to both Kim and Occhiogrosso. She has also taught at the Stella Adler Conservatory of Acting and the New York Shakespeare Festival.

The Pleasure of His Company:  Our Love Affair with William Shakespeare and the First Folio will be presented in the Sitnik Theater of the Lackland Performing Arts Center on Sunday, April 23 at 3:00pm.  Tickets are FREE and reservations highly recommended.

For more information or to reserve seats visit or call the Centenary Stage Company box office at (908) 979 – 0900.  The box office is open Monday through Friday from 1 – 5pm and two hours prior to performance.  The Centenary Stage Company box office is located in the Lackland Performing Arts Center on the campus of Centenary University at 715 Grand Avenue Hackettstown, NJ.  Centenary Stage Company can also be found across social media platforms; Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.  Like and follow to receive the latest in Centenary Stage Company news and special offers.

The 2016-17 season of preforming arts events at the Centenary Stage Company is made possible through the generous support of the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, the NJ Sate Council on the Arts, the Shubert Foundation, the Blanche and Irving Laurie Foundation, the Sandra Kupperman Foundation, and CSC corporate sponsors. These include Premier Season Sponsor Heath Village Retirement Community, Silver Sponsors Hackettstown Medical Center, Home Instead Senior Care (Washington), The Holiday Inn in Budd Lake, Fulton Bank of New Jersey, as well as Centenary Stage Company members and supporters.

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