With the holiday season in full swing, the thespians of the Pawling Shakespeare Club held their annual Yuletide Celebration on Tuesday, December 5. Held in “The Barn” at the home of members Marie and Tino DiLorenzio on Quaker Hill, the event filled members and guests with not only the spirit of the season, but also with words of the Bard himself. Founded in 1898, the longstanding organization is also looking forward with excitement to what 2018 will bring.
The Yuletide Celebration brought together club members, community representatives, and numerous friends and family. After lunch, the audience was treated to a “Yuletide Review” presented by Master of Ceremonies Barry Schaffer. First came a reading of the original poem “Saturnalia,” written by Shura Saul, read by the author and Marie DiLorenzo. The poetry was also accompanied by backup dancers choreographed by Carol-Lee Kantor and Dale Kolanko. Next came a recitation of the comic monologue “Albert and the Lion,” from Anne Testa, which paid tribute to the English music hall tradition of the 1940s. Following the monologue, Rita and Barry Schaffer performed a duet of the original song “Hallelujah Shakespeare” with piano accompanist Richard Hoffman. The review concluded with Stephanie Rogers performing “Nightmare Song,” from Iolnathe by Gilbert and Sullivan, and “Modern Major General” from Pirates of Penzance. The event closed with dessert and members gathered around the piano to sing Christmas carols.
The annual luncheon marked the 119th celebration of the event for the Pawling Shakespeare Club. Founded in November 1898 in Holmes, by Mrs. Henry Holmes, the organization currently has twenty-six members. Membership is limited to thirty, keeping with the tradition set forth by the group’s founders. The club has fall and spring sessions, with seven meetings each season that include guest speakers, readings and studies of a different Shakespearian works. This past fall the group tackled Julius Caesar, and will be engaging in the classic comedy As You Like It this spring. The group also includes members from Putnam, Westchester, and Fairfield Counties, and boasts a resident poet laureate, Shura Saul, who writes original material for the club.
The Pawling Shakespeare Club also prides itself on community involvement. Annually, they award a $500 scholarship for literary achievement to a graduating senior from Pawling High School who wishes to pursue a career in language arts. They are also active in supporting local theater, with many original plays and skits produced within the community.
As the Pawling Shakespeare Club continues to honor the author’s classic works, they also actively keep more than a century’s worth of tradition alive. Their commitment to not only the material, but also to involving the community will ensure that the Bard’s works continue to be appreciated in Pawling for years to come.