Interview with Hamilton Clancy, artistic director of the Michael Chekhov Theater Festival

Hamilton Clancy served as the Artistic Director of the Michael Chekhov Theatre Festival for the last three years and has been associated with the organization since 2010. Hamilton is a Manhattan actor  and also serves as the producing artistic director of The Drilling Company, which will be presenting Twelfth Night in Ballard Park on the 16th of September. Recently he was interviewed about his theater work.

Q: From where do you draw inspiration for staging and directing your Shakespeare productions?

CLANCY: I’ve been inspired by some great teachers.  For example Wynn Handmann, now 95 years in age, has been the single most important teacher of my career. Also I studied with Richard Easton at the old Globe. He is a fantastic actor. For my staging and production work, my greatest inspirations are Peter Brooke and The Bread and Puppet Theatre. I couldn’t imagine two more disparate worlds from which to draw. However, they remarkably have a great deal in common. They both tap into the power of the imagination which is essential in solving problems in the theatre. Peter Brooke, for example, speaks of collecting ideas and gathering everyone on a creative project into a cauldron of guided experimentation. In a fashion, each time I approach a play, I believe I am organically entering into a process of bringing myself in touch with all the elements necessary to realize the story.

Q: What has been the favorite role(s) of your career?

CLANCY: I’ve been  fortunate  to play  some wonderful parts in different styles of  theatre. We've produced a good deal of Shakespeare and the roles of Henry the Fifth and Hamlet  were both tremendously fulfilling to portray. The role of Tor in 

The Norwegians  was a fantastic role. That production was our company’s biggest  hit and had a long run, so I had a  lot  of  fun with it. Playing Kowalski  on Orange is the New Black  has also been terrific. It was my first recurring television character and  being part of a series family was a wonderful experience.

Q: What do you look for when selecting a piece for the festival?

CLANCY: This fall I have been looking for pieces that speak to the country's mood  and  circumstances. I look for pieces that do this in an original and unexpected way.”

Q: Can you tell us briefly about your selections for this year’s festival?

CLANCY: Traditionally we have offered Shakespeare and now we hope to make it a family friendly tradition by offering it in Ballard Park early in the evening so families can picnic on the lawn.  Twelfth Night, which is fresh off the  Shakespeare in Bryant Park series, is a beloved comedy and this version by The Drilling Company is seriously entertaining. We usually offer a one-person show in the mix. The American Soldier is a one-man show which should be meaningful to everyone but particularly the many veterans who call Ridgefield home.

Q: Will there be a reading offered this year?

CLANCY: It has become standard for us to include a play reading in the festival. We are delighted to have Thrown Stone,  a new local theatre group  to bring another reading. Last year’s Milk reading was later fully developed and ran to accolade this July. People are eager to see what they will bring as a reading this year. 

Q: What will be the last show offered on Saturday evening the 23rd of September?

CLANCY: Eternal Youth is told from the perspective of a teenager and performed by a remarkable new Irish talent. It deeply explores the concerns that young people face as they transition into adulthood. The play is about suicide but has a very positive message similar to Thirteen Reasons Why and Dear Evan Hanson. Every parent and teen should come to this powerful show.


Please Note: CHANGE OF VENUE all indoor shows 

will now be at The Ridgefield Theater Barn

Saturday, Sept 16th, 5PM 

                Twelfth Night

 A free, family-friendly Shakespeare 


Friday, Sept 22nd, 7PM

                The American Soldier

A one-man show to honor the story of all soldiers


Saturday, Sept 23rd, 2PM

                The Butcher 

A play reading by Thrown Stone 


Saturday, Sept 23rd, 7PM

                Eternal Youth 

A coming of age story


Individual Tickets - $20         Three-how Ticket - $45               

It is the mission of the festival to celebrate Michael Chekhov’s connection to Ridgefield by bringing professional theatre performances to the town. Michael Chekhov operated a theater school/studio in Ridgefield sixty years ago and later in Hollywood, coached many Hollywood actors and was nominated for an Oscar. 

Tickets to the festival, donations, volunteer opportunities and additional information can be obtained at www.chekhovfestival.com or by calling 203 274-0261.


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