Company, and Shakespeare: A Talk with Macaire Pace


Company, and Shakespeare: A Talk with Macaire Pace


By Clara Shapiro

“Shakespeare and Company” would be an organization with the somewhat blunt name of “Shakespeare” were it not for the excellent and lively company that it keeps. Who is counted among the carousers? Actors and administrators, props masters and directors, stagehands and volunteers, production people and computer-whisperers, Riotous Youths and hardworking housekeepers. But festivities would be feeble without one final group of people — the patrons. Without them, the show would not go on. Yesterday, I had the opportunity to call up one of Shakespeare and Company’s biggest fans and friends, Macaire Pace — global data and analytics leader, business advisor, and innovator.

A warm voice slid up my earbuds and into the porches of my ears: “Hello, this is Macaire!”

“Are you Canadian?” I blurted out. Friendly people often are.

“No, I’m not,” she said. “Are you?”

“Me neither.”

Our interview was underway.

C: How did you come to discover Shakespeare and Co?

M: We came to discover Shakespeare and Company through Riotous Youth for our younger daughter [Mia], and I think we’ve been coming off-and-on almost every year since… probably nine years ago.

C: What was it about Shakespeare and Co that drew you back for so many summers?

M: Broadly, I like the arts, and our whole family likes the arts. Shakespeare and Company is a dynamic organization, and in addition to all of the performances — as well as all of the education and actor training — everything it does [allows us to] understand others through the different lenses of performance. This is both enjoyable, and desperately needed in a time when people don’t always sit back and try to understand things from a different perspective.

C: What about S & Co draws you here in addition to the productions?

The organization has a commitment to exploring how humans relate to each other. That’s at the heart of the plays and at the heart of so much of the educational programs, and training, and I find that both are enjoyable, interesting, and important. And it does have a lovely campus, too. I loved it when we went to “The Tempest” when the Roman Garden Theater first opened. I thought that was just wonderful, not just the performance, but the decision to turn that space into a theater, the imagination and the vision to say, “We can create a performance space out here.” The choice to do that, and then to put on such a fabulous [play] there, and then the creation of the New Spruce… it’s the imagination, and bringing to life these ideas of different ways in which the Shakespeare and Company community can experience the theater. I appreciate watching that continue to evolve in a way that [draws] people into different experiences.

C: Did you always love Shakespeare?

M: No, actually. This is one of the funny things. I have always known people who have loved Shakespeare, and I have read a reasonable amount about Shakespeare, and I’m curious about the deep fascination and love that people who I know have of Shakespeare. But what I have come to appreciate even more — We went to see Measure for Measure on Sunday — [is] taking an interesting story with a dark underside… and taking that story and giving it the space for a shared experience. Anybody who goes and sees Measure for Measure with a friend, with a family member — it’s an incredibly enjoyable experience. Really wonderfully staged. And it also raises some difficult topics that are very relevant today, and being able to see that with others and have that experience, also opens up a dialogue for some of the important issues the play raises.

There’s a part of all these plays that broadens your perspective over the centuries, what humans have endured and lived through and thought about over so many different eras. I find that element of Shakespeare and the ability of the plays to be continuously relevant to what we’re living through today to be very interesting to me.

C: To you, what differentiates S & Co from other theater companies?

M: The thing about S and Co that feels different is that often it’s a really interesting community that comes together and puts on a wide range of performances, and unlike in Manhattan, if you will, where once a play gets to Broadway, you go to that specific theater for that specific play and then you depart. Here, if you walk onto the property of Shakespeare and Company over the course of any 72 hours in the summer, there’s likely three or four radically different types of stories being told on the different stages, and you don’t know what the story possibilities could be. The range of performances that are on the campus and yet feel like it’s all part of a community of storytelling and shared experiences [is] a [unique] experience. There’s something about that that lends a vibrancy. And then when you add in Riotous Youth, and Riotous Youth performances… it’s that feeling of “there are many stories to tell,” and there are many performers to share in what they’re trying to express and for you to actively be a part of what’s being expressed.

C: Do you have a favorite show you’ve seen at S & Co?

M: I will tell you my daughter’s favorite show. I think it’s her favorite play she’s ever seen anywhere. It was “Emperor of the Moon” [Aphra Behn, 1687]. I think it was in 2016. We went with friends, and I’ve never seen kids laugh that much in a theater, ever, and it was just one of those moments of pure joy, connection, and happiness.

C: If somebody had never heard of Shakespeare & Company and was in the area, what would you tell them about the organization?

M: It’s worth going to one of the wonderful professional performances, and it’s equally worth going to one of the Riotous Youth performances, or one of the play-readings… pick two, because they’re very different. Pick a story or a writer or a topic that’s of interest to you. Go to the campus a couple of different times just to get a sense of the breadth of conversations that happen across a season at Shakespeare & Co.

The topics that are presented are topics that are not attached to the political spectrum in the any way, they’re not attached to the current issues of the day, but they are attached to human challenges that we still have, and it provides a place of connection to talk about something that’s meaningful and to think about something from a different perspective and to share that experience. For me, that’s a worthwhile commitment for all of us to make, to have shared experiences with people we might not at first relate to, but to find these shared moments together.


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