Celebrating the Bard

Theater in the Rough brings Shakespeare to a Jerusalem park.

JOSH BLOOMBERG (left) and Tamar Naggan 370 (photo credit: Yitz Woolf)
JOSH BLOOMBERG (left) and Tamar Naggan 370
(photo credit: Yitz Woolf)
Follow a path through the trees and flowers in Bloomfield Park, and you can witness Jerusalem’s Theater in the Rough preparing for their annual summer Shakespeare performance behind the King David Hotel.
Entering their fourth season, this community theater group are tackling their most ambitious production with a free performance of Richard III. The 13-member cast has been preparing for months to perfect their most challenging script in order to bring the audience a quality piece, which runs August 5-22.
Theater in the Rough’s Richard III will be performed outside without a set and with shifting scene locations, which meant that the script had to be refined and cut to tell the story more effectively.
Natan Skop, co-founder and producer of Theater in the Rough, says this summer’s performance is on a larger scale than past productions.
“This a big show, and it tells a large chapter of European history,” he says. “Richard III is an epic, and I think we’re going to do justice to that.”
Josh Bloomberg, associate director and the actor portraying King Richard, explains that Richard III is a play focused on a single character. For Theater in the Rough, this posed a unique dilemma.
“Community theater is all about the ensemble, and we try not to have any one person with too much of a larger role,” he says. “It took courage to take this play focused on one character and discover how to make it an ensemble.”
Bloomberg has loved Richard III for several years, and the opportunity to portray King Richard in upcoming performances is a dream come true for him.
“I want the audience to have a connection with this historical character that is normally portrayed as evil,” Bloomberg explains. “I’ve been exploring a human side to him, and I want to show the audience a side of Richard they may not have seen or have been expecting.”
Both Skop and Bloomberg comment on the quality of this performance’s costumes, which they credit to Theater in the Rough’s costume designer, Bayla Lewis. Inspired by a sub-genre of science fiction containing steam-powered machinery known as steampunk, the costume design features metallic colored clothing and accessories made from machine parts, such as gears.
Skop is also enthusiastic about a new set of prop swords that enable actors to engage in larger on-stage conflicts.
“We have some element of on-stage combat every year, but this year we’re able to have a full battle,” he says. “It’s going to be awesome.”
With this season’s Shakespeare performance, the members of Theater in the Rough are hoping to bring a stronger, more quality production than ever before.
“We’re always trying to push the envelope in terms of quality,” says Skop. “I know people will walk away from this performance thinking, ‘Wow, that was engaging and intriguing!’”
Richard III runs August 5, 8, 11, 12, 14, 18, 19, 21, 22. Act I begins at 5:30 p.m. at Bloomfield Park, directly behind the King David Hotel in Jerusalem. All performances are free.