Black Box Performing Arts Center and Old York Cellars Winery Present Outdoor Shakespeare Complete with Safety Guidelines
By Susan L. Rosenbluth

All those who thought dreamy summer evenings devoted to the Bard of Avon surrounded by outdoor greenery would be little more than a fond memory this year are in for a pleasant surprise. Thanks to timely and welcome artistic teamwork by the Englewood-based Black Box Performing Arts Center and the Old York Cellars winery in Ringoes, NJ, Shakespeare will be alive and well in a setting of lush farmland surrounded by a verdant vineyard.
A little more than an hour from Bergen and Passaic Counties and less than an hour from Essex and Middlesex communities, the Old York Cellars, with its scenic views of the Sourland Mountain range, will showcase “The Tempest” on Sunday, August 23, and “Measure for Measure” on Sunday, August 30. Check-in for both performances begins at 7pm, and the shows start at 7:30 and end at about 9:30.
The winery’s on-site restaurant offers a casual dining experience while enjoying the play. The menu ranges from a variety of tapas to creative salads and sandwiches served on European-style baguettes. There are paellas and mouth-watering desserts and snacks. The full menu can be accessed at https://www.oldyorkcellars.com/Winery-Food-Menu.
Wine-tastings and wines by the glass and bottle are also available as are some non-alcoholic beverages.
According to Marc Goldstein, Old York Cellars co-manager and director of hospitality, those who would rather bring their own food and non-alcoholic drinks to the Shakespeare productions are welcome to do so,
Professional Productions
The shows, directed by the Black Box PAC’s artistic director, Matt Okin, and director of Shakespeare programming, Michael Gardiner, feature the talents of professional actors from the New York metropolitan area, including Christina Cruz, Allen Garcia, Michael Gardiner, Cassandra Guglielmo, Kentrell Loftin, Danielle MacMath, Sean Mannix, Rachel Matusewicz, Bess Miller, Arthur Gregory Pugh, Ilana Schimmel, and Jacey Schult.
Thought to be one of the last plays Shakespeare wrote alone, “The Tempest,” with its exotic shipside and remote island setting, evokes the spirit of enchantment and explores many themes, including magic, betrayal, revenge, and family ties. This new production features a surprising “James Bond”-style reimaging, directed by Mr. Gardiner.
While “Measure for Measure” is usually characterized as a comedy, scholars see it as a much more complex examination of justice, morality, and mercy in which the dichotomy between corruption and purity is not always clear-cut. As directed by Mr. Okin, humor is indeed the  focus in this fast-paced Southern rock-and-pop-laced version.
Safety Guidelines Enforced
Tickets for the shows are $25, and reservations are required. At the Old York Winery, all the outdoor tables and chairs have been placed in accordance with social distancing and state-mandated requirements, and the management insists they must remain in place.
Upon arrival, guests will be escorted to their seating areas located in the winery’s open-air tented patio and terrace area. Groups of two to six can be accommodated, and children are welcome, but, like the adults, they must wear masks.
Facemasks are required.
For reservations and further information, contact the Old York Cellars, 80 Old York Road, Ringoes, NJ 08551, at 908-284-9463.
“Make your reservations early and enjoy a relaxing evening of safe, social-distanced, outdoor professional theater,” said Mr. Goldstein.