Shakespeare returns to the Firehouse Center for the Arts

Jim Davis/Globe Staff
SUNDOWN SERENITY - On a late afternoon in Methuen earlier this month, shafts of sunlight streak through an opening in the cloud cover, bouncing off cars in traffic on Route 213 westbound.

THE BARD IS BACK: Shakespeare is returning to the Firehouse Center for the Arts in Newburyport for the first time since 2006.

A $1,180 grant from the New England States Touring Program of the New England Foundation for the Arts is helping to underwrite the cost of presenting a performance of “Hamlet’’ by Shakesperience Productions on March 23.

Shakesperience Productions also will present two in-school workshops at Newburyport High School.


It will work with a local theater company, Anna Smulowitz Productions in Newburyport, to prepare young actors to present “A Midsummer Night’s Dream’’ May 24 to June 3 at the Firehouse.

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Shakesperience, a nonprofit based in Waterbury, Conn., was founded in 1996 by Emily Mattina and Jeffrey Lapham to educate and inspire students, families, and theater professionals through the arts.

Under Mattina, the artistic director, and Lapham, executive director, Shakesperience has annually presented about 650 workshops and performances for approximately 70,000 students in some 70 Connecticut communities and elsewhere.

Visit or

ARTISTS AND AUTHORS: The second annual Artists and Authors Winter Exhibit will be held at the Hawthorne Hotel in Salem on Thursday evening.


The event in the hotel’s ballroom features the work of visual artists, including Charles Lang, Wendy Snow-Lang, Sara Ashodian, and Ellen Hardy.

Also present will be Robert Booth, author of “Death of an Empire: The Rise and Murderous Fall of Salem, America’s Richest City,’’ and Nelson Dionne, author of “Salem in Stereo: Victorian Salem in 3D.’’

Brendan O’Reilly and Clay Ventre and the Bond Girls will provide music. A cash bar will feature an arts-themed menu.

The event, sponsored by the hotel and the Salem Arts Association, runs from 5 to 9 p.m. It is open to the public and free.

For more information, contact Ellen Hardy, president of the arts association, at 508-783-6591 or or visit


PERFECT HARMONY: The Real School of Music in Burlington has expanded by merging with Bradford School of Music in North Andover.

For now, Bradford School of Music is keeping its name, but it will be renamed The Real School of Music when it relocates to a new facility later this year.

“We are currently researching several prospective sites, with an eye toward moving closer to downtown Andover,’’ said Thomas Byrne, chief executive of The Real School.

Bradford School of Music, founded in 2007, has hundreds of music students and more than a dozen faculty members. “We’ve always had a great relationship with The Real School, and the time was right for us to join forces, all to the direct benefit of our loyal customers,’’ said Andrew Clark, founder of the Bradford School.

The Real School of Music is a music education and performing arts community where students of all ages join bands, write songs, play live shows, and record demos.

For more about The Real School, call 888-881-REAL or visit To learn more about the Bradford School of Music, call 978-685-7900 or visit

AUTHOR’S CORNER: To celebrate poet Robert Browning’s 200th birthday, the Salem Athenaeum will present a lecture by Sue Weaver Schopf of Salem at 7 p.m. Feb. 28. She will discuss Browning’s poetic legacy and some of his works, including “A Death in the Desert.’’ Schopf is associate dean and director of the master of liberal arts program, a research adviser in the humanities, and a lecturer at Harvard Extension School.

IN LOCAL GALLERIES: “Iraq: The Soldier’s View,’’ an exhibit of drawings and paintings by James O’Neill, is at the Winfisky Gallery at Salem State University Tuesday through March 29. O’Neill, an Army soldier who was deployed to Kuwait in February 2003, was part of the force that invaded Iraq. A reception with the artist is 2 p.m. Feb. 29. . . . The work of 22 artists who became members of the Marblehead Arts Association in 2011 is on display at the King Hooper Mansion in Marblehead through Feb. 26. A reception with the artists is 2 to 4 p.m. today. The new members, who were juried into the association, range from abstract artists to painters of traditional landscapes to photographers and artists working in three-dimensional media.

Wendy Killeen can be reached at