There’s so much to love about summer in the Hudson Valley. In the height of the season, locals and visitors alike savor warm-weather days during long hikes toward breathtaking views, ice cream cones filled with farm-fresh scoops, and lazy afternoons at beaches and swimming holes. During a more normal year, fairs and festivals sweeten the deal, bringing communities together while highlighting the creativity and talent of the region.
For theater lovers, no fest captures the magic of summer in the Valley quite like Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival. Each year, the fest, which is fondly known as HVSF, converges at Boscobel House and Gardens in Garrison for a season filled with heart-racing adventures, shoulder-shaking humor, and convoluted drama as only the Bard could create.
Now, after 34 years in residence at Boscobel, HVSF prepares to say goodbye to the historic grounds it has long called home.
(Don’t worry, it’s not gone for good.)
For the first time ever, Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival will open a season at a new, permanent home in the Hudson Valley. Lucky for locals, the location is less than three miles away from Garrison in Philipstown and is a generous gift from philanthropist Christopher Davis.
“I am delighted to have found the perfect steward for this extraordinarily beautiful land,” Davis says. “HVSF is a nationally recognized arts organization with deep roots in this community. With this gift, we can assure that this place continues to be a positive force in the region while becoming a cultural hub in the Hudson Valley.”
For HVSF fans familiar with the breathtaking views that defined the shows in Garrison, the new Philipstown venue also offers stunning panoramas of the Hudson River, with Storm King Mountain on the left and Breakneck Ridge on the right. Its hillside location at 2015 Route 9 at the intersection with Snake Hill Road means HVSF actors can make their magical debut over the ridge and into the tent, too.
Prior to gifting the parcel of land to Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival, Davis purchased it back in 1999 to protect it from commercial development. He owns The Garrison golf course surrounding the land, and he plans to modify the layout so as to ensure sufficient room for both enterprises.
“Chris Davis’s historic gift preserves this land and allows HVSF to transform from a summer festival to a year-round cultural anchor in the region,” enthuses HVSF Artistic Director Davis McCallum. “With this enhanced role comes a greater responsibility to serve the entire Hudson Valley community, and we are actively exploring how we can share this enormous opportunity with community partners across the region.”
Hudson Valley Shakespeare will premiere its new home sweet home in 2022. For 2021, it will return to Boscobel one last time before saying farewell for good.
“Boscobel and Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival have each grown so much since 1988,” observes Boscobel’s Executive Director Jennifer Carlquist. “We are thrilled for our colleagues and excited for the opportunities that this opens for all of us.”
For Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival, which has an economic impact of seven million dollars annually, its new location near The Garrison and Valley Restaurant is a boon for both organizations. With dining and overnight accommodations nearby, HVSF visitors have all they need for a picture-perfect weekend at their fingertips. What’s more, depending on how far HVSF chooses to extend its season (a permanent venue means there’s potential for year-round programming, after all), its move could lead to a significant boost for surrounding Hudson Valley businesses beyond just the summer season.
Due to the extensive scope of Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival’s relocation, HVSF leadership plans to work with Nelson Byrd Woltz Landscape Architects on a master plan, with both Jeanne Gang + Studio and Fisher Dachs Associates Theater Consultants on hand to design the actual performance space. While development will occur in phases, HVSF already hopes to craft a more comfortable and energy-efficient open-air tent, along with enhanced facilities for artists and audiences. To create a venue that’s rooted in community and culture, it has engaged a number of theater makers and artists to compose “Tent Pole” commissions for the space.
Some aspects of their plan for the Philipstown site will be put into place for the 2022 season, and others may take years to realize. HVSF works with the Philipstown Town Board and Planning Board to approve an overall plan for the property. The first phase will include fostering a familiar experience in a new home: early growth of meadows and gardens, an environmentally sensitive parking lot, and plenty of pedestrian walkways with beautiful sights.
A permanent theater tent, back of house facility, and box office will be installed over the next few years. Long-term additions to the property are not currently planned for constructions. These include a year-round indoor theater, rehearsal barn, community pavilion, and lodging for artists. The property will remain open to the public even when performances are not being held, exhibiting a college campus-like atmosphere full of Storm King and Breakneck Ridge views.
Until Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival’s final season at Boscobel arrives, the organization keeps the local love of Shakespeare alive with a rich stream of virtual programming ranging from “Tent Talks” with artists to online readings and virtual education programs. Visit the HVSF website to see what’s on the calendar next.