The Old Grey Lady Flashes the Bard

Shakespeare Theater

Shakespeare Theater

Aye, There’s the Rub: Would the Bard Pay?
Thomas McDonald for The New York Times

Stratford hopes to reopen the Stratford Shakespeare theater.


Thomas McDonald for The New York Times

The theater is modeled on Shakespeare’s original Globe theater.

HERE is, as Shakespeare said in another context, a tale told by an idiot full of sound and fury signifying nothing.

For 25 years, the state of Connecticut had a charmed jewel in its possession — an octagonal 1,500-seat theater here modeled on Shakespeare’s original Globe that mounted productions of the Bard’s works with some of the nation’s greatest actors. Tens of thousands of schoolchildren, not to mention tens of thousands of grown-ups, streamed here from all over the Northeast to view Katharine Hepburn as Portia in “The Merchant of Venice” (she was paid $350 a week plus the use of a fisherman’s cottage), James Earl Jones as Othello and Christopher Plummer as Iago.

Before or after the show, theatergoers picnicked on the lawn while gazing at the dreamy mouth of the Housatonic River as if they were sitting at Shakespeare’s Stratford birthplace on the River Avon. Wandering madrigal singers entertained them and Shakespeare himself (or an actor in costume) would mingle.

Then, by some accounts, the patron who had generously covered the theater’s deficits died, and his survivors could not continue writing checks. In 1982 the theater filed for bankruptcy protection and, except for one brief season, has remained dark. Today it is derelict, its gray painted exterior flaking, its outdoor balconies sagging, its signature Elizabethan sundial fading. A gaping hole in the roof lets in rain that has weakened the backstage floor.

Plenty of townspeople have wondered how this could have been allowed to happen — why a state with one of the nation’s wealthiest and most educated populations could allow a gem to rot away for a quarter century and permit a generation of Northeastern children to miss out on live Shakespeare.

Now, though, there is a chance for this story to signify something — something hopeful. In 2005, the state deeded the theater to the town, and after some stumbles, its officials are negotiating with a white knight, Bill Hanney. He is a 39-year-old movie theater builder who for the past year has operated the Theater by the Sea in Matunuck, R.I., and put on productions like “Ain’t Misbehavin’ ” and “Evita.” The mayor and town council have approved a bond for $2.5 million to renovate the theater, and Mr. Hanney has offered to put in some of his own money.

If his blueprint is realized, the curtain could go up by next year, with money flowing to hotels and restaurants and jobs created for a community of 50,000 hurt by the loss of a military tank contractor. But there are fears on all sides that the town might not get it right.

Mr. Hanney admits he has never seen a Shakespeare play and thinks Shakespeare is not what modern audiences crave. He wants to put on the same popular musicals that he shows in Rhode Island, allowing him to recycle the scenery, costumes and casts and spread his costs. Most of Stratford’s 10-member town council seems ready to take him at any price. But the mayor, two council members and a sizable slice of residents insist that Shakespeare retain a starring role — perhaps four months in a year-long season. They point out that Shakespeare is wildly successful in Stratford, Ontario; in Central Park in Manhattan; and in more than 100 countrywide festivals. Why should Connecticut be such barren ground?

So to be or not be is still the question for the Stratford theater. Councilman Michael Julian thinks that Mr. Hanney’s experience as a movie theater builder will help him to size up the refurbishing that will be needed, and he hopes Mr. Hanney can do so without demanding another pound of flesh from the council.

The mayor, James R. Miron, who preferred the developer to be a nonprofit organization that could raise government and foundation grants, is more of a skeptic. He points out that the town has received estimates of up to $20 million to restore the building to mint condition. Still, what makes him optimistic is that much of the theater is in good shape, including the framework, the proscenium stage, and the teak indoor paneling. There is even a dusty prop room with swords, masks and the head of a donkey — perhaps the mask Bert Lahr wore as Bottom in “A Midsummer’s Night’s Dream” — left over from the heyday.

“It would be a shame to let this theater stay dark,” Mr. Miron said, showing a reporter around with a flashlight. “The themes of Shakespeare are as relevant today as they were 400 years ago. They comment on the human elements we all share.”

Mr. Miron, a lawyer who grew up in Stratford, has said he would not sign any contract that “does not devote a significant portion of the year” to Shakespeare. Mr. Hanney said in an interview that “I will do as much Shakespeare as people want to pay for.” Whatever contract is finally hammered out could not dictate the degree of passion that producers put into Shakespeare, which may be crucial to success.

What everyone realizes is that more years of dawdling may leave the theater unsalvageable. There’s also a recognition that the time is ripe; the council membership changes every two years and another council may not be so kind. If the Hamlet-like indecision continues, the town will have ended up — pardon the mixing of metaphors and plays — burying Shakespeare, not praising him.

Note to Michael Julian: In our opinion, you are doing your job. Theatrics and accounting do not mix well. As far as we can tell you are the only one watching our tax dollars.


100 Responses to “The Old Grey Lady Flashes the Bard”

  1. 1 jezebel282

    Just another thing that won’t get done in our lifetimes.

  2. . . . or our children’s or grandchildren’s or their’s etc. etc. etc. etc. so so so sad.

  3. 3 jezebel282


    Sooner or later the Law of Entropy and Law of Gravity will make the decision for us.

  4. 4 mikereynolds

    Or if we’re lucky mother nature will provide us with a hurricane and take care of this problem for us.

  5. 5 jezebel282


    I’ve got it!

    How about we paint a big circle on the side and practice chip shots?

    OR, bring a few kids down there, paint a rectangle on one side wall and show them how to use a broom handle and rubber ball? In my old neighborhood any wall would do. We called it “Stickball”.

  6. 6 mikereynolds

    I don’t know Jez. It doesn’t have the ambiance as Short Beach.

    Speaking of which, historically, is it busy enough to need a tee time on a weekday in the summer? Or can you just walk on?

  7. 7 jezebel282


    At least you wouldn’t have to chase balls.

    Tuesday mornings are Ladies’ league…I don’t think you have the right equipment.

    Any other time it’s almost empty during the week. Be careful of some of the Seniors down there. They play every single day and can be deadly on the greens. If you want REAL town gossip, talk to the Seniors there. They know EVERYTHING! Just don’t bet with them.

  8. 8 mikereynolds

    OK Jez, lol…thanks for the tips for handling those rowdy seniors.

  9. 9 jezebel282


    I almost forgot…some of the male seniors have some really delicious recipes. Apparently men can cook at some point after retirement. It’s not genetic after all.

  10. 10 jezebel282

    Yet more update:

    From The NY Times

    Stratford Struggles With Its House of Shakespeare

    Published: August 21, 2009


    Christopher Capozziello for The New York Times

    AT the Stratford Arts Festival next weekend, the soliloquies of “Hamlet” will be spoken much as they have been for the last 400 years. But the performance will take place outside what is commonly known here as the Shakespeare Theater. At the audience’s back, the theater will sit, as it has for the bulk of the last quarter-century, boarded and ghostly, its collapsing exterior balcony and weathered teak only hinting at the physical deterioration inside. And the festival’s serene setting, along the Housatonic River, will belie the discord that has roiled for decades over one main question: not “to be or not to be,” but “what to be.”

    For 30 years beginning in 1955, this community of 50,000 and its theater were central to the production of Shakespeare in America. But today, the legacy of what the theater once was is running headlong into the reality of what it should become. Like many Shakespearean tragedies, it is playing out against a backdrop of competing political and cultural agendas and disruptive natural forces.

    “When it rains, it’s a waterfall in here,” said J. Sibley Law, chairman of the Stratford Arts Commission. Standing in the theater in early July, where daylight was visible through the roof, Mr. Law said the deterioration had grown worse since the last time he visited, several weeks earlier. “When I first started coming in here five years ago, this was like new,” he said, pointing to a warped and rotted dressing table on the stage.

    The air was acrid, and the smell of rot, mold and mildew was intense. Below stage level, dressing rooms and what was once a lounge for important visitors were wet, filthy and oozing. There was rust on steel girders that hold up the stage. Items in prop rooms were crusted with corrosion, frozen in time. A backdrop remained half-raised. Catwalks were rotting. Photographs from old performances, including one of Katharine Hepburn and Morris Carnovsky in a 1957 production of “The Merchant of Venice,” were strewn carelessly about the lobby.

    “You know, I never saw a performance in here, and I come in and it just makes me sad to see some place like this in this kind of shape,” said Mr. Law, who has overseen the salvage of about 1,000 artworks and props whose value could be as high as $3 million. “This is not an easy fix, and people don’t get it.”

    There has been little consensus on the right way to reconstitute the theater since it closed in the mid-1980s, broke and out of benefactors. While some simply want to get the doors open with any kind of entertainment that will turn a profit, there are those who cling to its origins: a summer home for Broadway’s elite to perform Shakespeare and the classics.

    In its heyday, the theater showcased a huge roster of stars like John Houseman, Christopher Plummer and James Earl Jones. And it helped establish early credentials for the likes of Jane Alexander, Christopher Walken, Julie Taymor and Kelsey Grammer.

    The state took over the theater in 1983 and in 2005 transferred it to the town but required that its 14 acres remain public land, thereby preventing condominium development on the site. The transfer followed the most heralded of several failed revitalization plans — a multimillion-dollar effort by the South African theater producer Louis Burke that included rebuilding the theater and adding two more, as well as restaurants and hotels. Abandoned a couple of years into reconstruction, the theater has sat half-complete since 2000 and has been vandalized repeatedly.

    Today the town is enmeshed in a controversial new revitalization plan, an agreement that the Republican-majority Town Council approved with Bill Hanney, a Massachusetts-based movie theater developer, to rejuvenate and run the theater. The town has bonded $3 million for the project. Mr. Hanney said he would pay for any overruns, which many people believe will be considerable. Estimates for renovating the theater run as high as $15 million.

    Mr. Hanney also owns Theater by the Sea in Matunuck, R.I., a summer-stock-style 500-seat house that presents musicals and other popular productions. He would use the Stratford theater as a second venue for them, as well as for concerts and movies.

    Mr. Law, a Democrat, said he and most of the other members of the Arts Commission did not support the Hanney agreement because it was not detailed enough and lacked a consensus. “The issue is there is no common vision,” he said. “If that could happen, the rest would fall into place.”

    Others in Stratford believe that Mr. Hanney’s practical approach is exactly what is needed. “Having a grand vision doesn’t always accomplish the job,” said Michael F. Henrick, chairman of the Town Council and a Republican. “I think the vision is to get people in the seats, first and foremost. Part of that is trial and error.”

    Critics said a feasibility study and detailed plan should have been completed first, but Mr. Henrick and others said it would have been a waste of money.

    “I always thought of it as a work in progress,” said Michael Julian, a Republican council member whose district includes the theater. “You’re not going to come out of the box with a perfect formula Day 1.”

    But there is much concern about the imperfections of the Hanney plan. Some say Mr. Hanney does not have enough experience to handle the 1,500-seat theater with its unique reconstruction needs. Some worry that the theater will become an amateur venue. Others are dissatisfied with the stipulation in the agreement for only one Shakespeare performance a year. Some think the deal has too little financial reward for the town. Still others, including Mayor James R. Miron, a Democrat, who has refused to sign the contract that was prepared, believe it is illegal because it does not obligate Mr. Hanney to obtain a performance bond — insurance for the town that the work will be done — as required by state law for municipal projects larger than $100,000.

    The resulting stalemate may last through the November election, after which some Hanney supporters hope that Mr. Miron will no longer be mayor.

    But beyond the political sniping, what confounds this community is the need to balance the theater’s iconic past with a plan for the future.

    “You’ve got half the townspeople thinking it’s our legacy, it’s our heritage, it’s our privilege and responsibility to maintain this,” said Wendy Canfield, a Stratford native whose grandmother ran the theater’s costume museum and whose mother and two aunts had summer jobs there. “And you’ve got a lot of other people who think of it as an arsonist’s dream, an albatross. It had its time, it had its place. All great things come to an end,” she said.

    “I happen to know it would succeed if it were done the right way,” she added.

    There’s the problem.

    “When you look at Shakespeare festivals around the nation, it really all comes down to one person with a vision,” said Jim Volz, a Shakespeare expert and a theater professor at California State University at Fullerton who was hired to help Stratford prepare the criteria for the current planned renovation. “Unfortunately, it seems that in Connecticut it’s been too many cooks — and too many cooks without any cooking experience.”

    If the process stalls any longer, no plan is likely to be realized, given the huge hole in the roof and the rain of this spring and summer.

    Two sculptures hanging on each side of the balcony may already be beyond repair. Handmade rugs from the dropped Burke restoration effort are still rolled up in the lobby, and some of the seats he ordered are still in cardboard boxes, though it is questionable whether they are still usable. The new stage Mr. Burke installed may be ruined. And there is serious concern about mold in the air-conditioning system, which has never been turned on since Mr. Burke had it installed.

    “If somebody doesn’t get in there soon,” Mr. Hanney said, “there isn’t going to be a theater to worry about.”

    While he is prepared to hang in until the election, Mr. Hanney said that if he had known how divisive and prolonged the process would be — it has been two years now — he would not have started it. But he defended his plan to bring in popular entertainment.

    Of the original theater, he said, “Whatever it was doing, it didn’t work or else we’d still be doing it.” He added: “We know it’s the American Shakespeare Theater, but it’s a theater, and a theater really wants to be open and have stuff that puts people in the seats.”

    “We’re not trying to build a nuclear power plant in your town,” he said, as if addressing the people of Stratford. “We’re just trying to open your theater.”

    Still, the attitude that it’s a theater like any other rankles residents like Ms. Canfield. “The people who support the theater perhaps have a little bit of a Rockwellian notion of what life in a small town can be,” she said. “People like stardust and magic.”

  11. 11 1george1

    Never saw this original post.

    Too bad Henrick moved to Stratford.

    I do not believe we have seen the real developer of

  12. 12 ronmoreau

    Jez, Question; With the Hanney contract approved ,by the current town council,and assuming the Mayor doesn’t sign it. What happens after the election with a new mayor in office. Can the new mayor just sign it and it’s a done deal? Can the new town council put a ‘cabash’ on the whole deal and start the bidding process all over? Can anyone shed some light on this? I get different answers from different people.

  13. 13 jezebel282


    Beats me.

    Not a single candidate has said a word about it. Henrick will be gone, Julian will be gone, Moore will be gone, Brooks, will be gone, ONeal will be gone.

    Who knows?

    I’m not real thrilled about the Town shelling out $3.5 MILLION in return for…well…nothing.

  14. 14 ronmoreau

    Neither am I. I believe the whole ‘deal’,for lack of a better word, should be revisited by the next council.

  15. 15 ronmoreau

    The town would have been better served if the Shakespeare theater had a new roof instead of grannet curbing on West broad st. That goes to show you where certain peoples prioritys are. Fix the Roof or grannet curbs? That’s a no brainer. It’s as simple as that.

  16. 16 jezebel282


    We are close. I would have gone with a new HVAC system in the High School.

    There’s something about shivering kids…..

  17. 17 ronmoreau

    Yes, we would both be protecting town assets.

  18. 18 mikereynolds

    We all would have been better off if Hurricane Bill came up over Long Island and smacked us. Then there would be no theater and this silly idea that the theater is some key to revitalizing Stratford would be dead once and for all.

  19. 19 1george1

    The Shakespeare deal is assignable.

    If Burturla had reservations, why present it to the Town Council?
    If Miron didn’t like the deal, why not order Burturla to keep negotiating?
    Just bovine scatology for political posturing.


    Anyone else figure out that Harkins maybe has no interest in winning?
    If Harkins wins, his appraisal business can not be assigned contract to
    all of the AVALLON BAY condos that KELLY-BURTURLA-AVALLONE are
    CUTSPRING ROAD + other places in North Stratford (Roosevelt forrest?),
    near the Marshes and in undervalued Districts 2, 3, 4, 5?

    Follow the money.
    Personnel is policy.

    — Next issue

    I really can not believe how naive some bloggers are and uniformed
    about economic potential.
    Next few months, I expect stock market plunge adn JOB COMFORTER
    ECONOMY – disaster for huge percent of americans


    mistyped huperbole


    1/4 of World Population speaks / reads English.
    37 Plays
    Over 110 Sonnets
    Over 1,050 BRAND NAME Characters

    Shakespeare is better memorized by many than Bibles/Torah
    Strong precentage of British and American literature and theater
    (tv-movies-songs-etc) are directly from a Shakespeare quote or a
    moderization, same as many bible themes.

    Problem is we have petty thieves throughout US Government.


    At one time Attorney fees were $ 150 / hour
    Then there were Referendums.
    Attorney fees were dropped to $ 60 / hour


    By typing next issue after short posts, I can transition into similar
    but different issues, with short posts on each subject.
    Basically what I have been doing on blog for couple years, without
    making it obvious, which confused readers. Mea culpa

  20. 20 jezebel282


    “Anyone else figure out that Harkins maybe has no interest in winning?”

    Why yes. Yes, I have. Harkins announced his candidacy in February. That would be six months ago by my clock. So far he has not issued a single substantive position on anything. Merely filler for his website. Sort of like a placeholder.

    It makes you wonder whether or not he would be just as happy staying in Hartford utilizing the seniority he has acquired.

  21. 21 jezebel282

    Incredible but true. Mayor Moron can’t do anything at all to authorize payment of $811.95 to Ms. Cicerale, but he can authorize $700,000 to a contract for a roof on a closed building?


    Miron, council battle over theater roof job
    By Richard Weizel
    Updated: 08/24/2009 12:58:19 AM EDT

    STRATFORD — Despite a standoff between Mayor James R. Miron and the Town Council over the council’s June approval of a 40-year contract with Rhode Island theater developer Bill Hanney to renovate and operate the long-dormant Shakespeare theater, the mayor wants roof repairs done now.

    But he wants the job completed by another contractor, and two bid proposals were opened late Thursday afternoon by Purchasing Agent Michael Bonner.

    Bonner said about 10 contractors took part in a walk-through at the theater a few weeks ago as part of the bid process, but that only two bids were submitted and opened by Thursday’s 3 p.m. deadline.

    Light Associates, of Stratford, submitted a bid for $294,519 and Capeway Roofing, of Westport, Mass., for $629,626. Bonner said the bids will be forwarded to Public Works Director Maurice McCarthy.

    But the bid process has sparked another battle between Miron and the Town Council.

    Council leaders claim the mayor is violating the Town Charter by seeking bids to complete repair work when it already approved the Hanney deal and that Miron would be violating the charter again if he allocates funds without council approval.

    Council leaders say they want the roof fixed, too, but as part of the contract it approved with Hanney on June 29. “The mayor had no right to start a process to bid this work out after the council approved a valid contract for all the repair and renovation work to be completed by Mr. Hanney as partof the $3.1 million agreement,” said Town Council Chairman Mike Henrick, R-10.

    “This is going to cost the taxpayers a lot more money over the long run because which ever contractor is awarded the job, that doesn’t change the fact we have an approved contract agreement with Bill Hanney that will have to be honored,” Henrick said.

    Henrick said Miron and his administration should “stop playing games and at least let the council know what it is doing. “We were not advised of this bidding process, and the town can’t spend money without the council’s approval,” he said.

    However, Miron, along with Town Attorney Richard Buturla, have insisted the mayor does not need the council’s approval to proceed on all town expenditures. Miron said he wants to move ahead to fix the decaying, 50-year-old roof before another winter season threatens to destroy it.

    “We have the right to move ahead and do what needs to be done on the roof,” Miron said Thursday.

    But Council Majority Leader Michael Julian, R-1, whose district includes the once legendary showcase that staged its last performance in 1989, agreed Miron “should never have started a bidding process to seek another contractor.”

    Miron “just does whatever he wants to do, whether the charter allows it or not,” Julian said. “If I were Mr. Hanney I would ask for the key and start the work.”

    Miron and Buturla strongly oppose the contract, insisting it violates Connecticut General Statutes by waiving a requirement that Hanney post a performance bond they say is part of all municipal contracts. Miron also believes the deal is “a bad one” for Stratford because it does not include a requirement for enough Shakespeare performances, and lacks specifics for educational and cultural programs.

    Hanney said recently he’s willing to wait until the mayoral election in November before deciding whether to take legal action against the town.

    “I’ve waited a couple of years to do this project, so I can wait until November to see if there’s another mayor who might feel differently,” he said.

    That would be December 13th, Mr. Hanney. However, the best outcome for us taxpayers would be to table this entire matter until a new council, Town Attorney and mayor took a fresh look at this whole deal before “investing” a dime.

    Something is obviously not right. We can’t even get bids for the roof that aren’t 100% off. $294,519 vs $629,626? Does anyone know what anything costs?

  22. 22 1george1


    If Don Hewitt has his choice of hiring you or Weizel … ?

    If Don Hewitt has his choice of hiring me or Weizel … ?

  23. 23 jezebel282

    Don Hewitt doesn’t have any choices any more.

  24. 24 1george1

    Are you 100 % sure?

  25. 25 jezebel282

    Yes, George.

  26. 26 jezebel282


    Mayor says $377,000 needed to get theater to code; won’t come from taxes
    Written by John Kovach
    Wednesday, 09 May 2012 12:44

    Mayor John A. Harkins said Wednesday, May 9, that it would cost $377,000 to bring the Shakespeare Theatre to “into code compliance to allow for public viewing of shows.”
    The cost estimate follows the closure of the building for inspection, which resulted in the first student show in some three decades being called off. SEE RELATED STORY.
    In a press release Harkins said he remains open to volunteer efforts to try and get performances off the ground, but that the over-arching concerns for public safety and protection of the taxpayers must come first.
    “There are clearly some significant issues with getting the theater into operation in the very near term,” Harkins said. “As has been my stance in the past, I will not approve taxpayer dollars to be spent on getting the theater open. The current study being conducted with regard to the viability of a theater in Stratford does suggest a non-profit organization be created to raise private monies to be used on the theater. I strongly suggest the volunteers pursue that path forward.”

    Not that we approve of taxpayer money going for the theater, but let’s say we didn’t allocate $1,800,000 for the Town Attorney…….

    On the other hand, after locking out Matt Catalano from the theater is anyone surprised at this “finding”?

  27. 27 sudds

    Richard C. Levin, President
    Yale University
    P.O. Box 208229
    New Haven, CT 06520-8229

    T: (203) 432-2550
    F: (203) 432-7105

  28. 28 sudds

    $377,000 needed to get theater to code…

    Current value of Yale’s endowment (as of June 2011)…


    (that’s $19.4 BILLION… and that doesn’t even include the interest it’s earned in the last 10 months)

    Think they’d be willing to spend 0.0019% of their endowment for the keys to a functioning theatre for their drama school???

  29. 29 jezebel282


    “$377,000 needed to get theater to code… ”

    I doubt that is the point at all. I think the point was to show Matt Catalano (who ran TWICE just to get this theater open) who the boss is. You don’t take the keys away without notice for no reason. Miron woulda been proud of that move.

  30. 30 sudds

    I TOTALLY agree… it’s called b*tch-slap!!! :LOL:

    I just wanted to seize the opportunity to reiterate my stance on what I think should be done! (which has a better chance of working that any of the other cockamamie ideas thrown out there so far)

  31. 31 paradisegreen

    I must have been out of the loop. (or under a rock, it’s been one of those months).
    What happened with Catalano and the theater?
    On a side note, Harkins is useless. Miron was offensive, Harkins is just plain useless.

  32. 32 jezebel282


    “What happened with Catalano and the theater?”

    About a month ago Harkins sent Mo McCarthy (PW Director) around to collect all the keys to the theater from Catalano and everyone else who was working (for free) to get it open. The excuse was for “testing” the interior environment. Oh…and he changed the locks too.

  33. 33 paradisegreen

    Why are so many Republicans in this town against the theater? I just don’t understand why this has been SUCH an issue for over 20 years now. Just open the damn thing and even if we only make enough to sustain it, without profit at least it would serve as a cultural enhancement to the town and bring in business to other local establishments. Sheesh. This town sure knows how to turn a minor drizzle into a full blown hurricane.

  34. 34 jezebel282


    Sudds actually has the only viable solution. As for your question; this IS Stratford, you know.

  35. 35 paradisegreen

    I do agree Suds has a great idea. Now who are you going to call suds to get someone to represent us and set this thing in motion? 🙂

  36. 36 sudds

    “who are you going to call”

    Why do you assume that I will not be handling this myself once the buffoons in town hall completely drop the ball on it (like they have done already several times)???

    The “Suddsy Memorial Shakespearean Theatre”… has a nice ring to it, huh??? 😉

  37. 37 jezebel282


    Access to theater provokes Stratford debate
    Brittany Lyte
    Updated 11:44 p.m., Monday, May 14, 2012
    STRATFORD — Residents dismayed by Mayor John A. Harkins’ decision to bar community volunteers from the Shakespeare Theater dominated the public hearing portion of Monday’s town council meeting.
    Linda Palermo was among nearly a dozen theater supporters who criticized Harkins for stalling progress at the long-shuttered arts venue.
    “How would he like it if we locked all the doors to Town Hall and he can’t come to work?” she said.
    Matt Catalano, a town councilman who has spent most of his days over the last two years cleaning out the theater, named Harkins among the top reasons the theater won’t play host to public performances in the near term.
    “Shakespeare has been closed for a great many reasons, most of which is politicians can’t get out of the way,” he said.
    Then he asked Harkins to return his key to the building.
    Catalano was ordered to relinquish his key to the theater last month while various town departments conducted public health and safety tests. The locks to the building have since been changed. Efforts to spruce up the property have ceased. And a report released by the mayor’s office last week said it would cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to bring the building up to code for use as a performing arts space.
    While he thanked volunteers for their labor, Harkins denied Catalano’s request for a key. Rather than grant him free rein over the town-owned structure, he instead instructed him to contact his office each time he would like to gain entry to the theater.
    Harkins then announced that the auditorium at Bunnell High School will be available to host theatrical programs this summer while the town figures out how to raise funding to fix up the theater.
    “A lot of people get passionate about this and sometimes even emotional,” Harkins said, “But public safety has to come first.”
    Read more:

    Sometimes even being a member of the Republican Town Committee does not help. Does it, Mr. Catalano?

  38. 38 1george1

    During the Catalano – Harkins discussion every town
    councilor except two & both attorneys were with
    their heads bowed in SHAME. Not a partial bow, a
    full BOWwhere they were looking directly at their TOES.

    One kept looking away from the conversation with head down and then
    back up to try to interupt. Then back down & away

    The others had his hands in the Steeple PRAYER position with the base
    of his thumbs covering his S M I L E, when MATT was speaking.
    He wouldn’t look at either person who was arguing. None would.

    It was good to see the Town Councilors & Attorneys actually have a
    sense of SHAME. Maybe some day they’ll grow a pair of SELF RESPECT.

    Harkins holds the CARDS and the KEYS.

    Maybe our primping BEAUTY QUEEN will finally be seen & heard for
    his GARBAGE POLICIES & SEWER-CIDE abatements / funding.

    Judith Terrace SEWER Connections
    SEWER FEE 1/2 Mil TAX.
    RUMOR & QUESTIONS about setting up to SELL the DUMP – Transfer
    Doing NOTHING (LIKE Miron) to get the FLOOD GATE FIXED for the
    GROUND WATER covering both sides of ROUTE 13
    POISONED Grounds / Ground Water …

    They didn’t really close the GARBAGE MUSEUM ….
    They moved it to the Town Hall Mayor’s Office and
    Country Club back rooms.

    They Hartford Legislature passed a LAW about finding FUNDING
    for RAYMARK CLEAN UP by FEB 2013.

    The RESOLUTION MATT CATALANO created and was denied
    on APRIL 9 was word for word, except one phrase.
    “Sponsored by MayorJohn Harkins & the entire Town Council.”

    From what I HEARD from MULTIPLE SOURCES, is that AMY
    Wannamaker was on the phone bugging REP Harkins to
    sponsor the PRIOR BILL, for which he’s been taking credit.

    There was one of Tom Smith’s people at the Public Podium
    who spoke directly before I did, about a baby with CANCER
    in his area and a past FUND RAISER. Connected to RAYMARK?
    I don’t know,

    I know the Russell child on Willow Avenue’s cancer was
    attributed to her playing next to a basement vent, which
    was causal to the EPA/ DEP spending over $ 1 million on
    installing 110 vents.

    At Shakespeare Garden sundy, I met a young man under 22
    who lives by BOND’S DOCK, abutting SHAKESPEARE.
    He will NOT LIVE past the SUMMER.

    I can’t confirm rumors about 3 other children with FUNKY CANCERS?

    Crudo is Norm’s Waterboy & connors is Malloy/Kubic Waterboy.

    Harkins, Kubic, Malloy, Henrick, Feehan, Burturlas, Kelly, Florek,
    Norm, DeCilio, and several others are NFG.

  39. 39 matpcat

    Make no mistake, the Mayor’s actions at Shakespeare have very little to do with public safety and everything to do with stopping Eddie Goodrich and myself from succeeding in actually returning art to the stage. Because once we do that, guess what kids? We have a theater again. Eddie and I and a group of volunteers too numerous to name here went to work on our free time spending our own money to get this building open so the public could see for themselves the opportunity here. Mayor Harkins and the folks in the RTC that don’t like us have thrown roadblock after roadblock in our way. Yet we perservered, put our heads down and kept working. We were working hand in hand with the fire marshall who is very supportive and helpful in making sure we were providing a safe environment for the people, which was the whole point of our work. Which by the way saved the Stratford taxpayers a ton of money. The Mayor can’t seem to get his personal feelings for me out of the way of doing the business of the town and that is not the sign of a good leader. We do not need 400k or 30 million to start presenting art in the space, we need the space. It’s how we build awareness and raise money. Over 6000 people went through that building last year, some traveling from other states just to see the building. The comment by Mr. Dillon about changing the locks because of the last administration is a lie, although I’ll give him a pass on that because he wasn’t here at the outset of this project. The first set of locks they changed when they took office was the theater. How do I know this? Because we had a key from the last administration (for the previous Festival) and it didn’t work after I got elected. I had to request a new key from the administration and they issued me one, which I signed for. For my buddy Sudds; You and I are closer than you think on the kinds of associations we need to make in order to move forward however the Mayor won’t embrace any of it. I delivered him Timex corporation on a silver platter very early on, however he ignored that. They were eager to jump on board and dropped 40k on the sundial without blinking yet the Mayor did not engage them, blew the press for the unveiling and didn’t even want to attend the unveiling. I got a call from Adam Bauer the day before the event asking whether or not I wanted the Mayor at the event. I was astounded by the question. he didn’t even send Timex a thank you card. I personally spent $600 dollars to have a photo of the original unveiling in 1955 blown up and put in a very nice frame and hand delivered it myself to Timex on behalf of a grateful town Council. This should have been our launching point, should have been front page of the NY Times art section but the admin didn’t invite the press. Nor did they send out the invitations to the list of dignitaries and business leaders we provided making it a very lackluster event. Another embarrasment for our town. Eddie and I have all ready made associations with Greater Fairfield County Arts, Fairfield University, the University of Connecticut and yes Sudds, we were in discussions with Yale Opera. The artistic community around the country is excited about this project and we have in fact talked to people all over the country. The Mayor has not lived up to his word on any of this, routinely promising things and then never delivering which has made me look like a liar on more than one occasion. He is sitting on 1.5 million dollars of bonded money which we are paying interest on and he won’t release the bare minimum to help us succeed. The bids for basic repairs to the white house came in at 160k, and he wont do the right thing so volunteers could get in that building too, to work for free. 2 years ago Mr. Harkins said to me “don’t worry Matt, we’re gonna help you on the white house”. Thanks for the piece of plywood over the hole in the superstructure John. I’m tired of northend Republicans wanting to destroy things in our neighborhood. I’m sure taxpayer money went to fixing the mansion at Booth Park and this is our Booth park, yet it’s not the same.

  40. 40 stfdprofessor1

    Councilman Catalano I applaud your courage for finally speaking out about this travesty and the real person behind the “nice guy” persona, your father would be proud! Time to wake up people; we have another lemon in the Mayor’s office! I call for the immediate resignation on Mayor Harkins and the corrupt town attorneys who are advising him in these treacherous aims. ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!

  41. 41 rockannand

    Yes, Bravo Matt. Thank God your my Councilman cause I would have to ask for an examination of Councilman Connor’s head to see if there is anything in there … Sports Complex????

  42. 42 jezebel282


    I believe it was the same Councilman Connor who locked fellow Councilperson Stephanie Philips out of the budget discussions.

    Jim Connor, a Republican, barked back at Philips’ criticism. He said Philips wasn’t included in budget discussions because she made it clear early on that she would not vote for a budget at all resembling the mayor’s proposal.
    “You left it all up to us,” he added.
    “For three years in a row you haven’t supported the budget,” Connor said. “You’re not going to support it next year, you’re not going to support it the year after. … So when you say that you’re going to support the dog pound, it’s disingenuous because you’re not going to support the budget. When you say you’re going to support more police officers, it’s disingenuous because you’re not going to support the budget. The list goes on and on.”

    Who voted for this guy?

  43. 43 rockannand

    Well his Linkedin profile says he’s a 16+ year HR veteran so he is well versed in managing people, plus 10 years and 1st sgt in the Airforce before that. Maybe Philip’s did not salute him properly so he is sending her to the HR doghouse.

    Back to the Sports Complex, I’ve been thinking of some names for possible teams ….

    Baseball: Stratford River Rats or Toxic Sludge Rats
    Hockey: Stratford Rink Rats or Skatespeare Rats
    BasketBall: Stratford Raymarkers or Toxic Ballbusters

    We could have a field day with mascots too. For opening day, the mayor could dress up in a Shakespeare Court Jester Outfit, throw out the 1st ball/pitch. The possibilities are ENDLESS.

  44. 44 jezebel282


    “a 16+ year HR veteran”

    That can’t be right, can it? Why didn’t he speak up recently when the question of hypertension and heart came up during the discussion of the Firefighter’s contract?

  45. 45 rockannand

    Jez, you got me there. I am veritable newbie to this town and this cast of political characters when it comes to figuring out what goes on in their noggins. Monday night, one of the speakers at pubic forum said the decision on the Raymark Resolution was a no-brainer. I leaned over to a friend and said, “Flash Alert: Its just been confirmed that the councilmen (except Matt) have no brains.”

    Now we could also amend that in the case of Connor it also applies to a lack of a heart, but then we would be going down the Wizard of Oz analogy path and who knows who we would say is Dorothy or the Wicked Witch of the North (end)???

  46. 46 jezebel282


    “I am veritable newbie to this town and this cast of political characters”
    We thought we’d seen it all with the last batch. Apparently it is now a competition to see who can be the worst.

    “it also applies to a lack of a heart,”
    Actually, it doesn’t require a heart. It is a Connecticut State Statute. There is nothing for the Council to legally vote on.

  47. 47 jezebel282

    Mr. Catalano,

    I’d first like to apologize for taking so long to respond to an issue that is so close to your heart. Secondly I’d like to thank you for your tireless efforts on this project. One of the things we have lacked for so many years in Stratford is not necessarily the Theater itself, but examples of passion and commitment of our leaders. You have certainly demonstrated both.

    I have heard some accuse you of having ulterior motives which, frankly, is one of the silliest things I’ve ever heard. Considering the effort, time and money you have already put in (not to mention running for office twice), it would have to be the worst investment in terms of return ever.

    Now, when it comes to recent events like locking the volunteers and yourself out of the building that falls under the category of “stupid”. Why prohibit volunteers from providing free labor and talent? Whether success is probable or not is irrelevant in this instance. It is your time and money and it can only benefit the Town.

    But combined with other recent moves by the Administration (it has been a busy week or so hasn’t it?) it does not surprise me much. I hope your passion remains and perhaps expands into other areas.

  48. 48 Rockannand

    Thanks Jez for your thoughtful post in response to Matt. I have had some time to reflect on what has transpired since the Mayor changed the locks to keep the volunteers out of the theatre. Frankly, he has done the theatre supporters a HUGE favor. Since this is clearly a personal and spiteful action on Harkins part, this will not play well with constituents who have not supported the theatre to date, but JUST might think again about what is happening now.

    Think of what the volunteers have done the past 2+ years:
    > They cleaned up the mess inside and made it useable again.
    > They cleaned up things outside and started to developed Will Geer’s garden.
    > They worked with local schools and children to have performing arts programs for children
    > They have put in countless hours of sweat equity and money out of their pocket to do all this work and more.
    > Most importantly, NO ATX DOLLARS went into any of these wonderful accomplishments the past 2 years.

    So when you reflect, thuis begs the question:

    Is the Mayor and some of the Town Council:
    > AGAINST Volunteerism???
    > AGAINST performing arts??
    > AGAINST families??
    > AGAINST children enjoying the arts??

    The pettiness and short-sighted actions of the few are hurting the many who have worked hard for this town and for families and children and for performing arts.

    What a shame!! What a sham!!

    The few will rue this day!

    Pay attention out there cause the Rock does not forget!!

  49. 49 1george1

    Jeze can verify the above was not from my computer.

    The person posted echoed many thing (far from all) which I and
    Jeze among others, have been posting.

    Sometimes it just takes time for people to see what gradually had
    been happening.

    I agree with the rock.

  50. 50 jezebel282


    “Is the Mayor and some of the Town Council:
    > AGAINST Volunteerism???
    > AGAINST performing arts??
    > AGAINST families??
    > AGAINST children enjoying the arts??”

    Mostly it seems the mayor and some of the Council are against Matt Catalano. It makes you wonder what Matt did to make Harkins so vindictive.

    But we’ve had a spate of these type of actions lately, haven’t we? From withholding pension payments to widows and firefighters, to manipulating the press to make its case, to selling off Town assets, to arbitrarily raising fees (in hopes of selling off more assets?) to hiding losses in enterprise funds.

    In the meantime, the rest of the council sits quietly by and votes it all along. Some, like Mr. Budnick are shocked, shocked I tell you, that $1.35 million in sewer use cost is totally arbitrary. They have remained deafeningly silent on the lockout of Mr. Catalano and his volunteers even though they have the absolute authority to hand him back the keys:
    (c) relative to the sale, leasing, management, improvement and control of such property;…(k) relative to the regulation of the construction, reconstruction, materials, location, height, maintenance, use and occupancy of buildings; (l) relative to public entertainments and amusement for the people of the Town;

    So…the question becomes who do these councilpeople represent? Is there anyone left in Town that believes they represent their constituents?

  51. “Mostly it seems the mayor and some of the Council are against Matt Catalano. It makes you wonder what Matt did to make Harkins so vindictive.”

    Ahh, Jez, excellent question. I’d love to know the answer to that myself. If there were any truth to what John Harkins has said – that it is for the safety of the people – then John Harkins would have dealt with the work that happened over the last two years on the theatre differently; however, he didn’t! So… I 100% agree that he’s got a bee in his bonnet about something Councilman Catalano has done (or not done). We all know (or should know) how the political game is played.

    I, first hand, know that corruption still exists in the Town of Stratford from an incident that occurred with my family a few months back. Fortunately, I was able to intercept the corrupt activity before it actually occurred.

    I believe in the efforts of Councilman Catalano and all of the volunteers. I have wished that I had the time to go over and pitch in. You know how near and dear that theatre is to me too and I’ve had some passionate discussions over the years about it on this blog.

    Something must happen. I truly believe the theatre can stimulate some sort of economic growth activity in and around Stratford. Manufacturing is dead and if Sikorsky bails on Stratford, we’re all going to be on a sinking ship!

    I truly hoped for more from John Harkins, but it does seem that he’s listening to too many of the good ole’ boys and suited-up cronies on the RTC.

  52. 52 jezebel282


    “I truly hoped for more from John Harkins”

    I would settle for “average”. “withholding pension payments to widows and firefighters, to manipulating the press to make its case, to selling off Town assets, to arbitrarily raising fees (in hopes of selling off more assets?) to hiding losses in enterprise funds.” seems to be a lot LESS than we all hoped for.

  53. Ann, yes, manipulating the press. I really like that one. The Connecticut Post has shared its allegiance loud and clear. Oh, and can’t say I’m too fond of Councilman Connor. I walked by a conversation before the last council meeting and could be wrong but it appeared to me he was making his bid for voting a certain way. Not fond of that behavior if that’s what it was.

    Hmm, but This IS Stratford. Maybe that should be the Town slogan. Fits it all!

  54. 54 1george1
  55. 55 Rockannand

    Ok you can make yourself seen and heard this Thursday 5pm when channel 8 covers the rally. Check it out and please SHOW UP.

  56. 56 Rockannand

    Frankly I’ve heard that line a hundred times, “this IS Stratford you know”, over past year and that’s the problem with the people. You accept this abuse by our town council without much effort to demand more. If you post your complaints on this blog and then DONOT SHOW at this Thursday’s rally FOR the theatre and FOR the White House then you are full of $&!t. No showie no postie. Check out this article about the rally.

  57. Harkins 2013…. Not to be!!! See you Thursday!

  58. Rockannand ~ yes, this IS Stratford. Unfortunately, the same political game has been played by the same players who need to move over and let some new, honest blood in! Unfortunately, you can’t get on to the two political committees unless they think you’ll “play nice” and aid in making sure their agendas are fulfilled. Taking over the property, and demolishing one of the few things that Stratford can use to stimulate economic growth, is on their agenda!

    I supported – very vocally on this blog – John Harkins as our next mayor. I have heard many rumblings about the way things work in Town Hall. I didn’t want to believe it. So much for transparency in Town Hall and in how things are done. I’ve heard it’s even difficult to get through Marc Dillon to talk to him. I called because of a serious problem that my family encountered – I couldn’t speak with him. I had to speak with his “staff.”

    Jim Miron made a post on The Patch recently and I hate to say it – but I agree with him – John Harkins does not support the arts – never has, never will. As soon as Councilman Catalano got close to having any sort of performance at the Theatre – WHAM, the keys were taken away, locks changed, all with a story of public safety. That’s laughable – if it were a public safety issue – Councilman Catalano would have never been given the keys, people would never have been allowed to walk through and see just how much BS they’d been fed over the years about the condition of the Theatre! The taxpayers of Stratford are being force fed a heaping pile of BS.

    I’m back and I’m on a mission…… I want transparency in our Town and we still don’t have it! I’ve said it one and I’ll say it again – we need to get rid of the good ole’ boys on the RTC and DTC if we ever want to see something great happen in Stratford!

    All I’ve got to say to the RTC members is – be afraid, be very afraid!

  59. “Councilman James Connor (R-8th) said it might be time to think of another use for the theater property, such as senior housing or a sports complex.” (from The Stratford Star) ~ Really?????

    Our seniors can’t afford to live here as it is….. and a sports complex? on the waterfront….. Yeah, right!!!!

  60. 60 1george1

    I had pre-existing 4:00 pm appointment. I notified some added press.
    If I can get out of meeting, I’ll attend. I have bumper stickers in my van
    for me for Mayor – which I haven’t distributed & won’t.
    > Negatives about Miron are worse with Harkins who uses the SAME
    Attorneys & continues the same mess.

    Miron supported THEATER. Harkins, never has & never will as I believe
    Developers have plans for the COAST LINE of LORDSHIP to ASHCROFT,
    when they Develop 744 acres of EAST BRIDGEPORT.
    – Likely to also be affected are CLOSING & REDEVELOPING SIKORSKY,

    Think like an APPRAISER looking to help LAWYERS + DEVELOPERS to

    SHAKESPEARE THEATER has potential to DWARF the benefit to the
    TAX BASE and REVENUE STREAM of everything except over 12,000
    good JOBS at both SIKORSKY PLANT and AVCO SAEP each, if done
    right. I’m no longer against a helicopter museum which can also help

    The view of the Housatonic river from Shakespeare is gorgeous.
    The view of potential in Shakespeare can be gorgeous and the mix
    of opportunities affecting all of Stratford and area and culture is
    top shelf.

    Because lawyers, developers, appraisers, politicians, certain media
    and the military intelligence have egos invested in a 20+ year plan,
    they have no interest in what is desirable for present residents.
    which sells at FRACTIONS of values closer to NYC!

    SUB PLOTS and VILLANY, belongs exposed on the SHAKESPEAREAN

    While Shakespeare is 400 years old, the effect on the Language, Arts,
    and Culture is undeniable. Single words or phrases became BOOKS,

    Shakespeare is an AMBIENT ISSUE.

    FUNDING FAILURES were legitimate in the past.
    There are so many Revenue Stream Venues now availble that issue

  61. Knuckleheads! What a great term that President Obama used to describe the lack of common sense the Secret Service had for their foolish acts which could have been detrimental to the people.

    Well, I’m going to take the word used by our President and use it for many of the members of Stratford’s Town Council. Knuckleheads! Especially the 8th District Councilman, Jim Connor, who apparently is taking pointers from some of the 8th District RTC members. Just look at the cast of characters on the RTC in that District and you can see exactly who’s pulling Councilman Connor’s puppet strings! Stop with your own agenda and start working for the people. Stop lying to us and start being honest! I’m talking about the Stratford Festival Theatre property, including the historic mansion on the front of that property! We are aware that a group of members of the RTC have their own agenda and plans for the property. Well, you’ve been found out! This is a beautiful piece of waterfront property that should be used for and by the people. We don’t need senior housing (our seniors can barely afford to live here). We don’t need a sports complex! There’s sports areas all over the Town of Stratford. We need and want arts back in our Town. It’s part of what Stratford’s history was built on. I recently found a Special Act of the State of Connecticut (Special Act No. 98-1) and it is “act amending the conveyance of property in Stratford for the Shakespeare Theater.” Section C describes how the property is to be utilized! It is to be utilized as a THEATER, not a SPORTS COMPLEX or SENIOR HOUSING! I intend on continuing to follow the paper trail to see if anything was ever changed or if the players who are trying to squash the intended use have tried to make sure the intended use was changed.

    To all of the elected officials – including the Mayor and Town Council, and also to all of the members of the RTC, if you are not going to do what is right for the people of the Town of Stratford, e.g., doing something positive to make some sort of attempt to stimulate economic grown, then resign, because you’re doing the people no good. We don’t need knuckheads running our Town. We need and want transparency – which we still apparently do not have. We don’t want corruption, which we still apparently have. We don’t need personal favors throughout the various Town committees, which apparently still happen behind closed doors. GET OUT, if you’re not going to do what is right for our Town. Make room for those of us who have a positive vision for Stratford!

    Do the right thing – return the keys for the theatre to Councilman Catalano. Allow the volunteers access once again to continue what they have been doing. Your lies have been uncovered – the Theatre is not in as bad of shape as many of you would have the people believe; the Arts are much needed in our Town. Keep the money here – allow Stratfordites the opportunity to see what can happen. Have some integrity and that goes for you, Mr. Mayor!

  62. 62 rex525

    Way to go P.C.S. , I don’t think anyone could have said it better. Like you I thought this mayor would be a breath of fresh air. I would say that the air at our sewage treatment plant (that Harkins is planning to secretly sell) is a bit fresher than he is, after you peer behind his phony smiling persona. These folks came in with a load of phony rhetoric and snowed a great many of us, it is disgusting but I see many are catching on quickly.

    I wholeheartedly agree that the keys need to be returned to Councilman Catalano, Ed Goodrich and company. If the mayor and the town council are that concerned about safety hazards on site, they need to look no further than the town attorney’s budget to find the $375,000.00 to effect the needed repairs.

    MR. HARKINS, DO YOUR POLITICAL FRIENDS THE TOWN ATTORNEYS REALLY NEED OVER TWO MILLION of OUR TAX DOLLARS TO CLEAN UP YOUR MESS (s)? And no, after two and a half years you can not blame it on that other phoney Jim Miron any longer!

    I agree it’s time quite a few of these “knuckleheads” stepped aside and turned Stratford back over to the citizens instead of playing corrupt games to support their own special interests.

    To quote another great post this week “Harkins 2013…. Not to be!!! See you Thursday!”

  63. 63 cstratct

    I wish I could say I am surprised by recent events, but the truth is that this appears to have been the plan of certain members of the Stratford RTC for years. I greatly respect Mr. Catalano’s tireless efforts to revitalize the theatre and instill pride and build excitement about its future prospects. Unfortunately, the shortsighted and arrogant behavior exhibited by some past and present council members (along with the current mayor) will continue to stifle any positive momentum that the dedicated volunteers are generating through their activities. I could cite numerous studies that support the economic impact of arts and cultural activities, and there are many case studies and reports that show how the revitalization of a cultural venue led to a larger community revitalization. But my hope is that the citizens of Stratford will stand up and fight to save a venue that has the potential to instill pride in both the residents of Stratford and artists across the nation, inspire aspiring performers, and revitalize a community that is in desperate need of positive energy. If politics brings out the worst (or negative aspects) of individuals, the arts can bring out the best in people. The residents have been given the opportunity to prove that the Stratford Festival Theatre has a bright future. I hope they seize the moment.

  64. 64 1george1

    As I look at them wanting the Coast of the Housatonic,
    it makes sense they would want Lordship to go along
    with Pleasure Beach and possibly Seaside Park?

    What would stop them from reclaiming some Marsh land
    from the Airport and around Stratford?

    All the world is a stage.

    Richard: “And thus I clothe my naked villany.
    With odd old ends stol’n out of holy writ,
    And seem a saint, when most I play the devil.”
    King Richard III
    So far, the true nature of the minds behind the acts,
    have yet to be revealed. I believe their villany exceeds
    the following:

    Hamlet’s uncle. And stepdad. See, he killed Hamlet’s father
    (the King of Denmark) and made nice with the queen so he
    could be king.
    Then he hired Rosencrantz and Guildenstern to kill Hamlet,
    and when that didn’t work he tattled on Hamlet to Laertes,
    whose father Hamlet killed by accident.
    They cook up a scheme to duel, and Claudius is going to
    poison Hamlet,
    either with the cup, or with Laertes’ sword which is also
    Too bad for him his wifey-poo took a sip of the cup, so she died.

    Hamlet dies, Laertes died. Claudius died.

    So he dies guilty of: regicide, adultery, incest (in a way), attempted
    murder, involuntary manslaughter, and murder.

    Richard II. First, he ordered Mowbray to kill his uncle.
    Then he persecuted Mowbray for killing his uncle.

    Mowbray gets banished forever, and Bolingbroke
    (from whom Richard was trying to hide the information
    that he’d had Mowbray kill his uncle)
    gets banished for 6 years. Harsh.

    He was a crazy king with a tendency to compare himself
    (favorably) with Jesus.
    He taxed the commoners and
    fined the nobles for the crimes of their ancestors.
    Time shall unfold what plighted cunning hides:
    Who cover faults, at last shame them derides.
    One may smile, and smile, and be a villain!
    O.T. HELLO:
    Reputation, reputation, reputation!
    O, I have lost my reputation!
    I have lost the immortal part of myself,
    and what remains is bestial.

  65. 65 1george1

    Time’s glory is to calm contending kings,
    To unmask falsehood and bring truth to light,
    To stamp the seal of time in aged things,
    To wake the morn and sentinel the night,
    To wrong the wronger till he render right,
    To ruinate proud buildings with thy hours,
    And smear with dust their glittering golden towers;
    To fill with worm-holes stately monuments,
    To feed oblivion with decay of things,
    To blot old books and alter their contents,
    To pluck the quills from ancient ravens’ wings,
    To dry the old oak’s sap and cherish springs,
    To spoil antiquities of hammer’d steel,
    And turn the giddy round of Fortune’s wheel;
    To show the beldam daughters of her daughter,
    To make the child a man, the man a child,
    To slay the tiger that doth live by slaughter,
    To tame the unicorn and lion wild,
    To mock the subtle in themselves beguiled,
    To cheer the ploughman with increaseful crops,
    And waste huge stones with little water drops.

    WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE, The Rape of Lucrece

  66. 66 stfdprofessor1

    “HAMLET: One may smile, and smile, and be a villain!”


  67. Cstratct ~ you are 100% correct. There is a group of members, some I believe from the 1st district, but the majority from the north end districts. Comments were made and overheard at various times and places. They should be ashamed of themselves, but most are arrogant a-holes who, like our past and present mayor think they can do whatever they want. Our Town is not their possession, it belongs to the people.

    Most, I am sure can’t stand me, they smile politely and are courteous, but they don’t like the sharpness of my words. I could care less. While there are a few who are holding strong on truth and integrity, they are outnumbered by corrupt and indecent individuals!

    Their back room agendas and wheeling and dealing in our Town needs to end! There are so many dots being connected, it’s disgusting. They have had an agenda for that property. Harkins snowed the people, me included, with his home-boy, honest image. WOW, was my radar on the fritz! I couldn’t see the puppet strings!

    The people of Stratford need SFT. They need a boost in that area and it’s not going to happen with senior housing, a sports complex or Mill River South on our waterfront! Truthfully, I hope the RTC implodes. I hope the paper trails get followed! Should be some interesting finds!

  68. Time for a recall before it gets too late!

  69. 69 jezebel282


    “Time for a recall before it gets too late!”

    Who are you going to recall? The mayor? The Council? And then what? Vote for another RTC/DTC “selection”?

    The question becomes is it possible that we can have a municipal government that is accountable to residents and businesses at all and,if so, how do we get to that condition?

    As a Town, we certainly do not have a stellar track record of paying attention to what happens where we live. We just pull the “D” or “R” lever and hope for the best.

  70. “As a Town, we certainly do not have a stellar track record of paying attention to what happens where we live. We just pull the “D” or “R” lever and hope for the best.”

    Last time we pulled the “R” lever because we didn’t like what Miron was doing. So now we have Harkins and he isn’t doing anything good for us – just doing what is on HIS agenda.

    So really – how do we fix it when Stratford continues to have its Republican and Democrat “selections”?

  71. 71 Rockannand

    Recall is a waste of time at this point. Same problem as you have in the Arab world like Syria and Libya. You replace one clueless idiot with another and another 4 years go by with no action.

    No, i believe in using the Machiavellian method coupled with a sharp stick. They’re behavior won’t change unless you change and/or influence the events that tie back to the issue or decision that needs to be made.What this town needs i some good ole fashion activism and a couple of hard-nosed community organizers.

    Take Shakespeare and the White House. You are not going to get the rest of the Council and the Mayor to suddenly have a body snatcher experience and become Matt Catalano. Ain’t going to happen …. EVER.

    Better to take a page from Machiavelli and use Harkins and Connor’s words and actions against them and tap into those that want to do something to stop them and have a rally that brings together several hundred citizens to voice their anger. The sharp stick is the news media, the blogosphere and Facebook and twitter to take that wonderful video clip of Connor saying its time to bulldoze the theatre and put up a SPorts Complex and go viral.

    After watching what Tom Smith and SaveStratford did over the past 4 years leading up to last week’s Raymark resolution, i am convinced that the answer to many of the problems we complain about here on this blog and elsewhere resides in the hearts and minds of the people. This a case of “the needs of the many outweighing the needs of the few … or the one.”(eg Harkins) to quote Spoke and Kirk from Star Trek.

    The sharp stick is the only thing these village idiots who are in power will respond to … and they will respond. Its not like they have some master plan they are following. I can tell you there is a LOTTA collective anger out there, but its wrapped in way too much apathy and negative thought patterns that get in the way of taking action.

    The people this town wants as leaders and take charge do-ers would never run for public office given the political machinery that is in place. Much easier, more fulfilling and more productive to become a commnuity organizer and activist. Tap into that anger and desire for change. Then use the sharp-stick power of the pen, tomorrow’s rally at the White House and social medai and networking to show the Mayor and his minions in the Council and elsewhere that we are the customer and you are the service provider.

    I know, i know … easier said then done. But if SaveStratford can get the EPA, and our Congressional Reps and State Legislature to follow through on the only REAL solution out there for Raymark remediation, then I think we can get Alibahba and His 40 Thieves down at Town Hall to unlock the doors @ the Theatre and FIX THE WHITE HOUSE ….

  72. 72 jezebel282

    I think Rock is on to a good start.

    This whole “strong” mayor thing was foisted on us by some very clever members of the RTC. It just didn’t turn out the way they thought in the first mayoral term. We can see what they intended in this second one.

    We need to have the discussion about what is best for 50,000 residents and businesses here. Obviously the answer does not lie with the DTC/RTC.

    I agree with Rock that first we need a sharp stick to get some attention. But we’d better follow that up quickly with a plan. Otherwise you just have a special interest group that is pissed off again.

    Job #1 for leaders: Explain the plan.

  73. 73 Rockannand

    Thx, Jez. Its already in the works. I gave you the “what and why”. Stay tuned for the “How and When.” Show up in battle fatigues and BARD garb tomorrow to catch a glimpse.

  74. 74 jezebel282


    No offense, but, really? Togas again?

  75. 75 Rockannand

    “Did we standby while the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor?” … “No don’t stop him … he’s on a roll.” 😀

  76. 76 Rockannand

    … and further more Jez, you should talk … look at your Avatar!!! 😉

  77. 77 jezebel282

    ROTFLMAO! I know, I know.
    But togas make my butt look big.

    Wait a minute! Did the Germans bomb Pearl Harbor? Those bastards!

  78. 78 matpcat

    Really no togas, just people Jez. What is being allowed to happen to the Nichol-Benjamin House aka “the White House” is in my opinion, criminal. The building needs committee unanimously approved 350k for basic repairs to this house. Mayor Harkins promised us he would do those basic repairs. I have an e-mail from Marc Dillon in Oct. that the bids are going out. They didn’t go out until March the following year allowing this historic treasure to sit through another winter. The bids came in at $160k for substructure, masonry and a roof. Harkins is just a liar and is trying to let the building fall so badly into disrepair that he can declare it a public hazard. We the citizens can not allow this to happen. He wants us to raise money, yet is doing everything in his power to keep us from doing so.
    As far as people getting involved; YES! we need honest, good people with skill sets to step up and take their turns in public service. The political parties have so soiled the ground that good folks don’t stay involved. That’s why I left politics 12 years ago. Unaffiliates need to run for office.
    I have all ready contacted the Attorney General and have a meeting with Senator Lieberman on Friday morning. We can not let the Rethuglican gang led by Lou Dicilio to dictate what happens in our neighborhood. Stand up!, Be counted! and demand that the Mayor act like a Mayor and do the right thing here. Theater will work in our town but only if the building is open. The only thing that has been missing in the last 25 years is the art. Eddie and I were delivering on that. If we cannot have access to promote this project raising money is next to impossible. Look at the link above and see what George Jepson was able to accomplish. This is truly a battle between good and evil. The only thing needed to allow evil to exist is good people stay quiet. The time is now to speak up.

  79. 79 Rockannand

    Where’s Howard Beale (Peter Finch) when you need him??

  80. I found the reverter clause Jim Miron mentioned in his OpEd:

    “If said parcels are not, at any time, used for the purposes set forth in this subsection and within the time periods set forth in this subsection, they shall revert to the state of Connecticut. [, and the commissioner shall convey said parcels to the town of Stratford, for park and recreational purposes only, subject to the approval of the State Properties Review Board and at a cost equal to the administrative costs of making such conveyance. If said parcels are conveyed to the town and at any time are not used for such purposes, they shall revert to the state of Connecticut. Payments made to the commissioner prior to any reversion of said parcels shall be retained by the state.]”

    So, basically, if I’m reading this correctly, if the Town does not utilize the property as intended, it can revert back to the State of Connecticut!

    Would love some input on whether I’m incorrect on this……

  81. 81 1george1

    PCS wait until you read Town Attorney Burturla opine to
    Charter Revision # 2 to Town Attorney Florek Chairman.
    – Florek is the one who looks harmless, sleepy, and doesn’t
    directly make nearly as much from the Town/BoE as Kelly’s
    firm or Berchem’s firm.

    It is likely the peoples’ right to PUBLIC INITIATIVE to place
    REFERENDUM on the BALLOT has likely been lost, because
    by changing the form of government and voting twice to
    change Town Charters, it is likely the COURTS would find
    STRATFORD does NOT have a REVISED Town Charter, but a
    WHOLE NEW Town Charter.

    Under State Law xxx, the right to PUBLIC INITIATIVE was
    A revised Town Charter, would maintain those RIGHTS under that

    However, if the COURTS find STRATFORD has a WHOLE NEW
    Town Charter, then those RIGHTS are lost due to State Law yyy.

    The COURTS would turn to INTENT of the
    Town Councils
    Town Revision Commissions
    Town Attorneys

    Just because the PUBLIC wasn’t warned
    Just because the commissions were call REVSIONS
    Just becasue the VOTES – ELECTIONS were called REVISIONS

    It dosn’t make a difference, because we have a representative
    Republic where the elected are believe INNOCENT until ….
    The COURTS would turn to INTENT of the
    Town Councils
    Town Revision Commissions
    Town Attorneys

    I forget the name of this overall BLOG … SOMETHING LIKE http://www.stratfordcharter.SOMETHEN?

  82. 83 1george1

    There are political realities and resources which Shakespeare
    supporters, savestratford supporters, and others desirous of
    good government will run into.

    I can speak from first hand experience where readers can judge
    situations and necessary resources in order to be effective.
    This string is about Shakespeare and not about me.

    Here is another way to look at being successful in this political
    battle, from SUN TSU:

    8. It is the rule in war, if our forces are ten to the enemy’s one, to surround him; if five to one, to attack him; if twice as numerous, to divide our army into two.
    9. If equally matched, we can offer battle; if slightly inferior in numbers, we can avoid the enemy; if quite unequal in every way, we can flee from him.
    10. Hence, though an obstinate fight may be made by a small force, in the end it must be captured by the larger force.

    18. Hence the saying:
    If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles.
    If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat.
    If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.

  83. 84 jezebel282


    You know, some of us have read books before. Shocking. I know.

    Just sayin’.

  84. 85 stfdprofessor1

    Don’t dissuade him Jez, this is the only time he makes any sense.

  85. 86 1george1

    1.5 compliments on this blog, in the same night?

    Thank you.

  86. 87 stfdprofessor1

    You’re welcome…I guess… and given the current state of the Town I wish I voted for you as well.

    Anybody bringing any “anyone but Harkins” stickers tomorrow night. Sold at $5.00 a piece they would be a great fundraiser, it wouldn’t take long to sell enough of them to finish fixing up the theatre. I’d take 20 on the spot.

  87. 88 1george1

    I have stickers which express anti-political party / anti-lawyer
    sentiments. Simply cut off, redact, or fill in a name on the
    “Mulligan” for Mayor. Use it for a Shakespeare fund raiser.

    Bring it to a public forum and I’d autograph it for free. …
    I’m not sure if it would lowers or raise the value ….

    Is there anyone else who is getting an email after every post
    on the patch or wordpress?

  88. 89 Rockannand

    Here’s a few famous quotes I had in mind for tomorrow:
    “Among the blind the one-eyed are King”
    “When in doubt, punt”
    “We don’t need to boil the ocean to catch a few fish.”

    Also, if we need some inspiration to get in the right mood, watch this:

  89. 90 Rockannand

    Only don’t wear pajamas and a rain coat. A Toga and head wreath (like Jez) will do 😉

  90. 91 1george1

    Ed Goodrich, Matt Catalano, and others have been magnificent
    in trying to raise the curtain, protect history, culture, people,
    and benefit Stratford.

    So far, a Referendum to bulldose the Theater would likely win,
    because the saboteurs and spin meisters have had their way.

    The reality, if people were presented with the facts about not just
    the Theater, but the people against it and their monetary motives
    SHOULD cause a REVOLT and effect affirmative change.

    The reality is Lawyers. Politicians, and Rank Government are very
    ART of CREATING POLICIES for SELF BENEFIT, using “our own money
    from the public treasury against the peoples interest.”

    If the plan is to force the Lordship home owners out of Lordship
    by using an expanded airport to make life intolerable, in order to
    develop Pleasure Beach, Long Beach West, Lordship, AIRPORT, AVCO,
    SHAKESPEARE THEATER, FERRY (by poisoned ground water-air)
    BOULEVARD corridor, DRESSER/PW/Frog Pond, then there are
    formidable tasks related to educating other parts of town with
    regards to changes in zoning and quality of life affecting other parts
    of Town.

    Oronoque Village residents have double taxes and moved from other
    towns and states, knowing nothing about Stratford & Shakespeare.
    Do they and other parts of Stratford care about South Stratford,
    which many consider slums along Bridgeport’s borders?

    They buy into the lies, and pay 40 % extra taxes due to ignorance.

    Besides the safety, health, property values of savestratford and the
    culture of Shakespeare … all the voters need education.

    They consider the WHITE HOUSE a WASTE of MONEY.
    Same with SHAKESPEARE.
    with PASSION which clouds their eyes that others don’t share their
    priorities. Same with the ART crowd.

    It is not enough that “our cause be just…”

    The TASK is to get the MAJORITY ENGAGED (enraged?),
    ENTERTAINED (to want to learn)
    EDUCATED (to recognize VALUE is different than perceived)

    Somewhere I read … first there was the word .. and then there
    was the deed. . . Let there be light: and there was light.

    There are some who believe in making ORDER out of CHAOS
    and there is a GRAND DESIGN, needing ROCK SOLID Foundations.

    Upon that ROCK …. In hoc signo vinces

    I had a pre-existing 4:00 pm business meeting out of town.
    > I was able to assist behind the scenes & for the garden,
    > Networks need to be accessed, even to Flash Mob capabilities,
    in future events.

    There are new developments pending.

    It is not enough that “our cause be just…”

  91. 92 Rockannand

    OK, fellow rabble rowsers – time to sign and LIKE for the cause and this afternoon:

    Let’s all thank the Mayor and Councilman Connor for lighting the fire for this week’s $#!T storm. The anger is real and it has spread all over this town in just a couple of days.

  92. 93 stfdprofessor1

    “The anger is real and it has spread all over this town in just a couple of days” So it seems, did anyone else see this:


  93. 94 paradisegreen

    Pat – would you PLEASE write a letter to the editor of any all relevant local papers, including all that you stated in your above posts?
    I agree with everything that you said and you express it so well. I know that the RTC folks may ignore it because they know your name, but at least other residents who are not so up-to-date might learn what is really going on.

  94. 95 1george1

    I welcome PCS and everyone else to write letters to the editor,
    and ask all well wishers to sign there names as part of the letter.

    It’s easy to ask others to do your work and your responsibility.
    It’s easy to sit back and grumble behind the scenes letting others
    take the heat for things in your interest.

    I praise councilor catalano for his post above and his work.

    There you …ooops have meeting to attend…

  95. 96 1george1

    The anger is real and it has spread all over this town in just a couple of days” So it seems, did anyone else see this:


    Would people like to create polls, tagnames, and parodies, including
    shakespearean references about our reTHUG LYan political parties &
    Esq. BAR ASS men Ts?

  96. 97 1george1

    Created by W. E. ART SNAKESPEARE
    Stratford political follies and burlesque baffoons present:

    “Hamlet, Prince of Raymark”

    “Taming of the Shrewd”

    “Merchants of Notnice”
    “reTHUG-LYan” Cabals

    “As I like it,”

    “I Ago”

    “Measure for ME? SURE!”

    “The tempters of the TemPest”

    “C-oreo Anus”

    O.T. Hello

    “Alas, poor Beefy Hargus …. we knew him well …
    “twas a time Stratford citizens had courage and pride …”
    “twas a time when the pledge of liberty and justice for ALL, wasn’t lips service really
    protecting and serving … liberty and justice for the patronage connected.”
    “Twas a time invocations were intended for reification, and not for pharisaism.”

    “All’s Well… Oh hell?”

    “Cy (sigh) Beeline (be lyin)”

    “The Tragi-Comedy of Errors … aka … Charter Revision III”

    Labor’s loves lost … aka … Managers, Lawyers, & TC steal pensions”

    “Merry lies win sore”

    “Midsummer nights schemers against dreamers.”

    “Prince of (re)Tired, “PE” dick uselies”

    “Nothin much (good) we do.”

    “Twelfth Night or MU NICH?” (no “T”)

    “Winner’s Tail … Mayoral assistant.”

    “Two Gentle men on Veranda”

    “T R Oil U.S. and Cry SS ID.”

  97. 98 jezebel282


    To be perfectly honest, it is very difficult for us to maintain interest in whatever eventually happens to the Shakespeare Theater. That is why we are posting this update here. It gives a sense of perspective.

    In our latest chapter we find two groups that are running neck and neck in a competition to do something with this theater. Previously, we implied that the group with the cash should be favored. We should have known better.

    It seems that there is zero cash available for the theater from the group claiming to have a $15 million letter of credit. The $15 million is earmarked for the development of a 130+ room hotel. Not a penny for the theater.

    So we are back to selecting a group that has no checkbook. We know! Let’s put on a show! We’ll raise money to save the orphanage! Oh wait. We’re confused. Was that the Blues Brothers or Andy Hardy?

    Here’s a plan: Let’s pick somebody. Maybe even somebody who has opened a defunct theater before. We hear that is the Elm Street Group. Fine. Pick them and let’s be done with this.

  98. 99 shanliss

    The Mayor’s committee reviewed all the contenders and picked Elm Street. One of Elm’s principals has run the Gathering of the Vibes for nearly twenty years, under challenging circumstances, so they’re road tested in this century, unlike David Reed, who was involved with Polka Dot back before most readers were even born. Dark Star Orchestra in your Midsummer Night’s Dream, anyone?

    Even people who despise the Mayor have concluded this was a good choice. Is Elm Street asking for a $750K loan? Hmmnn…that would be real money, albeit much less than was already bonded by Town Council FOR THE THEATRE, well before Obama became President. Oh, and that money would be spent on upgrading and making usable a piece of town property, sitting there empty for so many years. If Town Hall won’t even show that good faith, Elm will come up with the cash another way; others know how valuable this project will become–it’s just a lot easier if the landlord shows “he” has some skin in the game. But this being Stratford, that’s a tall order.

    All additional money will come from Elm Street’s financing gambits, none from Stratford taxpayers, so that’s more than $10M funneled into the Theatre from outside sources. A lot of it has to do with something involving preserving historic structures. Yup, next year our own Grey Lady turns 60. I know it’s not a nail salon or a pizza parlor, but a lot of people in the greater region will enjoy the impeccable acoustics and ample production space this theatre sports, all in very good shape, no thanks to Town Hall, which had the good sense to change the locks this week, but hasn’t figured out that some security lighting might protect their property.

    Really, after Council makes its decision, if it makes a prudent one–not the Reed nuisance hotel one, nor the Kubic “Let’s spend the 4 to 5 million it would cost to demolish the theatre” alternate plan–then the rest of us can, indeed, rest on this. We can go back to trying to steer our land through its other agonies, of creeping scandals and seeping poisons. Much more fun!

  99. 100 jezebel282


    Nice to see an intelligent post. Although I have a distinct feeling that the money already bonded for the theater has long since disappeared into the black hole we call Town Hall.

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