Shakespeare in the Bar returns to Shelton

Actors Sarah Ann Masse and Nick Afka Thomas, who are married in real life, perform for the audience.
Actors Sarah Ann Masse and Nick Afka Thomas, who are married in real life, perform for the audience.

Tom Simonetti says the performance of "Titus Andronicus" will be full of excitement, suspense and a lot of horror. It’s just in time for Mischief Night, the night before Halloween.

Simonetti’s group Valley Shakespeare Festival (VSF) is offering another presentation in its Shakespeare in the Bar series. "Titus Andronicus" is one of William Shakespeare’s first plays. Perhaps, Simonetti said, it is his bloodiest.

“It has a lot of heavy subject matter, mixed with black humor,” said Simonetti. “You will find yourself laughing and then say to yourself, ‘Why am I laughing?’”

Simonetti, the artistic/executive director and founder of VSF, was raised in Shelton and now lives in New York City. He remembers as a teenager sitting in an armchair in his home, reading the play and cringing.

“You could call this Shakespeare’s thriller,” he said.

Audience gets close to the action

The members of VSF will come from New York City, and the production will also feature local actors. The organization has adapted the play to be performed at Porky’s Café downtown. Audience members will sit in a circle while the actors put on the play in the middle.

“'Titus Andronicus' doesn’t get done a lot,” Simonetti said. Festival members did their own research to see how to stage the adaptation.

Simonetti said he sees many familiar faces at VSF events, but there are some new ones mixed in. He gets excited and inspired to continue to bring Shakespeare to the area.

“It’s beautiful that the community has come out to support us time and time again,” he said.

Performance night details

The performance will be Thursday, Oct. 30, at Porky’s Café, 50 Center Street. Ticket price includes free pizza beginning at 5:30 p.m. and performance at 6:30.

Audience participation is encouraged during the performance and guests will be broken into teams to compete for a special grand prize.

Attendees will receive Halloween goody bags and a  grand prize will be awarded to the most attentive audience member. Admission is $10 per person in advance, or $15 at the door.

Tickets may be purchased in advance at or by calling 203-513-9446. Space is limited.

Valley Shakespeare Festival is a nonprofit theater company dedicated to bringing free Shakespeare to the communities of the lower Naugatuck Valley.