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Mercy College Partners with Irvington Shakespeare Company in Support of Community Engagement Through the Arts

Actors rehearsing on stage at Mercy College

Mercy has partnered with the Irvington Shakespeare Company (ISC) in a continuing effort to strengthen relationships with local arts and culture organizations and further enrich the communities in which the College serves. ISC is a newly formed theater group affiliated with Irvington Theater that aims to produce plays with an inclusive, intersectional lens that showcase local talent.

As part of the collaboration, Mercy College was named a founding sponsor and executive producer of the company’s inaugural production of William Shakespeare’s “Twelfth Night” after providing rehearsal space for the actors at its Dobbs Ferry Campus. The play debuted to sold-out audiences at Irvington’s O’Hara Nature Center from August 6 to 22.

Marc Palmieri, M.F.A., assistant professor of Communications studies at Mercy College, facilitated the College’s partnership with ISC. He has worked with Irvington Theater for many years to create opportunities for Mercy students. For example, under the guidance of Palmieri, members of the Mercy student Theatre Club have performed at the Irvington Town Hall Theater to audiences of playwrights and of artistic directors.

Upon learning about ISC, Palmieri approached Peter West, Ph.D., interim provost and vice president for academic affairs, about the potential for a partnership. From the first conversation West was onboard to support the theater group and the community.  

“I was incredibly excited to do whatever we could to nurture this relationship,” said West. “This was a great way to expand our connections with the theater and this new affiliated company.”

From there, several Mercy staff members worked to make ISC rehearsals at Mercy College possible.

Jessica Ward, Ph.D., assistant professor of early British literature, was also heavily involved in the production while serving as the dramaturg — a role she has played in Shakespeare productions in both Texas and New York.

“We had an incredible experience [at Mercy], and the lecture hall was perfect for our rehearsals,” said Kamran Saliani, ISC’s founder and artistic director. “I am so beyond grateful and thankful for the opportunity to have worked there. We were able to follow COVID guidelines and run high-quality, professional rehearsals for our cast and crew, building a deep, strong, rich foundational root for ‘Twelfth Night’ and our performances.”

West looks forward to supporting ISC in the future: “It was immediately clear that our institutions are profoundly aligned in our shared commitment to inclusivity and community engagement. I think it’s fair to say we all see this as the beginning of another great community partnership for Mercy.”