Arsonists Burn Down Shakespeare Theater

Michelle Brodsky, Staff Writer

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This past Monday, April 08, two Stratford teenagers were charged with setting the fire that destroyed the Shakespeare Theater. They are also believed to have been involved in a string of fires which have plagued the Connecticut area. Both accused individuals are students at Bunnell High School, but their names are currently being withheld due to their juvenile status. The suspects were processed at the Stratford Police Department, and more arrests in relation to these crimes are expected. Each of the students were charged with first-degree arson, first-degree burglary, second-degree criminal trespass, first-degree reckless endangerment, conspiracy to commit third-degree arson, third-degree burglary, and third-degree criminal mischief. Although the investigation in ongoing and more information is likely to be unearthed, the teens are believed to have set two fires in West Haven, one fire at the storage trailers at Silver Sands, and another at the former Southbury Training School. The destruction of the American Shakespeare Theater is truly unfortunate as it had great historical significance, once showcasing the work of Katharine Hepburn, John Houseman, and James Earl Jones. Back in its “heyday,” it was the second most popular attraction in the state and was active from 1955 to the mid 1980s. It was modeled after the London’s Globe Theater which ironically burned down in 1613, “It’s devastating, when you think about it, no one was hurt. The bad thing was there was a lot of destruction and people were emotionally impacted,” said Stratford Mayor Laura Hoydick. Over the years, there were multiple plans to redevelop the theater, and perhaps the saddest part is that the teenagers likely had no idea about the connection between the theater and the town. The theater was a point of pride for many locals and as Mayor Laura Hoydick stated, “it was catastrophic to a lot of people in the community. And, with young people, it makes you feel very badly about their future.”