Contact: Josh Rice, Pilar McKay
Address: P.O. Box 57 ~ Silver Lake, NY 14549


Shake on the Lake

In 2011, Josh Rice and Pilar McKay founded Shake on the Lake over facebook. The hope was to bring Shakespeare to the shores of Silver Lake, the Westernmost Finger Lake. Performing in their hometown eventually grew into touring to other rural communities in Upstate New York. 

SOTL has grown into a touring company that hosts professional actors from throughout the country at Silver Lake. Shake on the Lake now tours in five counties in Upstate New York, brings Shakespeare into the local schools & communities with Arts Education residency programs, partners with Voices UnCaged to bring theatre arts into correctional facilities,  and continues creative placemaking through theatre to rural communities throughout the area.

Mission Statement

The Mission of Shake on the Lake is to entertain, engage, and enrich the community by creating professional theatre productions in a natural outdoor setting. In doing so, we seek to serve the community through educational outreach, artistic accessibility, and eco-friendly, green business practices to preserve the natural environment surrounding the festival. 

The objectives supporting Shake on the Lake’s mission are P.L.A.Y.: 
  • Production: Creating fun, family-friendly, outdoor productions of Shakespeare and other works, of the highest artistic standards
  • Loving the Lake: Utilizing cost-efficient, green production practices; recycling and refurbishing found materials for costumes, and sets; conserving energy by performing in daylight; all in an effort to preserve and celebrate the natural landscape playing host to the festival
  • Accessibility: Recognizing the power of, and believing in community, through outreach, education, and promoting local businesses and individuals as artistic partners
  • Youth Development: Cultivating the talents of local youth through teaching educational theatre workshops in conjunction with the festival

Shake on the Lake Staff

Josh Rice (Co-Founder and Producing Artistic Director). Josh is a New York City-based theatre artist specializing in physical performance, improvisation, and puppetry.  Most recently, Josh was a puppeteer in the world premiere of Dan Hurlin’s Demolishing Everything With Amazing Speed at Bard Summerscape. Last year, Josh directed SOTL’s 2015 production of The Tempest. He has also appeared onstage for SOTL as Puck in 2014’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, as Aegeon/The Courtezan in 2013’s The Comedy of Errors, or as himself in 2012’s The Complete Works of William Shakespeare, Abridged.

NYC credits: Petrushka with the NY Philharmonic Orchestra (London tour); Shank’s Mare at La MaMa, ETC and the Ringling International Arts Festival; The Scarlet Ibis at HERE Arts Center. He is Adjunct Theatre Faculty with Pace University and Sarah Lawrence College, and a Teaching Artist with the New Victory Theater. Josh and SOTL have been the recipient(s) of numerous grants from the NYSCA (2012-2016); a 2015 TCG/Andrew W. Mellon In the Lab Grant to travel/collaborate in Japan with fifth-generation puppet master, Koryu Nishikawa V; a 2015 Artist In Residency with Sagafest in Iceland; a 2015 Celebration Barn Theater Arts Incubator Residency; a 2015 Regional Economic Development Council Grant for SOTL; a 2015 Seniors Partnering with Artists Citywide (SPARC) Grant from the NYC Dept. of Cultural Affairs; and was awarded a 2014 Creative Community Fellowship with National Arts Strategies for his work as Founder and Director of the Mnemonic Theatre Project, his puppetry program with seniors living with Alzheimer’s and Dementia.

Pilar McKay, Ph.D. (Co-Founder and Managing Director) is a communication professor, rural arts and culture advocate, and active creative placemaking practitioner. Committed to applying theory in practice, she serves as an accelerator on many rural-based start-up projects. She co-founded Shake on the Lake, an award-winning Shakespeare Festival based in Perry, New York and is one of the co-founders of Rural Arts Weekly, a social media network for rural arts practitioners.