Tuesday, February 28, 2006

"Curate Shakespeare As You Like It" in Milwaukee Wears Flaws Well

By Ken Morgan

A running routine in Don Nigro's 'The Curate Shakespeare As You Like It' is that the famous 'All the world's a stage' speech from Shakespeare's play and it's never successfully finished. That pretty well describes this play.

One of the most prolific playwrights in American history, Nigro has published over 200 scripts. When asked to create a stripped-down version of 'As You Like It' to be performed by a minimum number of actors, he hit on the idea of a troupe of six amateur actors, led by a curate, who attempt to perform all 30 plus roles in an empty -- or is it nearly empty? -- theater. A sound creative idea with intriguing possibilities, but alas, the enterprise is sick, and the execution falls short of ideal."

"The Curate Shakespeare As You Like It" plays at Village Church Arts at 130 E. Juneau Ave. in Milwaukee through March 4. Call (414) 332-3963 for tickets.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Shakespeare in the Movies Quiz

Try this quiz from the London Guardian sent in by Olwen Terris, Senior Researcher of the Shakespeare Project at the British Universities Film & Video Council

The Many Faces of Shakespeare: Is This One Really His? - New York Times

Is a death mask found in a ragpicker's shop in 1842 that of William Shakespeare? This coming Saturday's issue of the British weekly New Scientist says the mask, bearing the date 1616 and the high forehead, prominent nose and beard associated with Shakespeare, could be, Agence France-Presse reported. At the behest of Prof. Hildegard Hammerschmidt-Hummel, a scholar of English literature at the University of Mainz in Germany, specialists at the German Federal Bureau of Investigation compared two portraits widely believed to be of Shakespeare with a bust in the Garrick Club in London and concluded that all the faces belonged to the same person.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Shakespeare's MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING, directed by Imogen Butler-Cole in Mumbai, India
Now, Romeo can't kiss Juliet!

Kisses in British school plays could soon become a thing of the past if proposed guidelines for staging drama productions come into force.

If approved, Romeo would no longer kiss his beloved goodbye in Shakepeare's immortal tragedy 'Romeo and Juliet' and will have to make do with more chaste gestures.

The guidelines, being considered by educational organisations, suggest that stage directions for characters to kiss should be replaced with "a peck on the cheeks or an embrace," a report in 'The Times' said today.

Characters may also "hug each other in friendship".

Among productions considered too risque for schools were Grease, The Taming of the Shrew and The Playboy of the Western World.

The report said these guidelines would be considered by Welsh education professionals and have been suggested to prevent inappropriate sexual behaviour in school productions.

"In the past some unscrupulous drama teachers have used the integrity of the play as an argument to provide cover for their abusive practices," the guidelines said.

"Drama teachers must cut or adapt plays if they have to in order to protect children and young people. (They) should ... Not rely on arguments about the artistic integrity of the text," they added.

However, critics of the proposed guidelines said teachers should beware of sanitising productions.

"The more (children) understand about love and passion, the better," said Dominic Dromgoogle, artistic director of Shakespeare's Globe theatre, adding that the 16th-century playwright treated the subject with sensitivity and compassion.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Maybe He's Just Not Into You, Helena: All's Well That Ends Well


Whether the genre is comedy, tragedy or history, it's no secret to regular theatergoers that all often does not go well for Shakespeare, even on stages in New York City, the country's theater capital. If the actress playing the cross-dressing ingénue is lovely and affecting, her paramour may be played by a cardboard charmer with a popular television show on his résumé. Or maybe the clowns hit their marks, but the love-struck youngsters speak verse as if they're reading the list of additives from the back of a cereal box.
Short Takes: A Shakespeare contest by any other name...:

Calling the Bardstock nation - and forget it, boomers, this is for your kids. Great Lakes Theater Festival and WCPN FM/90.3 are seeking students in grades 6-12, not to watch bomber jet planes turning into butterflies, but to turn Shakespeare's dramatic themes into song. The annual Bardstock FM Shakespearean songwriting contest invites each student soloist or band to write and perform a new, original song inspired by one of the Bard's plays. All styles and genres are accepted. Four entries will be chosen as finalists. Prizes include free, professional recordings of the chosen songs and a commemorative CD; a live broadcast of the winning songs on a special edition of WCPN's Around Noon program in May; and awards of $250. Deadline for entries is Friday, March 10. Contact theater festival education director Daniel Hahn at 216-241-5490, Ext. 307, or e-mail DanielGreatLakes@aol.com.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Summer Shakespeare: The Comedy of Errors at Auckland University Quad

Reviewed by Paul Simei-Barton

Thought to be Shakespeare's earliest comedy, The Comedy of Errors is seldom performed but Summer Shakespeare's imaginative and energetic production demonstrates that the work's neglect is ill-deserved.

Monday, February 13, 2006

A Midsummer Night Lovefest in the Philippines

By Lito Casaje

WHEN SISTER IMEE Mora, OSA, president of La Consolacion College Manila, appointed me as the institution's director for performing arts last semester, little did I realize that her vision-mission of instilling theater consciousness in her academic community, particularly in her spoiled colegialas whose perception of culture and the arts stops with "Pinoy Big Brother" and "Encantadia," was something of a Herculean challenge.

My once self-aggrandizing spirit to fulfill only my self-centered artistic whims, as president and artistic director of the 16-year-old Dramatis Personae, suddenly made a turnaround after being challenged this time by the lackadaisical attitude of my student actors in my latest theatrical project, a physical theater version of William Shakespeare's romantic comedy "A Midsummer Night's Dream."
Shakespeare's Globe Theatre Announces New Season

The Edges of RomeShakespeare's Globe Theatre 2006

2006, my first year as Artistic Director of the Globe, is a year of thrilling new beginnings. We aim to thicken the air with the sinuous and muscular poetry of Coriolanus; with the macabre humour and Grand Guignol of Titus Andronicus; with the relentless on-rushing sublimity of Antony & Cleopatra, and with the delirious farcical mayhem of The Comedy of Errors. To add to the Shakespeare, we welcome two new voices to the Globe: Simon Bent with Under The Black Flag, his rampaging yarn around the 17th-century pirate world, and Howard Brenton, with In Extremis, his telling of a love story from 12th-century Paris, that of Abelard and Heloise.

Dominic DromgooleArtistic Director

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Miniature Editions of Shakespeare

James L. Harner, editor of the World Shakespeare Bibliography Online has launched an "Illustrated Bibliography" containing 41 miniatures "with some 200 more to come."

My favorite is Polonius' P's & Q's by Berkeley: Poole Press, 2002. Here's the description: "Opens 360 degrees to form a three-dimensional carousel (ca. 13 cm. diameter) of six pop-up/peepshow scenes. Each scene has two pop-up and one background colored illustrated panels on paper, all six scenes mounted in a black cloth binding with printed paper title label and balsa stage onlay, and fore-edge fastener; in a balsa, board illustrated paper model of the Globe Theater."

Friday, February 10, 2006

Strand Bookstore sells Second Folio for $100,000

By Rachel Fershleiser
Most New Yorkers know the Strand Bookstore as a place to browse for bargains, roll their eyes at rude employees, and pick up a paperback for a dollar on a cart outside. But on January 28th, one anonymous industrial figure plopped down a more significant sum for a book— $100,000 to be exact.

The William Shakespeare Second Folio he purchased was published in 1632 and had been in the Strand’s rare book collection for over twenty-five years.

For store owner Nancy Bass, the sale was bittersweet. “Its hard to let go of a book that was part of our store for such a very long time and something that is truly a rarity created by a literary master,” she said. “At the same time I’m comforted that in an age of technology, celebrity and instant gratification… something so important is still appreciated, is still considered desirable.”

That desirable book was kept in the rare book room’s heavy gold safe along with other treasures like a first edition of Margaret Mitchell’s “Gone With the Wind,” a slender Walt Disney volume marked with the familiar yellow discount sticker: STRAND PRICE $1200.00, and an unusual copy of Ulysses signed by both James Joyce and Henri Matisse.

“There’s a great story surrounding the copy of James Joyce’s ‘Ulysses’ we have,” says longtime employee and rare book specialist Vasilis Terpsopoulos. “Joyce asked Matisse to illustrate his book ‘Ulysses,’ and Matisse hadn’t read it, so he decided to make the illustrations as they would be for Homer’s ‘Ulysses’! When Joyce realized what had happened, he refused to sign any more copies of the book. So ours is one of a very few signed by them both.”

Even for more casual collectors — and people without six figures lying around —the Strand’s third floor rare book room deserves a look. Renovated in the store’s recent overhaul, the space is surprisingly large and airy, the walls adorned with photographs of Ezra Pound, William Carlos Williams, and Edna St. Vincent Millay. Built-in bookshelves hold mostly gold-embossed, leather-bound tomes, but modern art books and new classics are also on display. A signed edition of “Bonfire of the Vanities,” “Endless Love,” or “Waiting to Exhale” can be purchased for roughly the same price as an ordinary new hardcover book at Barnes & Noble. And though the rare book collection carries everything from a six-hundred-year- old religious text to the new David Foster Wallace, the specialists employed there seem indiscriminate in their bibliophilia. When asked what he thought was the most exciting thing in the safe, a manager would only say,“I don’t play favorites.”

Strand Bookstore (www.strandbooks .com) is located at 828 Broadway and E. 12th St. The rare book room is open daily until 6:20 pm.
Oregon Shakespeare Festival To Open 2006 Season Feb. 24

Ashland, Oregon - The Tony Award-winning Oregon Shakespeare Festival opens its 2006 season with four productions on two stages February 24-26, 2006. Kicking off the festivities is William Shakespeare's uplifting tale of transgression and forgiveness, The Winter's Tale, directed by OSF Artistic Director Libby Appel. The show opens at 8 p.m. Friday, February 24, in the Angus Bowmer Theatre. Opening Saturday, February 25 at 1:30 p.m. in the Angus Bowmer Theatre is the haunting, powerful drama The Diary of Anne Frank, directed by OSF Associate Artist James Edmondson. "
Shakespeare at Stratford: Text and Theater
Shakespeare Centre
Stratford-upon-Avon, UK
July 2-July 8, 2006
$1125 (approx.)

Plans are currently underway for the 2006 week-long program at the Shakespeare Centre in Stratford-Upon-Avon, scheduled to run from July 2-July 8, 2006. The course includes attendance at five Shakespearean plays by the Royal Shakespeare Theatre augmented by pre-performance lectures and post-performance discussions presented by resident experts.
(Past speakers have included: Professor Miriam Gilbert, from the University of Iowa and author of Shakespeare in Performance at Stratford: The Merchant of Venice, and Dr. Robert Smallwood, past director of the Shakespeare Centre in Stratford.) Our study of text and performance will be further enhanced by leading RST actors who will appear in the class as guest speakers and talk about their roles in the plays we see.

The proposed schedule of plays for the course is as follows:
Sunday 2 July - Arrive
Monday 3 July - Romeo & Juliet 7.30pm RST
Tuesday 4 July - Julius Caesar 7:30 pm RST
Wednesday 5 July - Free Night
Thursday 6 July - Henry IV Prt 1 1:15 pm Swan; Henry IV Part 2 7:15 pm Swan
Friday 7 July - Henry VI Courtyard 7.30pm
Saturday 8 July - Depart

The preliminary estimated cost of $1125 includes the cost for theatre tickets to the five plays, fall pre- and post-performance lectures and discussions, housing* for the duration of the program, all breakfasts and one dinner, reading privileges at the Shakespeare Centre Library, and either a voice or a makeup & wigs lesson from an RST professional.

This cost does NOT include your travel to and from Stratford from the U.S. Final actual cost will depend on the rate of exchange and the total number of participants. (There is a minimum of 15 required for the course to make, but the way the program is budgeted, the more people who enroll, the lower the per- capita cost. There is a good chance that this cost will drop to about $1000, as preliminary feedback suggests that we will surpass the 20- person limit needed to drop the costs to the next lower pricing band.) NO ONE WILL BE REQUIRED TO

If you think you might be interested in taking part in this exciting venture, or if you would like further information, please contact Carolyn Henly at: StratfordUK2006@cs.com or at her work number: 804-743-3683. She will keep you posted as the course takes shape and you can make a final decision about attending when details are finalized!

* Housing is in local Bed and Breakfast Inns; the cost quoted is for double-occupancy; it may be possible to request singles, but if you are interested in that, you will probably have to pay the full cost for the double-room.
Eastern New Mexico University presents MND

Even if they haven’t seen it, Eastern New Mexico University theatre professor Felipe Macias is sure that audience members will be familar with the material when they see next weekend’s performance of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.”
Shakespeare's Will in Vancouver

By Vern Thiessen. Directed by Geoffrey Brumlik. A Gateway Theatre production. At the Gateway Theatre until February 18

You might enjoy bits of the second act, if you manage to stay awake that long.

In Shakespeare's Will, playwright Vern Thiessen imagines what the Bard's marriage might have looked like from the perspective of his wife, Anne Hathaway. He introduces us to Anne just after her she has attended her husband's funeral. For most of the play, she looks back at and reflects upon their unusual union. (She stayed in Stratford while he made it big in London.)

Thursday, February 09, 2006

British artistes enact Shakespeare's play in Jaipur

By Lokendra Singh, Jaipur

The characters of William Shakespeare's world famous play, A Midsummer Night's Dream, came alive recently in Jaipur when a group of British theatre artistes performed the play before an Indian audience here.

Led by Jarka Heller, the Play director and about ten young art students from United Kingdom performed the comedy before the audience at Jawahar Kala Kendra this Sunday.

The play, intended for the Indian audience was performed by the actors. Efforts are being made to bring together trained Indian actors and their British counterparts to work together.

“We would love to do this next year and years after. And hopefully get Indian trained actors to be able to work together with the actors from England. So, they could share their experience and learn from each other really,” said Heller.

The performance left the audience, mainly comprising students, enthralled with the authority with which the play was enacted by British artistes.

“It was a different experience. It was something different that we saw. We learnt a lot from this play. It was nice and I enjoyed it,” said Shibani, a young girl.

The magnanimity of the response that the British artists received left them astonished.

“It's been an incredible experience to come here and perform in front of an Indian audience. The response was absolutely fantastic. We could not even imagine anything like this and it's really an amazing experience. They are so enthusiastic. They are so much into the play, so supportive,” said John Morrissey, an actor.

Monday, February 06, 2006

"Bring with thee airs from heaven or blasts from hell."

Shakespeare & Company kicks off the new year with NEA grant and its tour of HAMLET February 6 - May 12

{Lenox, MA} - Shakespeare & Company's 2006 annual Spring Tour of Shakespeare brings Hamlet to schools and theatres throughout New England and New York as it hits the road from February 6 through May 12. Hamlet is generously supported by a $45,000 Shakespeare for a New Generation grant from the National Endowment of the Arts -- one of the newest major arts-in-education initiatives sponsored by the Endowment in cooperation with Arts Midwest. This recent grant marks a $20,000 increase over last year's funding to the Company and has further allowed it to provide matching grants for additional schools who would not have been able to afford to participate in the tour.

The seven-actor production of Hamlet, arguably Shakespeare's most powerful tragedy, is directed by Kevin Coleman, Director of Education, and features Zac Goodwin, Sean Jarett, Curt Klump, Nikki O'Carroll, Sarah Taylor, Marc Scipione and Tom Wells. Each actor plays two or
more roles and also performs stage manager duties. The costumes are designed by Govane Lohbauer; sound design by Kevin Coleman, and set construction and design by Marc Scipione and Zac Goodwin. For tickets and information please contact Group Tours Director Joanne Deutch at (413) 637-1199 ext 132 or visit: www.shakespeare.org .

Shakespeare's Hamlet has been pared down to a 90-minute, fast-paced Bare Bard production -- similar to Elizabethan touring productions that traveled the countryside each time the plague took London and city officials closed the theaters. Scholars believe that these Elizabethan touring companies contained small casts of players, each of whom played multiple roles, and performed scripts that were truncated accordingly.

Shakespeare & Company's seven-member cast performs at schools and theatre venues all over the Northeast, stretching as far north as Portland, Maine, and as far south as New York City.
The tour addresses the growing need for arts experiences for children-at-risk in rural areas where economic stresses, municipal budget cutbacks, and the elimination of school and state arts programming limit opportunities for young people to develop critically-needed educational and cultural perspectives. Each performance for students in grades 7-12 emphasizes language and the relationship between the actors and the audience.

Two interactive workshops and a discussion period are available to the audience in conjunction with the performance. In Wild and Whirling Words, a compilation of Shakespeare scenes, students are introduced to Shakespeare, his language, and the history of his plays. Through Workshops in Performance, students not only learn about Shakespeare's works, but also have an opportunity to become the actors as they create their own Shakespeare performance.
German Theatregoers Gag at Shakespeare Gorefest

It is Shakespeare's most gory work, full of bodies and amputations. But a production of Titus Andronicus at the Berlin theatre made famous by Bertolt Brecht proved so stomach-churning for one German audience, they tried to storm the stage.

"You're getting off on it [the violence]," members of the audience shouted at the actors in protest at the graphic rape scene in which Titus's daughter, Lavinia, also has her hands chopped off and tongue ripped out.

As security guards pulled the protesters back, about 30 members of the audience walked out in protest at the German version of Shakespeare's tragedy, Die Schändung (Violation), written by the playwright Botho Strauss.

"We came very close to calling the police," Claus Peymann, artistic director of the Berliner Ensemble told the Guardian yesterday. "I haven't experienced anything like this since the 60s. The mood was one of war. People were shouting 'Nazi theatre'. Perhaps people were surprised that this kind of violence can take place live on stage."

Founded by Brecht in 1949, the Berliner Ensemble has maintained his tradition of provocative political theatre. The play also includes Shakespeare's famous pie scene, in which the wife of the Roman emperor eats her two sons. "Our version begins with Shakespeare's text, but then changes into a modern play," Peymann said. "We do have a pie, though."