Friday, March 30, 2007

The Royal Shakespeare Theatre will hold its last performance this weekend before closing for a multi-million pound refurbishment.

The £100m transformation of the world famous listed building, which opened in 1932, should be completed by 2010.

Plans include a "thrust" stage for the main theatre, a 108ft (33m) tower at the entrance and a riverside walkway.

During the work, the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) will operate at the nearby 1,000-seat Courtyard Theatre.

The last play before the refurbishment, the tragedy Coriolanus, will be performed on Saturday.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

South African Musical Takes Shakespeare to Soweto

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters Life!) - Soweto Story, a new musical version of Shakespeare's tragedy Romeo and Juliet set in a present-day Johannesburg ghetto, underscores the deep rich-poor divide that dogs post-apartheid South Africa.

The adaptation takes place in the storied Soweto township -- once a hive of anti-apartheid activity that has grown into a mix of tidy suburbs to serve a growing black middle class next to tin shacks for the poor majority.

The story follows Vuyani Kheswa, the contemporary Romeo, a poor young man from the Xhosa tribe whose love affair with the well-to-do Thandi Thwala, his Zulu Juliet, was doomed from the start because their families are taxi industry rivals.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Galway Independent

Shakespeare at An Taibhdhearc in Galway

An exciting production of the William Shakespeare classic 'The Merchant of Venice commenced at An Taibhdhearc last night (Tuesday).

The production is the first from a newly formed Galway drama group, Tungsten Theatre Company. The director, Frank Commins, is well known from his involvement with Clarinbridge Drama Group and Knocknacarra Amateur Theatre Society (KATS). He found Tungsten Theatre Company, after completing his Diploma in Drama at NUI, Maynooth." News - Latest News - Bite-sized Shakespeare over lunch

Bite-sized Shakespeare over Lunch

LONDON (Reuters) - For office workers who may have suffered an indigestible diet of compulsory Shakespeare at school, Lunchbox Theatre offers a perfect remedy -- bitesized chunks of the Bard.

An enterprising theatre company in the heart of London serves up instant culture -- Shakespeare classics condensed into 45-minute shows that can be enjoyed with a beer and a sandwich.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Guthrie 'Merchant' Delivers the Goods

Women wield tremendous power in "The Merchant of Venice," even if they do needlepoint as a ruse to protect the egos of clueless men.

That is one of the points that is finely illumined in Joe Dowling's exquisite production of "The Merchant of Venice," which opened Friday with the divine Michelle O'Neill delivering an excellent performance as Portia.

The first Shakespearean play on the Guthrie's Wurtele Thrust stage, "Merchant" is elegantly designed by Riccardo Hernandez (his set features a floor inlaid with interlocking circles and gold-hued, cathedral-style doors ringing the half-circle world of the play); Paul Tazewell (gorgeous period costumes), and Matthew Reinert (lights). One can only guess at the budget for such sumptuousness.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Propellor's The Taming of the Shrew - Twelfth Night at BAM

Even advanced urban pack rats will be impressed by what the Propeller Company can cram into a single closet. Walk-in wardrobes on wheels are the scenic stars of this all-male London-based troupe’s boisterous and inventive productions of Shakespeare’s “Taming of the Shrew” and “Twelfth Night” at the Brooklyn Academy of Music.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

One Shakespeare play in 6 languages

The recreation of Shakespeare's play A Midsummer Night’s Dream has been brought to life in London by an infusion of multilingual performers from India and Sri Lanka, various Asian dance styles and acrobatics is a theatrical delight.

Here's a video clip.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Young Inmates Strut Their Hour Upon the Stage

By Marc Fisher

Banquo, brave and noble, wears dreadlocks, sleeps in a one-man cell and lives behind a towering fence of razor wire.

He describes himself as a 'fun and easy' guy who stands up for his friend Macbeth. But although Banquo sees through what Shakespeare calls 'the instruments of darkness,' Macbeth succumbs to his base desires."

Monday, March 12, 2007

Macbeth in Alaska: North by Northwest

The Southeastern Alaskan language Tlingit -- pronounced "klinkit" -- isn't especially full of sound and fury in the "Macbeth" of Juneau's Perseverance Theatre. But that's because in this production, which has been carefully imbued with Tlingit symmetry and ceremony by director Anita Maynard-Losh, the most bloody-minded speeches are rendered in English.

A political indictment of murderous ambition as a white man's game? That's seems like a reasonable conclusion as Jake Waid's Macbeth smoothly speaks Tlingit to his brethren, then turns to the audience and confides in English, "Stars, hide your fires; let not night light see my black and deep desires."

Yet it's not overt politics so much as two-faced secrecy that seems to be the issue in this faintly studious show, which fits beautifully inside the round Rasmuson Theater at the Smithsonian's National Museum of the American Indian. (Pinpoint starlight even glows from the ceiling that undulates over the audience.) Shiftiness is hard-wired to this easy-to-follow bilingual format. Keep an eye on the convenient English surtitles of Johnny Marks's Tlingit translation for most of the cast, then get the straight hard plots and paranoia in English from the scheming couple.
America adopts the Bard:

"Shakespeare in American Life" at the Folger

The United States is in many ways an invented country. Founded by Englishmen and other Europeans seeking greater opportunity in the New World, the raw Colonial frontier lacked its own identity at first. Eventually, the early settlements matured, and new cities and a fledgling professional class arose.

Seeking the comforts of civilization as well as the stimulation of the arts, settlers found they still needed to import culture and cultural icons from the Old World to lay a foundation for the New. In many ways, the impressive body of work penned by English playwright William Shakespeare was drafted to serve as America's literary cornerstone.

The importance of Shakespeare in this country is now being celebrated by the Folger Shakespeare Library in a new exhibition entitled "Shakespeare in American Life." Co-curated by the husband-and-wife scholarly team of historian Alden T. Vaughan and Shakespeare specialist Virginia Mason Vaughan, the exhibit opened this week and will run through most of the summer.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Hebrew 'Hamlet' Gives the Bard A Few Turns

By Peter Marks Washington Post
In Omri Nitzan's Hebrew-language "Hamlet," the chair's the thing.

The one you're sitting on, that is. It and 169 others have been imported from Israel and installed for the occasion in the center of Signature Theatre's big new black-box space. They swivel 360 degrees -- a feature absolutely essential to appreciating the fleet and lively "Hamlet" that the Tel Aviv-based Cameri Theatre has brought to Washington for the week. [more]

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Clues to Acting Shakespeare

From the author's introduction:

The intention of this book is to help the working actor discover and use specific skills for acting Shakespeare.There about acting Shakespeare, but most deal with historical, philosophical, or personal approaches to the characters.They offer interpretations of these characters that are often drawn from actual performances (e.g., Antony Sher's Year of the King But for the working actor struggling with blank verse, only a few of these books are of "immediate" or practical value. Several voice studies that illustrate theunion of Shakespearean text and developed vocal skills are the most useful. When preparing to act a role, the actor must learn to handle the language of the specific play so that the character will be truthful in both intention and presentation. Heightened language, as in Shakespeare’s plays, can be difficult, and failure to handle it effectively will quickly destroy an otherwise well-intended characterization. Therefore the actor must train the voice and then learn specific skills to handle this language. Once these skills have become practice, books that talk about acting Shakespeare are very helpful for character research and analysis. That few books are available to help the working actor gain the skills necessary to handle verse is not surprising. A coach or director cannot write about this process until he or she has worked with hundreds of actors and discovered successful techniques.

Friday, March 02, 2007

macbEth: the opera in South Africa

Theatre innovator Brett Bailey stages his extraordinary theatrical interpretation of Verdi’s opera ‘Macbeth’ in the amphitheatre at the Spier Summer Arts Season. Verdi based his work on Shakespeare’s dark drama of power, treachery, guilt and witchcraft. Bailey and composer Peter Louis van Dijk have cut about 45 minutes off the original to make a fast-paced, streamlined 90 minute piece rich in visual imagery.

Bailey has located the drama in a contemporary Central African state and says “Shakespeare’s play, located in a tribal society characterised by violent coups d’etat, tenacious political leaders, rebel insurgencies and a belief system rich in soothsayers and lends itself superbly to an African setting.”

An earlier version of this work played to sold out houses and critical acclaim in Cape Town (2001) and Pretoria (2002). Bailey says that his understanding of opera, of directing and of the post-colonial landscape of Africa have come along way since then and promises a much deeper and clearer theatrical and musical experience.

Conducted by Chris Dowdeswell, “macbEth: the opera” stars world-renowned baritone Fikile Mvinjelwa in the title role, and Nobulumko Mngxekeza as Lady Macbeth. The multi-media production also features dancers, actors and the Cape Town Opera Vocal Ensemble.

Presenters from London’s Barbican Theatre and from opera houses and festivals in Germany, Switzerland, Sweden, Ireland and France will be attending the opening night with an eye to buying the production.

“macbEth: the opera” is a collaboration between Bailey’s company – Third World Bunfight – and Cape Town Opera. Third World has been the resident performance company at Spier since 2004, where it has presented works such as Big Dada, Medeia and Orfeus. Several of the company’s pieces have toured abroad.

Cape Town Opera, the “Voice of the Nation”, have had huge successes locally and abroad with operas such as Porgy and Bess and The Magic Flute.

No opera would have the same impact without a live orchestra and the Cape Philharmonic Orchestra adds another dimension to this extraordinary representation of macbEth.

“macbEth: the opera” plays at the Spier amphitheatre between 15 -17 March and 21- 23 March at 20h00. For further information visit Spier’s website,, or call Computicket or the booking office at Spier on 021 809 1111.