Thursday, July 26, 2007
Romeo Montague dies for Juliet and awakens in this age on a volcano in Hawaii, where he meets a wise Zen Master. So is the premise of James Edwards' new time-travel romance novel: "Romeo and Juliet: A Modern Day Sequel." In the story, Shakespeare's Juliet has reincarnated as a famous actress who falls in love with Romeo in an Internet chatroom. The story draws on themes from Zen Buddhism, Hollywood narcissism and new-age philosophy as the two star-crossed lovers recall their past lives in Egypt and Atlantis and overcome many obstacles to meet again
Tuesday, July 24, 2007
This year the MADC is taking Shakespeare back to the Opera House in Valletta for the first time since World War II. "A Midsummer Nights' Dream", which is part of the Malta Arts Festival organised by the Malta Council for Culture and the Arts, will take place on July 25, 27, 28 and 29, 2007. This production, which has an ecological twist, with support by Wasteserv, is being directed by Chris Gatt and co-directed by Denise Mulholland.
The set is being designed by installation artist Pierre Portelli and the costumes are being constructed by Lilliana Portelli and Pierre Stafrace. The production also boasts original music by Alexander Vella Gregory. The choreography is by Emma Loftus.
The cast of "A Midsummer Nights' Dream" includes Edward Mercieca as Bottom, Pia Zammit as Titania, Manuel Cauchi as Theseus/Oberon, Isabella Attard as Puck, Jean Marc Agius Cafa as Lysander, Faye Paris as Hermia, Matthew Gatt as Demetrius, Nerissa Pace as Helena and Coryse Borg as Hippolyta, as well as Alan Montanaro, Paula Fleri-Soler, Wesley Ellul, David Ellul Mercer, Lino Mallia and Martin Azzopardi.
The show is being made accessible to those young people and students who may not be in a position to shell out too much money for a theatrical production. Apart from the usual seats, there will also be a 'standing up' section, with tickets at only Lm2 / €4.66, which will allow people to actually be in the thick of the action. Tickets for "A Midsummer Nights' Dream" at Lm5 / €11.65 and Lm2 / €4.66 (groundlings) may be purchased from http://www.maltaticket.com/, Agenda, Exotique, Newskiosk and Bookends.
Illness has forced postponement of the Bridge Project, a joint venture involving the Brooklyn Academy of Music, the Old Vic theater company of London and the director Sam Mendes.
From January to March, the project, employing a company of British and American actors in performances of a double bill of classics at the Brooklyn Academy, the Old Vic and at least one international theater each year, was to have brought Shakespeare’s “Hamlet” and “Tempest” to New York. Both were to feature Stephen Dillane, who starred on Broadway in 2000 in the revival of Tom Stoppard’s “Real Thing.”
But an announcement from the Academy and the Old Vic said, “With great regret and due to personal reasons arising from family illness, Dillane has had to withdraw from the initial cycle of this three-year initiative.” As a result, the Bridge Project will open at the Brooklyn Academy in January 2009 with Shakespeare’s “Winter’s Tale” and Chekhov’s “Cherry Orchard,” after rehearsals beginning in New York in October 2008.
The productions will be directed by Mr. Mendes and star Simon Russell Beale as Leontes and Lopakhin.
Sunday, July 22, 2007
Friday, July 20, 2007
Taking on the Everest of acting roles, Ian McKellen gives us a King Lear to crown his brilliant career, writes Peter Craven.
It's one of the familar paradoxes of the contemporary apprehension of Shakespeare that, where the 19th century saw the labyrinth of introspection in Hamlet as the zenith of Shakespeare's art, since the time of World War I we've seen King Lear as the towering mountain in Shakespeare's work.
Students from the Horace Mann School for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing are once again participating in the city’s annual Shakespeare event as part of “Celebrate Shakespeare Day” on July 28.
Citi Performing Arts Center is hosting that day in correlation with the July 24-29 professional performances of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” during “Free Shakespeare on the Common.” “Celebrate Shakespeare Day” is the conclusion to the center’s four-week Shakespeare education program. The Horace Mann students, who have been studying “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” will become actors as they perform for a crowd of thousands on the Boston Common.
Wednesday, July 18, 2007
In these times of e-mails and text messages, the handwritten letter is fast becoming an anachronism. In the North Italian city of Verona however, this art form lives on through missives not written to a living person, but to Shakespeare’s Juliet, the girl with the most beautiful love story in the world.
Verona is the city of romance, where 700 years ago, the most famous love story of all time 'Romeo and Juliet’ first saw the light of day. All year round, you can see couples of all ages walking arm-in-arm around the historic centre, drawn irresistibly to the house on Via Capello known as ‘Juliet’s’. The balcony is far too modern to be where Juliet listened to Romeo’s declaration of love, but nevertheless draws large crowds.
Outside stands a bronze statue of Juliet. Tourists rub the right breast for good luck. No surprise that it is now considerably shinier than the left.
Since the turn of the last century, messages have been left at Juliet’s tomb in a former monastery about a 15-minute walk from Juliet’s house. But since the late 1930s, probably inspired by the film release of ‘Romeo & Juliet’, letters began to arrive addressed to Juliet. For many years, the custodian of the tomb, Ettore Solimani, answered the letters.
In the 1980s, a group of volunteers began to answer them, receiving a subsidy from the city for stationery and postage costs. The ‘Juliet Club’ was born.
The Club receive hundreds of letters a week in many different languages from all over the world. Some are simply addressed ‘To Juliet, Verona’, but the postman knows to deliver them to the Club’s Via Galilei headquarters. The letters are from writers of all ages and backgrounds. The emotions expressed are timeless, and many reflect how a particular issue or social movement shaped the writer’s feelings and perspectives. When the Club first started, a Turkish NATO commander and staff from local Chinese restaurants helped with translations. Nowadays, a network of translators around the globe works on the letters. The answers are always personal, and despite the sadness and loneliness often expressed in the letters received, the Club always tries to be positive and encouraging in their replies, signing off as ‘Juliet’.
Around Valentines Day they choose the ‘Juliet letter’, the most beautiful letter of the year. The event has become famous enough to bring artists and stars such as Andrea Bocelli and Franco Zeffirelli to the city to award the prize. The winning writer wins an all expenses paid weekend in Verona.
The Club now has more than 50,000 letters stored in boxes. A quick glance through them reveals how they have become a reflection of the changing times. The letters are from couples in love, and people looking for love. There are many people who write over and over again, presumably seeing Juliet as a sort of pen friend. The Club even once received an official wedding invitation.
Many write to Juliet the way children write to Father Christmas, hoping she can bring them the gift they desire the most – true love. A woman from the Ukraine writes: “I have an unmarried 27-year old daughter who is looking for a fiancé. Can Juliet help?”
There is a letter from a priest: “You do fantastic work. You and I both stand in service to love, each in a different way. God bless you”.
In 2006, two American sisters, Ceil and Lise Friedman put together a book which includes the stories behind about 75 of the letters received down the years, together with features over the volunteers who have worked for the Club. Ceil Friedman notes that in the early years, the writers of the letters were concerned with questions of race or class, or about a loved one who had perished in a war. In more recent times, the letters are more about personal feelings. The majority of the modern day letter writers are women. Maybe this is because women are simply more romantic by nature, or they simply believe that the letters will bring them happiness in their lives.
As a concession to modern day technology, the Club does now have an e-mail address. However the vast majority of correspondence is received by letter, and mostly handwritten. The volunteers who respond to the letters believe that this is because writing with a pen is still a more intimate process, requiring more concentration, and making it easier to express emotions.
Lise Friedman sums it up in her book. “It’s about suspending disbelief, and having a life of the imagination”.
The Stratford Festival of Canada is changing its name in an effort to demonstrate its commitment to the works of the Bard.The classical repertory theatre in Stratford, Ont., will go by the name the Stratford Shakespeare Festival beginning in November, with the launch of the 2008 season.
Tuesday, July 17, 2007
Monday, July 16, 2007
A review of:
The Shakespeare Riots: Revenge, Drama, and Death in Nineteenth-Century America
By Nigel Cliff
Random House, 312 pp., illustrated, $26.95
Becoming Shakespeare: The Unlikely Afterlife That Turned a Provincial Playwright Into the Bard
By Jack Lynch
Walker, 306 pp., illustrated, $24.95
Sunday, July 15, 2007
Orange County Premiere of Joe Calarco’s “Shakespeare’s R & J” at The Chance Theater explores intellectual and sexual repression in our youth
As its sixth production in its 9th Anniversary Season, The Chance Theater is pleased to present the Orange County Premiere of Joe Calarco’s “Shakespeare’s R & J,” a new adaptation of the tragic love story enacted by four school boys, from August 12 through September 16.
The play is directed by Patricia Ansuini, who last directed the Back Stage West Critic’s Pick production of “Coyote on a Fence” at The Chance Theater in 2006.“Shakespeare’s R & J” follows four Catholic school boys as they sneak out in the middle of the night to act out a forbidden play: Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet”. What starts as a light-hearted experiment gradually becomes more dangerous as these young men are allowed to explore what has been boiling under the surface all along. In this adaptation, Joe Calarco skillfully uses only Shakespeare’s words (from the play’s original text, and some sonnets) to tell the story of these repressed teenagers.
On 12 July, Shakespeare's Globe and the British Library launched a series of facsimile editions of individual plays from Shakespeare's First Folio, beginning with Othello, The Merchant of Venice and Love's Labour's Lost, the plays that are in repertory at Shakespeare's Globe during its 2007 theatre season.
One of the British Library's five copies of the First Folio has recently been photographed especially for the series. Further facsimiles will be produced to coincide with future Shakespeare's Globe productions.
Sunday, July 08, 2007
For four centuries William Shakespeare’s plays have been reinvented to fit contemporary sensibilities. But few recent efforts can match the Australian writer and director Geoffrey Wright’s brutal and thrilling new version, which envisions the thane of Cawdor as a longhaired, drug-addled gangster and his poisoned realm as a decadent MTV dreamscape of nymphet witches, smoky nightclubs and point-blank, slow-motion gun battles.