Tuesday, August 24, 2004

"What a piece of work is this woman York"

Susannah York's voice reverberates so powerfully in the theater at the Blue Heron Arts Center that it sounds as if it could carry all the way down the block. In that tiny black box, the British actress' delivery has the strength and volume of a force of nature, obviously able to conquer the largest of auditoriums, much less the occasional intrusions of the Blue Heron's air-conditioning.
Stratford Ontario Gives Stages to 2 Shakespeare Kings
By Lawrence B. Johnson

STRATFORD, Ontario --One play declares with edged irony, “All is true.” The other leaves its characters collectively asking, “Where in all these tangled events is the truth?” But in neither of Shakespeare’s early and late history plays, “King John” and “Henry VIII,” is there a role for anything recognizable as Plain Truth.

“King John” and “Henry VIII,” which share relative obscurity as well as their common theme of relative certitude, make midsummer debuts this weekend at the Stratford Festival of Canada.

King John, who reigned in the first years of the 13th century, is the earliest English monarch to be given a stage persona by Shakespeare. This is the same King John portrayed so darkly in the Robin Hood legend, the brother of (and immediate successor to) Richard I, called “Lion Heart.”

Saturday, August 21, 2004

Gay Shakespeare roils town

SHELBURNE - For a summer project, 16-year-old Colleen Rauch came up with the idea of updating Shakespeare's "Romeo and Juliet," with two women playing the lovers.

She and Jesse Nichols and Jenna Kuklinski, all three students at Mohawk Trail Regional High School, wrote and directed "Queer Side Story," performed this week in Memorial Theater, a historic venue on the top floor of Town Hall.

Rauch said the project had lessons that well reflected prevailing thought in the county - that the rights of everyone have to be respected. She said she found out differently, however, in the course of preparing the production.

"I didn't think there was a lot of homophobia around, but there is," she said yesterday, after the play finished its three-performance run.

The play had a cast of 19, with 23 teen-agers in all playing roles, on or behind the stage. At the beginning of summer they showed up to participate, learning of the project by word of mouth and through the Franklin County Youth Council and its Summer Theater Experimental Project.

Not all those who started on the project remained with it.

Rauch said that in three cases, a project member was plucked by a parent from the production.
"Their parents were not cool with the theme of the play," she said.

"These parents were very much not OK with homosexuality and were against gay marriage," said Rauch, who was unsuccessful in getting the three teen-agers to be allowed to stay.

She declined to identify the parents.

Along with having the two leads be female, "Queer Side Story" differs from "Romeo and Juliet" in that the chief "bad guy" is portrayed as homophobic and transgendered at the same time.
Scofield's Lear voted the greatest Shakespeare performance


In a unique poll of members of the Royal Shakespeare Company, the veteran stage and screen actor's legendary portrayal of the King has been acclaimed as the best ever, writes Roya Nikkhah. It is the greatest accolade an actor could hope for. In a poll of actors and actresses of the Royal Shakespeare Company, Paul Scofield, the 82-year-old veteran of stage and cinema, has been acclaimed for giving the greatest performance in a Shakespeare play for his legendary portrayal of King Lear.

Scofield, whose depiction of Lear in a 1962 production at Stratford was later made into a successful film, achieved his victory in a poll voted on by luminaries including Sir Ian McKellen, Donald Sinden, Janet Suzman, Ian Richardson, Sir Antony Sher and Corin Redgrave.

Judi Dench took second place for her portrayal of Lady Macbeth in Trevor Nunn's 1976 production of Macbeth, and also shared third place with Sir Robert Stephens's King Lear of 1993 for her performance as the lead in Antony and Cleopatra in 1987.

Ms Suzman said that despite the limitless number of possible choices from plays that had been performed for 400 years and by thousands of actors, she had chosen Scofield because of the brilliance of his acting. "You never forget the first great performance of a great play and I was utterly moved and completely transported by Paul's Lear," she said.

Scofield, who won an Oscar for his role as Sir Thomas More in Fred Zinnemann's 1966 film, A Man for All Seasons, said that he was "overwhelmed, astonished and delighted" by the accolade from his fellow actors.

Sunday, August 15, 2004

Twelfth night - the Bard goes East

Stephen Beresford scouted India for a cast to make fresh sense of Twelfth Night

This is the first audition I've held in India, and the actress opposite looks far from convinced. I have flown 4,500 miles for this, talent-scouting for a production of Twelfth Night that will transpose Shakespeare's Illyria to contemporary India. The trip will take in four cities, 100 actors and four internal flights in eight days. Today is Calcutta. We're in a tiny conference room off the hotel foyer and I've just explained the plot of the play in great detail.

"I'm not sure those things would happen in India," she says apologetically.
Generation Shakespeare
Camp for youths lifts up the Bard
By Ruth Jones/staff
rjones@newsleader.com


STAUNTON -- Shakespeare is like a foreign language to most teenagers. But the teens at this summer's Young Company Theater Camp not only understand Shakespeare's dialect, but most of them are serious about theater. The summer camp students will wrap up another year, putting what they've learned into action with their final performances of Henry V and Measure by Measure Sunday afternoon.

Eighteen year-old Emma Klempt of Harrisonburg said she loves being the center of attention. She came to know of the camp by chance. 'A guy I was dating last summer was doing this, and I came down and visited and thought this was the coolest thing in the world,' she said. As she heads for college at the University of Mary Washington, Klempt said she knows she wants to continue to be involved in theater in some way.

For friend Mary Via, the experience has been eye-opening. 'My mom found this (camp) on a Web site. I had low expectations. I'm not really friends with the theater people at our school,' said Via, who is a senior from Richmond. 'I just found that the people here are a lot of fun, and we're really compatible. There's a nice balance of academics and theater," she said. Now, Via said one of the things she'd like to do is teach theater one day.

Jim Warren, co-founder of the camp, said that students' experiences with Shakespeare in high school are often dull and difficult, but he feels that the atmosphere of Blackfriars Playhouse changes attitudes.

"I think Shakespeare opens up, and the students see Shakespeare for what it was meant to be and that's fun," Warren said. Along with Ralph Cohen, Warren has been working with youths since the late 80s. After working together in theater at JMU, Warren said their love of theater and sharing it with youths grew into the summer camp that it is today.

Buy Shakespeare's 'Cymbeline' as is

All things considered, Shakespeare would probably have been better off if he called his 'Cymbeline' 'As You Like It.' There are few, if any, of his other plays that take such great pains and go to such great lengths to include something that pleases everyone.
You get a smattering of history; a bit of swashbuckling; the requisite gender-bending; the mistaken identity; plenty of wink-wink, nudge-nudge sex; blundering nobility; admirable commoners; and all the other themes that run through most of the Bard's work. The difference here is that you get it all in one show, which may explain why the show is not produced all that often.

'Cymbeline,' currently running in a beautiful, tree-studded setting at Livermore's Retzlaff Winery, is a hard play to take seriously. You get the feeling that with this outing, Shakespeare wanted to blow it all out by offering up a banquet of theatrical delights. The problem, of course, is that by firing so many rockets, you leave a lot of smoke to be cleared away -- in fact, in this Valley Shakespeare Festival production, the final scene, where the loose ends are tied up, takes 15 or 20 minutes to complete."

Saturday, August 07, 2004

Newport News-Times: 'A Visit With Will' set for Aug. 10: "'A Visit With Will' set for Aug. 10



The Oregon Coast Council for the Arts (Coast Arts) invites the community to dine with Master William Shakespeare at the Sylvia Beach Hotel's Tables of Content Restaurant. The event is a benefit for the Coast Arts Shakespeare Camp program.

'A Visit With Will' is set for 6 p.m. Aug. 10, and will include dinner choices of four entrees, salad, bread, vegetable, and dessert. 'Master William Shakespeare' himself will preside over the dinner (costumes are not required, but encouraged)."

Wednesday, August 04, 2004

The Comedy of Errors, Shakespeare & Company�s Mad Love season continues... August 4 � September 2 - iBerkshires.com - Home: "Director Cecil MacKinnon takes Shakespeare & Company audiences on a teacup ride through Ephesus, a far-away land of magic, music, and mistaken loves in William Shakespeare�s The Comedy of Errors. Performances run in Founders� Theatre August 4 through September 2, preceded by free Prelude performances outdoors at the Bankside Festival. Press Opening is Friday, August 13 at 7:30 pm.

Founders� Theatre is wheelchair accessible, and tickets may be purchased at www.shakespeare.org (newly created by Studio Two in Lenox), or by calling the Box Office at (413) 637-3353, or by email at boxoffice@shakespeare.org. Senior, group, and student Rush discounts are available. "
The Comedy of Errors, Shakespeare & Company�s Mad Love season continues... August 4 � September 2 - iBerkshires.com - Home: "Director Cecil MacKinnon takes Shakespeare & Company audiences on a teacup ride through Ephesus, a far-away land of magic, music, and mistaken loves in William Shakespeare�s The Comedy of Errors. Performances run in Founders� Theatre August 4 through September 2, preceded by free Prelude performances outdoors at the Bankside Festival. Press Opening is Friday, August 13 at 7:30 pm.

Founders� Theatre is wheelchair accessible, and tickets may be purchased at www.shakespeare.org (newly created by Studio Two in Lenox), or by calling the Box Office at (413) 637-3353, or by email at boxoffice@shakespeare.org. Senior, group, and student Rush discounts are available. "
'Merry Wives'

Laughter comes easy and often at this season's second offering at the Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival.

Bursting with colorful characters who trick each other through farcical plots, 'The Merry Wives of Windsor' is the Shakespeare play with the closest resemblance to a pilot for a situation comedy. But, though written 450 years ago, it's better and, of course, more original than most anything on the small screen today. The festival's self-assured and marvelously cast production makes it easy to imagine a series set in the small English town of Windsor centered on the Page and Ford households and the nearby Garter Inn. "