FREE May 21st: Orson Welles in The Chimes at Midnight on the (semi-)Big Screen!

Orson Welles at the Maryland Shakespeare miniplex

So’ it’s been decided that the First Shakespearean movie for the “First NeverAnnual Maryland Shakespeare Movie Night” is… Falstaff – The Chimes at Midnight! One that I own, but have chosen not to watch, until I could do so with others who might appreciate  this Bardic experience. I’m actually quite excited to see The Chimes at Midnight, a movie which is often considered Orson Welles finest, as Roger Ebert stated in his review:

” This is a magnificent film, clearly among Welles’ greatest work, joining “Citizen Kane,” “The Magnificent Ambersons,” “Touch of Evil” and (I would argue) “The Trial.” It is also magnificent Shakespeare, focusing on Falstaff through the two “Henry IV” plays to his offstage death in “Henry V.” Although the plays are much abridged, it is said there is not a word in the film not written by Shakespeare.”

Link: Review of Chimes at Midnight (1965)

Directed and staring Orson Wells as Falstaff, and Sir John Gielgud as Henry IV, this movie spans the scope of several Shakespearean histories, mostly focusing on Henry IV parts I and II, but also grabs parts from Richard II, Henry V and The Merry Wives Of Windsor.

The Chimes at Midnight  is considered a rage gem, and a lost classic due to the fact that it has not been in any kind of wide release relating to various copyright and legal issues. Which is why I, among so many others, have never seen, nor heard about this movie.. But thanks to the internet making the world all that much smaller, it is no longer impossible to find it anymore. All you have to do is bounce over to Amazon UK and grab a copy for example.

So if you’re interested in seeing Orson Welles as Falstaff in “The Chimes at Midnight, just follow the links to the  DC-area Shakespeare explorers  at Meetup.com for details.

Links:  DC-area Shakespeare explorers for more details

IMDB: The Chimes at Midnight

Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chimes_at_midnight

Remember, don’t take live Shakespeare in Washington DC, Virginia, and Maryland for Granted

May Is So SLOOOOOWWW This Year!

Well’ May this year is turning into a barren desert for local Shakespeare fans in the DC area. Where locally last year we had the Montgomery County Players doing Midsummer, and the Folger’s doing Hamlet. This year, there’s nothing around here for May.

My question is, with the recent demise of the Baltimore Shakespeare Festival, and the lack of event’s in our area, is this a disturbing reflection of the times? The Washington Post ran an article last year stating:

“Reflecting the growing hunger among Washington’s nonprofit theaters to expand their audience base and diversify their offerings, Shakespeare Theatre Company will serve as the launching site for a national tour of the original production of “Fela!,” the unconventional, Broadway-tested musical about the life of the Nigerian singer-activist Fela Kuti.”

Link to post article

I’m almost afraid that when they say that Washington’s nonprofit theaters, and the Shakespeare Theatre Company, are looking to expand their audience base, what their really saying is that the bucks aren’t flowing for Shakespeare so let’s try something else. For example I noticed there are plenty of plays and things going on with the Shakespeare Theatre Company for the month of May… and no yet  no Shakespeare.

http://www.meetup.com/DC-area-Shakespeare-explorers/

DC-area Shakespeare explorers

And yet’ do not lose all hope! There are others in the area looking for Shakespeare happening’s at the grass-roots level. For example I hang out at the local Meetup.com group called “DC-area Shakespeare explorers.” It’s brand new place on the web to hook up with local Shakespeare fans.  There’s  been so far (I believe) three meetups, I’ve been to a two, and looking forward to the next.

So’ even if there are no “Official” Shakespeare offering’s for May,  we can still make something happen. Jump to the site for DC-area Shakespeare explorers and check out the offerings, or even throw out a suggestion or two. I,  among others have hosted a “Meet up”, and we are in the hopes that you can too. Shakespeare readings? Movie night? Gather before or after seeing a play? It’s a great way to do Shakespeare on the cheap, and meet others in the process!

So’ pop in and support the DC-area Shakespeare explorers

Most likely if you go to an event, you’ll get a chance to meet me there. If you see me, say HI!…

Don’t take Shakespeare in the Maryland, Virginia, and Washington DC area for granted.

A new Spring Season, and soooo many plays..

Hello – A new Spring Season, and soooo many plays…
I am still going to the plays, but have not had time to update this website (Mid-Summer in Olney ROCKED!). This is not a good thing. The one nice thing about maintaining this web site was I never missed a free play, and other events. It was an excuse to maintain and share my Shakespeare Calendar, along with meeting people of like interest along the way.

So I would like to throw out there a thought. Who would like to help with this website and calendar??

I get emails from companies asking for promotion, and users commenting on existing material, but I just don’t have the time anymore.
If you google maryland shakespeare OR  Washington dc shakespeare, you will find this website on the first page of the search, so this website is worth the effort.

So if you are local, and have an interest. Or if you are part of a Shakespeare Company Maryland, DC, Virginia, or Pennsylvania and want to be able to add your promotions here, send me an email from your companies address..

Thanks
Jamie@marylandshakespeare.com

Learning Shakespeare: A Layman’s Guide – 4) Listen to the audio drama

Okay…

I’ve just added a new section to the Layman’s Guide covering Audio Dramas, particularly by Arkangel Productions. I’ve had some good input on this guide and have made some changes. So let me know what you think, cause the internet is my editor

Keep in mind, it’s still not complete.

“at every step I feel a deeper and deeper understanding. I know I could take a Shakespeare class first and learn everything they think I should know. But this way I’m learning by listening and watching, and thus able to form my own opinions. I remember reading that the Winter’s Tale is considered one of Shakespeare’s lesser works. Really? I love that play. I’m glad I read that opinion after seeing the play.” – The layman’s Guide.

Thanks

Link:  Learning Shakespeare: A Layman’s Guide

“Learning Shakespeare: A Layman’s Guide” updated with “Step 3) Watch the DVD”

Wow, creating  this “Laymans Guide” is taking more time then I thought it would. I had started Step 3 two days ago, had it typed up for the most part, then lost half of it and had to start over again.

I love watching Shakespeare on DVD, the section “Step 3″ describes the methods I use to track down the best versions to watch. I hope you find it helpful.

Heres the link: Learning Shakespeare: A Layman’s Guide

DVD: Romeo and Juliet Directed by Franco Zeffirelli 1968 – Just in Time for Valentines Day

Romeo and Juliet Directed by Franco Zeffirelli 1968

Before I go into the review I want to say that for me, a great Shakespeare movie is not required to be word for word perfect. Throne of Blood, a masterful retelling of Macbeth by Akira Kurosawa, is one of my all time favorite movies Shakespearean or not,  and it’s not even in English.

As far as Romeo and Juliet go, I’d just seen the Maryland Shakespeare Festival do a really nice job with this play which I thoroughly enjoyed. So I had fairly high expectations going into Franco Zeffirelli’s version based on its reputation and reviews I’d seen on IMDB.com.

First I want to say, the costumes and Italian setting were some of the best I’d ever seen, and the score was stunning. And though I may sound harsh below, this movie has stayed with me since seeing it, and may demand a second viewing.

Now as far as the movie itself? I hate to say it, but other then Olivia Hussey as Juliet and Pat Heywood as the Nurse, (And sometimes Milo O’Shea as the Friar), I thought the acting was stiff and completely unbelievable. Every time Romeo entered the screen I could almost hear Franco Zeffirelli telling him “Okay’ bring your eyebrows together and look pensive. Now do it again. More with the eyebrows’ more pensive. Again. Again. CUT!”

And then there’s Mercutio, who’s suppose to be the dirty joke telling 16(?) year old, slightly older friend that goads Romeo to get in trouble, but will always be there when needed. But no, Zeffirelli’s Mercutio was just plain annoying and spastic with no personality. Also they edited out his best (dirty) lines in essence nurturing him. And jumping back to Romeo with his Waxy pensive looks, you know how they wore those hose stockings in the Middle Ages? Well’ Every time the orchestrated musical score would start to soar (Beautifully mind you), and Romeo would give his pensive dreamy look wearing what looked like ballet tights, I swear I thought they were going to break out into a ballet with Romeo pirouetting across the screen.

When you read the play, you will find Romeo is a flighty, hormone driven 14 year old boy. How do we know this? Well right from the start of the play we learn that Juliet was NOT the love of his life, it was Rosaline. Yes’ Rosaline, who we learn from Romeo’s lips is “The all-seeing sun, ne’er saw her match since first the world begun.” So in reality Romeo is fickle. Romeo has the wandering eye. Romeo is acting like a 14 year old, and looking to fall in love… Again. Yet Zeffrelli adds Rosaline to the story with a couple throw away lines pronounced by the Friar in the middle of the movie. Now what about Mercutio’s role in Romeos romances in the play as compared to the movie? He’s the big brother there to both tease and teach. He’s the cool guy with the heart of gold.

“I conjure thee by Rosaline’s bright eyes,
By her high forehead and her scarlet lip,
By her fine foot,
straight leg and quivering thigh
And the demesnes (regions) that there adjacent lie”. – Mercutio

Then there’s Olivia Hussy’s Juliet. She made the movie, even if there were times she laid it on a bit thick. Still’ She came across in every scene as beautiful, innocent, and honest. The first time she sees Romeo at the dance Olivia Hussy’s eyes glowed with honest emotion, you could believe she was truly experiencing love at first site. Still, Zeffirelli managed to cut some of Juliet’s best lines. When she’s about to drink the drought that the Friar has given her to put her into a death like sleep, what does she say in Zeffirelli’s version? “Love give me strength…Gulp”. Very short and to the point. Shakespeare gave her some amazing lines here, and instead Zeffirelli give’s us the Reader’s Digest version (Gulp).

Here’s what Juliet is really thinking when she sips the potion:

What if it be a poison, which the friar
Subtly hath minister’d to have me dead,
Lest in this marriage he should be dishonour’d,
Because he married me before to Romeo?
I fear it is: and yet, methinks, it should not,
For he hath still been tried a holy man.
How if, when I am laid into the tomb,
I wake before the time that Romeo
Come to redeem me? there’s a fearful point!
Shall I not, then, be stifled in the vault,
To whose foul mouth no healthsome air breathes in,
And there die strangled ere my Romeo comes?
Or, if I live, is it not very like,
The horrible conceit of death and night,
Together with the terror of the place,–
As in a vault, an ancient receptacle,
Where, for these many hundred years, the bones
Of all my buried ancestors are packed:
Where bloody Tybalt, yet but green in earth,
Lies festering in his shroud; where, as they say,
At some hours in the night spirits resort;–
Alack, alack, is it not like that I,
So early waking, what with loathsome smells,
And shrieks like mandrakes’ torn out of the earth,
That living mortals, hearing them, run mad:–
O, if I wake, shall I not be distraught,
Environed with all these hideous fears?
And madly play with my forefather’s joints?
And pluck the mangled Tybalt from his shroud?
And, in this rage, with some great kinsman’s bone,
As with a club, dash out my desperate brains?
O, look! methinks I see my cousin’s ghost
Seeking out Romeo, that did spit his body
Upon a rapier’s point: stay, Tybalt, stay!
Romeo, I come! this do I drink to thee.

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