FREE April 20: 10 years and going strong – Shakespeare’s Birthday at the Library of Congress

Hey – Shakespeare’s birthday is this month, and if this year is like last year, there will be lots of interesting things going on… And I’ll hear about them the day after they happen. Or maybe not. Just got an email for the Library of Congress event to add to the calendar.

On Tuesday, April 20, the popular celebration of Shakespeare’s birthday will take place at noon in the Whittall Pavilion in the Jefferson Building. Professional actors from the Academy of Classical Acting associated with the Shakespeare Theatre Company will recite monologues, act out scenes and engage in stage fighting. This is the 10th year “Shakespeare’s Birthday Reading” will be held.

Link: http://www.loc.gov/today/pr/2010/10-011.html

April Calendar of Plays – All’s Well and R&J, Hamlet and Midsummer. Happy BDay Willy S.

Well It’s already April and the Spring Season is kicking in.  The birds are singing, the sun is shining, and some of my favorite plays are about to kick off.  So what have we got new for this month?

The top pick for the Month will be:

A Midsummer Nights Dream & Shakespeare Birthday Celebration!!!: Maryland Shakespeare Festival - A “BARE BARD” for one weekend only – April 24 &25th. The Bare Bards are always a lot of fun, and rumor has it,  they have some very special plans lined up For Shakespeare’s Birthday.

Also This Month:

Hamlet: Baltimore Shakespeare Festival – Apr 12 thru 27

Romeo and Juliet: American Shakespeare Center / Blackfriers - April 8 thru June 19

All’s Well that Ends Well: American Shakespeare Center / Blackfriers – April 9 thru June 19

A Midsummer Nights Dream: Montgomery County Players: April 16th thru May 2nd

Hamlet: (DC) Folger Elizabethan Theatre – Apr 21 thru Jun 6.

I’ve yet to see a play at the Folgers, so I’m excited to get a chance to catch Hamlet there. But’  what’s more thrilling then seeing Hamlet? Seeing TWO Hamlets! Considering I haven’t had a chance to see the “Baltimore Shakespeare Festival” either, I may just convince myself that there’s no such thing as to much Hamlet.

If you hear of anything else going on in our area let me know, I’ll get it on the calendar.

LAST CHANCE!: Mondo Andronicus and Henry VI are closing this weekend!

The Blackfriars Theater in Staunton VA- Henry VI part 2

This is the last weekend for two Shakespearean plays that are on two completely different spectrum’s from each other:

Mondo Andronicus performed by The Molotov Theatre Group, See my review here

Henry VI part 2 performed by the American Shakespeare Center at the BlackFriars

I had already reviewed Mondo (Titus) Andronicus. In short realistic blood,  gore, and violence,  if you like horror movies, you’ll love this. So I’ll just say a quick word about Henry VI at the Blackfriars.

I just finally got around to seeing it last weekend,  I haven’t had time to write it up, and now it’s closing this weekend. Truthfully I’ve been enjoying  Shakespeare’s History plays more then you can imagine, and this one’s no exception. I really don’t think the Histories get their due. Henry VI part 2 has enough court intrigue, subplots and action to keep you riveted to your seat. Not to mention the famous quote, “The first thing we do, let’s kill all the lawyers.” And even though it’s “Part two”, it is a complete stand alone story. Henry VI is the ongoing tale about the son of Henry V (Now at Sidney Harman Hall), the passions of men and their desire for power. It also includes one of the nastiest noble woman this side of Macbeth.

Both the plays listed above are entertaining, Mondo is definitely  for adults only, but since I like the old 70 style grindhouse movies, that is not a bad thing. As a matter of fact I may take up an offer to go see it a second time this Friday. And Henry VI is the ASC doing what the ACS does best, great Shakespeare! So depending on your mood, both are fun choices… But don’t wait to long, this weekend is it.

The Playbill in Washington DC - Mondo Andronicus

REVIEW: Maryland Shakespeare Festivals Love’s Labour’s Lost

This weekend the Maryland Shakespeare Festival put on another one of their experimental and absolutely unique Bare Bards. The actors performing in the play are providing their services for free. And show up from around the country simply for the training and a chance to help the producer in her research in Shakespeare studies.

A Bare Bard is: “Part of MSF’s performance research, Bare Bard is great theater with out the frills! Actors from across the country come to Frederick to tell timeless stories in our Elizabethan Play house.. costumes, fights, music… It’s all there BUT… like in Shakespeare’s day, there is NO director, No lights and very little rehearsal! It’s all in the language, and with just 1 day… This is where ‘whose line is it’ meets ‘To be or Not to Be’ “ – Becky Kemper

Pretty much, the actors show up on Friday knowing their lines, do a performance Saturday and Sunday, and that’s it, no more shows.

I’ve been to countless Bare Bard’s and have yet to be disappointed, and Sunday’s Love’s Labor’s Lost was no exception. The Play was held at the All Saints Episcopal Church in Frederick MD, where the hall was transformed into an Elizabethan theater for the day, with the stage area projected into the hall and people sitting on all 3 sides.  Actually “Stage Area” might be to limiting a term considering the entire hall is used by the actors, and the audience becomes part of the play. With the performers at times talking directly to the audience, sitting in the audience, or at one point a lovelorn actor groveling at the foot of an understanding audience member.

From the moment the play started, so did the laughter, and I knew this was going to be a good one. All the actors seem to glow with energy and enthusiasm, making it hard to believe they had only been together for 2 days by this point. In particular I’d like to point out a new comer to the “Bare Bards” Quinn Franzen in the role of Berowne, who stood out right from the beginning. He displayed a jovial sense of confidence and believability that connected with the audience immediately.We can only hope this will be only the first of many appearances with the MSF.

Another person that stood out was Yvonne Cone who played the comic roll of Moth, as she bounced and beamed her enthusiasm to all who caught her eye. I don’t know if  I’d seen her before, but she made a lasting impression and  seemed like she was having way to much fun out there.

Of course there’s all the rest of the cast that deserves great praise for the work they put in; if it seems like I’m gushing, it’s simply because I haven’t laughed that hard in a long time. There were regular’s like John Bellamo as Don Armado who somehow was able to get one of the biggest laughs of the night simply by holding up a key (to a Honda mind you – Trust me you had to be there). or David Dowell as a very flamboyant, and very funny Boyet.

I do want to point out one more actress from Sundays performance, and that would be Shannon Parks who played Jaquenetta in this production. Whether playing Lady Macbeth, or a lowly Milk Maid she always displays an honesty in her roles that connects easily with the audiences. She can put a  twinkle in her eye and a warmth in her smile that will draw you in completely. Or in case of Lady Macbeth she’s able to take that twinkle and warmth, and turn it into frozen ice within the chilling turn of a page.

I had sat next to a very pleasant woman, who’s name I really wish I could remember, who had never seen Shakespeare outside of the larger venue hall’s. So it was a treat for me to experience the play through her eyes, and her laughter. She afterward told me she never knew Shakespeare could be this fun. All I can say is that Shakespeare did not write his plays to be viewed in a stoic museum setting, they were written for the the masses, standing in a mud pit, who paid a penny to see a play, and darn well expected to get their monies worth!

03/31/10: Addendum: I got an email from a very wonderful person I met at the play who reminded me:

you didn’t mention the actors threatening each other with silk shrubs, which had me in stitches.  ;-)

Yes’ A Honda key and 2 silk shrubs… You really really had to to be there to understand.

MSF – THIS WEEKEND ONLY: Let me know if you were able to fill my seat

I’m about to hit the road and will be gone for the weekend, but wanted to do one more post to get as many people out to Maryland Shakespeare Festivals “Bare Bard” of “Love’s Labour’s Lost”. Only way to keep Shakespeare going in our area, is to support all the local Shakespeare Company’s large and small.

link: http://mdshakes.com

Let me know if you were able to fill my seat, and what you thought of the production!!!

Thanks

FREE this Saturday: Shakespeare and Galileo in Williamsburg VA.

Just got this one to pass on. Looks like some fun educational theater is going on in Williamsburg Virgina. But make your plans quick, it’s happening tomorrow. Here’s what they say on thier website:

Shakespeare and Galileo
Listen in on a hypothetical meeting between two brilliant individuals – William Shakespeare and Galileo Galilei – as they explore the relationship between art and science.

This live theatrical performance is presented by the The Carpenter Science Theatre Company, which brings science to life at the Science Museum of Virginia. Professional actors, directors, playwrights, designers and technicians combine their expertise to educate and entertain all ages with wonderful performances.

Free, no reservations needed

Saturday, March 27
11 a.m.
Kitzinger Community Room
James City County Library
7770 Croaker Road, Norge This program is made possible through a grant from the Friends of Williamsburg Regional

Link: http://www.wrl.org/programs/page9/page9.html

Happy 100th Birthday to the director of two of the best Shakepearean adaptations you may not have seen.

Happy Birthday Akira Kurosawa!… You may not have heard of him, but the movies you’ve come to love have his signatures all over them. Remember the “Magnificent Seven” with Yul Brynner, Steve McQueen and a host of other famous actor? This is a remake of Kurosaw’s “Seven Samurai“. Clint Eastwoods “A Fistful of Dollars“, was a remake of ” Yojimbo. A little movie called “Star Wars”? George Luca is the first to say that R2D2 and C-3PO are heavily influenced from characters in “The Hidden Fortress “. I can keep going on, but you get the idea, let’s suffice it to say;  in 1989, he was awarded the Academy Award for Lifetime Achievement “for cinematic accomplishments that have inspired, delighted, enriched and entertained worldwide audiences and influenced filmmakers throughout the world”.

So for Akira Kurosawa’s birthday I would like to suggest two incredible (In my opinion) Shakespearean adaptations. They are in Japanese with sub-titles, and set in feudal Japan, but don’t hold that against them, that just makes these films appear all the more mystical:

Ran (Netflix) (IMDB) - The King Lear adaptation Roger Ebert said ” Ran is a great, glorious achievement. Kurosawa often must have associated himself with the old lord as he tried to put this film together, but in the end he has triumphed”

Throne of Blood (Netflix) (IMDB) - The Macbeth adaptation which is one of my all time favorite movies, that captures the essence and shadows of Shakespeare’s tragedy better then any other version.

Local Author Tom Delise: The Ultimate Shakespeare Quiz Book

Always looking for a reason to plug some of the incredibly fantastic and amazing local talent we have here in our own back yard, I thought I would pass this on.

Last February I had the pleasure to see Baltimore Maryland’s The Shakespeare Factory perform what turned out to be my favorite version of The Comedy of Errors (The review can be found here). I also  had a chance to meet their artistic director and founder Tom Delise, whom I’d been chatting back and forth with by email for a while. Both of us sharing a passion for the Blackfriars in Staunton. Turns out Tom is also the author of the book  “That is the Question: The Ultimate Shakespeare Quiz Book”.

“That is the Question” is laid out as a series of Quiz’s covering 17 of Shakespeare’s most popular plays, instead of just random trivia questions, you can sit down with friends and test your own Shakespearean knowledge. Starting with “Section I. “Quoting Shakespeare”. Down to “Section IV: Film, Stage, and Literature”.

I love Shakespeare’s language so here’s one for me.
Quiz 82, Wild and Whirling Words, Shakespearean Vocabulary:

1) Clodpole
A. Bedroom   B. Quarreler  C. Dunce   D. Wrinkled apple.

3) Welkin:
A. Sky   B.Day   C. Officer   D. Noose

And on this next one, I thought a “Sith” was just some bad guy from the Star Wars films. But no’ according to Shakespeare:

25) Sith
A. Stitch   B. Since   C.Also   D.Alas
(Darth Vader – “Lord of the Stitch”  sounds like some tough guy tailor in a sewing circle conspiracy… That can’t be right.)

I think the synopsis from the Barnes and Nobles gives a good description:
“So you think you know Shakespeare? Are you a fan of Shakespearean film and stage productions? Are you a student or teacher of Shakespeare? Or would you just like to learn more about the man, the myth, and the literature? If you answered yes to any of these questions, you’ll welcome That Is the Question: The Ultimate Shakespeare Quiz Book, a fun and unique glimpse into the fascinating and timeless world of William Shakespeare.It contains more than 2,000 questions organized into six sections: * Play and poem quizzes-Identify the works through quotes, plot descriptions, etc. * The characters-Identify pertinent major and minor characters from all plays through quotes, descriptions, etc. * Specialized quizzes-From the expected to the surprising: medicine, mythology, and creatures to settings, songs, and “Star Trek”! * Film and stage-Hundreds of questions about actors and actresses, Academy Awards, even other writers associated with the Bard. * Individual plays-Separate “20-questions” quizzes for each of Shakespeare’s 17 best-known plays. * Just for fun-Shakespearean puzzles, word searches, anagrams, and more.”

“Who produced a book that is enjoyable for quiz freaks, useful for teachers, and a treat for fans? Tom Delise.” — Ralph Alan Cohen, Executive Director and Director of Education for Shenandoah Shakespeare, and Professor of English at Mary Baldwin College

For more information and where to buy, here are some links:

Barnes and Nobles

Amazon

For more information about: The Shakespeare Factory in Baltimore (Bard to the Bone) http://theshakespearefactory.com

Local Shakespeare – Wow’ is there really that much going on?

The Maryland Shakespeare Festival - What a setting!

As most people may guess by now I really, really like Shakespeare. So far this year, since the beginning of 2010, I’ve seen the wonderfully theatrical Henry V at the Sidney Harman hall. I’ve also experienced one of the funniest versions I’ve yet to see of the Comedy of Errors, performed by a semi-professional troupe out of Baltimore called “The Shakespeare Factory”. I’ve seen one of the most brutal versions of Titus Andronicus EVER performed, aptly called Mondo Andronicus, as presented by The Molotov Theatre Group. And lastly, I had the chance to see Romeo and Juliet presented by the Maryland Shakespeare Festival as one of their amazing Bare Bards**. Not to mention the Chesapeake Shakespeare’s Pub night’s and other such activities. (Links to all these are on this page)

How lucky is that? All within the first 3 months of 2010, and all pretty much within a 45 minute (or less) drive of Washington DC. People are usually amazed when I tell them how Shakespeare is so alive in our area. That there is on average between 4 and 6 Shakespearean plays going on in any one week (If you include the Blackfriars in Staunton VA  – A must see!).

So’ if you are as dazzled and amazed by how lucky (some would say blessed) we are to have so much Shakespeare around us as I am. Or if not so much dazzled and amazed, but just think “That’s kinda cool”, then I would like to ask a small favor. Just go see a play, it’s  that simple.  With the economy the way it is, the budgets for the arts is getting hammered. I hear it everywhere, for all the Shakespeare companies big and small. But I believe the smaller ones are really getting the worst of it, since they have less to work with anyway, and may need that extra little help.

Now’ there’s one of those Shakespeare companies out there that I’ve kind of adopted. I try to see all their play’s, and want to help out any way I can. They’re also one of those companies that had a budget cut like so many others, and could probably use some outside help. And who would this be, but none other, then the Maryland Shakespeare Festival.

As it happens the  Maryland Shakespeare Festival is doing Love’s Labour’s Lost as a “Bare Bard**” this weekend. While that is great news. The bad news is I won’t be able to see it since I’ll be out of town. I really love watching MSF’s Bare Bard’s**, and really wish I could go. But since I can’t, I’m hoping I can convince someone else to take my seat. Maybe someone new who hasn’t seen the Maryland Shakespeare Festival perform. My hope being to introduce them to something different, fun and unexpected. If you read this and decide to go, let me know what you think.

Link: The Maryland Shakespeare Festival

Link: The Local Shakespeare Events Calendar on this site (Top right hand corner)

**A Bare Bard is where professional actors come from around the county, meet up on Friday, and in 24 hours put on a full production. It’s like seeing Shakespeare on a high wire without a net. There’s no sleepwalking these lines, they are freshly learned and the energy is raw.

THE RESULTS ARE IN! For the March 16th (Mock) Trial of King Henry V by the US Supreme Court!

One of the most popular pages on MarylandShakespeare.com lately has been the posting: March 16th – Who is King Henry V and Why is He on Trial? ( Which has some history on Henry V). Where some of the American Supreme Court justices (Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, presiding) were putting King Henry V on trial for his actions during  the battle of Agincourt, ( Henry V, now playing at the Sidney Harman Hall). Well’ there were a couple emails sent in asking if I knew what the results were, but all I could say was I had  little to no luck tracking down that information. So finally I called the Shakespeare Theatre Company office, and left a voice mail. It couldn’t have been more than a couple of hours later; they had sent the results.

As a quick side note (And to build up a false sense of tension before the results), I’ve had a chance to talk to and meet several people who work for the STC, and they are some of the most helpful people I have ever met. I swear these people must either get paid some godawful yearly salary, must really love where they work, or are part of some brain washed zombie cult . Cause they are just way to polite!

Anyway’ It’s time for the verdict as reported  by Joanne Coutts (Drum roll please).

In a nutshell:

On the question of whether the war was justified the court was split.

On the question of whether Henry V was justified in his slaughter of the French POWs the court decided that he was NOT justified and is therefore liable for unspecified damages to the families.

The audience also voted on whether Henry V was responsible for the killing of the POWs – they were evenly split.

Here are the posts detailing the proceedings:

http://dctheatrescene.com/2010/03/18/high-court-rules-for-french-at-agincourt/

http://legaltimes.typepad.com/blt/2010/03/legal-dream-teams-debate-shakespeares-henry-v.html

To see what all the hoopla is all about, check out Shakespeare’s Henry V at the Sidney Harman Hall Now through April 10th

Link: Other Sidney Harman Hall and Shakespeare Theatre Company postings

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