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

Happy Saint Patricks day! A tribute to MacMorris. Shakespeares Only Irishman

Did you know, it seems to be the common consensus  that there is only one Irishman in all of Shakespeare’s plays? And who would that be but none other then MacMorris from Henry V (Now playing at the STC). So In honor of Saint Pattys day, here Quoth MacMorris:

“I do not know you so good a man as myself: so Chrish save me, I will cut off your head…”

“…’tis shame to stand still; it is shame, by my hand: and there is throats to be cut, and works to be done; and there ish nothing done, so Chrish sa’ me, la!”

Local Blog of the Week: Or What You Will

I just thought I would pass on a local Blog that I have been reading for the past couple weeks called “Or What You Will“.  A mother of two who has not read any Shakespeare for the past 20 years has decided to jump back in to read all his plays. Looking at her blog I can say I have really enjoyed her enthusiasm and obvious love for the text.

She has of late been going through Romeo and Juliet, detailing various aspects of the play from Mercutio’s role and other character analysis to what DVD versions you might want to watch, or stay away from.

I always enjoyed the “scholarly” analysis of a play mind you, but I’m really getting into seeing her layman’s take. It feels more like a communal learning process, one person sharing their newly found insights, and reaching out to others for their thoughts in the process.

Link: Or What Your Will

15$ Bargain! March 27th and 28th – Love’s Labour’s Lost: Maryland Shakespeare Festival’s Experimental Bare Bard

The Maryland Shakespeare Festival just updated their web site this weekend, and it seems they’re doing “Love’s Labour’s Lost” on March 27th and 28th! What can I say, I love watching the Maryland Shakespeare Festival’s experimental Bare Bard series. If you do a search on this web site, you’ll see that I’ve gone to, and mentioned, the Bard Bards many many times.

So what is a Bare Bard?

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

The sad part for me is, I had talked to one of the actors who’s going to be in MSF’s “Love’s Labour’s Lost” while attending the opening of Mondo Andronicus. And he told me the MSF was doing the play on the weekend of the 27th. The same weekend  I had already booked my tickets to see Henry VI at the Blackfriars in Stauntion. I had been hoping ever since he told me that, that the dates would be different, but no such luck.

Well’ My suggestion for anyone out there is, do yourself a favor and go and check out the Maryland Shakespeare Festivals “Love’s Labour’s Lost”. I personally have found the Bare Bard’s to be a fun and unique way to see Shakespeare performed. I tend to go on Sunday so I can hang around for the talk-back afterwords, but either day is a treat. Better yet’ consider going both day’s since no two performances are the same!

Oh well’  I really wish I could be there, but…

Link: http://mdshakes.com

Details: Parish Hall at All Saints Episcopal Church, 106 Church Street, Frederick Maryland. You can find directions and parking information here.

Tickets are $15 general admission, $10 seniors/students/military, and available at the door, online, or by calling 301.668.4090.

CSC’s Pub Night Last Night: Shakespeare in Love, or for the Love of Shakespeare

Members of the Chesapeake Shakespeare staff with guest.

The  Chesapeake Shakespeare Company held their Pub Night at Bertucci’s restaurant in Columbia Maryland last night, and if you weren’t there you missed out on a great time. As the 25 or so people showed up, I could tell this was going to be interesting and fun, by the steady flow of handshakes that went out to each new person as they walked into the room. The setting was very intimate, being a small side dining room, where you had the comfortableness of facing the person in front of you, as opposed to going to a lecture hall for a discussion where your staring at the back of someone’s head.

At around 7:30 Jenny Leopold (Associate Director at CSC) started the evening with a brief introduction about the topic for the night, “Shakespeare in Love”, and then opened the floor. Now I’ve been to quite a few talk back’s and lectures after a play where the Actors and Director’s do a Q&A. These talk back’s are very informative, but the information is usually passed along in only one direction, from the artist to the audience.  But the pub night was surprisingly different as everyone had a chance to take the floor. The thoughts and idea’s flowed freely in all directions, one person’s conception, seemed to become the next person’s inspiration.

Patrick Kilpatrick in the CSC production of Hamlet - June 9th

The conversation drifted easily down the various avenues touching on “Love” in Shakespeare’s writing. From romantic love,  to brotherly love. From the  love of power, to the love of a child.  Many of these points emphasized with live readings from the plays and sonnets, from both the CSC staff, and anyone else who had something to share.

“Shakespeare in Love” turned out to be a fun and interesting theme to examine.  I have to admit I haven’t seen the movie “Shakespeare in Love”, and was relieved that it didn’t come up all night (with me being unprepared and all). But instead, I’m glad to say, it turned out to be a group of like-minded people enjoying dinner together, not only discussing Shakespeare in Love, but sharing their Love of Shakespeare.

http://www.chesapeakeshakespeare.com

Much ado about Nothing and Hamlet – Starting June 9th, 2010


Shakespeares Birthday is Next Month: And theres always plenty going on. But where?

Last April there were quite a few happenings to celebrate Shakespeare’s birthday in our area. There was cake and music,  lectures and dramatic readings,  and generally fun stuff for the whole family, most of it free. The only bad thing about all these events going on, was the fact I didn’t hear about them till AFTER they happened!

The problem is that most of these events weren’t really advertised. And the ones that were, you had to hunt all over the internet to find. So consider the calendar at Maryland Shakespeare as a free public service. This year I’m gonna start looking early for the event’s so they can get t posted. If you know of any events let me know and I’ll get them on the calendar for everyone else.

(The “Shakespeare Calendar” is located towards top right of this web page)

PUB NIGHT: Tomorrow (03/10) Hosted by The Chesapeake Shakespeare Company

Eduard von Grützner’s Portrait of Falstaff

The Chesapeake Shakespeare Company will be hosting a “Pub Night” in Columbia Maryland.  Which according to their web site:

“Pub Nights are informal discussion groups where we sit around a local establishment and discuss some aspect of Shakespeare or classical theatre. Led by CSC members and attended by both company members and members of the general public”

The theme is “Shakespeare in Love”. I know Shakespeare is considered one of  the greatest romantic writers of all times, but “Shakespeare in Love”, makes me think of his comedies such as Much Ado about Nothing, or the Taming of the Shrew, which are amazingly hilarious takes on the lighter side of love. Here’s how I had discribed one of my favorite comedies, Twelfth Night:

” Everyone’s in love with someone, but that someone’s in love with someone else. And if you happen to be a woman dressed as a man, that get’s really confusing.”

Of course there’s the famously romantic side of Shakespeare found in the Sonnets, and plays like  Romeo and Juliet where our lovers meet, dance, and fall in love, prompting me to write:

” I was dazzled by  the way the words seem to dance and flow across the page keeping time with the music that you could almost hear.”

I have yet to go to a Pub Night as hosted by The Chesapeake Shakespeare company, so I’m definitely looking forward to checking it out tomorrow.

Here’s the link with more information: http://chesapeakeshakespeare.com/pubnights.html

SHAKESPEARE IN LOVE
Hosted by CSC Associate Director Jenny Leopold
March 10, 2010 7:30 PM
Bertucci’s in Columbia, MD

Mondo Andronicus and the Grand Guignol: A Blood Splattering Opening Night.

The Grand Guignol

Saturday I saw the opening night performance of Mondo Andronicus  by The Molotov Theatre Group. Before I give a review of the play, let me explain a little bit about what Mondo Andronicus is.

What they have done is taken Titus Andronicus, Shakespeare’s most shocking and violent play, and performed it in the style of a Grand Guignol. The Grand Guignol is defined in the “literary Dictionary” as:

Grand Guignol [grahn gween‐yol], a popular French form of melodrama featuring bloody murders, rapes, and other sensational outrages, presented in lurid and gruesome detail…The term is now often applied to horror movies…”

I think this explanation is most appropriate, since it defines Shakespeare’s Titus Andronicus to a tee. As a matter of fact if you look up Grand Guignol in Wikipedia it even mentions Titus Andronicus in the very first paragraph.

I’d seen Titus performed at the Blackfriars by the American Shakespeare Center during the fall 2009 season, and found the play, even as performed by the ASC, somewhat shocking. After which I read the play, and then found myself ruminating on the Evils in Shakespeare’s plays by focusing on  Aaron the Moor from Titus in one of my blog posts.

The Playbill Cafe

The play takes place in the small 60 person theater at the Playbill Cafe in Washington D.C. Dark goth metal was playing over the sound system as I found my seat. The crowd filing in after me appeared to be from every walk of life, including the “Mom and Pop” next door neighbor type, to some theater people I’d recognized from other Shakespearean productions. I sat in the second row by the aisle, and started talking to some people around me. Someone joked, that if I was lucky someone would sit in front of me so I wouldn’t get splatter with too much blood.

Mondo Andronicus

Then the lights went down, and a new dark chorus of music spilled from the speakers. Titus played by the “Goremeister” Alex Zavistovich appeared on stage and the play commenced. I don’t want to give away the details of the performance. That’s for you to see, if you’re brave enough. I will say that the acting was amazingly better than I thought it would be. I expected “Shock Theater” camp, and what I got was a very serious and professional production of Titus. They had condensed Titus down to 60 minutes to its barest core, stripping out much of the text to focus on the emotional darkness within the play. It was raw, it was brutal, and it was severe.

Being as close to the stage as I was, I could see the sweat on an actors face. So when I tell you that JaBen Early, who played Aaron, contorted his face to look diabolical, I mean he looked like pure evil. And Jenny Donovan, who looked so beautiful as Lavinia in the beginning, showed the definition of utter despair in the hoplessness she displayed in her eyes towards the end.  All I could imagine was they must have had an acting coach that focused exclusively on presenting our darkest horrors though facial expression.

Each moment of savagery and brutality were presented in a twisted and realistic manner, using stagecraft to make these acts of violence appear as real as possible. Blood flowed freely, and in one disgusting act, I felt the drops of splattered blood on my face, (a few drops mind you, don’t worry, no one was drenched).

So’ after reading this review, I’ll let you decide if this play is recommended for you or not. Mondo Andronicus  is a play that focuses on the darkness of the human soul, and takes the literal text of Titus Andronicus to it’s most extreme, realistic, and brutal interpretation.

Mondo Andronicus, now thru April 3. See their website for details: The Molotov Theatre Group

Fun Facts about Mondo Andronicus, opening this weekend.

Alex from the Molotov Theater and I had sent a few emails back and forth, so I told him If he  sent me any fun facts about the performance I would post it. So here it is:

Fun Fact Number #236: In Mondo Andronicus…  (there’s) an average of one heinous piece of physical violence every four minutes.

What can I say, we support all types of Shakespeare here at Maryland Shakespeare. Particularly the smaller company’s.

Link: http://www.molotovtheatre.org/current.html

March 6, 2010 – April 3, 2010 Wednesdays through Sundays at 8 PM

The Theatre at 1409 Playbill Cafe
1409 14th Street, NW
Washington, DC 20005

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

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