Learning Shakespeare: A layman’s Guide

I’ve had someone ask me how I got into Shakespeare, and what I do to understand a play as far as character, plot, and understanding Shakespeare’s use of language. I thought I’d just type up a short little something on the subject, but it had started to grow into something more then I intended. The more I thought about it, the more I came to believe  it deserved it’s own page, so it can grow and change with my own personal experience, as well as with others suggestions.

Here are the first two steps out of the four I use for studying a play:

Link: Learning Shakespeare: A Layman’s Guide

American Shakespeare Center Faces Budget Cuts

Link: VCA faces huge budget cuts

“On Feb. 21, the Virginia House of Delegates’ Appropriations Committee voted, 15-7, to cut state funding for the Virginia Commission for the Arts (VCA) by 50 percent in 2010-11 and to eliminate the agency altogether as of July 1, 2011.”

This is really bad news for the American Shakespeare Center considering they received $96,000 last year, which is about 15% of their budget. And they are hoping to get that same amount this year.

Now I may not be the brightest bulb on the tree, so correct me if I’m wrong. But I think $96,000 is probably nothing compared to how much money the Blackfriars, and the American Shakespeare Center bring into Staunton each year, in tourist and taxes.  I’d never have even heard of Staunton if it wasn’t for the Blackfriars. To me it would have been just another small college town. But now after going to the Blackfriars several times a year over the past few years, I’ve come to love the town of Staunton. We usually will arrive on Friday night at the Microtel, and catch a play on Saturday or Sunday. The rest of the time is spent shopping in the town, or hiking around the outlying areas.

I know it seems like an easy thing to eliminate the arts any time there’s a state budget crunch, but I really do believe it will end up costing the community in the long run.

If your heading up to Staunton any time soon, here’s an blog I posted a while ago with some tips:  Staunton VA, and the American Shakespeare Center. One of the best hidden spots in the world.

Do you know how many Shakespeare plays you have to choose from in the DC area this week? (A shocking answer!)

Do you know how many Shakespeare plays you have to choose from in the DC area this week? SIX!
How cool is it to live in the Washington DC area where you get the choice of SIX Shakespeare plays performing at any one time! And at prices starting at the bargain basement price of $15.00.

Here’s the shows you can catch this week:
Richard II: (DC) Shakespeare Theater Company
Henry V: (DC) Shakespeare Theater Company
Comedy of Errors: (Baltimore MD)  The Shakespeare Factory Players
Measure for Measure: (MD) Baltimore Shakespeare Festival
And a little further out, but well worth the trip
Twelfth Night: (VA) Blackfriars Playhouse Staunton, VA
Henry VI, Part 2: (VA) Blackfriars Playhouse Staunton, VA

I’m looking forward to catching the The Shakespeare Factory Players for the first time this Saturday (Feb. 20th), performing The Comedy of Errors at the amazingly low price of $15.  I’ll also be getting my tickets within the next couple of days  to see Henry VI  at my favorite theater the Blackfriars Playhouse  in Staunton.

See the Marylandshakespeare.com calendar for more details on these and other up coming events.

May 1-17: Othello in Manassas Virginia

Okay’ Now were getting down to the wire, I get married, and am going on a othello_o_pchoneymoon in a couple of weeks, and it looks like this is going to cut into a couple of plays I haven’t seen yet… O’ the choices we make!

Othello happens to be one that I haven’t seen live yet, and may not get to see anytime soon unless I can finagle some time in there.

Heres the info…

Link: VPStart Crow

Cramer Center
9008 Center Street
Manassas, VA 20110

Performances are Fridays and Saturdays at 8 pm and Sundays at 3 pm. Advance individual ticket sales are available only through BoxOfficeTickets.com or 800-494-TIXS. Adults are $20; Students/Seniors are $15.

FREE: April 23rd ASC Does Shakespeare’s Birthday plus more…

Shakespeares BirthdayIt seems the American Shakespeare Center would like to invite you to a special celebration of William Shakespeare’s Birthday happening on April 23rd with cake and contests , and much mirth and merriment.  RSVP requested, more details at this Link: http://www.americanshakespearecenter.com/v.php?pg=380

BUT… That’s not all, as  I was bouncing around their web  site to see what else was going on that weekend, it turns out on  Saturday the 25th they’re having their annual  “Stark Raving Sane Benefit” at 5:30 pm at the  Blackfriars Playhouse. Looks like it will be a lot of fun also, so check out that  Link: http://www.americanshakespearecenter.com/calendar.php?d=%272009-04-25%27

If you do decide to go to Staunton you can check out this prior post  for ideas about where to eat, stay etc…   Link:  Staunton VA, and the American Shakespeare Center. The best hidden spot in the world.

Malvolio’s Case Thrown Out Lady Olivia Relieved!

ginsburg14Malvolio  (Twelfth Night) appeared visibly shaken last night after the Supreme Court of Illyria denied him the 10 million dollars he had hoped to gain from his lawsuit against the Lady Olivia. Malvolio did take a couple of minutes to talk to the press, stating after this humiliating defeat he may “Take up an offer to go on Celebrity Surviver next season”.

“More likely VH1’s Celebrity Rehab!” said the Lady Olivia as she was seen leaving the court by a back entrance.


Verdict Handed Down – Malvolio Loses

The Shakespeare Theatre Company and REAL Supreme Court Justices stage a mock trial

Don’t forget tonights one time only: “Malvolio’s Revenge: Mock Trial” from The Shakespeare Theater Company


The Shakespeare Theater Company Link: http://www.shakespearetheatre.org/support/events/trial.aspx

Prior article link: April 6th The Shakespeare Theatre Company Presents “Malvolio’s Revenge: Mock Trial”. (Malvolio from Twelfth Night gets his day in court)

April 6th The Shakespeare Theatre Company Presents “Malvolio’s Revenge: Mock Trial”. (Malvolio from Twelfth Night gets his day in court)


I just watched Twelfth Night over the Winter at the Blackfriars (ASC), and thought John Harrell did a fantastic job playing  Malvolio. Now’ during this play Malvolio (John) shouts out, “I’ll be revenged on the whole pack of you.” (act 5, scene 1.) Well’ It turns out, that indeed he will get a chance to be revenged on them… In court.  The Shakespeare Theatre Company is staging a mock trial where his grievances can be heard… Now here’s what cool, and why living in the DC area can have it’s advantages… Check out who the judges are for The Supreme Court of Ilyria (Ummm… Actual United States Supreme Court Justices) :

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, presiding
Justice Samuel Alito
Judge Paul R. Michel
Judge Rosemary M. Collyer
Judge Merrick B. Garland
Judge Douglas H. Ginsburg
Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh

I thought that was a pretty impressive lineup… The Tickets are $35–$50,
and Student Tickets: $20.  Jump the link for the rest of the details.

Link: http://www.shakespearetheatre.org/support/events/trial.aspx

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Staunton VA, and the American Shakespeare Center. One of the best hidden spots in the world.

Beverly St. in Staunton Va Note: See the prior post for bargain plays this weekend at the Blackfriars

The American Shakespeare Center is starting it’s Spring season, and you’ve never been to their Blackfriars playhouse! What are you waiting for? Honestly’ when life is just a b%ch  and I just need to get away,  I just pack it all  up,  count my change, and trek the 3 hours up to Staunton and watch me some Shakespeare.

Staunton Wisdom for a cool trip.

Where to stay: If the Stonewall Jackson Hotel is having a half price special I stay in that Grand Old Hotel (Or if I happen to have the ducats that trip… which is rarely), Other wise I stay in the Microtel Inn for about $75.00… Now  let me just say… the Microtel is awesome. It’s not the cheapest, but any cheaper in Staunton and you may regret it.  Not to mention the Microtel bakes amazing chocolate chip cookies in the evening. First time we stayed there, they had just pulled a batch out of the oven, and I was met with an olfactory bliss.

Where to eat: There are tons of restaurants, but these are a few of my favorites:

Inexpensive: Wrights Dairy Rite… Place opened in 1952, and ain’t change much since! Pick up the PHONE at your table and order a Burger, Fries, and a Real Milkshake… Cheap!

Good Value: The Baja Bean Co…  I LOVE the Baja Grilled Tacos!!!

Nice dinning: L’Italia Restaurant …Wonderful Italian food, Great service.

What else to do while there, Jump this link for the official Staunton visitor web site:


Staunton has kept it’s small town flavor all along Beverley St.  right near the Blackfriers Playhouse. Check out all the antique stores and specialty shops, and when you need a break from walking there’s restaurants and coffee shops all over the place.

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BARGAIN! Apr.1st – 4th American Shakespeare Center: Pay-What-You-Will, HAMLET, COMEDY of ERRORS & More!

blackfriars Playhouse in Staunton VA

Blackfriars Playhouse in Staunton VA

Here is your bargain get away. The Blackfriars Theater in Staunton Virginia is opening the Spring season with a “Pay What You Will” event. From the 1st to the 4th you can see Hamlet, Comedy of Errors, and Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead and “Pay What You Will”. See the plays and if you got the cash, write them a FAT JUICY CHECK! Otherwise just go an enjoy and… “Pay What You Will”! Remember though, even a smallest donation can do nothing but help keep this wonderful place alive.


Spring season and “Pay What You Will Info: http://www.americanshakespearecenter.com/v.php?pg=398

“Performances Begin April 1

The Spring Season opens with a preview of Hamlet on April 1 at 7:30 p.m. at the Blackfriars Playhouse, followed by initial performances of all three spring productions through April 4. These performances are all pay-what-you-will, but for the best seats, we recommend that you reserve in advance. For details and showtimes, see the ASC’s online calendar. And for tickets and information, call the Blackfriars box office at 1-877-MUCH-ADO or 1-540-851-1733.”


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