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.

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

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

Mondo Andronicus: “All the Depravity and Violence, and None of the ‘Blah Blah Blah’ ”(As they say on their web site)

Update 03/09/10: Review from opening night

Mondo Andronicus presented by the  Molotov Theatre

Titus Andronicus is famous for being  a fairly brutal play. Of course there’s the many different ways  that Titus Andronicus has been portrayed over the years. There’s the artsy versions of this play with pretty red ribbons, symbolizing the blood that represents the woe and angst of poor, poor Lavinia. But I get the impression that “Mondo Andronicus” is not that type of play… At all… In the least bit! “Mondo Andronicus” sounds like it’ll be a gore hounds dream!

Now’ I’ve read this play, seen this play live, and watched it on DVD, and I can tell you this play was written by a young playwright out to make a name for himself. If Shakespeare wrote for Hollywood today, Titus Andronicus would be his Texas Chainsaw Massacre, except Shakespeare’s play is actually more brutal. Titus Andronicus a is sordid tale of rape, gore and unrepentant violence! To the point where several famous critics could not believe Shakespeare could have written such a play as this.

Now I personally have always enjoyed reading and watching horror movies, so none of this offends me. And I’ll be there to see how they’ll pull it off when it opens. So add this to your calendar of ye be brave, but consider yourself warned, this will not be a country stroll through fair Verona.

Mondo Anronicus:  “All the Depravity and Violence, and None of the ‘Blah Blah Blah'”
Presented by The Molotov Theatre Group.

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

You can read more about Titus Andronicus and the evils of  Aaron the Moor here on MarylandShakespeare.com

You can find the opening night review here: Review from opening night

Sidney Harman Hall and the House Managers Extraordinaire

Carol and Kelsey - House Managers

Carol and Kelsey - House Managers

My wife and I finally got to the Sidney Harman Hall  for the first time to watch The Shakespeare Theatre Company perform Henry V.  So’  Sometime within the next couple of days I’ll have a wonderfully deep and insightful review of my impressions of the Sidney Harmon Hall, and how much we enjoyed seeing the play.

But for now I just want to give a shout out to Carol and Kelsy, the House Managers extraordinaire at the Sidney Harman Hall. Who not only convinced me that I really (REALLY!)  needed the Shakespeare bust  they were holding in this picture. They also explained that in doing so I’d also be helping a worthy cause, since part of the proceeds go to keeping Shakespeare alive in the Washington DC Area. So how could I resist, I now have a second Shakespeare bust in my living room.

You can catch our write up about the  Sidney Harman Hall by clicking  Here .

My backyard in Silver Spring Maryland this morning

In winter with warm tears I’ll melt the snow
And keep eternal spring-time on thy face.

Titus Andonicus

3 Shakespeare related goals this week

Okay I had 3 Shakespeare related goals this week:

One, was to watch Romeo and Juliet on DVD after finally seeing it live, but NOOooo. I lost electricity for 48 hours over the weekend and didn’t get the chance yet (Not to mention the temperature dropped to 41 degrees before the heat came back on).

Two,  I was  hoping to catch the Chesapeake Shakespeare Pub Night, but now it Looks like we are getting another foot of snow tomorrow, and they JUST plowed my roads 3 days AFTER the last snow storm.

And finally, number three. This weekend I am looking forward to maybe seeing “The Comedy of Errors”  by the The Shakespeare Factory. But  Considering all the days this week I spent ice bound inside my house, I have a lot of things on my list to get done this weekend, and getting to a play may not be one of them.

Which of course reminds me of what a very wise man once told me, “You can plan a camping trip, but cha’ can’t plan the weather”.

Capulet’s Tragedy from Romeo and Juliet (After finally seeing and reading the play)

Earth-treading stars that make dark heaven light” – Capulet

I haven’t seen the movie since High School, and never read the play, so I was glad to hear that the Maryland Shakespeare Festival were putting on Romeo and Juliet… I knew the basic plot as most people do (There’s a family feud. A boy and girl fall in love. Boy and girl die. The end.), but other than what we “Think” we know from the 1 minute synopses, I was completely engaged in the subplots and motivations… What surprised me most about this play was my reactions to Juliet’s father who in the play is simply known as “Capulet”. From what I thought I knew about this play, I expected total hatred and venom between the family’s, but in reality that is not completely true.

PROLOGUE
From ancient grudge break to new mutiny,
Where civil blood makes civil hands unclean.

Though there may be an old grudge between the Capulet’s and the Montague’s, after the opening scenes and the Princes speech, Capulet seems to have completely buried the hatchet and put away his animosity.

TYBALT
Tis he, that villain Romeo.

CAPULET
Content thee, gentle coz, let him alone;
He bears him like a portly gentleman;
And, to say truth, Verona brags of him
To be a virtuous and well-govern’d youth:
I would not for the wealth of all the town
Here in my house do him disparagement:
Therefore be patient, take no note of him:
It is my will, the which if thou respect,
Show a fair presence and put off these frowns,
And ill-beseeming semblance for a feast.

After seeing, and then reading the play, I find these words make this play all the more tragic. Juliet’s father not only has zero animosity towards Romeo, but shows him due respect. Which is more they can be said for how he treats his own house hold, berating his wife, nurse, and anyone else who contradicts him. But I can’t help but think, that it wouldn’t take much persuasion to convince Capulet to allow Juliet to marry Romeo. I’m sure the Prince would push the union, even if only to heal the family’s feud and bring peace to the town.

And thus’  even is the tragedy all the more.

In my opinion this  was a fantastic play to read. If you’d like a good example of what this play has to offer,  read the poetic interchange between Romeo and Juliet at the ball.  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 also have to say of the 20 or so plays I have read, this and Richard II are the two I enjoyed reading the most.  But that’s  because I had such low expectations for both going in  (Hamlet and Macbeth being the high water mark). Now that I have seen this play live, and then read it.  I’m now looking forward to watching Franco Zeffirelli’s 1968 version of Romeo and Juliet on DVD this weekend. Once I do that, I’ll let you know what I think.

CAPULET
Death is my son-in-law, Death is my heir;
My daughter he hath wedded: I will die,
And leave him all; life, living, all is Death’s.

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