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

Shakespeare this Weekend: 6 seperate plays including a MSF Bare Bard with a talkback

Yep it’s only Thursday, but I’m getting tuned up for my weekend trip to Staunton Virgina to see Henry VI at the Blackfriars Playhouse. This is going to be a tough weekend to leave since there’s couple of events here in Maryland I really wanted to go to. But having purchased my tickets, and made hotel reservations a month ago, I’m outta here.

First we start with my Hot Pick for the week

Love’s Labor’s Lost: Maryland Shakespeare Festival’s Bare Bard (MD) – This is the one that I’m regretting not seeing, but strongly encourage you to check it out. This play will only run for two days, this Saturday, and Sunday, then that’s it… Done! After the Sunday Performance there will, as per usual be a talk-back, where the Actors and Director, discuss the play and take questions from the audience.

Mondo (Titus) Andronicu: Molotov Theatre Group – (DC): This is not for children. But if you have a strong stomach, and can’t help but peek as you drive by a car accident, then this might be for you. To get an idea of what your in for, imagine if the family from the Texas Chainsaw Massacre decided to perform Shakespeare’s most brutal tragedy at the local playhouse, but with professional actors. Now you have a clue. (Warning: If they lock the door behind you when you enter the abattoir,  I mean the theater, don’t be surprised). You can find my review Mondo Andronicus here.

Henry VI, Part 2 – Blackfriars Playhouse Staunton, VA: This is where I’ll be going this weekend. The “American Shakespeare Center” is doing all of the Shakespeare Histories, so I want to make sure to catch them all. Not to mention the fact that Staunton is one of my favorite places to go when I need to recharge my batteries.

Twelfth Night – Blackfriars Playhouse Staunton, VA: I saw the American Shakespeare Center perform this comedy a few seasons ago with an amazing amount of  energy and playfulness. I can say from experience that this is another good bet for the weekend. Especially if you want to take someone out to see their first Shakespeare play.

Henry V: Shakespeare Theater Company (DC) : I saw this version back in February, and can highly recommend it. This was my first time at the Sydney Harman Hall, and here is want I had to say about it.

Richard II: Shakespeare Theater Company (DC): This is one of my favorite plays to read, but considered one of the harder plays to perform. The reviews are outstanding for this version, and should not be passed up.

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

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!”

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