April 24th and 25th: A Midsummer Night’s Dream – A Maryland Shakespeare Festival “Bare Bard”!

The Maryland Shakespeare Festival is celebrating their last “Bare Bard” of the season with Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream. I’m overjoyed they’ve chosen to do Midsummer, but saddened by the fact that the another season has come to an end. I’ve been following the MSF’s for two years now and have seen them do ten plays, eight of them as Bare Bard’s. I really should thank them for fostering much of my love of Shakespeare. For Showing me that Shakespeare is not just some stiff old white guy bleating some uncomprehendable, un-understandable, and totally nonsensical dialogue.  Instead they helped to show me that in reality Shakespeare can be fast, loose and funny at times. And weighty, dark, and deep at other times.

Yes I have seen Shakespeare performed by various other companies, and enjoy seeing the different takes, views, and ideas that they all bring to the same material. But the Maryland Shakespeare Festival has always seemed more like a down to earth, community based Shakespeare Company. Not to mention, the actors in the Bare Bards come from around the country to perform with the MSF on a voluntary, and unpaid basis. Simply for the learning experience, training, and the chance to do something they obviously love. They are always friendly and chose to hang around after Sundays show for an open discussion, and to answer any audience questions.

I really didn’t intend to write all this, but when I saw this was going to be the last Bare Bard of the season, it kinda took me back those last two years and all great plays I’ve seen. And in reality if I didn’t write about it here, then who would I tell? Considering all my friend’s are watching American Idol, and Dancing with the Stars (Yech), while I’m re-reading A Midsummer Night’s dream in anticipation of the next Bare Bard.

Link: Maryland Shakespeare Festivals – A Midsummer Night’s Dream

April 24th at 8 p.m. and Sunday, April 25th at 2 p.m. Sunday’s performance will be followed by a celebratory cake-cutting ceremony with Shelly Aloi, representing the mayor of Frederick, and a post-show discussion.

FREE April 12-18: WILLPOWER 2010 – At The Montgomery College Rockville Campus

WillPower 2010

Well’ I almost missed this one, many Kudos go out to the WebMistress of the blog “Or What You Will” for passing this along! I can’t believe in all my web wanderings I didn’t catch this one.

WillPower 2010 at the Montgomery College Rockville Campus, a week long event of free lectures and classes focusing on Shakespeare Study’s. There are workshops  like “‘The Structure of Shakespeare’s Verse.” (Ms. Becky Kemper, Maryland Shakespeare Festival), and “‘Body Language: Translating Shakespeare’s Language into Movement.” (Ms. Katherine Long, Former Company Member of Synetic Theatre).

There will also be several performances of A Midsummers Night’s Dream performed by MC Students. The performance is $10, $8 for students. All other events are FREE.

I went to several of the events last year and found them very informative, and quite fun. So’ for the low, low price of FREE, if your looking for something to do next week, I would suggest popping down to Rockville for WillPower  2010.

April 12th to the 18th

Link: http://www.montgomerycollege.edu/willpower/ – Ignore the fact the page says 2009. The PDF Flyer and other doc’s say 2010

link: http://www.montgomerycollege.edu/willpower/WILLPOWER%202010.pdf

Shows Ending in DC: STC’s Acclaimed Henry V and Richard II

Michael Hayden as Henry V

This is the Final weekend to catch what has become a highly acclaimed set of Shakespearean plays this season,  Henry V and Richard II. There has been an almost uncountable number of write ups about these productions, most of the attention being placed on Michael Hayden, who plays the lead rolls in both these plays. I’ve seen Henry V a few time now and this was definitely one of the best.

Link: Shakespeare Theatre Company of Washington DC

Here’s a link to a recent Washington Post article about the plays and Michael Hayed

Link to my first visit to the Sydney Harman Hall to see Henry V

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.

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

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