Jul 14th – 30th: Empty Chair Theatre takes on Shakespeare’s Bloodiest Play – Including a performance at the Folgers in DC!

Titus is a tough, violent, and bloody play. After seeing it for the first time I had to hit the keyboard and put down my thoughts about who were Shakespeare’s most evil characters, with Aaron from Titus being right at the top  (link: Shakespeares evil). Now that I’ve seen it few times, I’m always interested in seeing how this tragedy of Titus will play out with each new company. And thus we have the Empty Chair Theatre, a group that performs Shakespeare’s works based out of our own little Alexandria Virgina. I had the pleasure of seeing them put on Twelfth Night last month (Review: Twelfth Night), and was dazzled by their fun, and unique take on the Bard.

So if you get a chance, this troupe can use all the support it can get, and as a special bonus, add July 16 to your calendar. That’s the day they’ll be performing Titus Andronicus at the Folger Shakespeare library stage. This will be a benefit performance to help raise money for the Empty Chair Theatre Company, to help them with their community and educational outreach programs…

When: Jul 14 – 30, 2011
Where: Theater on the Run Black Box – 3700 Four Mile Run, Arlington, VA 22206 (map)
Directed:  by Julia Sears

For more information Visit: http://www.emptychairtheatre.org/

LIVE from DC! The Audio Worlds a Stage, and The Lean & Hungry Theater are the Players

I just got this email from the Lean & Hungry Theater about their upcoming broadcast of “Romeo and Juliet”, and their LIVE broadcast of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”. And by live I mean you are invited to sit in the audience where the audio worlds a stage, and The Lean & Hungry Theater perform Shakespeare for the Radio.

As a side note I was lucky enough to catch one of the Managing Directors/Co-Founder of Lean&Hungry Alex Zavistovich’s, astounding, bloody and brutal version of Titus Andronicus on stage in DC. I have yet to the hear Lean & Hungry, but if his imagination can translate aurally for Midsummer (Info below), what he did visually (viscerally) for Titus, then “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” on June 26 should truly be auditory magic.
Please give them all the support you can and visit their website at:
http://www.leanandhungrytheater.com

Here are the details:
Sirius XM to Broadcast Lean & Hungry Theater’s “Romeo and Juliet,” 7 PM, Saturday, May 14
WAMU-88.5 to Air a Live Broadcast of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” on June 26

May 10, 2011, Washington, DC — Sirius XM Satellite Radio will broadcast Lean & Hungry Theater’s one-hour long production of “Romeo and Juliet” this Saturday, May 14 at SEVEN PM on their Book Radio channel (80). The broadcast comes just less than six weeks before Lean & Hungry’s live broadcast of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” on June 26.

“Romeo and Juliet” was originally broadcast this past Valentine’s Day evening on WAMU-88.5, as part of an ongoing relationship Lean & Hungry has established with the Washington, DC NPR affiliate.

The cast of “Romeo and Juliet” included JJ Area, Luke Cieslewicz, Chris Genebach, Heather Haney, James Majewski, Karen Novack, Natalie Pyle, Teresa Spencer, Jay Sullivan and Bob Sheire. The production was directed by Kevin Finkelstein, the co-director of Lean & Hungry’s “Macbeth,” which aired on WAMU-88.5 this past Halloween evening. Special effects and musical underscore for “Romeo and Juliet” were provided by Lean & Hungry Technical Director Gregg Martin. The production’s dramaturg was Hannah Todd. Lean & Hungry’s Artistic Director is Jessica Hansen.

Lean & Hungry Theater’s productions and recordings are endorsed by the Columbia Lighthouse for the Blind.

About Lean & Hungry Theater:

Conceived in 2006, Lean & Hungry Theater (Lean & Hungry) is a non-profit educational radio drama company. Drawing primarily on the works of William Shakespeare, Lean & Hungry provides adaptations of classic dramatic works to underserved areas, in established or improvised venues (both live and electronic), for the educational benefit and cultural enrichment of students, families, seniors and other interested groups in the Washington, DC metropolitan area and beyond.

Lean & Hungry is the only company in the Washington, DC metropolitan area dedicated to adapting works of Shakespeare and other classic playwrights for radio broadcast. Its performances are recorded before a live audience, complete with sound effects and original musical underscore. The recorded performances are made available as audio streams, audio CD and as radio broadcast productions. For more information, visit www.leanandhungrytheater.com

FREE May 21st: Orson Welles in The Chimes at Midnight on the (semi-)Big Screen!

Orson Welles at the Maryland Shakespeare miniplex

So’ it’s been decided that the First Shakespearean movie for the “First NeverAnnual Maryland Shakespeare Movie Night” is… Falstaff – The Chimes at Midnight! One that I own, but have chosen not to watch, until I could do so with others who might appreciate  this Bardic experience. I’m actually quite excited to see The Chimes at Midnight, a movie which is often considered Orson Welles finest, as Roger Ebert stated in his review:

” This is a magnificent film, clearly among Welles’ greatest work, joining “Citizen Kane,” “The Magnificent Ambersons,” “Touch of Evil” and (I would argue) “The Trial.” It is also magnificent Shakespeare, focusing on Falstaff through the two “Henry IV” plays to his offstage death in “Henry V.” Although the plays are much abridged, it is said there is not a word in the film not written by Shakespeare.”

Link: Review of Chimes at Midnight (1965)

Directed and staring Orson Wells as Falstaff, and Sir John Gielgud as Henry IV, this movie spans the scope of several Shakespearean histories, mostly focusing on Henry IV parts I and II, but also grabs parts from Richard II, Henry V and The Merry Wives Of Windsor.

The Chimes at Midnight  is considered a rage gem, and a lost classic due to the fact that it has not been in any kind of wide release relating to various copyright and legal issues. Which is why I, among so many others, have never seen, nor heard about this movie.. But thanks to the internet making the world all that much smaller, it is no longer impossible to find it anymore. All you have to do is bounce over to Amazon UK and grab a copy for example.

So if you’re interested in seeing Orson Welles as Falstaff in “The Chimes at Midnight, just follow the links to the  DC-area Shakespeare explorers  at Meetup.com for details.

Links:  DC-area Shakespeare explorers for more details

IMDB: The Chimes at Midnight

Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chimes_at_midnight

Remember, don’t take live Shakespeare in Washington DC, Virginia, and Maryland for Granted

May 21:The First NeverAnnual Maryland Shakespeare Movie Night (On a 10 foot Diagonal HD Screen)

The First Neverannual Maryland Shakespeare Movie Night

The First Neverannual Maryland Shakespeare Movie Night

The Month of May has been pretty much Lemons, considering the fact that there is not a single live Shakespearean play in the DC area, (Compared to the last couple of years). So’ What do you do when life throws you Lemons? You add some sugar, a 10foot Diagonal HD screen, some Shakespeare, water, friends and a DVD, and make Lemon-Aid. In other words:

The First Neverannual Maryland Shakespeare Movie Night.

Shakespeare Festivals and Companies are taking a beating in this economy, so I’m hoping to drum up some enthusiasm and have some fun in the process! This is still in the concept phase, no plays have been decided yet, and space is VERY limited. But if this sounds fun to you, We have just started a discussion at the DC-area Shakespeare explorers. Bounce other there and give us your thoughts!

link to: DC area Shakespeare explorers

Don’t take Shakespeare in the Maryland, Virginia, and Washington DC area for granted!

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.

Maryland Shakespeare Festivals “As You Like It”

Well’ just got back from another Bare Bard from the Maryland Shakespeare festival,  and once again they showed that professional theater is alive and well in Frederick, (As long as they are funded and supported by people like us I should say). The first time I saw them was in 2008 doing the “Merry Wives of Windsor”, and now here we are, thirteen plays later (Yes I’ve seen 13 fully acted, separate plays since 2008 performed by MSF, having  missed only a couple) and I just had the good fortune to see them perform “As You Like It”. What can I say that I haven’t said before? Their energy was boundless. The presentation was energetic and full of fun. And the actors were at the top of their game.

“As You Like It” is a funny play no matter how you slice it, but the way the actors pulled the audience in made it all that more enjoyable. For at this Bare Bard the audience was not allowed to be mere spectators, but were drawn in to be participants, either as cannon fodder on stage for a pun, or getting handed a script and a hat and asked to perform… I have seen some very formal, and should I use the word “Uptight” versions of the Bards comedies, and in no way could this version ever be considered “Uptight”. Especially after seeing a man in tights, that were’ Ummm, well… to tight… sing the venerated and sanctified words of our beloved Bard to the tunes of “I Will Survive”, and Ricky Martins “Living La Vida Loca”.

Most importantly the Maryland Shakespeare Festival reminds us that Shakespeare is meant to be fun. And if I have not said it before, I would like to thank each and every person involved in these productions, for all their hard work and dedication.

Please visit the Maryland Shakespeare Festival at http://MDShakes.com. Your support will help keep Shakespeare alive in our area!

DC-area Shakespeare explorers Meetup!

If you are looking to find other Shakespeare lovers in the DC area, then there’s a new Meetup group looking for you, called DC-area-Shakespeare-explorers.  Now I do not run in any type of academic circles of any type, and personally know no one interested in Shakespeare, so I am looking forward to checking this out.

 

To find out more about the DC-area-Shakespeare-explorers just follow this link:
http://www.meetup.com/DC-area-Shakespeare-explorers/

Click here for their upcoming events calendar:
http://www.meetup.com/DC-area-Shakespeare-explorers/events/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.

Local Author Tom Delise: The Ultimate Shakespeare Quiz Book

Always looking for a reason to plug some of the incredibly fantastic and amazing local talent we have here in our own back yard, I thought I would pass this on.

Last February I had the pleasure to see Baltimore Maryland’s The Shakespeare Factory perform what turned out to be my favorite version of The Comedy of Errors (The review can be found here). I also  had a chance to meet their artistic director and founder Tom Delise, whom I’d been chatting back and forth with by email for a while. Both of us sharing a passion for the Blackfriars in Staunton. Turns out Tom is also the author of the book  “That is the Question: The Ultimate Shakespeare Quiz Book”.

“That is the Question” is laid out as a series of Quiz’s covering 17 of Shakespeare’s most popular plays, instead of just random trivia questions, you can sit down with friends and test your own Shakespearean knowledge. Starting with “Section I. “Quoting Shakespeare”. Down to “Section IV: Film, Stage, and Literature”.

I love Shakespeare’s language so here’s one for me.
Quiz 82, Wild and Whirling Words, Shakespearean Vocabulary:

1) Clodpole
A. Bedroom   B. Quarreler  C. Dunce   D. Wrinkled apple.

3) Welkin:
A. Sky   B.Day   C. Officer   D. Noose

And on this next one, I thought a “Sith” was just some bad guy from the Star Wars films. But no’ according to Shakespeare:

25) Sith
A. Stitch   B. Since   C.Also   D.Alas
(Darth Vader – “Lord of the Stitch”  sounds like some tough guy tailor in a sewing circle conspiracy… That can’t be right.)

I think the synopsis from the Barnes and Nobles gives a good description:
“So you think you know Shakespeare? Are you a fan of Shakespearean film and stage productions? Are you a student or teacher of Shakespeare? Or would you just like to learn more about the man, the myth, and the literature? If you answered yes to any of these questions, you’ll welcome That Is the Question: The Ultimate Shakespeare Quiz Book, a fun and unique glimpse into the fascinating and timeless world of William Shakespeare.It contains more than 2,000 questions organized into six sections: * Play and poem quizzes-Identify the works through quotes, plot descriptions, etc. * The characters-Identify pertinent major and minor characters from all plays through quotes, descriptions, etc. * Specialized quizzes-From the expected to the surprising: medicine, mythology, and creatures to settings, songs, and “Star Trek”! * Film and stage-Hundreds of questions about actors and actresses, Academy Awards, even other writers associated with the Bard. * Individual plays-Separate “20-questions” quizzes for each of Shakespeare’s 17 best-known plays. * Just for fun-Shakespearean puzzles, word searches, anagrams, and more.”

“Who produced a book that is enjoyable for quiz freaks, useful for teachers, and a treat for fans? Tom Delise.” — Ralph Alan Cohen, Executive Director and Director of Education for Shenandoah Shakespeare, and Professor of English at Mary Baldwin College

For more information and where to buy, here are some links:

Barnes and Nobles

Amazon

For more information about: The Shakespeare Factory in Baltimore (Bard to the Bone) http://theshakespearefactory.com

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


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