This Weekend! 2 Hamlets, 2 Midsummers, an “Alls Well” and an R&J!!!!

Sorry for not posting much this week but, wow! This week has been WAY to busy. I had planned to see Hamlet at the Folgers this week, and missed that one, and almost was in a position to miss the Maryland Shakespeare Festivals Midsummer night’s Dream. But the theater God’s have prevailed, the stars have aligned, and MSF’s Midsummer is on my agenda for tonight (Saturday 8pm).

But this weekend is rocking for our area with 2 Hamlets, 2 Midsummer’s, an “Alls Well” and an R&J!!!! That’s a choice of 6 different plays. The Maryland Shakespeare  Festival is my pick for he weekend, but you can’t go wrong with any of them.

This next week will be nuts with long nights and long hours at work (till Thursday)  but I’ll try and keep to my regular posting schedule.

But in the mean time, I’m going to be in Frederick for Midsummer Night’s Dream (Favorite play performed by my favorite company). So If ya see me come and say HI.

Here’s the link for: The Maryland Shakespeare Festivals “Midsummer Night’s Dream

Check out the calendar for event details.

FREE: Shakespeare’s Birthday Lecture 2010: Jonathan Bate at the Folgers April 26th – “The Good Life in Shakespeare”

Jonathan Bate

Shakespeare’s Birthday Lecture in Washington DC
Jonathan Bate on “The Good Life in Shakespeare”.
Professor Bate will discuss the Epicurean tradition through As You Like It, The Winter’s Tale, and Measure for Measure.

Everyone knows I love the word FREE! Well here is a free lecture by the author of several books on Shakespeare who also does features for BBC’s Radio 4. I really wish I could make this, but I have to travel on business that week and will be out of town. But will definitely make it if plans change.

From the Folgers web site: “Jonathan Bate, professor of English at Warwick, will speak on “The Good Life in Shakespeare” and about the Epicurean tradition, with an emphasis on the plays As You Like It, The WInter’s Tale, and Measure for Measure. He is the author of The Genius of Shakespeare and a Governor and Board member of the Royal Shakespeare Company.”

http://www.folger.edu/template.cfm?cid=2329

Monday, Apr 26 at 8pm

Tickets: Free

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.

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.

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

PUB NIGHT: Tomorrow (03/10) Hosted by The Chesapeake Shakespeare Company

Eduard von Grützner’s Portrait of Falstaff

The Chesapeake Shakespeare Company will be hosting a “Pub Night” in Columbia Maryland.  Which according to their web site:

“Pub Nights are informal discussion groups where we sit around a local establishment and discuss some aspect of Shakespeare or classical theatre. Led by CSC members and attended by both company members and members of the general public”

The theme is “Shakespeare in Love”. I know Shakespeare is considered one of  the greatest romantic writers of all times, but “Shakespeare in Love”, makes me think of his comedies such as Much Ado about Nothing, or the Taming of the Shrew, which are amazingly hilarious takes on the lighter side of love. Here’s how I had discribed one of my favorite comedies, Twelfth Night:

” Everyone’s in love with someone, but that someone’s in love with someone else. And if you happen to be a woman dressed as a man, that get’s really confusing.”

Of course there’s the famously romantic side of Shakespeare found in the Sonnets, and plays like  Romeo and Juliet where our lovers meet, dance, and fall in love, prompting me to write:

” 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 have yet to go to a Pub Night as hosted by The Chesapeake Shakespeare company, so I’m definitely looking forward to checking it out tomorrow.

Here’s the link with more information: http://chesapeakeshakespeare.com/pubnights.html

SHAKESPEARE IN LOVE
Hosted by CSC Associate Director Jenny Leopold
March 10, 2010 7:30 PM
Bertucci’s in Columbia, MD

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