Monthly Archives: March 2013



(Chris Jones’s article appeared in the Chicago Tribune, 3/22.)

Even for fans for such prior endeavors as "The Bomb-itty of Errors" and "Funk it Up About Nothin'," a hip-hop version of "Othello" sounded like a stretch for the Q Brothers, that bizarre pair of theatrically inclined Caucasian rappers, born and raised in Chicago.

It's one thing to rap your way through a comedy, entirely another to take on William Shakespeare's most personal tragedy. Remixed or not, "Othello" is a tricky beast of a play revolving around sexual betrayal — with a heavy undercurrent of racial complexity. The whole notion sounded absurd. What was this going to be? "Yo, Desdemona, I'm gonna kill ya?"

Would there be a DJ spinning through suffocation? Was Desdie going to rap as her light was put out?,0,3450063.column 


Thanks so much for visiting Stage Voices for the latest in Theatre news and writing. Currently, we are privileged to be offering a free chapter from playwright JoAnne Brasil’s first novel–in a series of four–called Big Mamma’s #1 with Coleslaw, To Go.

The revised and expanded edition is set in Phoebus, a small military town in southeastern Virginia and told by the narrator and protagonist Cecelia O’Malley.  As the inside cover of the original novel puts it, “Raised by the Irish immigrant owners of Billy’s Bar-B-Que . . . Cecyl escapes after high school graduation and moves to Boston where she supports herself by working as a janitor. Ill-prepared for the larger world of late 1960’s America . . . Cecyl is usually caught off-guard, but she always rebounds with a tenacity and love that draw us to her spirit.”

Originally titled Escape from Billy’s Bar-b-que–the book went into a second printing–Alice Walker (author of the Pulitzer winner, The Color Purple)–who published the work through her Wild Trees Press in 1985—has written “To those who have wanted to dismantle racial pigeonholes and leap over social barriers in a single bound, this book will offer special insight and encouragement.” 

Additional praise includes:

“This is a novel written the way people talk. That leads us into the way people feel, and we are rewarded with one woman’s story and a valuable reminder that hearts and times do change—and for the better.”–Gloria Steinem 

“This fragile novel packs a surprising wallop you’ll feel for a long time afterward.”–Patricia Holt, the San Francisco Chronicle

“Brasil has written a brilliant story about the way people talk, the way they feel and, as Cecyl puts it, the way they should ‘treat each other normal’.”–Publishers Weekly

 “Cecyl is funny and sad, brave and devastatingly honest. JoAnne Brasil is uncompromising and true. So is her brave heroine.”–Dorothy Bryant (self-published Berkeley literary icon)

“Off-beat Characters on the Mark. . . . Brasil’s story is both hopeful and convincing, and given the size of the social walls Cecyl runs into this is no small accomplishment . . . perceptive and well-written. . . . Daily Californian (UC Berkeley paper)

JoAnne Brasil is a writer living in Salem, MA. She’s worked as a news reporter for the Brattleboro Reformer in Brattleboro, VT, was a letter-writer for Smithsonian, wrote an astrology column for Poets & Writers magazine, and was the host of a Sunday morning radio program for WBUR Public Radio in Boston. She has written numerous plays, scripts and short stories, and is now in the process of completing the third in the Escape from Billy’s Bar-B-Que novels.

Copyright 2013, JoAnne Brasil. All rights reserved. Used by permission.

For rights inquiries contact:

Visit JoAnne Brasil’s Web site:

JoAnne Brasil at Hildegard's Wander Theater:

Photos: Top of page, German production of The Wander Theater:  JoAnne Brasil (r) and actor Andrea Rump (l) at the Project Theater (it was part of the Dresden Yiddish Theater and Music Week). Above, American production: JoAnne Brasil (r) and Georgette Beck (l) in front of the Griffen Theater in Salem, MA. Photos courtesy of JoAnne Brasil.

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 (Dalya Alberge’s article appeared in the Guardian, 3/30.)

A group of 22 of the world's leading Shakespeare scholars have come together to produce a book that details what they consider to be definitive evidence that the Bard really did write his own plays.

Since the 1850s, 77 people have been suggested as the likely author, with Francis Bacon, Edward de Vere – the 17th Earl of Oxford – and Christopher Marlowe the most popular candidates, and Queen Elizabeth I among the most outlandish. The academics feel the anti-Shakespeare campaign has intensified lately, and that the elevation of Shakespeare authorship studies to master's degree status has been the final straw.

Three eminent experts on Bacon, Oxford and Marlowe are among the Shakespeareans who demonstrate in a series of essays precisely why only Shakespeare could have written his plays and poems, apart from his collaborations. Cambridge University Press will publish Shakespeare Beyond Doubt: Evidence, Argument, Controversy on 18 April, days before the Shakespeare birthday celebrations in Stratford-upon-Avon on 20-21 April. The publication – which they say will be scholarly, but accessible for general readers – is co-edited by Paul Edmondson and Stanley Wells, noted scholars from the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, the academic charity.



(Released 3/28/2013 from Newswise.)

Researchers at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center’s Nisonger Center are trying to determine if teaching strategies based on Shakespeare texts can help children with autism become better communicators.

Children with autism often struggle to communicate. Many avoid eye contact, don’t understand the context of conversation and may miss visual cues from others around them.

But by allowing children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) to study with Ohio State University student actors who are engaging students in Shakespeare-based activities, the hope is that they will improve their socializing and communicating skills, said Dr. Marc J. Tassé, director of the Nisonger Center and principal investigator on the waitlist control trial studying the unique intervention.

“In this intervention with middle school children with autism, we’re using Shakespeare’s play, The Tempest,” said Tassé, who is also a clinical psychologist. “It’s quite amazing to see how a Shakespeare play can be transformed into a therapeutic intervention that encourages students to express themselves and communicate.”



(From the Guardian, 3/26. Olivier Award winners will be announced 4/28.)

Best actor

Rupert Everett – The Judas Kiss
James McAvoy – Macbeth
Mark Rylance – Twelfth Night
Rafe Spall – Constellations
Luke Treadaway – The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

Best actress

Helen Mirren – The Audience
Hattie Morahan – A Doll's House
Billie Piper – The Effect
Kristin Scott Thomas – Old Times

Best actor in a supporting role

Paul Chahidi – Twelfth Night
Richard McCabe – The Audience
Adrian Scarborough – Hedda Gabler
Kyle Soller – Long Day's Journey Into Night

Best actress in a supporting role

Janie Dee – NSFW
Anastasia Hille – The Effect
Cush Jumbo – Julius Caesar (Donmar Warehouse)
Helen McCrory – The Last of the Haussmans
Nicola Walker – The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

Mastercard best new play

The Audience
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
This House



(Rachel Quigley’s article appeared in the Mail Online, 3/26; via Drudge Report.)

A billionaire hedge fund manager bought Picasso's Le Rêve for $155million – t$16million more than he first agreed to pay right before its previous owner tore a hole in it with his elbow.

Steven A. Cohen, whose SAC Capital just settled two insider-trading lawsuits with the government for $616 million, bought himself the belated gift after first agreeing to but it for $139milllion in 2006 from Vegas mogul Steve Wynn.

The price is estimated to be the highest ever paid for an artwork by a U.S. collector–16m-MORE-price-agreed-previous-owner-tore-hole-elbow.html?ito=feeds-newsxml



(Nina Metz's article appeared in the Chicago Tribune, 3/14.)

Size isn't everything, and if you can get your mind out of the gutter for a moment we can talk about why tiny budgets are not necessarily a drawback in the theater. Indeed, in the case of Brandon Ogborn's "TomKat Project," I would argue it is precisely a lack of money that makes the show so good. Throw too many bells and whistles at this thing and it would lose all of its zingy, small-scale, stripped-down charm.

Just how far can a clever director go working with little more than a trenchant script and a nimble ensemble? Look no further than the Playground Theater, where Elly Green has put together a clean, sharp work that reveals a deeply entertaining heart beating somewhere beyond its tawdry, gossipy origins. In the realm of fringe theater, this show is a near-perfect achievement.

Seriously funny but never a joke, Ogborn's script digs into the business of celebrity myth-making with an almost academic zeal. Why the collective fascination with the loony courtship and marriage of Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes, and their even loonier divorce? Ogborn may not have answers, but that doesn't make his questions any less interesting. It is as if Susan Sontag were suddenly returned from the grave, only to find herself stuck with nothing to read but back issues of Us Weekly.,0,3392866.story



Openings and Previews

Event: The Assembled Parties

Venue: Samuel J. Friedman Theatre

Lynne Meadow directs this play by Richard Greenberg (“Take Me Out”), for . . .

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Event: The Big Knife

Venue: American Airlines Theatre

Roundabout Theatre Company presents Clifford Odets’s 1949 play, set during the golden . .

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Event: Buyer & Cellar

Venue: Rattlestick Playwrights Theater

Stephen Brackett directs this comedy by Jonathan Tolins, about a young man . . .

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Event: The Call

Venue: Playwrights Horizons

Playwrights Horizons, in a co-production with Primary Stages, presents the world première .
. .

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Event: Good with People

Venue: 59E59 Theatres

“Brits Off Broadway” begins with David Harrower’s play, about a Scottish man . . .

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(Margaret Eby's article appeared in the Daily News, 3/23.) 

Tilda Swinton has snoozing down to an art.

The "Moonrise Kingdom" actress, 52, took up residence in a glass box at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City on Saturday as part of an unannounced performance piece.

Clad in jeans and a blue button-down shirt, the Academy Award winner slept on an unadorned white pallet in a transparent display case. 




(John-Paul Ford Rojas’s interview appeared in the Telegraph, 3/19. Via Drudge Report.)

The 78-year-old actress admitted that it had become “more difficult to remember”.

It emerged last year that she was suffering from a progressive loss of eyesight that meant she now relied on friends to read scripts to her.

Dame Judi’s latest role is in the West End play Peter and Alice, opening next week, which re-imagines a real-life meeting between the two people who inspired the fictional characters Peter Pan and Alice in Wonderland.

She stars opposite Ben Whishaw, who appeared with her in the latest James Bond film Skyfall.