Category Archives: Shakespeare

DRUIDSHAKESPEARE: ‘RICHARD III’ (REVIEW FROM NEW YORK) ·

By Bob Shuman

Aaron Monaghan, as Richard III, in Ireland’s Druid Theatre U.S. production premiere of Shakespeare’s history–it plays until November 23 as part of Lincoln Center’s White Light Festival, at John Jay College’s Gerald W. Lynch Theater–appears like Mikhail Baryshnikov’s crippled twin, obsessively jerking forward, planning, always thinking.  Probably a delight to the Tony-winning director Garry Hynes–who apparently loves the low, comic staging of old Warner Brothers and Saturday morning cartoons, he can’t stand still, amid posing royals, played by working people—here, Richard’s deformity is pronounced in his lower half, instead of in a humpback and claw hand.  As the king, Monaghan is witty, sarcastic, and sadistic—as out of touch and privileged, as a Prince Andrew, who can’t sweat.  Shakespeare calls Richard a “hellhound,” but rarely do most audiences feel the banality of mundane murder, which can be overridden, in other productions, by pageantry and towering sets; a star turn.  Hynes is interested in the earthbound: smoke and weather (actually, she has brought her Richard III to New York, during our dull and rainy fall, which coincides with mention of All Souls’ Day in the text).  She rejects the pomp, like she is knocking over Civil War monuments, although, akin to another Irish director, Maria Aitkens, she and her set and costume designer, Francis O’Connor, fall for hats, thankfully foregoing the one that American men, at least, actually do over-wear:  the baseball cap.  There is plenty else on display, though: derbies, Beckett’s bowlers (especially relevant to Hynes, given her 2018 staging of Waiting for Godot), antique military wear, puff hats, hoods, veils, and mitres. Richard is one of her rare characters who does not wear headgear—his crown is so temporary. 

In costume, whether by convention or necessity, Hynes and O’Connor want to accentuate gender, as well as class.  Men wear half-kilts and robes—Clarence plays in white, but much of the design is in black leather–and women play men, or, at least, boys: those young princes taken to the tower.  Hynes’s theatrical revolt is larger than not wanting the audience to identify with a story or character, however—she is taking on, and extending philosophies, from Beckett and the Bard, as well as Brecht.  Her audiences are aware that they are alienated, as in Epic theatre, but she also wants viewers to understand that the situation is not limited, constrained, or contained. There are cycles of life surrounding the dead wood and industrial rust of her boards and proscenium, an issue men in the house may not think or even care about (Camille Paglia has brought this issue up, regarding Beckett)Hynes’s Godot insists on asserting life beyond confines—and Richard III emphasizes, of course, death.  The metaphor for her setting is too inspired and original to spoil for anyone who will see this work, especially for those who do not automatically identify it—when the pieces come together, the revelation is at once apparent and incisive. Viewers, however, may want to investigate Conor Linehan’s Celtic-tinged minimalist music.  

On the one hand, Hynes gives futurist punk costuming and Shakespearean oration, scraped clean, and on the other, she intersperses scenes with expressionist images and horror movie chills—such as a corpse being pulled on the train of Lady Anne’s gown.  There is an indebtedness to Strindberg, as well, who also knew of a pagan, agrarian cosmos, as Hynes allows her queens to crawl, like pigs, in the dirt.

© 2019 by Bob Shuman.  All rights reserved.

Directed by Garry Hynes

Produced by Druid

Starring Aaron Monaghan as Richard III

Francis O’Connor, set and costume design

James F. Ingalls, lighting design

Gregory Clarke, sound design

Conor Linehan, music             

David Bolger, movement and fight choreography

Doreen McKenna, co-costume design

 

With Marie Mullen, Jane Brennan, Ingrid Craigie, Garrett Lombard, Rory Nolan, Marty Rea, Bosco Hogan, Peter Daly, John Olohan, Siobhan Cullen, Frank Blake, Emma Dargan-Reid

Performance length: Three hours, including intermission

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Photos:  (from top)  Robbie Jack, Richard Termine

Press:  Michelle Tabnick

 

LET’S GO–DRUIDSHAKESPEARE: RICHARD III, DIRECTED BY GARRY HYNES (ONLY UNTIL 11/23) ·

The darker side of human nature is on display in DruidShakespeare: Richard III, a chilling story of power and ambition in a wickedly comic production from Ireland’s Druid theater company and director Garry Hynes, opening on November 9. The production stars Aaron Monaghan, who appeared as Estragon in Druid’s acclaimed Waiting for Godot in the 2018 White Light Festival.

In Richard III, Shakespeare depicts one of the world’s greatest villains in a chilling and darkly comic story of power and ambition. Richard, Duke of Gloucester, portrayed by Aaron Monaghan, sets about bending the world to his own desires, vanquishing his better angels in pursuit of the crown. The Bard’s ruthless monarch resonates through the ages in this award-winning production from Ireland’s Druid theater company and Tony Award-winning director Garry Hynes. A continuation of the company’s exploration of Shakespeare’s kings, the production reunites the creative team and members of the Druid ensemble behind the celebrated DruidShakespeare: Richard II, Henry IV (Pts. 1 & 2) and Henry V, which played Lincoln Center in 2015. Druid’s acclaimed run of Waiting for Godot, also directed by Hynes and starring Monaghan as Estragon, was featured in the 2018 White Light Festival.

White Light Festival: As in prior years, the 2019 White Light Festival will offer opportunities for audiences to delve further into the themes of the festival with pre- and post-performance artist talks, as well as a special panel discussion moderated by John Schaefer. White Light Lounges follow many performances: these receptions are exclusive to White Light Festival ticketholders and provide opportunities to mingle with artists and fellow audience members while enjoying a complimentary glass of wine or sparkling water.

Tickets for the 2019 White Light Festival/Richard III are available online at WhiteLightFestival.org, by calling CenterCharge at 212.721.6500, or at the David Geffen or Alice Tully Hall Box Office (Broadway and 65th Street).

The White Light Festival is one of many programs offered by Lincoln Center that annually activates the campus’s indoor and outdoor spaces across a wide range of the performing arts. Additional presentations include the Mostly Mozart Festival, Great Performers, American Songbook, Midsummer Night Swing, Lincoln Center Out of Doors, ongoing free performances at the David Rubenstein Atrium, and Live From Lincoln Center broadcasts that reach beyond the iconic campus. Lincoln Center also presents a myriad of education programs and presentations for families throughout the year.

DruidShakespeare:Richard III (U.S. production premiere)

Thursday, November 7, 2019 at 7:00 pm (preview performance)

Friday, November 8, 2019 at 7:00 pm (preview performance)

Saturday, November 9, 2019 at 7:00 pm

Sunday, November 10, 2019 at 3:00 pm

Tuesday, November 12, 2019 at 7:00 pm

Wednesday, November 13, 2019 at 7:00 pm

Thursday, November 14, 2019 at 7:00 pm

Friday, November 15, 2019 at 7:00 pm

Saturday, November 16, 2019 at 2:00 and 7:00 pm

Sunday, November 17, 2019 at 3:00 pm

Tuesday, November 19, 2019 at 7:00 pm

Wednesday, November 20, 2019 at 7:00 pm

Thursday, November 21, 2019 at 7:00 pm

Friday, November 22, 2019 at 7:00 pm

Saturday, November 23, 2019 at 2:00 pm

Gerald W. Lynch Theater at John Jay College

 

Directed by Garry Hynes

Produced by Druid

Starring Aaron Monaghan as Richard III

Francis O’Connor, set and costume design

James F. Ingalls, lighting design

Gregory Clarke, sound design

Conor Linehan, music             

David Bolger, movement and fight choreography

Doreen McKenna, co-costume design

Performance length: Three hours, including intermission

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Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts (LCPA) serves three primary roles: presenter of artistic programming, national leader in arts and education and community engagement, and manager of the Lincoln Center campus. A presenter of thousands of free and ticketed events, performances, tours, and educational activities annually, LCPA offers a variety of festivals and programs, including American Songbook, Avery Fisher Career Grants and Artist Program, David Rubenstein Atrium programming, Great Performers, Lincoln Center Emerging Artist Awards, Lincoln Center Out of Doors, Lincoln Center Vera List Art Project, LC Kids, Midsummer Night Swing, Mostly Mozart Festival, White Light Festival, the Emmy Award-winningLive From Lincoln Center, which airs nationally on PBS, and Lincoln Center Education, which is celebrating more than four decades enriching the lives of students, educators, and lifelong learners. As manager of the Lincoln Center campus, LCPA provides support and services for the Lincoln Center complex and the 11 resident organizations: The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, Film at Lincoln Center, Jazz at Lincoln Center, The Juilliard School, Lincoln Center Theater, The Metropolitan Opera, New York City Ballet, New York Philharmonic, The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts, School of American Ballet, and Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts. 

Lincoln Center is committed to providing and improving accessibility for people with disabilities. For information, contact Accessibility at Lincoln Center at access@lincolncenter.org or 212.875.5375. 

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The White Light Festival 2019 is made possible by The Shubert Foundation, The Katzenberger Foundation, Inc., Mitsui & Co. (U.S.A.), Inc., Mitsubishi Corporation (Americas), Laura Pels International Foundation for Theater, The Joelson Foundation, Sumitomo Corporation of Americas, The Harkness Foundation for Dance, J.C.C. Fund, Japanese Chamber of Commerce and Industry of New York, Great Performers Circle, Chairman’s Council and Friends of Lincoln Center.

Endowment support is provided by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and the Blavatnik Family Foundation Fund for Dance.

Public support is made possible by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature

NewYork-Presbyterian is the Official Hospital of Lincoln Center

Photo: RICHARD III/Druid–Siobhán Cullen-Aaron Monaghan, credit: Robbie Jack

Press:  Michelle Tabnick

PLAY FOR TODAY: REWRITING ‘PERICLES’ ·

(Adam Smyth’s article appeared in The London Times, 10/24.)

Ben Jonson’s comedy The New Inn (1629) was, by all accounts, a theatrical disaster: ‘negligently played’ at the Blackfriars Theatre, according to its title page, ‘and more squeamishly beheld’. The actors were hissed off stage, but Jonson, possessed of what the Renaissance scholar Joseph Loewenstein has called a ‘bibliographic ego’, was not a man to walk away. The printed text of 1631 includes sustained criticism of the audience (Jonson prefers ‘fastidious impertinents’) and a verse with the title ‘The just indignation the author took at the vulgar censure of his play by some malicious spectators begat this following Ode to Himself.’ Here he takes aim at a variety of theatrical taste favouring plays that resemble, in Jonson’s judgment, undesirable organic matter (mould, leftover food, discarded fish).

 

No doubt some mouldy tale,
Like Pericles, and stale
As the shrieve’s crusts, and nasty as his fish –
Scraps out of every dish
Thrown forth, and raked into the common tub,
May keep up the Play-club:
There, sweepings do as well
As the best-ordered meal.

 

By the time Jonson wrote these lines, Shakespeare’s Pericles, Prince of Tyre – or, as almost everyone now agrees, Pericles, Prince of Tyre, co-written by Shakespeare and the nastiest man in Jacobean theatre, George Wilkins (a pimp charged in 1611 with kicking a pregnant woman in the stomach) – had been a hit for more than twenty years. The play is a series of episodes as much as a unified drama, spread over 14 years, a tale of flight, family separation and reunion scattered across the waters and cities of what Richard Halpern called ‘the decaying Hellenistic world’. At its core is the romance arc of a prince, Pericles (whose motto, In hac spe vivo, means ‘In this hope I live’), losing and then finding his wife and daughter: a wife seemingly buried at sea, but washed ashore at Ephesus to a life as a priestess of Diana; a daughter (‘My gentle babe Marina, whom,/For she was born at sea, I have named so’) apparently murdered, but captured by pirates and sold into prostitution, who wins escape through her rhetoric and virtue. The play is dramatically uneven – the early scenes, usually attributed to Wilkins, dispense couplets of stale political wisdom (‘Kings are earth’s gods; in vice their law’s their will;/And, if Jove stray, who dares say Jove doth ill?’) – but the Act 5 recognition scene between Pericles, broken by his losses, and Marina is a gripping performance of a kind of staggered anagnorisis, with Pericles terrified at the prospect of joy as he begins to perceive the possibility of reunion: ‘Give me a gash, put me to present pain,/Lest this great sea of joys rushing upon me/O’erbear the shores of my mortality/And drown me with their sweetness.’

 

(Read more)

WHEN MILTON MET SHAKESPEARE: POET’S NOTES ON BARD APPEAR TO HAVE BEEN FOUND ·

(Alison Flood’s article appeared in the Guardian, 9/16.)

Hailed as one of the most significant archival discoveries of modern times, text seems to show the Paradise Lost poet making careful annotations on his edition of Shakespeare’s plays

Almost 400 years after the first folio of Shakespeare was published in 1623, scholars believe they have identified the early owner of one copy of the text, who made hundreds of insightful annotations throughout: John Milton.

The astonishing find, which academics say could be one of the most important literary discoveries of modern times, was made by Cambridge University fellow Jason Scott-Warren when he was reading an article about the anonymous annotator by Pennsylvania State University English professor Claire Bourne. Bourne’s study of this copy, which has been housed in the Free Library of Philadelphia since 1944, dated the annotator to the mid-17th century, finding them alive to “the sense, accuracy, and interpretative possibility of the dialogue”. She also provided many images of the handwritten notes, which struck Scott-Warren as looking oddly similar to Milton’s hand.

(Read more)

 

THE 10 BEST PLAYS ABOUT POLITICS ·

(Michael Billington’s article appeared in the Guardian, 9/4.)

As Hansard opens at the National Theatre and drama heats up in Westminster, our critic picks his favourite political theatre

  1. Coriolanus(1607) by William Shakespeare

Whose side is Shakespeare on? As always, it is difficult to tell. Coriolanus is an arrogant military patrician who proves indispensable to the state. The people’s tribunes have a legitimate grievance against a hero who has sanctioned civic starvation, while themselves being devious manipulators. Claimed as both an incitement to revolution and a piece of quasi-fascist hero-worship, the play is magnificently ambivalent.

  1. Fuenteovejuna(1619) by Lope de Vega

This is world drama’s “I am Spartacus” moment. When a brutally rapacious military commander is killed, the inhabitants of a Spanish village are tortured to disclose the name of his murderer. Their joint cry of “Fuenteovejuna did it” is a momentous tribute to the power of collective action. Yet Lope’s ultimate endorsement of monarchical authority suggests that even popular protest, here led by women, is tinged with historical irony.

  1. Mary Stuart(1800) by Friedrich Schiller

No one understood better than Schiller the devious machinations of politics. On the face of it this is a romantic tragedy about two warring queens, Elizabeth I and Mary Stuart. But the greatest scene shows Elizabeth beset by contradictory arguments about Mary’s fate. Some argue for execution, others for clemency, while Leicester ingeniously suggests that Mary should live “in the shadow of the axe”. This is power in action with each case reflecting the tactical acumen of the speaker.

(Read more)

Photo: The New York Times

FREDERICK DOUGLASS, A SHAKESPEAREAN IN WASHINGTON ·

(John Muller’s article appeared in Shakespeare and Beyond, 7/19; via Pam Green.)

In his life and times Frederick Douglass was known around the world as an orator, abolitionist, suffragist, and reformist. While living in Washington, DC, where he spent the last quarter-century of his life, he was also known to many as an admirer of William Shakespeare.

Today, tens of thousands of people visit the Frederick Douglass National Historic Site each year at Cedar Hill, Douglass’s home in Anacostia, where the library shelves hold volumes of Shakespeare’s complete works and a framed print of Othello and Desdemona hangs above the mantle in the west parlor.

Douglass frequently alluded to Shakespeare in his oratory and was known to attend performances of Shakespeare at local Washington theatres. On at least two occasions Douglass served as a thespian for the Uniontown Shakespeare Club, a community theater company.

Furthermore, as a philanthropic patron of the arts, Frederick Douglass used his networks and influence within Washington society to support and advance the careers of Black artists, nearly a century before the Black Arts Movements of the 1960s and 1970s.

(Read more)

Listen to a BBC Radio 4 “In Our Time” broadcast on Douglass 

EXIT BURBAGE – THE MAN WHO CREATED HAMLET ·

Listen on BBC Radio 3

Imagine where we’d be without Shakespeare’s plays. It’s difficult to contemplate now. But it was thanks to another man that many of them were brought to life. 

Today, Richard Burbage is a not a household name. But he should be. He’s the man for whom many of the great Shakespearean roles were created. One of the founding members of the Lord Chamberlain’s Men, playing at the newly built Globe in 1599, he’s one of the foundations upon which British theatre was built. Andrew Dickson talks to leading actors, rummages among the archives and dissects some of the greatest parts in acting to discover Burbage’s crucial role – and realises that without Richard Burbage, there could be no Shakespeare.

Producer: Penny Murphy

PTP/NYC (POTOMAC THEATRE PROJECT):  ‘HAVEL: THE PASSION OF THOUGHT’ AND STOPPARD’S ‘DOGG’S HAMLET’ AND ‘CAHOOT’S MACBETH’ (REVIEWS FROM NEW YORK) ·

By Bob Shuman

Historians, looking back at contemporary American theatre, will have to evaluate whether our stages were reflections of society or partisan distortions. Were our artists “living in the truth,” as former Czech president Václav Havel would ask, or were they politically motivated, sold out, blindsided, outfinanced, or unable to speak due to silencing opinion-makers, the market, or even Google, facebook, or twitter.  A work like Rob Ackerman’s Dropping Gumballs on Luke Wilson, from The Working Theater, which played off-Broadway, during June and July, sees America’s employed as powerless and compliant–and the boss as original and supremely intelligent, even while he demonstrates only basic knowledge.  In Christopher Shinn’s Dying City, which ran at Second Stage this spring and summer, the highlight is the storytelling, although the characters are types—the smart, contemporary woman, the sensitive, uncloseted gay actor, and the disturbed soldier—all meeting progressive expectations.  What audiences may not be questioning, though, is to what degree the arts in the U.S. are really free—and this is where a writer like Havel, whose rarely performed Vanek plays (three of them here, of four; banned during communism), are now running at PTP/NYC (Potomac Theatre Project) until August 4, alongside two short pieces by Beckett and Pinter, in Havel: The Passion of Thought.  Even if most Americans can not know the horror of life in Czechoslovakia, in the last century, one of the short plays in the evening, a two-hander called “Protest” is a pros-and-cons checklist for the conscience, universally true for anyone who must challenge authority, in any of its guises–or even only intends to send a tweet.  America itself has powerful censoring mechanisms, despite the First Amendment, strongly expressed in 1978 by Russian Nobelist and Soviet labor camp survivor, Alexander Solzhenitsyn, whom Thomas Farnan, in Human Events, reminds us, wrote that the media, Western news reporting,  “[endorses] ‘fashionable trends of thought and ideas’ while suppressing ‘independent-minded people from giving their contribution to public life.’” Solzhenitsyn was severely criticized—in fact, told to go back where he came from, like “the Squad” today–but his observation regarding “fashionable trends of thought and ideas” is essential when thinking about American arts.

 

“The Protest” is set in Prague, outside a lovely garden home, marked by flowering magnolias and gladiolas–in thirty-two shades–of a television and film writer (played robustly by Danielle Skraastad), who admits that she is “pushing fifty.” She must make a decision on bold action, regarding a court decision, thinking aloud to an old theatrical friend, a dissident (a non-judging David Barlow): “When the rest of us want to do something of ordinary human decency, we automatically turn to you as though you were some sort of agency for the conduct of moral matters.  Perverse, isn’t it? Sickening, isn’t it?”  Her choice is to regain her self-esteem, lost freedom, and honor, even if it means losing her job—or to continue living on “the path of accommodation” and “shameful compromise.”  She realizes that she must be made an example of, and punished cruelly, if she chooses the first option.  She would be the bad conscience of people who do not act, and who will smear her, ultimately thinking her decision stupid, nothing more.  The dilemma is not simply Eastern European, of course, and must be made not only by the accommodating characters in Dropping Gumballs on Luke Wilson (also set in the television industry), but also in other contexts, such as teachers’ rooms in academia, validating disproven conclusions on Darwin’s theory, for example, the Hollywood of #MeToo, and at publishers and theatre companies, among various jobs throughout the country, adherent to the common wisdom, as opposed to critical, independent thinking.

“Interview” may remind of Chekhov’s short story, “Misery,” where the need to express thoughts, explain oneself, becomes so urgent that the central character begins confiding in a least likely figure.  In Chekhov, this is a horse.  In Havel’s short play, the character is Vanek, who is asked to inform on himself.  Havel’s plays can have elements of absurdism—as they drink and munch peanuts–but he is not whimsical, and his writing can even sound like O’Neill’s realism. It is not lost on viewers, at Atlantic Stage 2, that the playwright does not advocate socialism, part of the current U.S. national debate (what other son of a builder do you know who does not advocate socialism and became president of his country?).  Havel’s characters are bored and drunk, living futile lives, without work ethic and devoid of meaning: “What about me?” says the crass, tormented brewmaster (Michael Laurence), “I’m only good enough to be the shit on which your fucking principles can grow so you can be a goddamn hero. . . . You’re gonna show off  . . .  about the way you handled barrels in a brewery! But what about me?  What can I go back to?  Huh? What future have I got?  What?”  In the plays, Havel works full circle—climax and catharsis always lead back to stagnation, point zero; contradiction (Vanek, for example, is expected to make friends but not become “chummy”) and repetition. The characters can never progress psychologically, much less spiritually, which they appear to want to do, even if they can only make pretense to commercial mimicry.

In “Private View” a couple (Christopher Marshall and Emily Kron) looks toward the West for its cues on everyday life, such as food, art, sex, parenting, and purchase of consumer goods.  The ideas have not grown organically out of their own culture, however, and the characters come across as earnest and empty fakes.  Although the PTP/NYC season 2019 centers on four writers, known for their contributions to the subject of human rights, the chief among them are Havel and Tom Stoppard, both of Czech origin (although Stoppard, for much of his life, has been a British citizen).  In “Private View,” the playwright most invoked, in Havel’s one act, is Ionesco, another Eastern European (in this case, from Romania, who settled in France).  Students and readers can sometimes not understand why artists will speak figuratively–in symbol, for example (a rhinoceros) or metaphor (a cabaret to represent Nazi Germany—the sad news of the death of Hal Prince has just been announced), instead of being direct and exposing the thing itself.  The explanation is usually, “Because it would be too painful”; another reason may that it is too dangerous.  The Vanek plays may seem to talk around what’s really going in a Communist satellite fifty years ago, which had led  PTP’s Co-Artistic Director Richard Romagnoli, in 1991, to add two further short plays in creating Havel: The Passion of Thought, by Pinter and Beckett.  Yet, even so, you may be able to hear the screaming: “Life is hard and the world is divided. Our country has been written off by everybody, nobody’s going to help us, we’re in a very bad way, and it’s only going to get worse–and you can’t change it!”

Pinter’s sobering play, “The New World Order,” takes the audience into a torture room, where assumptions are dismantled, as a hooded man listens to his captor’s threats, spoken as banalities: “He hasn’t got any idea at all of what we’re going to do to him.” Although the assassins are about as bored as the brewery workers in “Interview”—in fact, one seems to maliciously echo the brewmaster’s monologue in Havel’s play: “Before he came here he was a big shot, he never stopped shooting his mouth off”—the leader explains that they are “keeping the world safe for democracy.”  Beckett’s play, “Catastrophe,” actually written in honor of Havel—a work in which Pinter had also played as an actor–has especial bite and edge at PTP/NYC (the consummate direction for the Havel evening is by Richard Romagnoli).  The play (here, the speaking roles are, nontraditionally, played by two women, Madeline Ciocci and Emily Ballou, whose forward-march pacing give the play a fascist edge)–seems to be questioning how the media distorts—and makes fashionable–human rights’ victims—Havel and Solzhenitsyn, for examples, and Natalia Kaliada and Nikolai Khalezin, from Belarus Free Theatre, and Maria Alyokhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova of Pussy Riot, to only begin a listing—who might say that what they were doing had nothing to do with becoming celebrities.

Although this review is being finished, at the end of July, during the second night of the Detroit Democratic debates, it should be mentioned that people can be fearful of socialism, despite its current fashionableness in the United States. One need only look at Sir Tom Stoppard’s Dogg’s Hamlet (known for its 15-minute rendition of Hamlet) and Cahoot’s Macbeth, probably a director’s nightmare (ably undertaken here by Cheryl Faraone), a complicated mosaic of different languages (Early Modern English, Modern English, as well as one the playwright has completely made up), utilizing a large cast. Additionally, as if a new society is being constructed during the plays, there are different settings and shifting set pieces, including huge, brutalist alphabet blocks, created for a Stalinist era (the design is by Mark Evancho; the three costume designers for the evenings are Glenna Ryer, Chris Romagnoli, and Rebecca Lafon;  and Hallie Zieselman designed the lighting). Amit Prakash, visiting assistant professor, Middlebury College,  has written, “In a society dominated by ideology, words are completely untethered from their meanings, shared human experience is always up for debate, and truth is as evasive as a hunted animal.”

Stoppard seems to see dislocation and language reconstruction as occurring due to changing ideology, and these plays appear to be giving a Stoppardian mirror image of Czechoslovakia, during the 1970s and 1980s (Ed Berman, who worked with the playwright at Almost Free Theatre in London, has also been consulted for Potomac Theater Project’s Stoppard plays). Although based on Shakespeare, the work is also influenced by Beckett, Havel, Wiggenstein, Pavel Kohout, detective novels, Ionesco, and the Theatre of the Absurd, to start.  One setting for Cahoots Macbeth is a home, which can seem unusual, given that plays are being performed there, instead of at a theatre.  Faraone writes, “forbidden to practice their art in public, one survival strategy (for artists, in Czechoslovakia) became performing Shakespeare in ‘apartment theatre.’” Such playing areas affirm what Kaliada has said, in interviews about stagings in another Eastern European country, Belarus (performances are given in apartments or at birthdays or weddings, to elude authorities).  Havel discusses how to evade them in “The Protest”–by hiding in a department store:  “You mingle with the crowd, then at the moment when they aren’t looking, you sneak into the bathroom and wait for about two hours. They become convinced you managed to sneak off through a side entrance and give up.”

What happens if you are caught?  Stoppard’s detective/government inspector (Tara Giordano, in a trench coat) explains:  “I must warn you that anything you say will be taken down and played back at your trial.”

For more info visit http://PTPNYC.org, Like them on Facebook at https://www.Facebook.com/pages/Potomac-Theatre-Project-PTP/32709392256, follow on Twitter at @ptpnyc (https://twitter.com/ptpnyc), and on Instagram at @ptpnyc.official (https://www.instagram.com/ptpnyc.official).         

The Atlantic Stage 2 is accessible from the A, C, E, L trains to 14 St./8 Ave. or the 1, 2, 3 trains to 14 St.

 © by Bob Shuman.  All rights reserved.  Production photos: Stan Barouh.

Press: David Gibbs, DARR Publicity

The cast for HAVEL: THE PASSION OF THOUGHT includes David Barlow (PTP: No End of Blame, Victory, The Castle), Emily Kron (PTP: The Europeans, Sweet Tooth at Cherry Lane), Michael Laurence (Broadway: Talk Radio, Desire Under the Elms, NBC’s “Shades of Blue”), Christopher Marshall (PTP: The Possibilities, The After-Dinner Joke, Pity In History), Danielle Skraastad (Broadway: All My Sons, Hurricane Diane with Women’s Project & NYTW, The Architecture of Becoming with Women’s Project), Emily Ballou and Madeline Ciocci (PTP: The After-Dinner Joke).

The production team for HAVEL: THE PASSION OF THOUGHT includes Mark Evancho (Set Design), Hallie Zieselman (Lighting Design), Glenna Ryer (Costume Design), Sam Tompkins Martin (Props Design), Peter B. Schmitz and Adam Milano (Movement) and Devin Wein (Production Stage Manager).

The cast for DOGG’S HAMLET, CAHOOT’S MACBETH includes Matthew Ball (PTP: Pity In History, Pentecost), Denise Cormier (Broadway national tour The Graduate, Showtime’s “The Affair”), Tara Giordano (PTP: The After-Dinner Joke, Vinegar Tom, Serious Money), Christo Grabowski (PTP: The After-Dinner Joke, Pity In History, No End of Blame), Christopher Marshall (PTP: The Possibilities, The After-Dinner Joke, Pity In History), Peter B. Schmitz (PTP: Lovesong of the Electric Bear, Therese Raquin), Lucy Van Atta (PTP: The After-Dinner Joke, Serious Money, Spatter Pattern), Olivia Christie (PTP: Brecht on Brecht), Will Koch, Emily Ma, Katie Marshall, Madeleine Russell (PTP: The After-Dinner Joke, The Possibilities), Lior Selve, Zach Varicchione and Connor Wright (PTP: Pity In History).

The production team for DOGG’S HAMLET, CAHOOT’S MACBETH includes Mark Evancho (Set Design), Hallie Zieselman (Lighting Design), Chris Romagnoli (Costume Design Dogg’s Hamlet), Rebecca LaFon (Costume Design Cahoot’s Macbeth), Sam Tompkins Martin (Props Design), Peter B. Schmitz and Adam Milano (Movement) and Alex Williamson (Production Stage Manager).

HIP TO HIP THEATRE COMPANY–SUMMER DATES & VENUES FOR 2019 SEASON TOUR OF FREE SHAKESPEARE IN THE PARKS ·

(From Andrea Alton, Alton PR and Production)

Hip to Hip Theatre Company Announces Summer Dates & Venues for 2019 Season Tour of Free Shakespeare in the Parks

A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Richard III

Running in Repertory July 24 – August 25 in Parks in all Five Boroughs, New Jersey and Long Island

Hip to Hip Theatre Company is pleased to announce their summer tour dates which will include performances in fifteen parks throughout Manhattan, Queens, Brooklyn, Staten Island, The Bronx, New Jersey and Long Island. The company’s 2019 Free Shakespeare in the Parks tour runs July 24 – August 25.

Audiences will have a chance to enjoy the romantic comedic romp, A Midsummer Night’s Dream (directed by S.C. Lucier), and the historic tragedy Richard III (directed by David Frederick Mold), under the stars. The two productions will perform in rotating repertory. Hip to Hip’s popular interactive children’s workshop “Kids & the Classics,” will be offered thirty minutes before each performance. Audience members are encouraged to bring a blanket or low chair, picnic fare and enjoy a Shakespeare play in the open air. No tickets are necessary.

Artistic Director Jason Marr, discussed this season’s play selection,  “Hip to Hip’s new radical adaptation of Richard III attempts to bridge the divide between the real man and the caricature the Tudors, aided and abetted by Shakespeare, perpetuated . . . With the discovery of Richard III’s remains . . . the exhumed skeleton reveals Richard had severe scoliosis, but it bears no suggestion that he was a hunchback with a withered arm and unequally sized legs.” 

The repertory cast includes Leah Alfieri, Kendall Devin Bell, Katie Fanning*, Rebecca Wei Hsieh, Kurt Kingsley*, Tristan Land, Axel Marr, Bree Marr, Jason Marr*, Joy Marr*, Josh Miccio, Austin Nguyen, Anuj Parikh, Sophia Parola, Patrick Singer and Colin Wulff*.

*appears courtesy of Actors Equity Association

A Midsummer Night’s Dream
Four young lovers escape the tyranny of the court to find love in a magical forest. On the same night and in the same forest, the king and queen of the fairies declare war on each other and a company of amateur actors meet to rehearse a play. See what happens when a mischievous sprite called Puck weaves their three stories into one.
 
Richard III
After a long civil war, England enjoys a period of peace under King Edward. But Edward’s younger brother Richard, who helped him to the throne, grows restless in the shadows. Shakespeare’s searing drama chronicles the bloody rise and fall of the last English king to die on the battlefield.

Kids & the Classics
“Kids & the Classics” is the companion piece to Hip to Hip’s program of “Free Shakespeare in the Parks.” This free interactive workshop is offered 30 minutes before every performance, and is designed for children ages 4 to 12. It gives children a chance to interact with the text by previewing the characters and situations and creating links between the text and their own lives.

2019 Performance Schedule

*Kids & the Classics, interactive workshop begins 30 minutes prior to each performance.
 
Wednesday, July 24 @ 7:30 pm – A Midsummer Night’s Dream
QUEENS Flushing Meadows Corona Park (@ the Unisphere)
 
Thursday, July 25 @ 8:00 pm – Richard III
QUEENS Cunningham Park (Union Turnpike & 196th Street)
 
Friday, July 26 @ 7:30 pm – A Midsummer Night’s Dream
BROOKLYN Fort Greene Park (Monument Steps) 
 
Saturday, July 27 @ 5:00 pm – Richard III
MANHATTAN Jackie Robinson Park Bandshell (85 Bradhurst Avenue @ 148th Street)

Tuesday, July 30 @ 8:00 pm – Rain date

Wednesday, July 31 @ 7:30 pm – Richard III
BROOKLYN Bushwick Inlet Pop-Up Park (50 Kent Avenue)

Thursday, August 1 @ 7:30 pm – A Midsummer Night’s Dream
QUEENS Crocheron Park (35th Avenue & Corbett Road) 

Friday, August 2 @ 7:30 pm – Richard III
BROOKLYN Fort Greene Park (Monument Steps) 
 
Saturday, August 3 @ 5:00 pm – A Midsummer Night’s Dream
STATEN ISLAND Alice Austen House (1000 Richmond Terrace)
 
Sunday, August 4 @ 5:00 pm – Richard III
QUEENS Socrates Sculpture Park (32-01 Vernon Boulevard)

Wednesday, August 7 @ 7:00 pm – A Midsummer Night’s Dream
JERSEY CITY Newport on the Green (14th St & River Drive S.) 
 
Thursday, August 8 @ 7:00 pm – A Midsummer Night’s Dream
QUEENS LeFrak City (59-17 Junction Boulevard, Corona)
 
Friday, August 9 @ 7:30 pm – Richard III
QUEENS Voelker Orth Museum (149-19 38th Avenue, Flushing)
 
Saturday, August 10 @ 7:30 pm – Richard III
QUEENS Gantry Plaza State Park (4-09 47th Road) 
 
Sunday, August 11 @ 5:00 pm – A Midsummer Night’s Dream
QUEENS Socrates Sculpture Park (32-01 Vernon Boulevard)

Tuesday, August 13 @ 7:00 pm – Rain date

Wednesday, August 14 @ 7:30 pm – Richard III
QUEENS Sunnyside Gardens Park (48-21 39th Avenue @ 49th Street)
 
Thursday, August 15 @ 8:00 pm – A Midsummer Night’s Dream
QUEENS Cunningham Park (Union Turnpike & 196th Street)
 
Friday, August 16 @ 7:30 pm – A Midsummer Night’s Dream
QUEENS Voelker Orth Museum (149-19 38th Avenue, Flushing)
 
Saturday, August 17 @ 7:30 pm – A Midsummer Night’s Dream
QUEENS Gantry Plaza State Park (4-09 47th Road) 
 
Sunday, August 18 – 6:00 pm – Richard III
BRONX Van Cortlandt Park (Broadway & 245th Street) 

Tuesday, August 20 @ 8:00 pm – Rain date
 
Wednesday, August 21 @ 7:30 pm – A Midsummer Night’s Dream
QUEENS Sunnyside Gardens Park (48-21 39th Avenue) 
 
Thursday, August 22 @ 7:30 pm – Richard III
QUEENS Crocheron Park (35th Avenue & Corbett Road) 

Friday, August 23 @ 7:30 pm – A Midsummer Night’s Dream
SOUTHAMPTON Agawam Park (25 Pond Lane) 
 
Saturday, August 24 @ 7:30 pm – Richard III
SOUTHAMPTON Agawam Park (25 Pond Lane) 

Sunday, August 25 @ 5:00 pm – Rain date

About Hip to Hip Theatre Company Hip to Hip, now in its 13th year, is dedicated to stimulating and developing interest in the theatre arts in underserved communities by providing free, family-friendly, professional productions of popular classics, and free theatre workshops for children, in public spaces. 

www.hiptohip.org
www.facebook.com/HiptoHipTheatre
www.twitter.com/HiptoHipTheatre

Photos (from top): Demelza Leffert, Ann Price

 

OUTDOOR SHAKESPEARE: THE PIONEERS OF A SUMMER TRADITION ·

(Georgianna Ziegler’s article appeared in Shakespeare & Beyond, 7/9; via Pam Green.)

Shakespeare by the sea, on the river, in the park or garden, on the common – in the summertime Shakespeare’s plays are everywhere outdoors! High-profile shows in New York’s Central Park or at Ashland’s Oregon Shakespeare Festival may come to mind for active theatergoers today, but the inspiration for this kind of outdoor performance actually came from semi-amateur theatricals, often led by women, in England and America in the late 19th century.

Lady Archibald Campbell, Agnes Booth, and As You Like It

One of the earliest and most influential of these productions was organized by Janey Seville Pastoral Players. In 1884 and 1885, they put on productions of As You Like It at the Coombe Warren estate in Surrey, with proceeds going to charity. (The Folger Shakespeare Library owns an archive of ima Callander, better known as Lady Archibald Campbell.

(Read more)