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Last Update:
July 27, 2017

What's new on Shakespeareances.com

Valley Shakespeare Festival in Connecticut has been added to the Theater Links and Bard on the Boards.

Reader Response

A reader comment has been added to my review of the Folger Theatre's production of Timon of Athens.

Bard on the Boards Updates

New Orleans Shakespeare Festival at Tulane
Taffety Punk

Michigan Shakespeare Festival

Wildflower Women's Ensemble

Riverside Theatre

Hamlet Isn't Dead

News and Anouncements

New York Classical Theatre—Picnic, Kid's Stage Combat Precedes Macbeth

Utah Shakespeare Festival—USF Unveils 2018 Season, Executive Producer

The Pearl Theatre Company—Pearl Theatre Shutters

Orlando Shakespeare Theater—State's Stinginess Dooms Timon—For Real

American Shakespeare Center—Playwright Contest Seeks Canon Companions

Atlanta Shakespeare Company/American Shakespeare Tavern—Folio Auction at New Academy Open House

Bard Unbound—Drinking to Shakespeare As He Drinks to You

American Shakespeare Center—Blackfriars Playhouse Premieres New Play

Commentary

Martin Luther King Jr. Day: The Birth of a Man

Locker Room Talk and Sexual Assault: To Whom Should I Complain?

A Ghost Story: The Real-Life Drama of The Executor

Opening Day: The All-Shakespeare Baseball Team

In Memoriam: Dean L. Minton Sr.—Methinks I See My Father

A Happy Birthday: Enduring Wind and Weather

Oregon Shakespeare Festival Translation Project: Chill, People

A Father's Love: Issues with Daddies in Shakespeare

A tournament of Shakespeareances: Titles Tilt for the Title

To Adapt or Not to Adapt: All I'm Askin' For Is a Little R-E-S-P-E-C-T

On Stage

The Select (The Sun Also Rises): The Novelization of Great Theater

The Front Page: Press-sure Cooker

King Charles III: A Shakespearean Reach

Coriolanus: A Man; Take Him for All in All

The Tempest: Master of a Full Poor Cell

Henry IV: Higher Crime

As You Like It: In The World of Refugees

The Merchant of Venice: The Perspectives of Just Deserts

Much Ado About Nothing: A Perfect Rom—Imperfect Com

Richard III: This Point in Time

Coriolanus: One That Hath Always Loved the People

The Two Gentlemen of Verona: The Truth in the Matter

On Screen

Shakespeare Uncovered 2: Second Set of Mini-Documentaries Reveals Bard's Brilliance with Filmmaking to Match

Still Dreaming: Past the Wit of Man to Say What Dream it Was

Twelfth Night: What Achieved Greatness Was Born Great

Romeo and Juliet: Too Dumb for Tweens

The Hollow Crown—Henry V: The Crown Comes Full Circle

The Hollow Crown: Henry IV, Part Two: Falstaff Diminished, This Play Is Built on Irons

The Hollow Crown—Henry IV, Part One: Irons' Henry IV Reigns O'er His Own Play

The Hollow Crown—Richard II: This Crown Jewel Is a Hollow Richard

Romeo and Juliet: Rudolph & Margot Trump Romeo & Juliet

Much Ado About Nothing: Innate Understanding of Shakespeare's Ways Underlies Whedon's Masterful Much Ado

On Air

Much Ado About Nothing: The Couple in Love, With Their Own Selves

The Tempest: A 1612 Space Oddity

Hamlet: Good Radio vs. Good Shakespeare: With This Hamlet It's a Drawl

Midsummer Night's Dream: To See a Voice and Hear a Face With Fairy Magic and Bottom's Roar

Romeo and Juliet: The Tone Is Out of Joint

In Print

The Year of Lear: His Life in His Time

The Book of William: Book a Journey through First Folios

Shakespeare Beyond Doubt: Beyond Even Unreasonable Doubt Book Establishes Shakespeare's Authorship

Hobson Woodwars' A Brave Vessel: The True Tale of the Castaways Who Rescued Jamestown and Inspired Shakespeare's The Tempest

Stephen Landrigan and Qais Akbar Omar's Shakespeare in Kabul

Interviews

Fiasco Theater: How Downsizing Leads To Supersizing Shakespeare

Olivia and Maria: From Mourning to Light, Tonya Beckman Plays through Two Twelfth Nights

Richard III and Queen Margaret: Four Years, Two Immortal Enemies

A Day with The Brooklyn Tech Students: Shakespeare at the Dawn of a New Generation

A Shakespeare Impresario—Playing the Whole Shakespeare Canon: Great Works and Good Work, Too

Bardroom

Gender Politics in Staging Shakespeare

Shakespearecure

A Midsummer Night's Dream: Bottom's Up

The Tempest: A Concoction Strange and Wondrous

Henry VI, Part One: A Great Stake

As You Like It: The Seven Ages of Man wine-pairing menu

Macbeth: Fowl with Red Pepper Sauce, Lady Macbeth's Curse, Porter Rhubarb, and a Witches' Stew

And Also

2016 In Review and Top 20 + 10 Shakespeareances

Top 40 Shakespeareances

Plays seen: The Numbers

Find additional Shakespeareances
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Caricature of Shakespeare, with column showing mission statement of shakespeareances.com from home page Caricature of Shakespeare with suitcase, iPad and iPod A message for snobs only: click here

On Stage: As You Like It

What Love's Got to Do with It

Orlando in blue and tan embroidered vest over white shirt, his leath-forearm-banned arm resting on his knee, Rosalind in floral gold vest on white shirt, the knees of her orange britches visible, and her head leaning on Orlando's shoulder.In As You Like It, William Shakespeare offers no stage direction for Celia and Rosalind when, in the Forest of Arden where Rosalind is disguised as the boy Ganymede, Orlando appears, walking and talking with Jaques. Orlando is Rosalind's crush. She tells Celia, “Slink by and note him,” and per stage tradition the two women slip off to the back or side of the stage, though I’ve never seen them actually “slink.” Nor do I often see Rosalind do much “noting.” Tess Burgler in the Ohio Shakespeare Festival’s production, however, does a lot of noting. Her eyes glisten with lust as she looks again upon this male specimen she’s met only once, and her infatuation grows as he talks about his love for her. “What stature is she of?” Jaques asks. Replies Orlando, “Just as high as my heart,” and behind him Burgler’s Rosalind falls over and looks at Celia (Sarah Coon) with a gesture of, “OMG, is he not perfect?” Perfect, indeed. And in tone and fundamental focus as a romantic comedy, so is this production of As You Like It, helmed by Ohio Shakespeare Festival Co-Artistic Director Terry Burgler.For the complete review, click here.

On Stage: Measure for Measure

From Foreplay to a Happy Climax

Isabella, in nun's white habit, speaks, smilingly, with left hand out (rosary beads hanging from the sleeve) and right hand on the breast of Angelo, wearing a dark suit and the gold chain around his neckThe foreplay is not to be dismissed. What might seem an inconsequential novelty is instructive in the play to come in this Theatre for a New Audience production of William Shakespeare's Measure for Measure. We are invited to enter the Polonsky Shakespeare Center's Samuel H. Scripps Mainstage through the backstage door. Pompey directs us down a series of hallways with brothel rooms, sex toys, phallic décor, and S&M weaponry before we finally emerge onto the back of the stage. We have just passed through Mistress Overdone's house in a modern-day rendering of Shakespeare's Vienna by wunderkind British director Simon Godwin. This physical passage sets a psychological state—puerile titillation, libidinous mystery, and a pervading sense of danger—for the stage production to come. Beyond suggesting that Vienna is a brothel, Godwin uses our frame of mind to map out a thematic path for Shakespeare's play, in which the Duke seeks his own redemption, women overcome misogynistic institutions to achieve empowerment, and danger is not defined by place or position, but person. Oh, and it's a comedy, too.For the complete review, click here.

Commentary: Another Happy Anniversary

Passion Play

Sarah wearing a red sleeveless blouse, a plastic red party top hat, and a yellow lei with restaurant tables behind her.It's been five years since I launched Shakespeareances.com, and in that first year I posted a commentary on this date titled "Forever Is Too Long for True Love" marking the 20th anniversary of my wedding to Sarah. You do the math. Today being the landmark day it is, and Sarah being what she is in so many ways, I feel the urge to engage in a bit of celebratory self-indulgence here, right before we slip off to a celebratory romantic tryst. My 20th anniversary commentary discussed the Shakespearean philosophical underpinning of our relationship, so I figured this time I'd answer the question we often hear from people who learn of my Shakespearean passion: "So, Sarah, did you get into Shakespeare because of him?" The short answer is, kind of. The full answer is this commentary. And just as my 20th wedding anniversary commentary served as a foundational guide to romantic longevity, this one serves as a practical primer for a happy marriage.To continue, click here.

Lear in a white shirt, gray work pants, and a multi-color tapestry scarf with fringe around his shoulders; behind him the Fool in purple shirt, pink pants, gray vest, and blue hat talks, a finger held up; in the background, a servant in gray scarf sleepsOn STAGE: KING LEAR

The Magnitude of the Mundane

An empty wine bottle on our kitchen counter reminded me of last night's dinner, and now I was eating delicious left-overs for lunch. I had just posted my Timon of Athens review on Shakespeareances.com. My wife looked good when I dropped her off at work this morning, and we're excited about our upcoming romantic getaways. Life is great and I'm feeling good. Then it was back to my desk to write a review about William Shakespeare's King Lear. Perfect context, right? Sure, it's my favorite Shakespeare play, and WSC Avant Bard presents a generally fine version of it. But it is, nevertheless, King Lear, not the kind of play one should be dwelling on when life is great. Except, that is one of the points of the play that emerges in this production.For the complete review, click here.

Timon sits on the floor in a dirty white shirt, pants, bare feet, a bowl next to him; standing behind him is Apemantus in casual jacket, checkered shirt, black and white striped scarf, and painter's hat holding up a tomato in his hand and speaking toward itOn Stage: Timon of Athens

Well, Not Really

This Robert Richmond–helmed production of Timon of Athens at the Folger Shakespeare Library’s theater is not really William Shakespeare’s Timon of Athens. Rather, it is what Richmond thinks Timon represents. Therefore, a review of this production shouldn’t legitimately proceed in a Shakespearean context when a broader theatrical context—as in, “Is it any good?”—probably is the most proper way to assess it (and the short answer to that contextual question is, “meh”). Ah, but this production, labeled on the playbill as “Timon of Athens by William Shakespeare,” was playing at a Shakespeare-aligned theater with several established Shakespeareans in the cast. Oh, and I'm writing this for Shakespeareances.com, too. So, having established that the words but not necessarily the plot of this play are, perhaps, by Shakespeare, we’ll proceed in a Shakespearean context, which requires a more convoluted answer to the question, "Is it any good?" To continue, click here.Reader response added June 26, 2017.

Celimene in a purple French classic dress with gold front stands face to face with Frank in black long-coat suit as two suitors in frilly, multicolored French classic courtier's suits an large, curly wigs watch in the backgroundOn Stage: The School for Lies

A Schooling in Truth

It's hard for me to adequately describe the whole body-and- mind experience of watching a David Ives play cast and directed by Michael Kahn, artistic director of the Shakespeare Theatre Company (STC), which now has staged four such collaborative adaptations of French classic fare. The first, Pierre Corneille's The Liar in 2010, is still among the top five of my all-time favorite non-Shakespeare theater experiences. After Ives' and Kahn's similar efforts with Jean-Francois Regnard's The Heir Apparent in 2011 and Alexis Piron's The Metromaniacs in 2015, now comes this current production of The School for Lies, Ives' retooling of his own adaptation of Molière's Le Misanthrope. In terms of this particularly Ivesian idiom, The School for Lies continues a downward trend in quality, but to say each subsequent Ives-adapted/Kahn-directed product doesn't quite reach the heights of The Liar is to note that the Himalayan peaks of Kangchenjunga, Lhotse, and Makalu are a few hundred meters short of Everest. While not reaching the highest summit, like its Ives predecessors at STC's Lansburgh Theatre, The School for Lies attains breathless heights of comic theater. For the complete review, click here.

Bardroom

Racial Casting and Theatrical Sacrilege

My son Jonathan kicks off a conversation prompted by the Edward Albee Estate denying a license for a production of Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? that intended to cast a black actor as Nick. Our discussion goes beyond the topic of racism in theater to the matter of why the scripts of playwrights such as Albee are given more reverence than, say, Shakespeare's.To read this discussion, click here.

Macbeth slouches in a low-back thrown, wearing a red uniform jacket with medals, fringed shoulder braids and sash. On both sides, two young soldiers squat, both holding AK-47 rifles. the boy in aqua pants, striped shirt and sweater tied around his shoulders, the girl in striped blued pants, purple tea, and red hajib. In the background, Fleance in a suit has his arms raised.On Stage: Macbeth

We Laugh and Laugh—And Others Cry

This qualifies as one of the stupidest productions of William Shakespeare's Macbeth I've ever seen. It also just might be the most brilliant. Between the comic antics of the Macbeths and director Liesl Tommy's visual translation of Shakespeare's script to a modern African nation, even the least-dogmatic Shakespeareans might cringe. Meanwhile, the laughter in the audience grows with every contra-anachronistic gimmick. The more the audience roars, the more I sour until, suddenly, I realize how firm Tommy's version of Macbeth has gripped my psyche. This is two parallel plays in one production: while the Shakespeare drama I know so well works on my intellect, in my heart I'm experiencing a more urgent, more frightening drama unfolding right there in the middle of the Shakespeare Theatre Company's Sidney Harman Hall in downtown Washington, D.C. For the complete review, click here.

Antony in classic Roman legion uniform, skirt, leather armo, crest helmet and red ape on his knees stroking Cleopatra's neck as she holds  his arm, she sitting on the floor in a multi-colored sheen dress, halter, and bare midriffOn Stage: Antony and Cleopatra

A Dream Vacation

It’s hot. She’s hot. The woman lying on the deck lounger next to me is wearing an olive-green bikini with a serpent jewel fastening both the hip strap and the halter strap. She is irresistible and we are lounging by a pool at an Orlando resort on a sunnyish, 90-degree, breezy spring day surrounded by palm trees, colorful blooms, and attractive vacationing fauna. Work? Who wants to work when you're here? Well, I am working, writing this review of the Orlando Shakespeare Theater's production of William Shakespeare's Antony and Cleopatra. But in my own setting I suddenly feel a greater empathy for Antony. When you’ve got the sexy and sensuous and beguiling Cleopatra by your side, why would you want to get back to the office in Rome, putting down rebellions, keeping your fellow triumvirs in check, and dutifully tending to your wife? To continue, click here.

Mrs. Candour in pink and tan striped dress, frilly white sleeves and collar, pink ribbons on the front and wide-brimmed hat excitedly gesturing to the more primly conducted Lady Sneerwell in gray dress with blue trim and feather hat.On Stage: The School for Scandal

Theater Exponential

Score one for the two teens sitting on the "gallants' stools." Those kids combine with the outstanding thespian talents of the professional players and the particular characteristics of the Blackfriars Playhouse in Staunton, Virginia, to create a singular theatrical moment. It comes during a presentation of the American Shakespeare Center’s production of Richard Brinsley Sheridan’s 1777 masterpiece The School for Scandal. The actors already are well on their way to achieving an audience hit with their take on Sheridan’s witty, cynically observant play of manners. Doing so is all on them, too, as this production was the third in the five-play repertory of the American Shakespeare Center’s (ASC) annual Actors’ Renaissance Season.To continue, click here.

Judith, in simple Elizabethan waist jacket, blousey shirt and maroon dress holds her hands up to her head in wonder.On Stage: Shakespeare's Sister

Potential Wanting

This is a story about potential. Potential in the past as well as in the future. Potential of place, of persons, of things real and imagined, of craft and art, of soul, of mind. Potential realized and potential wanting, if not wasted. Shakespeare's Sister, a new play by Emma Whipday, is a "what might have been" take on a "what probably was" story by giving William Shakespeare a playwriting sibling. The American Shakespeare Center gave the play its world premier theatrical production at the Blackfriars Playhouse in Staunton, Virginia, during the company's Actors' Renaissance Season, part of the company's nascent initiative to stretch the template of its "Ren Season" methodology. From preshow music on, we are treated to the heightened potential of the event, but though we attain some satisfying moments along the way and are treated to superb performances by this troupe of players, at the play's conclusion we are yet suspended in a state of potential. To continue, click here.

Annabella in gray tunik, purpe sleeves and red-striped panels of fabrick over a black print dress kneels opposit Giovanni in black leather vest, black jeans, and grey sweatshirt, both clasping a dagger between them.On Stage: A King and No King/'Tis Pity She's a Whore

Incest Rep Flips Horror with Humor

The Incest Rep, as Brave Spirits is calling its repertory of the Francis Beaumont/John Fletcher collaboration A King and No King and John Ford's 'Tis Pity She's a Whore, is actually a pairing of 1 1/2 incestious relationships. Both Jacobean plays (A King and No King was first staged in 1611, 'Tis Pity came about 30 years later) dwell on the overly intimate behavior between brothers and sisters (or not), but they look at this taboo topic from two different angles. To use a cinematic basis of comparison, 'Tis Pity is akin to a James Wan horror flick while A King and No King is something Mitchell Hurwitz of Arrested Development fame might have come up with. The plays' authors also use different styles of composition, and the rep's two directors, Charlene V. Smith for 'Tis Pity and Cassie Ash for A King and No King, take appropriately different approaches to staging the two plays. But with one cast. That proves to be the most important link between the two plays in this repertory. From the gut-wrenching horror of 'Tis Pity to the gut-busting humor of A King and No King, this company of fine actors can cause you to jerk back in shock in one play and have you doubled over in laughter in the next.To continue, click here.

Viola and Sebastian both wear brocaded goad fests over white billowy shirts and black renaissance caps; both have small mustaches.On Stage: Twelfth Night

A Twin Killing

The line between a good idea and a gimmick in the staging of a William Shakespeare play can be as tangential as the predetermination of an egg to split into two embryos. Titan Theatre's decision to cast identical twins as Viola and Sebastian in its production of Twelfth Night incited in me a high degree of excitement when it was first announced. While watching the play, though, I realized how what I considered a great idea bumps into the realm of gimmickery, and how quality of performance ultimately is the determinator. To continue, click here.

Lear in white jacket and black pants with a silver space blanket around her shoulders, and sitting on the floor the Fool underneath the space blanket next to Lear. In the background is a worker's rolling scaffold with camoflage curtain, a silver sheet backdrop, amo boxes, and a barrelOn Stage: Queen Lear

Not Old, But Not Foolish, Either

Some will point out, accusingly, that Maeve Ryan shouldn't play King Lear because she's a girl. I respond that she might be a high school senior, but she's a 10-year Shakespearean stage veteran. As for Lear's gender, the production's director, Children's Shakespeare Theatre Company Founding Artistic Director Diana Green, initially may have been thinking of skill sets within her company (cross-gendered casting is her common practice). However, in this case, regendering the title role of William Shakespeare's King Lear opens up so much potential by exploring the play's central conflict in mother-daughter terms, especially in the hands of teen-age girls playing those roles. The production doesn't quite fulfill the promise of that proposition: certain textual cuts and setting the play in a postapocalyptic age undermines Green's thematic intentions in regendering King Lear as Queen Lear. Nevertheless, this is an engaging presentation of Shakespeare's play with some courageous performances and both an eye-gouging and a fight that create heart-racing theater. To continue, click here.

Angelo in light blue shirt, dark blue pants, red tie is face to face with Isabella in white fuzzy sweater and blue jeans, he has his right hand extended out to his side.On Stage: Measure for Measure

Alternate Truths

That my son is making his New York directorial debut with this presentation of William Shakespeare's Measure for Measure does not factor into my evaluation of the production. What does matter is that I have been privy to his thinking on this play from the moment he broached it with me even before he moved from Anchorage, Alaska, to New York five years ago. Some of that thinking I spurred (not a lot—he's far smarter and a much more astute Shakespearean than I am). Thus, it is not in my role as father but as a reviewer more enlightened on this production than usual that I offer my evaluation of what turned out to be one of the most profoundly relevant renditions of Measure for Measure I've seen. For the complete review, click here.

Fanny in blue floral print dress has her left hand at her chest, while in the background, David in light blue shirt and tan slacks sits on the couch, one foot crossed under the other leg, watching Marthe in a white blouse and ankle-lengh tan-striped skirt opening shopping bags with Babette.On Stage: Watch on the Rhine

A Thriller at Every Turn

As Shakespearean theater fans, we had one significant reason to see the Jackie Maxwell–helmed production of Lillian Hellman's Watch on the Rhine at Arena Stage in Washington, D.C.: the actor Andrew Long. It was my wife, Sarah, who saw him in a production of Hamlet at the Alabama Shakespeare Festival in the mid-1990s and became an instant fan. We've since seen him perform several times in DC and New York, and it was because he took on the role of Kurt Müller in Watch on the Rhine that Sarah insisted we see the production. I certainly benefited from her strong-arming me, as I ended up enjoying a gripping yarn and its singularly realized characters portrayed by an outstanding cast, including Long: As good as he's been every time I've seen him, this particular performance convinces me why Sarah was so taken with his Horatio all those years ago. For the complete review, click here.

Richard sits on throne, frowning, left hand clinched with crooked arm, right hand on knotty cain, he's wearing a blue early 20th century dress uniform, long dress coat with gold-embroidered uptoruned collar, gold buttons and belt, and two medals on his left breastOn Stage: Richard III

Textual Conundrums

A soldier in a World War I army overcoat and gas mask stands guard on a platform above King Edward IV presiding over the signing of peace pacts among the factions in his court. Lord Rivers is gassed to death, rather than losing his head, at Pomfret. Young Duke of York plays with a toy Red Baron triplane. Preshow entertainment features music hall songs from the 1910s and '20s. This is the world of William Shakespeare's Richard III at the Chesapeake Shakespeare Company. The company's founding artistic director, Ian Gallanar, first staged his version of Richard III in 2012 as a movable production at CSC's then primary venue, the Patapsco Female Institute Historic Park in Ellicott City, Maryland. He's now revived it in the company's new downtown Baltimore theater with many of the same actors reprising their roles, most notably Vince Eisenson as Richard. Five years on, however, the production seems thematically out of sync, if not with the times at least with itself. Some character portrayals don't line up with Shakespeare's text, in part because of unusual choices in cuts, while a lack of consistent vision results in dramatic opportunities going by the wayside. For the complete review, click here.

Hecuba in tie-dye like jacket and blouse with a chain necklace around her neck, lamenting with hands outstretched.On STage: The Trojan Women

The Women of Troy Speak Us Home

Euripides' composition of The Trojan Women in 415 BC might have been aimed at political authorities in his Athens, but his play proved prescient for today's world, as evidenced by Taffety Punk Theatre Company's decision to switch from Shakespearean fare to the Greek tragedy for its annual all-women Riot Grrrls production. Certainly, the cries of justice from the defeated and disenfranchised women of Troy echo down through the ages and create a gripping effect in the peformances of a new generation of Riot Grrrls. However, I'm not convinced the play's real message is being heeded.For the complete review and commentary, click here.