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September 26, 2017

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Shakespearemachine in Fort Wayne, Indiana, has been added to the Theater Links and Bard on the Boards.

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Theater at Monmouth
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Lincoln Center Theater

Michigan Shakespeare Festival

St. Ann's Warehouse

Brave Spirits

The Old Globe
Olney Theatre Center

First Folio

Creation Theatre

Pigeon Creek Shakespeare Company

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Orlando Shakespeare Theater

Atlanta's Shakespeare Tavern

Young Shakespeare Players

Kentucky Shakespeare Festival

Commonwealth Shakespeare Company

News and Anouncements

Shakespeare Theatre Company—Gala Honors Laura Linney With 'Will Award'

The Shakespeare Forum—Actors' Classes Scheduled in Verse and Fights

Atlanta Shakespeare Company/American Shakespeare Tavern—Free Play Day Previews Classes for Kids

Utah Shakespeare Festival—Symposium to Tickle Brains, Manuscripts

American Shakespeare Center—Founding Artistic Director Warren Steps Down

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


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

Antony and Cleopatra: A Dream Vacation

The School for Scandal: Theater Exponential

Shakespeare's Sister: Potential Wanting

A King and No King/'Tis Pity She's a Whore: Incest Rep Flips Horror with Humor

Twelfth Night: A Twin Killing

Queen Lear: Not Old, But Not Foolish, Either

Measure for Measure: Alternate Truths

Watch on the Rhine: A Thriller at Every Turn

Richard III: Textual Conundrums

The Trojan Women: The Women of Troy Speak Us Home

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

The Front Page: Press-sure Cooker

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


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


Gender Politics in Staging Shakespeare


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 from home page Caricature of Shakespeare with suitcase, iPad and iPod A message for snobs only: click here

On Stage: Romeo and Juliet

Fight Time

Mercutio in gold and white shirt, black pants and boots with a sabre in his right hand and sword in his left parries with Tybalt, in blue toga, black braw and yoga pants kneeling on the ground with a sword thrusting in her right hand and dagger in her left. In the background other characters watch on a sets of wood steps and balconies.Violence often is the easiest answer for those in confrontational situations and generally the most attractive option for those watching. Whether prompted by anger, honor, fear, revenge, pride, ideology, or, ironically, love, striking others (or oneself) with fists, blade, poison, or other weapons offers immediate satisfaction. That, however, blinds the perpetrators and enablers to longer-term consequences that incur a level of pain and difficulty far outweighing the initial gratification. Lacking the ability to fully know those consequences before striking the blow, we are left with parables to give us a glimpse. William Shakespeare gives us such a parable with Romeo and Juliet, and Raphael Massie, with his brashly hip production for the Elm Shakespeare Company in New Haven, Connecticut, expands the play's effectiveness from that mere glimpse to a visceral understanding of violence's full effects.To continue, click here.

On Stage: A Midsummer Night's Dream

A Dream Dream Celebrates a Waking Dream

Puck in black jacket, pants and shoes decorated in flourescent swirls and with little goat horns in her head crouches next to a crouching Oberon, long blond hair, black and flourescent green cloak and pants, with the white rock set in the backgroundI had nothing with which to dab the tears from my eyes. They streamed down my cheeks to my beard. Crying at plays is something I do on occasion: especially William Shakespeare's King Lear. But here I'm watching Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream, we're only in Act III, Scene 1, and I'm bawling from the accumulative effects of laughing since even before the play's first line was spoken. With inventive readings of Shakespeare's lines and metatheater elements, this dream of a Dream celebrates the opening of Cincinnati Shakespeare Company's new Otto M. Budig Theater. It is a fabulous new house, too, and as we settled into our seats before the show, I was prepared to focus my rave review on the company's new digs. Then, the company itself launches into rave-up hilarity in A Midsummer Night's Dream that shows off all that their new play space has to offer. For the complete review, click here.

On Stage: The Tempest

The Palpable Presence of the Missing Third

Arial, in silver leaotard, blue shreddy fabric as a shawl, and blue makeup across her forehead and down by her eyes, holds onto a rope around a real tree trunk and leans out with a ship's sail behind herAriel flits from tree to tree—real trees. You hear dogs barking and feel the breeze blowing, both on cue. And when Prospero says that "The time 'twixt six and now must by us both be spent most preciously," in that moment in this environment you are sharing something more than William Shakespeare's words with his original audience; you are sharing in their time. These are among the delights of seeing The Tempest in Shakespeare & Company's new Roman Garden Theatre. Nevertheless, the production's most enticing aspect is how Prospero and his daughter, Miranda, literally gnash at each other like wolves in one moment and in the next embrace as if their lives depended on their love. An outdoor theater-in-the-rectangle can infuse this play about magic with real magic, but inevitably, insightful readings by veteran Shakespearean actors following the lead of an intelligent director are what keep Shakespeare's scripts ever-current, ever-evolving, always interesting.For the complete review, click here.

In Memoriam: Peter Hall

Theater Director Peter Hall, who died yesterday at the age of 86, had tremendous influence on the worlds of theater and opera, and on Shakespeare theater in particular. Through his productions at the National Theatre in London, he became and remains a key influencer in my own Shakespereances.For my tribute to Peter Hall, click here.

Crane in red checkered work shirt, white t-shirt, black jeans, backward baseball cap holds up his hands as he strides before a rabble of cheering people, all with wooden swords.On Stage: Henry VI, Part 2

Bootleg Shakespeare's Timely Undertow

In its annual exercise of theatrical derring-do—mounting a full-scale William Shakespeare play in one day for a one-night-only performance in the Folger Theatre—Taffety Punk amps up the challenge of its Bootleg Shakespeare productions by selecting the playwright's more obscure works. Last year it was Henry VI, Part 1, which means that Henry VI, Part 2, lined up for this year's 11th Annual Bootleg Shakespeare. Oh, but what a difference a year has made for the nation. Suddenly, a singular feature of Henry VI, Part 2, the Jack Cade Rebellion, reverberates with shuddering relevancy, potentially lifting this play out of its relative obscurity. Not that Taffety Punk was concerned with such conceptual context. Bootleg Shakespeare is all about survival,and for my full review of a production with a promising afterlife, click here.

On Stage: A Midsummer Night's Dream

It's Mendelssohn, Not Meddlesome

It is one of the most popular pieces of music in history. Not played as often as "Happy Birthday to You" and the "Star-Spangled Banner," perhaps, but certainly more ubiquitous than Beethoven's Fifth Symphony, "Hey Jude," and the theme to Gilligan's Island. It is Felix Mendelssohn's Wedding March, and he wrote it in 1842 to accompany William Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream. This triumphal piece of orchestral music became what is now the ubiquitous soundtrack for blushing brides and grinning grooms tripping down the aisles through a phalanx of cheers and tears at the end of weddings. How much fun, then, to see it used for its original purpose, as Theseus, the Duke of Athens, and his bride, Hippolyta, along with two other newlywed couples, all dressed in formal Greek and Amazonian regalia, march onto the stage—attended by fairies. Such moments are the richest gifts (along with a few more ordinary presents) of Shakespeare Opera Theatre’s production of Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night’s Dream featuring the full suite of Mendelssohn’s incidental music. For the complete review, click here.

On Stage: King John / The Lion in Winter

The Common Roar

King John in tan uniform jacket and olive pants and a red and black sash across his chest stands front and center yelling; behin him to his right, the Cardinal is in red cardinal robes with black stole; to John's left King Philip in blue jeans, blue shirt and blue tee. The platform with bordered by chain link fences is at the back of the stage, sandbags at the base, and other cast members lined up against the backstage wall.Prince Henry sits on a chair with legs crossed, looking up and away disinterestedly from King Philip sitting further back stage on a bench. Standing behind King Henry are Alais in simple tan gown and Richard; pouring a drink at the table behind King Philip is Geoggrey, and opposite him standing by the table, hands clasped at his waist and hunched up, is John. It starts with a roar—actually, it starts with a yawn, but such is a father's yawn, a sudden bellowing (as are a father's sneezes, coughing fits, and farts) to fright the pride (but not their own pride). It ends with a dead king and a nation emerging from chaos—actually, it ends with a theatrical conundrum: the bastardizing of the Bastard. The whole is a journey through two plays, William Shakespeare's King John and James Goldman's The Lion in Winter, in which the sequel comes first, the present play is past, the past play present, and a young theater company, 4615, shows its muscle while still learning the walk. To continue reading, click here.

Beatrice in red shirt tied up to reveal a bare tummy above a black dress, a yellow flower in her hair, holds hands and has her other hand on the shoulder of Benedick as the dance, he in a red and white floral pattern shirt and wearing a mask. A big, blue beach umbrella is to the left.On Stage: Much Ado About Nothing

The Boys Are Back In Town

Hoosier Shakes's mission statement is "To vitalize the performance of Shakespeare and other drama for diverse communities of Grand and Wabash Counties, Indiana, by presenting inspiring, accessible, literate, experiential theatrical performance." Note, first, the local focus, and then key words like accessible, literate, and experiential, three words some would consider antitheses. Which brings us to the company's Much Ado About Nothing directed by Marshall B. Garrett. Its opening signifies a production paying close attention to the play's text as well as its tone while emphasizing unabashed fun. How unabashed that fun is results in a mixed-bag production. For the complete review, click here.

Macbeth behind Lady Macbeth holds her to him as he talks. He's wearing a black jacket, she's in a black dress with a tartan sash. The multi-level platform is behind them, and a grassy hill and tree trunk beyond.On Stage: Macbeth

For Whom the Bell Tolls

What has become a cliché, that “all the world’s a stage,” was, for the man who gave us that phrase, an operational dictum. William Shakespeare originally wrote for outdoor and transient theater. Moreover, he seems to have written for environmental contingencies. I've seen many examples of this, the latest with this summer's Cleveland Shakespeare Festival production of Macbeth on a tour stop in Public Square in the heart of downtown. The show's director, Cleveland Shakespeare Festival Artistic Director Tyson Douglas Rand, impressively uses touring staging restrictions to create, rather than limit, stage effects. But the keenest effect comes from, shall we say, a spiritual force.For the complete review, click here.

Caesar in bloodied toga and robe stands next to his dropped knife as Brutus, also in a toga and robe, stands with knife pointing toward Caesar. In the e background are the red-draped walls and SPQR postersOn Stage: Julius Caesar

Past and Present Tense

Last year when Michigan Shakespeare Festival (MSF) Producing Artistic Director Janice L. Blixt planned for the company's 2017 season, she anticipated that The Taming of the Shrew would be the title that would stir the pot of controversy, not Julius Caesar. Then the Public Theater in New York this summer represented Donald Trump as Caesar, and like many other Shakespeare theaters around the country, MSF received online hectoring about its upcoming production. Although Blixt gives her version a modern setting—using some clever staging optics in doing so—she does not invoke current partisanship politics or party iconography with the play. However it's set, Julius Caesar's relevance emerges via Shakespeare's dramatic methodology in creating the environment of oppression that comes with encroaching tyranny and the palpable sense of internal and social chaos that comes in the wake of a coup. In her production, however, Blixt's cuts to the text and streamlining the play's personnel skim off the psychological cream of Shakespeare's political thriller. For the complete review, click here.

Katherina in purple Elizabethan dress with gold brocade overlay runs toward Bianca in white underdress and tan girdle, her hands bound and head covered in a cloth.On Stage: The Taming of the Shrew

On the Matter of Political Correctness

Peering out from under my comforter of Bardolatry, I'm about to venture into Shakespearean blasphemy. I intend to—deep breath—endorse a "politically correct" change in William Shakespeare's verse that the Michigan Shakespeare Festival (MSF) made in its production of The Taming of the Shrew. Every age has its own version of political correctness, and Shakespeare, in comparison to the literature and sermons of his day, was at the forefront of his age's social correctness—yet, he could not realistically imagine the social correctness of our age. If he could, he very well might have tweaked a key piece of Shrew's language the way the Michigan Shakespeare Festival production has. It is only one word, but for me, it goes to the heart of this play's true meaning. So, gripping the comforter, I take another deep breath, and… For the complete review, click here.

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.On Stage: As You Like It

What Love's Got to Do with It

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.

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 neckOn Stage: Measure for Measure

From Foreplay to a Happy Climax

The 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.

Sarah wearing a red sleeveless blouse, a plastic red party top hat, and a yellow lei with restaurant tables behind her.Commentary: Another Happy Anniversary

Passion Play

It's been five years since I launched, 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 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, 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.


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.