shakespeareances.com

       A website for anybody* with a passion for Shakespeare

 

 

Last Update:
February 23, 2024


Shakespeare Plays
Popularity Index


What's new on Shakespeareances.com

Shakespeareances.com is undergoing an infrastructure and design overhaul. Meantime, new reviews, commentaries, updates to Bard on the Boards, and other features will be posted in this current framework and announced here.

Added to Bard on the Boards

New list: What's Playing When

Shakespeare Opera Theatre
Cincinnati Shakespeare Company American Shakespeare Center
Faction of Fools
Fiasco Theater
Folger Theatre
Shakespeare Theatre Company Constellation Theatre Company
Chesapeake Shakespeare Company

Commentary

The Tragicomedy of Errors:
A Passion Play

As Flies to Wanton Boys Are We to the Gods

The Comeback: A Tragedy Overtakes a Blissful Comedy

Time's Passages: My Love's Labor Now My Winter's Tale

The Worst is Never the Worst until the Worst: Finding Comfort in Edgar in Times of Woes

Shakespeare's Hot 40: Ranking The Bard's Plays by Stage Popularity

Another Happy Anniversary: Passion Play

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

On Stage

A King and No King: Shakespeare Meets Arrested Development

Hamlet: Hark! How These Angels Sing

Richard III: Crowning Chutzpah with Crutches

The Merry Wives of Windsor: Digging Up Shakespeare Gold in Alaska

Henry IV: Tom Hanks as Falstaff; And Vice Versa

16 Winters, or The Bear's Tale: Reflecting on Shakespeare In a House of Mirrors

The Winter's Tale: Watching the Cat's Cradle Unravel

The Comedy of Errors: A Play to Take Your Breath Away

Love's Labour's Lost: Building a History

The Two Noble Kinsmen: It's a Mad, Man's Mad World

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 Woodwards' 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

An "Endlessly Fascinating" Richard III: DruidShakespeare's Aaron Monaghan Channels a Memory and the Real Richard

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

King Lear's Sad Time:
What Must We Obey?

Racial Casting and Theatrical Sacrilege

Gender Politics in Staging Shakespeare

And Also

2018 In Review and Top 25 + 5 Shakespeareances

Top 40 Shakespeareances



Twitter bird logo

Sign up for free weekly e-mail updates by clicking here. Our e-mail list will be kept secure and private, never sold, and never allowed to be co-opted. To read Shakespeareances.com's "Standards & Etiquette," click here.

* A Message for Snobs Only

Shakespeare Canon Project link Caricature of Shakespeare with suitcase, iPad and iPod A message for snobs only: click here

A Tribute: Carol Adele Kelly

A Love of Words, Words, Words

Carol Kelly wearing a green sweater and glasses and expressing herself with hand gestures, sits in an overstuffed brown chair with a tany blanket hung over its back.From Shakespeareances.com's inception in 2011, Carol Kelly has been my copy editor. Up through last summer she edited every item on this website before and after I posted them. Her last contribution to Shakespeareances.com was my account of A Midsummer Night's Dream on Rockaway Beach in New York last August. Carol is 94 years old. A fall resulting in a broken foot last October forced her to move to a nursing home from a basement apartment in her son's home in Cincinnati, Ohio. I planned to see her in a few weeks, but more serious news prompted me to pay her a suprise visit this month. It also inspired me to write a tribute to my teammate, an outstanding grammarian, a good comrade, a special mother, a most-loved grandmother, and a constant inspiration for me the past 18 years—ever since I tried to fire her. For the full tribute, click here.

A Commedia Romeo and Juliet

Fools Revisit a Landmark Production

The "Capulet Cast" sitting on or pushing a trunk, in costume, masks pulled up on the top of their heads, and arms spread in greeting. One of my great rewards doing Shakespeareances has been experiencing the connection between William Shakespeare and commedia dell’arte, the masked and hyperphysical street theater tradition that originated in early 16th century Italy. I owe this discovery to the Washington, D.C., Faction of Fools, theater company and their landmark 2012 production of A Commedia Romeo and Juliet. The images of that production have romped through my memory ever since and returned in present flesh as Faction of Fools remounted the show at the Capitol Hill Arts Workshop in January. With some script adjustments and two casts, it's a twin bill with threefold delights. For the complete review, click here.

My Ever-Ending Hiatus

It’s Time

"We must keep moving. If you can’t fly, run; if you can’t run, walk; if you can’t walk, crawl; but by all means keep moving." Martin Luther King Jr. said this in 1960, a month before I turned two. Yesterday, his words came to me when I stalled on making a decision I thought I was ready for. It gave me the push I needed. Fitting, for I honor the national holiday commemorating his birthday by engaging in some form of public service. It's the right time to announce that Shakespeareances.com is officially coming out of a nearly four-year hiatus and back to full operational status. For my formal statement, the hiatus history, and my plans going forward, click here.

On Stage: As You Like It

A Magical Mystical Tour de Force

Two guitarists in 1960s clothing play in front of a wrestling ring, and colorful lit panels framing a montage of neon signs. Referee running around to dismantle the ring.Blasphemous, some might call what Daryl Cloran has done to William Shakespeare's As You Like It, blending it with 23 classic Beatles songs. Brilliant, I say. Though it is not totally textually Shakespeare’s As You Like It, it is enriched Shakespeare metaphorically in the way it combines the Fab Four of Liverpool’s compositions with the Swan of Avon’s text. Nor is this an academic appreciation of two great artistic forces blended into one. This Bard on the Beach production, now running at Shakespeare Theatre Company's Harman Hall in Washington, D.C., is a two-hour, 40-minute (including preshow) laugh-in with great singing, dancing, and wrestling, too. Not often you get an Orlando whose talents combine Shakespeare, Paul McCartney, Gene Kelly, Ann Margaret, and Cactus Jack in one performance. For the complete review, click here.

And for a summary of the Beatles songbook used for the play, click here.

In Print: Cutting Plays for Performance:

Cutting Up

Cutting plays is a foundational practice in theater, especially with the scripts of Shakespeare and his contemporaries. With their book Cutting Plays for Performance, Toby Malone and Aili Huber pull the curtain on that practice. In addition to explaining the many purposes and parameters for making cuts, they offer practical tips and anecdotal experience for new hands at what is a daunting and can be a dangerous task. For the complete review, click here.

On Stage: The Winter's Tale

Shaking Booty and Hearing Voices

Autolycus in rustic hat, beard, multicolored coat over orange coverals dances with two women in peasant dresses on a green-grass stage with a large "Welcom" poster featuring a sheep on the back walla. There’s a lot of Bohemian booty shaking at the Folger. That is the lasting impression of the Tamilla Woodard-directed production of William Shakespeare’s The Winter’s Tale—perhaps unfortunate, depending on your theatrical tastes and tolerance for booty-shaking. I’m wide open on my theatrical tastes and indifferent to booties that shake, but Bohemia is not where this play ends. Besides, it was the production’s first impression that spoke more profoundly to me—spoke being a literal term, for I've been hearing voices lately, too. For the full review, click here.

On Stage: Shakespeare Everywhere Festival

12 Washington D.C. Institutions Stage
23 Shakespearean Productions and Events

Shakespeare Everywhere logo, a sky blue background with a white pencil drawing outline of William Shakespeare's portrait and at the bottom the words in cursive: "12 shows, 12 weeks, 1 city."World-class productions, fascinating debates, amazing opportunities to get behind the scenes, and all on your doorstep. This fall in Washington, Shakespeare will truly be everywhere. Shakespeareances is covering the event in (almost) its entirety. For a list of productions and other events, click here.

 

On Stage: Evita

A Rice-Webber "History" Play

Under a spotlight, Eva Peron wearing a bared-shoulder, white ball gown, sings amid layers of candlit fwhite flowers.How many earworms can you stand? I drove home from Shakespeare Theatre Company’s production of the Tim Rice–Andrew Lloyd Webber musical Evita with “Another Suitcase in Another Hall” playing on a loop in my mind. Each day thereafter, a different earworm: “High Flying, Adored,”“And the Money Kept Rolling In,”“Don’t Cry for Me Argentina,”“A New Argentina,” and even “On This Night of a Thousand Stars”—yep, a deliberately cheesy song can be an indelible moment in Evita. This production of the Rice-Webber masterpiece is loaded with indelible moments, from its musical compositions and performances to its perspective, which director Sammi Cannold has wrested from its white Anglo male creators and mixed in a woman’s worldview and Argentinian authenticity. But how authentic is the portrayal of Eva Perón nee Eva Duarte? For that, we turn to Shakespeare's Henry V nee Prince Hal. For the complete review, click here.

On Stage: A Midsummer Night's Dream

A Beach Town Makes Shakespeare
The Ultimate Community Theater

Poster using pictures (sea urchins, colorful mushrooms, a butterfly, a donkey, and a little boy in a space helmet and wearing butterfly wings, and letters cut out from magazines all on a beachy background: "A Midsummer Night's Dream, August 16-20, 2013, 7:30 pm, Rockaway Beach NY, Beach 95 Amphitheater, Free Admission!! Brought to you by Shakespeare on the BeachA new theater company called Shakespeare on the Beach set out to bring Shakespeare to New York City's Rockaway Beach. But life began imitating the very art it was presenting as external conditions and internal catastrophes threatened to turn the production into a most lamentable comedy on a scale that the rude mechanicals would slink away from. But magic happened on opening night—which ended up being closing night, too—and we not only have a tale of perseverance but a case study in how to bring Shakespeare into the community by bringing the community into the Shakespeare. This is a long one, folks, but, whoa! what a night, which you can experience by clicking here.

Reader Comment added September 2, 2023.

On Stage: The Taming of the shrew

Two Outcasts Cast Their Lots
With Each Other

Petruchio in striped shirt and torn pants holds Katherina's left hand with both of his. He's shouting, she, in hooded sweater and sweat pants, is looking dumbfounded. Behind them, Baptista in a suit has his hands raised, to the right Tranio in panama hat and jacket has her arms outstretched, and to the left Gremeo is leaning on his cane.It is my long-stated opinion that William Shakespeare's The Taming of the Shrew has always been and is still a love story. Now, here is a production at the American Shakespeare Center's Blackfriars Playhouse that fully plays it that way, but with advantages. That’s thanks to director José Zayas and his two lead actors who turn textual nuggets into a viable, relatable story arc for Katherina and Petruchio. For the complete review, click here.

On Stage: Much Ado About Nothing

It's a Musical (No Kidding)

Benedick in black waistcoat and white puffy sleeves holds the right hand and has his right hand  on the shoulder of Beatrice in red dress, white puffy sleeves, and flower head band Northern Virginia’s Shakespeare Opera Theater has evolved since its founding in 2015, from pairing productions of a William Shakespeare play and its operatic off-shoot to single productions mashing the two art forms together. This year, the company demonstrates how its mashup concept has come full circle: it’s revisiting the two iterations of Much Ado About Nothing the company paired in its debut season but as one unified piece of work. The result is a singular dramatic experience, which we’ll call a musical, with music and lyrics by Hector Berlioz and book by William Shakespeare. For the complete review, click here.


On Stage: Romeo and juliet

Real Lives, Real Love, Real Tragedy

uilet in peach nightgown lies with her head tucked under the crook of the dead Romeo's arm, he in checkered shirt and blood around on both bodies which are lying on a red-clothed bierAs I continue crawling toward Shakespeareances.com's resurrection with new design, organization, and content, I'm revisiting my favorite Shakespeareance of 2022: Romeo and Juliet at the Blackfriars Playhouse. In this American Shakespeare Center production, we have soaked in the glow of initial infatuation as Meg Rodgers’s Juliet and Brandon Carter’s Romeo, unable to touch, gaze at each other, their eyes embracing long and longingly because parting really is such sweet sorrow. We endured their relentless march to destruction. We were spent. Yet, Juliet had one more so-Juliet gesture left in her. I, a 64-year-old man watching my 39th production of this play, had never before felt so devastated at its ending. This Romeo and Juliet was so real, so us, because it was so fully grounded in Shakespeare’s script under the direction of José Zayas. To read the review, click here.

And a bonus!

Dialogue: An Interview with a Euphoric Juliet

Where Under-the-Skin Happens

Meg Rodgers as Juliet leans over the railing of the Blackfriars Playhouse's upper gallery, with a chandelier hanging to the left, tapestry and timbered wall in the back.On that visit to Staunton in April 2022, I interviewed Meg Rodgers. What was scheduled to be a half-hour interview sprinted on for almost an hour as we delved into Juliet's life and fate, director José Zayas' approach to the play's matrix of social and individual choices and their consequences, and our own experiences with depression and crushes.
For the full interview, click here.


 

Commentary: Henry V’s Vietnam War

A True Band of Brothers and Sisters

Shakespeareances.com, which has been on hiatus as my wife, Sarah, slides into the last stages of Alzheimer’s, is nearing its return with a fully redsigned site. Meanwhile, for the past year, I’ve been working for the United States of America Vietnam War Commemoration in the Department of Defense, which staged “Welcome Home! A Nation Honors our Vietnam Veterans and their Families” on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., May 11-13. My job was to design, build, and manage the centerpiece of that event, Camp Legacy, featuring 96 exhibitors with historical displays, Veterans services, oral history centers, a photo gallery, a cinema (in a tent), rally points for veterans and families to gather, musical performances, and panel discussions. As the event approached, I was appointed Mayor of Camp Legacy in charge of running the operations. Throughout it all, I wondered if Shakespeare had anything to say about this gig?

Of course he did. For the full essay, click here.

Commentary: End of the Trump Era?

Beyond Shakespeare's Villains

Production photo of Richard, in black unbuttoned Renaissance jacket and bround pants, leaning on his two crutches, standing by the shrouded body of Henry VI. The floor is dirt, a barrel is in the background, and a skull is suspended in a glass box hanging from the ceiling.The presidency of Donald Trump has been something of a renaissance for William Shakespeare. From the moment of Trump's inauguration four years ago, scholars, commentators, and yours truly have found parallels, if not outright depictions, of the 45th president of the United States in Shakespeare's characters. Yet, these straight-up comparisons between Trump and specific characters have always bothered me. Scholastic discussions, while exploring the various angles of personalities, can trample on the nuanced breadth and depth of the personalities that make Shakespeare's characters so fascinatingly—and sometimes frustratingly—rich. Commentaries also focus more on the singular characters rather than their contexts, contexts that include not only the other characters on stage but the audience in the seats, too. It's in those roles where I believe Shakespeare's most vital lessons lie as we move forward into the next administration. For the full essay, click here.

Commentary: Happy New Year?

The Worst of Times Still the Best of Times

When Sarah broke her ankle—this was after she broke her wrist—I was ready to throw in the towel. But there were no towels in the laundry basket that she, without a workable left arm to support herself, attempted to carry down the stairs. While I had no towel to throw in literally, figuratively I gripped the towel of surrender that evening. I took stock of how my wife's mental and physical misadventures derailed Christmas on top of everything else 2020 had derailed in our lives. "Hang in there," my spiritual voice told me: "There's only three weeks to 2021 and your promise of a new beginning." 2020 did get worse: three weeks was too much time for it not to. Then, 2021 launched with compounding crises. Nevertheless, I'm here to tell you I have put away the towel. I'm also here to tell you of the impending return of Shakespeareances.com. Click here for the full essay.

Shakespeare News: Stratford Festival

Stratford Festival Puts Season On Hold,
Shutters New Tom Patterson Theater

After weeks of consultation and deliberation, Stratford Festival Artistic Director Antoni Cimolino, Executive Director Anita Gaffney, and Board Chair Carol Stephenson have concluded that the Stratford Festival's entire 2020 season must be put on hold, with a plan to revisit programming as soon as it is safe to gather in theaters. While they anticipate that theaters will not be able to reopen until next year, they have not ruled out the possibility of mounting specially scheduled fall or holiday programming should public health conditions allow.Click here for the complete story.