Saturday, May 31, 2008

Mark Rylance Interviewed on National Public Radio

On National Public Radio's Weekend Edition today, Scott Simon interviewed Mark Rylance, starring currently in the French farce, Boeing Boeing. The Broadway play also features Gina Gershon and Christine Baranski and Rylance has just been nominated for a Tony award. I think you will enjoy the interview. Rylance is very engaging.

Rylance was also interviewed on the authorship issue, but that was not broadcast, only placed on the website.

NPR also provided a link to the Declaration of Reasonable Doubt.

View the NPR story page and links here.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Don't touch the bones!

I was pleased to find an article in the Detroit Free Press (May 28, 2008) on the work needed at Shakespeare's gravesite in Stratford-upon-Avon. Apparently the stones above the gravesite in Holy Trinity Church need some repairing. The difficulty is that pesky inscription about being cursed if one "moves my bones". So the repairman will have to be very careful when they do their work.

Come to think of it, maybe this is a great opportunity for the Stratfordians. They already replaced the memorial bust when it "needed repairs", making it more palatable to the idea of the man being an author rather than a grain-dealer. Now they can replace the doggerel verse on the marker above Shakespeare's grave with something that fits better with the Works as we know them.

You can read the article for yourself. It's quite fun.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Richard III in Kuwait -- 2009

From Midsummer in Baghdad to Richard in Kuwait, directors seem to be keen on a mid-eastern setting for the works of Shakespeare. On March 20, 21, and 22, 2009, the University Musical Society will present the Sulayman Al-Bassam Theatre's Richard III -- An Arab Tragedy based on Richard III by William Shakespeare at the Power Center in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

The Al-Bassam group produced The Al-Hamlet Summit (2002-2005) and were commissioned by the Royal Shakespeare Company to create the Richard adaption as part of their Complete Works Festival in 2007.

The UMS brochure says:

Performed with a company of actors from England and across the Arab world, the work is accompanied by a live Arab musical score. Performed in Arabic with English supertitles, this work will be seen exclusively at UMS and the Kennedy Center.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Interlochen Center for the Arts’ Summer Schedule of Events and Workshops

Linda Theil invited me to share with you some of the fine arts events scheduled at Interlochen Center for the Arts this summer. If you have any questions, please email me and I’ll be happy to get you more information. Hope to see you up here this summer. Let me know when you’re coming and I’ll give you a personal tour of Interlochen’s campus.
Gordon Berg

NEW! Interlochen Shakespeare Festival (June 26-29 and July 3-6)
This year Interlochen is presenting as part of their summer-events schedule the first Interlochen Shakespeare Festival. For this inaugural year, they're performing "Twelfth Night." The company is comprised of a core ensemble of Interlochen faculty and alumni under the artistic direction of William Church. Surrealist painter René Magritte provides the inspiration for the mythical setting of Illyria. It will be performed in the intimate, 200-seat, Harvey Theatre. Tickets are $25.
Click here and scroll for "Twelfth Night" performance details:

Click here for some photos of Harvey Theatre:

Theatre Workshop for Educators: Shakespeare in Performance (June 26-28)
The Interlochen Theatre Workshop for Educators will address techniques for bringing Shakespeare to life in the classroom and on the stage. It will explore practical strategies to make 17th century text accessible to 21st century students. Participants will join the director and cast of the Interlochen Shakespeare Festival to experience and discuss a variety of topics and will observe classes and rehearsals for the Interlochen Arts Camp production of
"A Midsummer Night's Dream."
Click here for workshop details:

Early Music Workshop (June 8-13)
The Interlochen Early Music Workshop focuses on early techniques, articulation, ornamentation, improvisation and ensemble arrangement in medieval and renaissance music. The workshop culminates with a participant performance on period instruments, such as recorders and other early winds, viols, lutes, harpsichord and percussion.
Click here for workshop details:

2008 Summer Arts Festival (June 20-August 23)
In addition to many contemporary performances, Interlochen’s 2008 Summer Arts Festival showcases many fine arts concerts, including:

  • Maia String Quartet (June 26)
  • Olga Kern, pianist, with Interlochen’s World Youth Symphony Orchestra (July 6)
  • Interlochen “Collage” (July 8)
  • JoAnn Falletta conducts Interlochen’s World Youth Symphony Orchestra’s Performance of Prokofiev’s “Romeo and Juliet” (July 13)
  • Kun-Yang Lin/Dancers (July 14)
  • Avalon String Quartet (July 17)
  • Sumi Jo (soprano) with Interlochen’s World Youth Symphony Orchestra (July 20)
  • Valade Faculty Recital (July 22)
  • Jon Nakamatsu, pianist (July 23)
  • Canadian Brass (July 25)
  • Andrew Litton conducts Interlochen’s World Youth Symphony Orchestra (July 27)
  • Enso String Quartet (August 13, 15 & 18)

Click here for complete details:

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Lights, Camera, Shakespeare!

I'm beginning to think that Stratford, Ontario has a real rival in The Chicago Shakespeare Theater. In my long experience of going to this venue (a total of four times so far) I have never ceased to be amazed at what is being accomplished there. Who would have thought that such good theater could be found on Navy Pier in Chicago, home to a giant ferris wheel, a number of overpriced tourist shops, an IMAX theater, a Children's Museum, a beer hall, and about six places selling elephant ears (summer only)?

Anyway, about the performance I saw there last night. I had to go to Chicago for a medical conference (I try to fit them in between Shakespeare conferences) and couldn't pass up the opportunity to visit the Pier once again (even though the elephant ear places were not yet open). While not as astounding as the last time I was there (Othello-one of the best performances I've ever seen), the current production of The Comedy of Errors was quite enjoyable.

Actually, this title is perhaps a little inappropriate as the play we all know as The Comedy of Errors only accounted for about two-thirds of what happened on stage. As The Comedy of Errors is Shakespeare's shortest play, directors have frequently tried to do something to give the audience their "money's worth". In this case, Barbara Gaines (founder and artistic director of the Chicago Shakespeare Theater) went to comedian and writer Ron West to write a "framing" play.

The idea here is that a group of filmakers at Shepperton Studios in London in 1940 have come together to make a film version of The Comedy of Errors as a war effort, to "take the public's mind off of Jerry for a while". They have to do this by using actors who for various reasons are not busy fighting in the war and also have to make the film despite repeated bombing raids on the studio by the Germans. 

They do have Emerson Furbelow, star of that memorable film (fictional of course) "Blood of the Pirate", who hopes to break out of the stereotype of the swashbuckler by playing Antipholus of Syracuse, only to find out about the sword duel that occurs in Act 5 of the play. They have Lord Brian Hallifax, an amazingly conceited Shakespearean actor who has fallen on hard times and hopes to revive his career and parlay it into doing a film of Henry V for the war effort (I guess he didn't know Olivier was already working on this). He is all set to play Antipholus of Ephesus when word comes that Major Phillip Sullivan, that famous American singing sensation who is currently volunteering with the Royal Air Force, has suddenly found that he has a few days between assignments and wants to make his film debut. Of course, with such "star power" the director and producers of the film give the part of A. of E. to him and poor Lord Brian has to be content with playing Dromio of Ephesus (actually a better part in my opinion). Major Sullivan reads the script and finds it "very funny, but I still don't get this Shakespeare crap."

A very funny scene occurs when Lord Brian, as D. of E., suddenly breaks into the "St. Crispan Day" speech from Henry V after he is hit by Major Sullivan (as A. of E.) in Act 4 of the play (the Dromios are constantly being hit by their masters). After the "director" Dudley Marsh (who is also playing Dromio of Syracuse) yells, "Cut!" Lord Brian explains that he had the idea that Dromio would suffer "blackouts" from all the hitting he is receiving and enter a "trance-like" state in which he would recite famous Shakespearean passages. Needless to say, this idea does not go over with Mr. Marsh and the "St. Crispan" speech ends up on the cutting-room floor.

There are many such memorable characters and personal interactions among the filmakers and I could go on about more of them, but suffice it to say that, although the audience does get to see virtually a complete performance of Shakespeare's play (cut very slightly) as the "film" is being shot, the added scenes of the making of the film frame and comment on Shakespeare's work and combine to produce a completely different theatrical event.

Ron West (writer of the added scenes) was asked in an interview (reprinted in the theater program), "What, The Comedy of Errors isn't funny enough for you?". He replied,"It's certainly funny, but as I am a direct descendent of Plautus, whose work Shakespeare stole, I am working on the script solely to right a wrong which was been done to my family about 1,300 years ago."

The play runs in Chicago until June 29. I recommend it if you can make it there.