Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Shakespeare monologues at UM School of Music Dec. 3

Graduate students at the University of Michigan will perform opera and Shakespearean monologues in the McIntosh Theatre Thursday, December 3 (details below). Director Joshua Major had this to say about the event:
The performers are the 12 members of my Opera Workshop class - graduate level. Each will be singing an aria and the repertoire is varied, though there is a lot of Handel on the program. Each student was assigned a Shakespeare monologue and will be performing that as well. Unfortunately the arias and the monologues have no relation to each other, except that they are learning tools. Occasionally I am able to program thematically, or do a program of Shakespeare monologues  along with excerpts from opera scenes based on Shakespeare.

I have assigned Shakespeare over the years and found it to be a wonderful exercise on many levels. Understanding language, the acting process, metaphor, the relationship between word and music. It also unlocks and demystifies a world that is intimidating and foreign. The students end up adoring Shakespeare. I like that it pushes them out of their comfort zones as well.
Joshua Major, Opera Director, University of Michigan; Artistic Director, Pine Mountain Music Festival
Opera Workshop
E.V. Moore Building, McIntosh Theatre (UM School of Music, North Campus, 1100 Baits Drive, Ann Arbor MI 48109-2085. 734-764-0583)
7:30 p.m.

Opera Workshop I presents an evening of arias and Shakespeare monologues.  Joshua Major, director; Timothy Cheek, music director.
Free - no tickets required

And don't forget the student production of the Scottish play Thurs - Sun Dec. 10-13:

Power Center, Huron & Thayer Sts., Ann Arbor MI
Thursday 7:30 PM, Friday & Saturday 8:00 PM, Sunday 2:00 PM
Dept. of Theatre & Drama.  by William Shakespeare.  Directed by Philip Kerr What happens when ambition eclipses civility? The classic tragedy about one couple’s ruthless pursuit of power. Reserved Seating $24/$18/$9 with student ID
Tickets available at the League Ticket Office 734-764-2538 

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Michigan Shakespeare Festival invites Oberon to present pre-game

Oberon Chair Tom Hunter accepted the invitation of Michigan Shakespeare Festival Managing Director Robert Duha to present two pre-play, public talks during the 2010 festival season. Dates have not yet been set for the performance of Romeo and Juliet and Comedy of Errors next summer because the festival is currently negotiating for a new artistic director to replace John Neville Andrews. Duha said an announcement is imminent.

Duha reported that the festival hired David Blixt to create a 75-minute version of Romeo and Juliet that the company will tour in Jackson County high schools next April. Blixt is a Shakespearean actor, author of the novel Master of Verona, and founder with wife Janice Lee Blixt of A Crew of Patches Chicago-based, Shakespearean theater company.

Duha said the festival plans to repeat their annual high school monologue contest, and they hope to present the finalists at the festival for the first time this year. He also said the festival's new Marketing Director Sandra Xenakis plans to offer playgoing packages for holiday gift-giving. Packages will include tickets, dinner, and bed-and-breakfast accommodations for next summer's festival. For more information, check the website at Michigan Shakespeare Festival, email, or call 517-998-3673.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Tom Hunter announces agenda for Nov. 18 meeting

Dear Oberon,

For the first time ever (and maybe the last) an agenda for the upcoming Oberon meeting this Wednesday, Nov. 18, is included below. Just scroll down. This whole project is dedicated to Sue.

Here is inside information about what we will be covering Wednesday evening 7 p.m. at our usual room at the Farmington Hills library on 12 Mile Rd. between Farmington Rd. and Orchard Lake Rd.

It will be a packed and fast moving meeting which will include a special welcome to Robert Duha,  managing director of the Michigan Shakespeare Festival, who will announce a special place Oberon will have in plans for the 2010 MSF season.

We will conclude our celebration of the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s sonnets with a look into their personal nature by Tom Townsend and some perhaps surprising connections to Edward de Vere by yours truly.

We will also hear from our intrepid travelers back from the Houston Shakespeare Oxford Society/ Shakespeare Fellowship conference with news of the highlights and, if we are lucky, high jinks, you know the kind of craziness that breaks out when a bunch of Oxfordians get together.

And more. Much more, including a message from Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens.

And the lemon cookies!  Don’t forget the lemon cookies. They’re a surprise.

Your chairperson,
Tom Hunter

11/18/09 AGENDA

7:00     Welcome remarks: Tom H
            Special welcome to Robert Duha and lemon cookies
            ANYONE KNOW how to do conference meeting, e.g. so Robert
            can “attend”?  Richard—need cell phone with speakerphone
            Also welcome home to Linda, Richard, Tom T. and Ron
            from Houston conference two weeks ago

            Tonight we will conclude our celebration of the 400th
            anniversary of Shakespeare’s sonnets which we began last
            meeting with the conclusion of Tom Townsend’s presentation
            and a hopefully brief presentation by me

Treasurer’s report : Tom T

Robert Duha has offered us two spots at next year’s Michigan Shakespeare Festival
            New director named yet?
            News we should know?

UMS LLL mixed reviews from our group
Actor sat behind us on someone’s lap and took Rosey’s copy of LLL to follow along the dialogue; make LLL notes available

Upcoming Shakespeare:  MND at the Hilberry
Appearance of first issue of Brief Chronicles
            An excellent one, articles by Nina Green, Peter Moore, Robert Detobel et al,
            with a book review by me
Oberon in somerset collection
Booking the blog: Linda
            soft cover 30 each, min 10 copies is 27 each hard cover c42
            order 4 copies:  Oberon, Tom, Robin, Richard

Blog traffic: Linda

Letter from Justice Stevens

Sonnets concluded
            Tom Townsend—depression and sadness, personal nature of sonnets
            Tom Hunter—some possible Oxfordian connections
 Houston conference – report next meeting Nov. 18
            Linda, Ron, Richard, Tom T.: What impressed you the most/was the most important thing that happened at the conference or came out of it?

Any news from the national? Richard

Oxfordian Show and Tell?
How to use Declaration of Reasonable Doubt in Oberon activities?  Did nothing w/ it at LLL

Next regular meeting: Jan  20, 2010 (6:45 p.m. Farmington Hills Community Library)
Schedule through June 2010:Feb 17, Mar 17, Apr 21, May 19, June 16

Friday, November 13, 2009

Ensemble Chaconne -- songs from Shakespeare's plays

Ensemble Chaconne - "Measure for Measure: Songs from Shakespeare's Plays"
Friday, November 13 • 7:30 p.m. • Concordia University, Chapel of the Holy Trinity
Tickets: $15 - ($10 for students/seniors)

Ensemble Chaconne (Peter H. Bloom, Renaissance flute; Carol Lewis, viola da gamba; Olav Chris Henriksen, Renaissance lute) and mezzo-soprano Pamela Dellal transport the audience to Shakespeare’s time with Measure for Measure: The Music of Shakespeare’s Plays, hailed by The Portland Press Herald as “the perfect Elizabethan evening.” Now in its 24th season, Ensemble Chaconne has been praised for “vitality and character…style and verve” (MusicWeb International). Mezzo-soprano Pamela Dellal has been touted for her “lushly fluid” singing (The Washington Post) and her “gleaming vocal colors” (The Boston Globe).

Concordia University
4090 Geddes Road
Ann Arbor, MI  48105
(just west of US-23 in Ann Arbor off exit 39)

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Summerset Collection quotes Oberon chair

Dear Oberon,

You might by now have received in the mail or otherwise the latest edition of Somerset Mall's thick and glossy advertising magazine called Somerset Collection. On page 56, you will find a short article titled "The Bard is Back: In a society where old often becomes new again, a renewed fervor for Shakespeare" about Shakespeare's huge current popularity with a quote by yours truly as to why.  Reporter Taryn Bickley said:
The play’s the thing,” quote Hamlet in the eponymous tragedy by William Shakespeare. The Bard’s words still ring true. There’s a burgeoning trend among the younger set toward highbrow theater (think Academy Award nominee Abnne Hathaway doing viola from Twelfth Night in New York City’s Shakespear in the Park this year).
Thomas Hunter, chairperson of Oberon, a Shakespearean discussion and research group in Orchard Lake isn’t surprised. “His universality and eternal themes – identity, love, ambition, and evil. His passion for understanding who we are, where we’ve been, and where we are going. Who could resist all of these?”
Ms. Bickley judiciously omitted the reams of replies I gave her to other questions, but she did mention Oberon, although she erroneously put us in Orchard Lake (instead of Farmington Hills). Notice also that she did leave the theme of identity in the quote probably having no idea of the can of worms we can make of it.

Your chairperson,
Tom Hunter

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Hunter invites members to Nov. 18 meeting

Dear Oberon,

This has truly been a busy month for Shakespeare studies. There is a lot of catching up to do, which we will be doing at our next meeting at the Farmington Library Wednesday evening Nov. 18.

In the mean time, we wish safe travels to our Oberon delegation to the annual conference to be held in Houston this year this coming weekend. We are looking forward to hearing reports from Richard, Linda, Ron and Tom at the Nov. 18 meeting.

Also, we will be rounding out our Sonnets celebration from last meeting.

And doing a lot of catching up, including our take on the UMS Globe Theater Love's Labour's Lost and an exciting development with the Michigan Shakespeare Festival.

See you on the 18th!

Tom Hunter
Oberon Chair

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Alexandra Clement-Jones plays Richard II

Rude Mechanicals troupe takes a bow after Oct. 24, 2009 performance of Richard II.

The University of Michigan's student acting troupe, The Rude Mechanicals, presented Shakespeare's Richard II in October at the Duderstadt Center Video Gallery. I arrived to a chaotic scene with ticket sellers turning away disappointed students. I asked if they would seat non-ticket-holders for no-shows before curtain-time, but was told it was hopeless. The mother of student director Jim Manganello presented me with a ticket and I donated money for cookies for the cast in Oberon's name. I am so glad I didn't miss this magnificent production. 

120-150 patrons (estimated) were seated on risers on either side of a three-foot-high runway stage about 10 x 30 feet . (Measurements are guess-timates of size.) Sixteen- by four-foot-high screens hung behind both sets of audience risers showed projected images of moving humans and an industrial cityscape in black and white. Another block of 25 seats was placed in a view restricted space in front of the end of the stage to accommodate an overflow of patrons. Steel I-beams formed arches over the stage supported by flying buttresses. A large, carved-wood, pew-style bench sat at the far end of the stage.

The troupe of courtiers onstage dressed in dress pants, white shirts, and silk ties. They occasionally donned vintage tail coats or jackets. Cris Reilly played the King’s favorite  Green as an androgynous figure with long, luxuriant red curls like a Botticelli angel and effete gestures.

A woman dressed like the courtiers in pants and shirt entered upstage shrugging into a brocade gown. Courtiers addressed her as “my liege” and the female King Richard -- played with complete aplomb by Alexandra Clement-Jones -- emerged to our view. This elegantly regal creature with razor-edged diction and a muscular command of the stage inhabited the king with a strength that made gender superfluous.

Scenes developed with orchestral accompaniment like jazzy sound effects. Composer Marc LeMay conducted the ensemble of flute, keyboard, marimba, bass, and violin.

Director Jim Manganello played a commanding Lancaster. His brother Jon Manganello played Northumberland and brother Paul Manganello played his son, the younger Percy. The entire cast of nineteen actors performed with a commitment, passion, and clarity that was thrilling to experience.

Their stagecraft was superb. The death of Richard’s favorites was accomplished with intense music and an explosion of red paper that fell into the audience like gouts of blood. Choreographed movement throughout the play added to the sense of pomp and gravity. Performers leapt from the stage, using the space in front of the seats as a performance area as well.

I have seen the Royal Shakespeare, the Globe, the Guthrie, the Canadian Stratford, and various other fine companies, but this performance was by far the most clear, authentic and exciting Shakespearean experience I’ve ever had -- except for my very first time at age 15 seeing Julius Caesar at Carnegie Institute of Technology (now Carnegie-Mellon University). I’m beginning to think that only the young are passionate enough to fulfill Shakespeare.

I spoke to composer Marc LeMay after the curtain and asked if he would be interested in speaking to Oberon about their production and he graciously said he would be interested in doing that. I also asked about getting a copy of the recording taken of the performance and he seemed to think this would be possible, too. I long for that video. I wish everyone could have that experience.

The University Activities Center
4002 Michigan Union
530 S. State St. #541
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1349
(734) 763-1107
Producer Rebecca Noble:
Composer Marc LeMay:

Richard II cast:
Richard, Alexandra Clement-Jones
Lancaster, Jim Manganello
Bolingbroke, Max Kaufman
Mowbray/Carlisle, Josh Berkowitz
Aumerle, Andrew Whipple
Green, Kris Reilly
Bushy, Roderick Jefferson
Bagot, Sahib Singh
York, Daniel Rubens
Queen, Elise Randall
Northumberland, Manganello
Willoughby, Neal Kelley
Ross, Sanjay Jolly
Percy, Jon Manganello
Berkeley/Westminster, Arvind Namasivayam
Captain, Liam White
Ladies, Grace Hawkins and Mary Harrell
Gardiner, Sahil Saluja
Duchess of York, Kaela Parnicky