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Janice Blixt named MSF artistic director

Ne w MSF Artistic Director Janice Blixt Press release from the Michigan Shakespeare Festival, November 11, 2009: After months of searching and interviews, The Michigan Shakespeare Festival is proud to announce the selection of their new Artistic Director: Janice L. Blixt. Janice is currently the Producing Artistic Director of A CREW OF PATCHES THEATRE COMPANY, a Chicago repertory company specializing in Shakespeare. For the Patches she has directed such classics as: JULIUS CAESAR, MACBETH, TWELFTH NIGHT, and ROMEO & JULIET. For other Chicago theatres she has directed ROMEO & JULIET, A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM, THE COMEDY OF ERRORS, THE MERCHANT OF VENICE, and HENRY V. She has also been the vocal director and text coach for OTHELLO, A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM, THE TAMING OF THE SHREW, and HAMLET. Janice has also made a name for herself in the world of workshops and classes, teaching classical text work, voice, and Folio Technique for professional actors, Eastern Michigan Univer

Give summer Shakespeare getaway

The Michigan Shakespeare Festival is offering a great gift for the Shakespeare lover on your holiday list. You can purchase a one-, two-, or three-play package to the Michigan Shakespeare Festival in Jackson, Michigan next summer. Packages are available for the weekends of July 23, 24, and 25; July 30, 31, and August 1; and August 6, 7, and 8 when two Shakespeare plays: Romeo & Juliet and The Comedy of Errors , and Alfred Uhry's Driving Miss Daisy will be offered in repertory. Packages are available for: $99 for two tickets to one play and dinner for two at Daryl's Downtown (special menu, no alcohol included) $250 for two tickets to two plays, dinner for two at Daryl's Downtown (special menu, no alcohol included), a Saturday overnight at The Claddagh including full breakfast Sunday morning, and a backstage tour and a private meeting with the new MSF artistic director (name not announced at this time). $299 for two tickets to three plays, and all of the above. 

Oberon chair weighs in on Shapiro

Oberon Chairperson Tom Hunter posted a comment on De Vere Society Secretary Richard Malim's report on the Nov. 28 conference at The Globe theater in London on the Shakespeare Oxford Society blog. Hunter's long comment addresses his understanding of Malim's report on James Shapiro's view of the authorship question -- a view that will be elucidated with the publication of Shapiro's Contested Will to be published March/April 2010. Hunter said, in part: Shapiro appears to be saying that (18th century Shakespeare biographer Edmond) Malone’s failing is this: “It diminishes the power of Shakespeare’s imagination: all his characters are within that imagination.” In other words, Shapiro has brought Stratfordians to another dead end, an equivalent of the genius defense, and a betrayal of their misunderstanding of how literature is created. View the report and Hunter's entire comment on the SOS blog at: http://shakespeareoxfordsociety.wordpress.com/2009/12/01/mali

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 intimi

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 D

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 400 th  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

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 734.995.4612 (just west of US-23 in Ann Arbor off exit 39)

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 understandi

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

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

Review of Friday's performance of Richard II by the Rude Mechanicals in Ann Arbor

Annette and I went to see a performance of Richard II yesterday by the Rude Mechanicals, a theatre group in Ann Arbor that casts mostly students as actors. There was a bit of excitement at the performance which I shall now relate. The power went off a few minutes before the play was scheduled to start, it would have been amusing if this was the Power Center, but alas it was the Video Studio. Since they had to cancel the show and we had about 25 minutes before they had to clear the building out due to regulations, the cast decided to do as much of the play as they could as quickly as they could! That was a lot of fun with the actors perfectly enunciating the lines at double the speed. John of Gaunt assured the audience that the upcoming duel between Mowbray and Bolingbroke would unfortunately have to be stopped by King Richard as it was too dangerous to do in double time without adequate electric lighting. I was maliciously hoping that some people who did not know the play well enough

George Hunter essay

Oberon member George Hunter offers the following essay for readers' consideration. Authorship as a University Discipline: Shakespeare vs The Earl of Oxford The Question      How can authorship become a university discipline? The Solution      Research must have a two-fold interest, one, to deal with matters of general interest to current university disciplines; and second, to also deal with matters of interest to the question of authorship.   Some of this research may already exist.    Examples of Research with a Two-fold Interest.      How does a current theatrical company respond to a new play?  Is the playwright present during rehearsals?  Does the cast offer new dialogue?  How often is there a major rewrite of the play?  Does someone else work the script rather than the playwright?  These are questions of interest to university disciplines but may also throw light on the question of authorship, that is, how could a play, written by Oxford,  be transformed into a theatrica

Richard II in A2 next weekend

Richard II October 23 & 24 Friday at 7:00 p.m. Saturday at 3:00 & 7:00 p.m. Video Studio, Duderstadt Center on North Campus of University of Michigan, Ann Arbor The Rude Mechanicals present William Shakespeare's Richard II, directed by James Manganello and produced by Rebecca Penn Noble. The Rude Mechanicals are a theater troupe dedicated to bringing staged theater to the University of Michigan and the Ann Arbor community and to providing the opportunity for any member of the student body to be involved, be it in performing or behind-the-scenes work. Tickets available at the Michigan Union Ticket Office or at the door; $3 for students and $6 for adults.

The tipping point

University of Michigan English Professor Ralph Williams, 67, is a specialist in Medieval and Renaissance literature. He has spent his life teaching Shakespeare, and was instrumental in creating and developing the Royal Shakespeare Company Residency program at the University of Michigan, according to university sources. A charmer in the lecture hall -- lithe and graceful in a mis-matched, gray suit -- Williams uses his body and voice like an actor. There can be no question that he loves the Bard. “Shakespeare is so intimately wrought in the English language that he is on your breath every day of your life – you speak Shakespeare,” he said from the stage, his voice resonant and intent. On October 12 in Rackham Auditorium, at the first in a series of “Who is . . .” lectures on playwrights whose work is being presented at the university this season, the first words out of Williams mouth are stunning. “Shakespeare is the only one in this series whose historical identity has been calle

2007-08 Oberon yearbook available from Blurb.com

I hope you will be pleased to see that the 2007-08 Oberon yearbook is now available through Blurb.com. The 120-page book features all the posts made on the Oberon blog since it's beginning in July 2007. Click on the book poster in the Oberon blog sidebar to see a preview, or go to:  http://www.blurb.com/books/899934 . Anyone may order a copy at:  http://www.blurb.com/bookstore/detail/899934 . The cost of a softcover edition is $29.95 plus shipping.

Ralph Williams on the turbulent life of Shakespeare

The University Musical Society is holding several events preparatory to their Loves Labors Lost run Oct. 20-25 at the Power Center in Ann Arbor. One may presume the following will NOT be an Oxfordian event. Apparently Professor Williams finds Stratford life turbulent -- although the turbulence in Stratford doesn't seem to be reflected in the plays. I can't imagine this event will be anything but an exercise in imagination: Who is William Shakespeare? Monday, October 12, 7-8:30 pm Rackham Auditorium, 915 East Washington, Ann Arbor UMS’s Who Is…? Series aims to break down the barriers between performer and audience by demystifying the artists behind great work. To kick off the series, UM Professor Ralph Williams will explore the turbulent life and unparalleled work of William Shakespeare, whose legacy has continued to inspire some of the greatest artists of our own time.

Oberon meeting October 7

Dear Oberon,   Don't forget that we are meeting early this month, this coming Wednesday, Oct. 7, at the Farmington Library at 7 p.m.   We will be celebrating the 400th anniversary of the publication of  Shake-speare's Sonnets  in 1609.  Several Oberon members will explore different aspects of the Sonnets. When you leave the meeting, you may appreciate the sonnets as never before.   Come for a fascinating look into the most intimate and personal of all of Shakespeare's writing.  We will see how Shakespeare himself broods about the authorship issue and, in doing so, practically tells us who he is.   Tom Hunter, Oberon Chair

Hunter reports on ALI presentation

Dear Oberon, It is my pleasure to report that approximately 40 members of the Adult Learning Institute graciously, many enthusiastically, attended our Oberon presentation Thursday, October 1, featuring Ron Destro’s “Who Really Wrote Shake-speare?” The Adult Learning Institute is a remarkable organization of 180 senior citizens who attend an impressive, challenging series of lectures, performances, seminars, and other programs about historical, literary, cultural, social and other topics and issues. ALI is affiliated with the Elderhostel Institute Network and sponsored by Oakland Community College which hosts the group’s activities at its Orchard Ridge Campus. In brief opening remarks, I polled the audience. The overwhelming majority of those in attendance raised their hands when asked if they believed that William Shakspere of Stratford wrote the plays attributed to William Shakespeare as we have been taught. A small number of hands went up to indicate those who thought so

All's Well HD broadcast from NT

The University Musical Society is sponsoring a presentation of All's Well That Ends Well  broadcast in High Definition from the National Theater at 5 p.m. October 11 in the Michigan Theater in Ann Arbor. Tickets are $22. Is this a harbinger of future HD broadcasts inspired by the success of the Met's opera simulcasts?

Road trip!

Critic Caldwell Titcomb reported yesterday in The Arts Fuse on the Actors from the London Stage (AFTLS) performance of King Lear  at universities around the country. Titcomb says: Shakespeare’s challenging “King Lear” is the vehicle for this year’s fall tour of the troupe called Actors From the London Stage (AFTLS). This project was begun in 1975, and has been flourishing ever since, with impressive results. Read his review at: The Arts Fuse Theater Review: "Actors From the London Stage" AFTLS is based at Notre Dame in South Bend, but Oberons have missed their fall presentation of King Lear there. They'll be nearby at Butler University in Indianapolis October 19-25 and at DePauw University (Greencastle, Indiana) November 2-8. The group will do  Romeo and Juliet  January 25-31, 2010 at Notre Dame and tour the play next spring. First South Bend then on to more Shakespeare in Chicago! Sounds like a road trip to me -- or a conference site!

Tom Hunter says new Shakespeare Oxford Newsletter arrived

Dear Oberon, There in my mailbox today was our own Linda Theil's second SOS Newsletter . What a treat!  Impressive indeed. Thick, full pages crammed full with great information and analysis about the authorship issue. Linda is quickly establishing a reputation of quality as the newsletter's new editor It is worth the annual membership fee to receive this wonderful publication. If you are not yet a member of the Shakespeare Oxford Society , please consider joining now . The newsletter will be yours, and you will be part of an organization with a proud history of research and discovery which will some day lead us to world wide recognition of the true author.  Tom Your Chairman

Falling Roof!

Sorry, I just couldn't resist posting this excerpt from the web. It can be found at www.shakespeareschurch.org/safety-warning-news.htm It actually refers to a serious problem (and the website does eventually spell "falling" correctly), but it struck me as perhaps a nice summary of the true feeling of some "orthodox" scholars in the face of all the mounting evidence that "their guy" was NOT THE ONE. I think this explains why there are suddenly so many new "biographies" of Shakespeare coming out. It is a direct response to the points being made by Oxfordians and other "Anti-Stratfordians" (I actually don't really like that term). Anyway, this excerpt and the website it comes from is actually about the real problem that the roof over the bust and grave of William Shakespeare in Holy Trinity Church in Stratford-upon-Avon is in urgent need of repair and that the charity organization "Friends of Shakespeare's Church"

Plummer in Tempest next year at Stratford, Ont.

The Stratford Shakespeare Festival in Ontario, Canada will headline Christopher Plummer as Prospero in The Tempest, according to an August 26 report in the Toronto Star : I am very excited to have Christopher Plummer return to the Festival for The Tempest, one of Shakespeare's most haunting and magical plays," said artistic director Des McAnuff, who will also direct the production. http://www.thestar.com/theatre/stratford/article/686787 Plummer's new biography,   In Spite of Myself: A Memoir published by Alfred Knopf is reviewed by Caldwell Titcomb on The Arts Fuse blog: This huge autobiography is crammed with details. Plummer must have an extraordinary memory or carefully kept diaries – perhaps both. Hundreds of people, well known and unknown, pop up in these pages briefly or extensively. He does not spare himself, admitting to constant carousing throughout the first half of his life. From what he repeatedly tells us, it is a miracle that he did not succumb to cir

Wild Midsummer -- the village people do Shakespeare

Bill Marx reviews the Cambridge MA American Repertory Theater's The Donkey Show for The Arts Fuse blog in his Theater Review: The A.R.T. Shakes its Ass : . . . In “The Donkey Show” Shakespeare’s romance exists solely to provide opportunities for gymnastic eye candy. Sweaty, nimble, and buff, A.R.T. cast members jump, skitter, climb, cavort, and undulate among the dancing party goers; they scamper up and down the walls, platforms, tables, and stairs in the cabaret-ized Zero Arrow Theater. Their colorful costumes are skimpy and glittery; the lighting glaring. See the entire review at: http://blog.theartsfuse.com/2009/09/18/theater-review-the-art-shakes-its-ass/

Tom Hunter invites you to Sept. 16 meeting

Dear Oberon,   Just a brief reminder that our regular September meeting will be this Wednesday, same place Farmington Community Library , and same time 7 p.m., doors open at 6:45.   We will have a packed meeting plus we will be introducing Marty Hyatt's handsome, thought provoking new poster promoting Oxford.  You will want a copy for yourself.   Many thanks to Linda Theil for hosting a great Oberon pot luck dinner at her home yesterday afternoon.  In addition to great food and great company, we were treated to a showing of the original PBS Frontline program, "The Shakespeare Mystery" , which brought national attention to the authorship issue almost 20 years ago.  I do recall how instrumental that program was in getting my attention and in generating the greater understanding of Shakespeare and the much greater enjoyment of those great works which has resulted.  If you have never seen that program or haven't seen it recently, check it out online at PBS right now.   T

Oberon Pot Luck

Prashant, his wife Annette, and Richard J. in the foreground A happy crowd of 22 guests enjoyed the annual Oberon pot luck gathering yesterday in Howell. After our picnic on the porch, we watched the PBS Frontline special  "The Shakespeare Mystery"  originally aired in April, 1989. This twenty-year-old documentary on the authorship question remains fresh and forceful. The fact that the film introduced me to Charleton Ogburn, Jr. and his work made watching it in the company of like-minded friends especially pleasurable. Thanks to Ray for sharing his copy. 

Reasonists?

In reviewing my "daily dose" of Doonesbury, I came across the installment from September 6, 2009. To see the actual comic (I'm not sure if I have the right to show it here in this blog), you can go to www.doonesbury.com/strip/dailydose/index.html?uc_full_date=20090906 or http://images.ucomics.com/comics/db/2009/db090906.gif In the comic, Mark Slackmeyer (I think that's his name) is interviewing a "conspiratologist" named Page Griffin on his radio show and referring to American gullibility in that "Americans believe in many things that can't be verified." The "conspiratologist" Page Griffin refers to some conspiracy theories such as truthism (that Bush was behind 9/11), birthism, JFK grassy knollers, and the staged moon landingists. In the last two frames, Mark asks Page, "Professor, is there any counter to these powerful theorists?" Page answers, "Not really. Mark, only the Reasonists." Mark: "Reasonists?

Sally Jenkins live discussion of Post article

Click here  to see a transcript of the live discussion with Sally Jenkins held at noon on Aug. 31, 2009. I thought the discussion was pretty lame. Every time an anti-Strat made a comment, she didn't respond, she just dismissed the comment as if she'd found something dirty on her shoe. Here's an example: Anonymous:  There are a plethora of red flags that pop up in the Stratford Man's pretension of having created the Shakespeare canon. You mention none of them. Why is there not a single dedication to Shakespeare? Why not a single link between the works and the man from Stratford until 1623? How could an uneducated man, before public libraries and the first english dictionary, bring 3,000 new words into our language? Surely a highly tutored royal, with time to spare, and experts to hire, would be a more plausibe author, don't you think? read what "amateur" Walt Whitman says on the matter! Sally Jenkins:  A classic statement of anti-man-from-Stratford sen

Authorship cover story in Washington Post magazine today

Waiting for William:  After four centuries, we may finally be seeing history's greatest writer for the first time By Sally Jenkins Washington Post, August 30, 2009 (with slideshow)  Writer Sally Jenkins will be taking questions about this Cobbe portrait story on Monday, August 31 at 12 noon.  Click here  to submit comments or questions before or during the discussion. *** This credulous article by Sally Jenkins is as much about authorship as the Cobbe portrait. She immediately -- in the second paragraph -- points out that Stanley Well’s favored Cobbe portrait of Shakespeare brings the authorship into question, but she dismisses an aristocratic connection with a flip of the wrist. “The fellow is clearly no earl -- he lacks the arrogant jaw -- but he's someone. Maybe too much of a someone to be a mere playwright.”  As if weak chins or arrogant jaws -- whatever they may be -- never occurred in the noble English genome. She then goes on to describe how very Shakespearea