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Last Update:
January 21, 2019


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South Dakota Shakespeare Festival
New York Classical Theatre

Valley Shakespeare Festival

Babes with Blades

Company of Fools

Riverside Theatre

National Theatre (& NT Live)

Shakespeare Theatre Association

New Orleans Shakespeare Festival

Hudson Warehouse

Shakespeare by the Sea
Shakespeare in the Ruins

Independent Shakespeare Company

Shakespeare's Globe

Montford Park Players

Creation Theatre

Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey

Royal Shakespeare Company

Flagstaff Shakespeare Festival

American Shakespeare Center

Shakespeare in the Vines

News and Anouncements

Chesapeake Shakespeare Company, Shakespeare Theatre Association—STA Elects Chesapeake's Gallanar as President

Will Geer's Theatricum Botanicum—Classes, Intensives Lined Up for Kids, Adults

NextStop Theatre Company—Teen Company Joins "Summer Adventures"

Stratford Festival—Lab Continues, Expands Company's Work

Retrospect Opera—Organization Resurrecting Music Played At David Garrick's Shakespeare Jubilee

Shakespeare & Company—In Memoriam: Dennis Krausnick, Educator

Commentary

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

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

On Stage

The Great Society: A Shakespearean Tragedy Touches Us All

The Merchant of Venice: Seeking Heroes, We Get Laughter

Romeo and Juliet: Choose Your Own Ending: Aligning the Fates for Tragical Mirth

Coriolanus: Of the People

Imogen (nee Cymbeline): Refocusing Shakespeare's Play from Y to X

The Way of the World: Money Talks

Hamlet: Virtual Reality for the Soul

Richard II: Divine Right

Hamlet: O'erstepping the Modesty of Nature

Hamlet: Crafting Madness

Twelfth Night: Live Theater As Theater of Lives

Twelfth Night: A Dying Fall Resurrects As a Great Play

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

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
Racial Casting and Theatrical Sacrilege

Gender Politics in Staging Shakespeare

Shakespearecure

Cymbeline: A Wing and a Pear

A Midsummer Night's Dream: Bottom's Up

The Tempest: A Concoction Strange and Wondrous

Henry VI, Part One: A Great Stake

Macbeth: Fowl with Red Pepper Sauce, Lady Macbeth's Curse, Porter Rhubarb, and a Witches' Stew

And Also

2018 In Review and Top 25 + 5 Shakespeareances

Top 40 Shakespeareances

Plays seen: The Numbers

Find additional Shakespeareances
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The Comedy of Errors

Acts of Revelations, and Ephesians, Too

Antipholus, who hails from Syracuse, is newly alighted in Ephesus, dressed as if he stepped off of a Phoenician amphora, wearing a yellow, knee-length tunic and sandals with cross-straps up the shins. Actually, he looks more like he came out of a Disney rendition of classical Greek societies, so the tunic is bright yellow and sporting an ornate gold-scrolled blue trim. He sets out to "wander up and down to view the city." The first thing he spies is a UPS jetliner flying low overhead as it approaches Ephesus International Airport. Antipholus stops his meditation and stares up in awe at this wonder of the city. That's all Crystian Wiltshire, the actor playing Antipholus of Syracuse, can do in this Kentucky Shakespeare production of William Shakespeare's The Comedy of Errors in Louisville's Central Park, which just happens to be on the approach path to UPS's North American hub. This major economic engine for the community can be an occasional irritant to actors, audiences, and neighbors alike. Still, the two or three flyovers per show—and, more importantly, Wiltshire's in-character reaction—are part of the Kentucky Shakespeare Festival's happening scene. To read the complete review, click here.

Timon of Athens

Capitalism Rises and Falls in a Ruin

Sarah Constible, dressed in a blue lace ballgown, is standing before a half-formed stone wall as she delivers Timon's rhetorical primal scream. This Athenian lady, who had lavished her friends and flatterers with expensive gifts and parties and ends up bankrupt and abandoned, unleashes the full force of her fierce anger combined with the riving pain of a person betrayed. Her words cut through the breezy summer air across the width of a nave to clench our guts in a knot. Then she turns and walks away into self-banishment. The next time we see her, she is wearing a dirty fur coat and tattered gown, holes in her hose down to her high heels, ferocity still darting from her eyes and her hair looking as if it were frightened out of its wits. She is pushing a grunged-up shopping cart out of the woods. None of this is in a theater or on a stage, by the way. That's a real remnant of wall Constible is standing behind, a church's nave measures the distance between her and us, and real trees bordering a meadow beyond. This is Shakespeare in the Ruins, not a figurative description but a literal one and the name of the Winnipeg, Manitoba, theater company that stages promenade productions at the stonewall remains of a Trappist monastery south of the city. For the complete review, click here.

In Memoriam: American Shakespeare Festival Theatre

The place I trace all my Shakespeareances to, the American Shakesepare Festival Theatre in Stratford, Connecticut, where I saw my first live Shakespeare play and Fred Gwynne play Sir Toby Belch, burned to the ground this morning. Click here to read the news report.

Much Ado About Nothing

Comedy Rising to the Heights in the Rose

Seeing a William Shakespeare play in a re-creation of an Elizabethan outdoor theater, such as the Rose at Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp near Muskegon, Michigan, inspires insights that can significantly expand your Shakespearean understanding. To wit, as Pigeon Creek Shakespeare Company's production of Much Ado About Nothing is about to start, it occurs to me that the area for the groundlings resembles a mosh pit at rock concerts. This production gives us two parallel experiences: the play that features several keen performances, and the playhouse that bestows a soul-embracing sense of belonging on those who merely enter its environs. Combine the two and we get a Much Ado About Nothing that's like nothing else I've felt. For the complete review, click here.

2018 in Review and Top 25 + 5 Shakespeareances

The Aggregate Experience

In 2018, for the first time in my 61-year life—attending plays in 44 of those years and now having seen 830 staged productions in that span—I walked out of a play at intermission. It might seem odd to start a commentary about my favorite theater moments of the year with the absolute worst and second worst productions, but it turns out to be instructive of the year I've had: A year in which I traveled coast to coast—corner-to-corner, even—across the North American continent seeing 71 Shakespeare productions at 50 different theaters, plus 12 non-Shakespeare productions. All the good-to-great productions I saw made this year's rankings more difficult than any I've worked out so far. The top spot, however, was an easy choice: a catastrophic failure in production values that should give us all hope for the New Year. For my commentary on the state of Shakespeare in 2018 and my annual rankings, click here.

The Worst is Never the Worst until the Worst

Finding Comfort in Edgar in Times of Woes

“And worse I may be yet: the worst is not so long as we can say, ‘This is the worst.’” This line by Edgar in William Shakespeare’s King Lear has been running through my head like a tape loop the past 14 days since my too-close-encounter with a concrete pillar in a parking garage. The deejays of fate (in mythology, the Fates were spinners, you know) would frequently drop into the loop a bit of Gertrude from Hamlet, too: “One woe doth tread upon another’s heel, so fast they’ll follow.” Such a parade of woes, with 76 trombones leading, has me looking to Edgar for inspiration. For the complete commentary, click here.

Special Commentary Update for the All-Star Game

The All-Shakespeare Baseball Team

Cartoon of Shakespeare as a baseball playerAs we take a break (kind of) from the Shakespeare Canon Project for Major League Baseball's All-Star Game, my 2016 commentary drafting Shakespeare characters for a baseball team has been updated, thanks to my recent experience with a Joan of Arc. To read the full commentary, click here.

On Stage: Macbeth

The Magic Macbeth Show

Production Photo of MacbethsThe show opens with Lady Macbeth taking a child's corpse out of a coffin and hugging it. She's joined by the Weird Sisters. “When shall we three meet again, in thunder, lightning, or in rain?” the Weird Sisters chant as they raise their sleeves shrouding Lady Macbeth from our view. “Upon the heath, to meet with Macbeth!” and, presto!, Macbeth himself appears from behind the witches’ sleeves where his wife had just been, and he starts engaging in a loud, energetic battle with on-rushing rebel Scots. And there you have it: horror, action, Shakespeare (for the most part), and magic—real magic in this Chicago Shakespeare Theater production of William Shakespeare’s Macbeth, adapted and directed by Aaron Posner and Teller, the latter one-half of the Las Vegas magic team of Penn and Teller. It’s more about the magic, atmosphere, and accessible storytelling than it is about Shakespeare’s text and psychological mystery, but as theatrical entertainment, it’s a thriller. For the complete review, click here.

Photo of Dunyasha and Lopakhin listening for Lubov's arrivalOn Stage: The Cherry Orchard

Unmasking a Masterpiece

Many of us Western theater aficionados think of Anton Chekhov’s plays, such as The Cherry Orchard, as weighty philosophical forays into the tragedy of the human condition. Well, William Shakespeare wrote weighty philosophical forays into the tragedy of the human condition, too, such as Twelfth Night and As You Like It and A Midsummer Night’s Dream, great comedies all. Chekhov thought he was writing comedies, too—he even cited The Cherry Orchard as partial farce—but something has been lost in the translation, whether lingual, cultural, or theatrical (that last is cause for mistranslations of Shakespeare, as well). Washington, D.C.'s Faction of Fools is trying to recapture Chekhov's comic essence with its commedia dell'arte production of The Cherry Orchard, building on the success of its past such adaptations of Shakespeare and Thornton Wilder. In this instance, while you get the best of each world, commedia and Chekhov, you don't necessarily get the best for both worlds. For the complete review, click here.

On Stage: Titus Andronicus

Some Key Ingredients Missing From Otherwise Delicious Titus

Photo of Aaron and Tamora dancingA Titus Andronicus with no blood and no words; what's the point, right? Well, bloodless is no matter because such a visually based company as Synetic Theater can accomplish all manner of allegorical representations of bloodiness, as this production does from red fabric and red lights to cherry pies. Words, however, are an integral theme for Titus Andronicus as Shakespeare uses highly formalized verse and ritualized language as a metaphorical structure mirroring society's ritual obsession with revenge and violence. Synetic, a movement and dance theater, succeeds in that, too, establishing a formal framework and ritual behaviors within which human behavior runs amok. All that running amok guarantees stellar work from Choreographer Irina Tsikurishvili, who plays Tamora, Queen of the Goths, and gives herself one of the most astounding dances I've ever seen on a stage. Yet the production comes up short where it shouldn't: For all its words and ritual, Titus Andronicus contains some of Shakespeare's most emotionally wrenching visual moments that this visual-centric production fails to deliver. For the complete review, click here.

Photo of Desdemona and OthelloOn Stage: Othello

'Tis Love, 'Tis True, 'Tis Pity, Too

Let me point out right off the bat that this William Shakespeare play is called Othello—to be precise, The Tragedy of Othello, the Moor of Venice. This play's heart and soul is Othello's fall into an emotionally wrenching psychological abyss. In the Baltimore Shakespeare Factory's Original Pronunciation production, Troy Jennings gives one of the truest portrayals I've seen of such an Othello. His is a tragedy so aching it elicits pity even in his most violent moments, for this Othello is an unwitting victim of another man's cold-hearted, self-indulgent cruelty, which Ian Blackwell Rogers' Iago slams home in the last seconds of the play. Moments small and large with performances straight and true make this an Othello of singular excellence, with or without Original Pronunciation, representing a high benchmark for the Baltimore Shakespeare Factory (BSF) and its founding artistic director, Tom Delise, who helms this production. For the complete review, click here.

Photo of Minton presenting Sir Thomas More's speech in a bar full of patronsOn Stage: Drunken Shakespeare

Raising the Bar with More and Much More

It's called Drunken Shakespeare. It's described as Shakespeare karaoke. It takes place in a New York City bar. Sure, it's a fun time of hijinks and low-jinks, but along with Shakespeare-themed drink specials, it also offers up some special Shakespeare performances. It also allowed me the opportunity to see performed live William Shakespeare's portion of the play Sir Thomas Mores, his peech about violence against immigrants. Click here for the complete review.

Photo of Hal and Henry after the king has thrown the prince into the throneOn Stage: Henry IV, Part One

The Bling's the Thing

Being king of England is perceived power with a nice piece of head jewelry. It's all about the bling. That bling and a throne recognizable to Game of Thrones fans are centerpiece props in Southwest Shakespeare Company's production of William Shakespeare's Henry IV, Part One. This engaging staging gives equal emphasis to the four players for the crown—the one who wears it, the one vying for it, the one awaiting it, and the one manipulating it—while balancing the play's comic and dramatic elements as they wind their way to a comical dance with death in the climactic carnage of war.For the complete review, click here.

Photo of Helena and Bertram holding hands, King looking delightedOn Stage: All's Well That Ends Well

All's Well That Starts Well

Three Shakespeare-centric companies opened new theaters over the past three years with William Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream. Inaugurating a Shakespeare theater with his play about dreams, fairy magic, and theater seems patently obvious. Not to Melissa Chalsma, cofounder and artistic director of the Independent Shakespeare Company (ISC) in Los Angeles, California. To open her company's new studio theater, Chalsma chose Shakespeare's too-little-performed comedy All's Well That Ends Well, a play about faith, resiliency, and resolve backing up talent and ingenuity. That choice, too, seems patently obvious with a play space—barely finished in time—that proves most worthy of the quality of Chalsma's simply funny but poignantly moving production of All's Well That Ends Well. For the complete review, click here.

Photo of Leontes at the front with Hermione sitting with Polixenes at the backOn Stage: The Winter's Tale

Finis

The Aaron Posner–helmed production of William Shakespeare’s The Winter’s Tale at the Folger Theatre reaches its zenith on the sea coast of Bohemia. You know the scene, famous for Shakespeare’s best-known stage direction. Antigonus, ordered by King Leontes to abandon his baby girl—whom he believes is illegitimately bred—in a wilderness, places Perdita in her basket on the ground as a storm begins to rage. He starts to leave, and then hears a most disturbing noise: It is Perdita, who begins crying. Antigonus goes back to the basket, picks up the baby, and sings a lullaby, soothing her. This may be one of my favorite-ever moments in any Winter’s Tale, Antigonus gently comforting the baby in a pause of beautiful song amid the violence rising about him. And then tragedy strikes: No, it's not a bear. A more carnivorous beast intrudes on this expectant moment and Shakespeare’s play on the whole: The director. For the complete review, click here.

Photo of Rosencrantz with palms together looking at Guildenstern next to him, pointiong at Rosencrantz, both in Renaissance-era clothesOn Stage: Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead

Two Characters in Search of Their Play

In the end, there is nothing. There is our imagination and the lingering effects of a writer's imagination, but there is "no thing," as Hamlet likes to pronounce nothing when he's making a lewd pun. An ending, even one of nothing, needs a beginning—but there's nothing there, neither, except a blank slate for conception. "There is an art to the building up of suspense," says Guildenstern, the opening line of Tom Stoppard's Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead—well, actually, the opening line is Rosencrantz repeating "heads" five times as Guildenstern flips coins to him, each coin landing with its head up. No thing in no place. Stoppard doesn't give his play any setting. His staging instructions are “a place without any visible character.” So, the place where Rosencrantz and Guildenstern exist is the same place where we exist: In this instance, that's the Blackfriars Playhouse in Staunton, Virginia, home of the American Shakespeare Center (ASC) which is staging Stoppard's play—with a dynamic duo in the leads—in tandem with William Shakespeare's Hamlet.For the complete review, click here.

On Stage: The Gospel at Colonus

A Sermon from the Book of Oedipus

Praise the Lord and Greek theater! Praise WSC Avant Bard! not only for bringing The Gospel at Colonus to the stage in the D.C. region, but for reviving it a year later, too, giving me a chance to take in this theatrically spiritual experience. I was introduced to this—well, what do we call it? play, musical, Pentecostal service?—in a Masters of Humanities class in the mid-1990s when the professor showed us a telecast of it. I was moved by it, but never got the chance to see it in person until WSC Avant Bard mounted its intimate production last year. Unfortunately, I couldn't fit it into my schedule, even though its run was extended. Fortunately, so popular and acclaimed was the show, the company revived it for this season. Second chances are rare gifts indeed, so this time, though my schedule is even more crowded this year, I simply bullied it onto my calendar. Amen to that. For the complete review, click here.