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Julius Caesar at American Repertory Theatre Feb. 6th, 2008 @ 11:39 am

“Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears!”


The American Repertory Theatre (A.R.T.) proudly presents Shakespeare’s brilliant political play “Julius Caesar”, directed by Arthur Nauzyciel.  This is the first ever production of “Julius Caesar” in A.R.T. history.


The play runs from Saturday, February 9 to Sunday, March 16 at the Loeb Drama Center, 64 Brattle Street, Harvard Square in Cambridge.  Show times & more info: www.amrep.org/caesar .


Caesar is considered by some to be one the most powerful figures in world history.  Shakespeare’s “Julius Caesar” is one of the greatest theatrical studies of tyranny, revolution, and civil war: a breathless, gripping portrayal of friendships and alliances torn apart by political ambition and the intoxicating effects of power.  Lines from this play have become so much a part of our culture that their origin is sometimes forgotten: “Et tu, Brute?” … “Beware the Ides of March.”


Acclaimed French theater director Arthur Nauzyciel illuminates themes in “Julius Caesar” that resonate with current day events, such as politics as entertainment, and image vs. truth.  Nauzyciel invites us into a dreamlike world that is both classic and timeless, and designed to engage and stimulate the audience’s imagination.  


The production will feature A.R.T. resident actors Remo Airaldi, Thomas Derrah, Jeremy Geidt and Will LeBow, as well as distinguished guests including Jim True-Frost from HBO’s “The Wire” (Prez); and James Waterston, Sam Waterston’s son, and the third Waterston to be appear on the A.R.T. stage.  A.R.T. has gained renown throughout the world for launching productions that educate, enrich and entertain.  This play promises to be no exception. 


Tickets start at $39.  Advance tickets are available to students with valid ID for $25 (limit two).  Generous group rates available for groups of 10 or more.  Post-show discussions with cast members every Saturday matinee.  Purchase online at www.amrep.org  or call (617) 547-8300.


See this show before the Ides of March!


Please feel free to forward this e-mail to individuals who you think might be interested.

Review: The Winter's Tale, performed at MIT on Thursday, September 20 Sep. 22nd, 2007 @ 12:42 pm
Thursday night alexx_kay and I went to a production of "The Winter's Tale" at MIT put on by students of
THE Cambridge University American Stage Tour (CAST)
and while initially I had my doubts about how enjoyable it would be due to the various ambiguities of the play itself along with the fact that it was a
student production, I can definitively state that this was an amazing production that demonstrated once again that these plays were meant to be experienced
live, not just read.

Indeed, one of the aspects of CAST's production which made the play so much livelier than I expected was that the company exploited every possible moment
for making the play come alive to the audience.

While it didn't occur to me at the time, this sense of liveliness was kicked off when we bumped into eanja and fabrisse
before the show and then when we took our seats found ourselves sitting in front of xiphias, maintainers of the wonderful bard_in_boston, virtual home of all things Shakespeare in the Boston area.

The play itself is, as I commented, a bit ambiguous in its categorization: while the theme itself is very dark--jealousy and the destruction it enacts not
only upon individuals but upon families and social order--the play is often listed as a comedy, because nobody actually dies (thanks, Fabrisse). According
to Marjorie Garber's book _Shakespeare After All_, Winter's Tale can be categorized as one of the late romances, along with Tempest and Midsummer's Night,
and also as one of the triad of "jealousy plays" which include Much Ado and Othello. The players made a creative choice to highlight the comedic parts
of the play while not downplaying the darker elements, the two main means for doing this being the use of puppets and the use of character/costuming references
to Lewis Carroll's _Alice in Wonderland_.

Yet the use of children's toys and stories did not detract from the dark theme of jealousy and violence. As anyone who knows about the secret history of
Punch and Judy can tell you, violence is woven through the oldest puppet plays. And as for stories, a winter's tale is a story told during the darkest
part of the year.

The "winter's tale" of this play's title is both literal and proverbial. The phrase meant something like "fairy tale," or a diverting entertainment, largely
for the amusement of women, children, and the old. A mid-sixteenth-century author wrote of "old wives fables and winter tales" (John Olde, Walther's Antichrist,
translation 1556) as if they were versions of the same, and Lady Macbeth belittles her husband's lack of resolution by observing scornfully that "these
flaws and starts, / ... would well become / A woman's story at a winter fire" (3.4.62-64). The teller of the winter's tale within The Winter's Tale is
the boy Mamillius, the ill-fated young Prince. His mother, Hermione, urges him to tell a merry tale, but he replies..."A sad tale's best for winter. I
have one / Of sprites and goblins" (2.1.27-28). Most of the tale is whispered into his mother's ear, but it begins, significantly, "There was a man- /
Dwelt by a churchyard." So, we may say, all men and women-do, living their lives in the neighborhood of death. And if stories and sad tales distance the
imminence of death, if fiction removes the constant and direct fear of mortality, still we might remember that it is Mamillius, the teller of the winter's
tale, who is the first to die. "If the King had no son"-the hypothetical prophecy comes unexpectedly true, and the world of Sicilia is not prepared to
comprehend it.

So a winter's tale is a scarey story told during the dying part of the year, making Winter's Tale a seasonal story of dying and birth, with its promise
of transformation (which makes the use of the rabbit/hare from Alice in Wonderland a very elegant use of spring imagery). )For more about winter's tales,
you can read a post titled
"Tales for November"
part of my "13 Days of Halloween" for last year; the post includes some discussion of winter's tales in A. S. Byatt's novel _Possession_.)

Winter's Tale includes a number of very creepy images. Aside from the image of the man living by the churchyard, there is Leontes's famous speech about
"the spider in the cup" which has poisoned him and all he sees. And there is a lovely gruesome description given by a young man who has just seen a man
torn apart by a bear, a speech given with particular relish, as it were, by the Hare in this production.

I would say the real hit of the evening, however, was the clown/trickster, Autolycus, who's roghish charm reminded me of the Michael Caine character in
"Dirty Rotten Scoundrels"--at one point, Autolycus literally steals the pants off of someone he is talking to--while his musical numbers, where he prowled
the stage and sang ballads in a menacing sort of way, reminded me of Richard Thompson. At one point, the actor Autolycus stopped singing and addressed
the audience to mention that he accepted contributions. As the audience laughed, he said, "No, really, I'm not going on until I get some money," much to
the delight of his audience. I wish the program had listed the names of the actors, because I would definitely be interested in seeing what else this actor
does in the future. His part really pulled the play together, and I was intrigued enough by the character to see what Marjorie Garber had to say about
the role:
Autolycus is the play's resident artist and genius loci, spirit of place. His name reveals his link with the classical trickster Autolycus, one of the master
thieves of Greek tradition, and a son of the quicksilver god Hermes, or Mercury.

So there it is, my review of a play which I enjoyed immensely despite having no expectations when I went to see it. If you are in the NYC, Frostburg, MD,
or Washington DC areas, you still have a chance to go see this wonderful production. Go, have fun, and don't forget to bring change.
Current Location: aerye
Current Mood: mercurial
Current Music: www.wmbr.org

Redfeather Theatre's Richard III well worth the trip Aug. 13th, 2007 @ 02:40 pm
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 Richard3 is one of my favorite bad boys, and, despite the fact that his is supposedly one of the most frequently produced of the Shakespeare plays, I have
rarely had an opportunity to hear it in live theatre. So when I found out that there was going to be a production on my birthday, I begged alexx_kay
to take me to see it.

Everything about the production was fabulous, and I urge anyone who loves this play to go see it.

Timothy John Smith, the actor who plays Richard, is, in the best tradition of timeless villains, alternately seductive and terrifying. Indeed, the director
pointed out in the program for the play that R3 is all about the seductiveness of evil. I can also see why R3 is difficult to produce--Richard is not only
the title character but the puppetmaster who controls everything else on the stage, until the very end when he brings about his own demise. The edits to
the script and the pacing on this production were so tight that they actually contribute to the sense of Richard being caught up in his own machinations,
and Smith manages to convey Richard's increasing fury and paranoia as he speeds toward his own self-destruction.

One of the other difficulties in producing R3 is that there are so many characters, and keeping track of the changing factions, traitors and counter-traitors,
requires a scorecard. This production kindly provides one, a geneology of the families involved (yes, everyone is basically related to everyone else, or
has killed someone else's relative, which is one reason why I refer to this play as a "gothic" rather than a "history"). Like Lawrence Olivier's film production
of R3, this production begins with the final coronation scene of Henry VI, Part 3, although this production uses the setting of a 1920s party, complete
with two flappers singing jazz tunes, to introduce the characters and set up the first monologue. The moment when the flappers are singing a Betty Boop
rendition of "I Want to Be Loved By You" and Richard walks onstage is rather ominous.

Another trick used two distinguish between the feuding factions is the use of costumes, with the older families being dressed in conservative suits while
the newer ascendents to the throne dressed as the nouveau riche.

The production also features some cross-gender casting, and in the case of the relationsip between Richard and Buckingham, this further adds to the sense
of politics making "strange bedfellows." Indeed, this play features a number of very strong speeches for women, and the relationship between Richard and
the women, whom he often furiously accuses of being changeable despite his own chameleon nature, is one of the fascinating aspects of this truly psychological

Last of all, I must say, the setting of Green Hill Park in Worcester which was used for the stage is truly wonderful: the park creates a sense of being
in an isolated greenwood, and it also compliments the garden party turned battle field which describes the setting of the play. You should, however, bring
bug spray and a light jacket or sweater.

Accessibility: Those with hearing impairments may have trouble following some of the dialogue, as there are a few points where the actor speaking is turned
in such a way that he/she is not facing the audience. Also, while the path from the parking lot to the seating is not long, it is up a somewhat steep hill,
which for a short part has uneven flagstones: I'm not sure if this would impede wheelchair users, but if the wheelchiar can travel over grass, it should
not be an issue.
Richard 3 runs from August 1-19.
Showtime is 7 p.m. and tickets are $20 ($15 for students and seniors). Discount tickets for students through grade 12 and their teachers are available

Redfeather Theatre Company (Worcester)]
Redfeather Theatre is a professional acting troupe in residence at the College of the Holy Cross. Dedicated to mounting outdoor productions of Shakespeare's
plays, the company presents the Worcester Summer Shakespeare Festival in the Memorial Grove Amphitheatre at beautiful Green Hill Park in Worcester, MA.
Cast members include professional actors, members of the Worcester community, Holy Cross alumni and student apprentices - all working together to present
magical, memorable summer theatre.
Current Music: Billy Joel "Honesty"
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