Shakespeare and Company’s 2017 Season

shakespeare-and-company-campusin-lenox-massachusetts-2005-2707Winter brightens considerably when theatres announce what they will be performing in their coming season. One anticipates the pleasures that await theatre goers. Recently we visited the campus of Shakespeare and Company to hear from their Artistic Director, Allyn Burrows, what is in store. In addition to  their Shakespearean and contemporary productions, there will also be  educational programs.  We also learned about the new outdoors performance space, Shakespeare’s Garden.

The company is also presenting a special treat on the weekend of February 18 at 7 pm  and 19 at 2 pm. Lovers’ Spat-Shakespeare’s Famous Couple Encounters offer readings of scenes from Much Ado About Nothing, Romeo and Juliet and Midsummer Night’s Dream among other Shakespeare plays where the characters  deal with the challenges all lovers face. The case includes Shakespeare and Company favorites Elizabeth Aspenlieder, Tamara Hickey, David Joseph, Jason Asprey and others.

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Go to the Shakespeare and Company website for details.

Shakespeare and Company

For details about the rest of the season, click below

Allyn Burrows and 2017 Season

Two Gentlemen of Verona

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Ryan Winkles as Valentine and Thomas Brazzle as Proteus

Two Gentlemen of Verona has been a play about which I have always had mixed feelings. However, the production at Shakespeare and Company which is running until September 4 is enchanting on every level. The acting, the movement,  the music, the comedy, every element blended together to make the play work as it doesn’t always. I was eager to talk to the actors about how they had created this magic. I have learned this season that to understand why Shakespeare’s characters behave as they do, one should ask the actors.

This interview with the director, Jonathan Croy and actors Tom Brazzel and Ryan Winkles was informative. However, since we were focused on the actions of the two gentlemen, we did not discuss some of the other characters who  were also captivating. The young women who are the objects of the gentlemen’s affections could also be discussed at length, as could the comic genius of John Hadden and Jason Asprey. In Shakespeare’s comedies, much humor comes from the secondary characters such as servants, relatives and in this case a band of pirate men (and women, as Bella Merlin kept reminding the audience.) One interview does not do justice to this production. However, you will gain much insight by clicking on the interview below and going to see the play by September 4.

Two Gentlemen of Verona Interview

Cloteal Horne as Sylvia
Cloteal Horne as Sylvia
Kate Abbruzzese as Julia
Kate Abbruzzese as Julia

 

 

 

 

 

 

The pirates -Bella Merlin
Bella Merlin as one of the pirates
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John Hadden as Launce and Jason Asprey as Speed

 

 

 

 

 

 

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           The Company in the song Who is Sylvia

The Merchant of Venice

2016315d224_27496339984_oThe Merchant of Venice is a challenging play for many reasons. As Tina Packer said on opening night at Shakespeare and Company, “It is a roller coaster.” The play which she directed     runs in repertory until August 21. Even before the Holocaust cast a harsher light on  the treatment of Shylock, the structure of the play raises questions as it shifts from comedy to drama to comedy What is not in question in this production  is the quality of Jonathan Epstein’s portrayal of Shylock. This is one of the most nuanced, humane and moving performances of the character that one is ever likely to see.

I have always had a problem with Portia, who although she extols the quality of mercy, shows none to Shylock. Bassanio and Lorenzo seemed to me fortune hunters who woo Portia and Jessica for gain as much as anything else. But then we interviewed the actors and my understanding of the characters changed dramatically. As a result I have become convinced that if you want to know about people in a play, ask the actors. For them to give the quality of performances they do, they have to live the people from the inside out. Although I always liked Nerissa, I understood her differently after this interview.

To listen to the interview, click on the link below.

Interview with Portia, Bassanio and Nerissa

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Pittsfield Shakespeare in the Park

 

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Although he died 400 years ago, William Shakespeare’s plays still thrill audiences. In the summer,companies performing Shakespeare out of doors and free of charge allow many families to share the pleasures of his work under the setting sun. The relatively new Pittsfield Shakespeare in the Park Company will be performing The Tempest from July 21 to August 7, Thursday through Sunday at 8 pm on the Pittsfield First Street Commons.  On Friday, Saturday and Sunday evenings The Whitney Center for the Arts performs live music at 7:15PSP-Tempest-11x17

Bob and I interviewed Enrico Spada, the founder and director of the company and some of the actors. After the interview we had an opportunity to watch a rehearsal which was very exciting. One of the pleasure of seeing  different productions of Shakespeare’s plays is gaining new insights into the characters and their actions as different actors and directors bring fresh insights to the play.

Pittsfield Shakespeare in the Park Interview

Rehearsal Photos

Photo by Haley Barbieri
Photo by Haley Barbieri
Photo by Haley Barbieri
Photo by Haley Barbieri
Photo by Haley Barbieri
Photo by Haley Barbieri

 

 

 

 

 

Photo by Haley Barbieri
Photo by Haley Barbieri
Photo by Haley Barbieri
Photo by Haley Barbieri

 

 

 

 

 

http:///www.pittsfieldshakespeare.org

Shakespeare Outdoors – Hubbard Hall

Small-poster-Othello-768x943One of the joys of summer is seeing Shakespeare performed out of doors. For many years, Hubbard Hall of Cambridge, New York, has presented touring productions of Shakespeare’s plays, not only performing out of doors in Cambridge, but touring to other communities as well. This year, they have also decided that weather will not deter them so in each location, they have an alternate rain performing space. Check the Hubbard Hall website to see where they are performing near you.  Performances are free, donations are accepted.  They are performing through July 16, so don’t miss them. http://hubbardhall.org/theater-spotlight/

Bob and I had the pleasure of interviewing the director Erin Ouellette and actors, Catherine Seeley and Scott Renzoni.

Othello Interview Part 1

Othello Interview Part 2

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A Midsummer Night’s Dream at Bennington College

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Lysander and Hermia

A Midsummer Night’s Dream is one of Shakespeare’s most popular plays and is performed widely. There are many different ways of approaching the play as is true with all Shakespeare’s plays. Besides theatre productions, Midsummer has been reimagined in ballet, opera, film and television.  The characters have appeared in paintings, children’s books, manga and graphic novels, as well as in literary and dramatic parodies such as Lords and Ladies and Shakespeare in Hollywood. 

The Bennington College Drama Department is offering a production of Midsummer at the Lester Martin Theatre on May 6,  7, and 8 at 8 pm. Bob and I had the pleasure of interviewing the play’s director, Jean Randich, Music Director Christopher Giannitti and Technical Director Michael Rancourt. After talking with them, we are excited to see this production.

We met on the set of the play which was quite impressive.  Here is a model of it.Midsummer

 

Bennington College Midsummer Night’s Dream

William Shakespeare Anniversary

William Shakespeare (1)This year is the 400th anniversary of William Shakespeare’s death. He died on April 23, 1616. This is also the 452nd  anniversary of his birth. Since he was baptized on April 26, 1564 and since children were usually baptized three days after their birth, April 23 has always been celebrated as his birthday. Given this anniversary there are many special events that are taking place  throughout the world as a tribute to all that Shakespeare contributed through his plays and poetry.

Last year, we asked our son Paul to discuss the upcoming events on Theatre Talk. Besides having studied at Shakespeare and Company, Paul is the founder and director of Instant Shakespeare. He also supervised the publication of Neil Freeman’s edition of the First Folio of Shakespeare’s plays.

 

William Shakespeare Anniversary Part 1

William Shakespeare Anniversary Part 2

 

 

Folger Library Tour

Instant Shakespeare