PODCAST: ‘WHEN ROMEO WAS A WOMAN’ FROM FOLGER SHAKESPEARE LIBRARY and more...


PODCAST: ‘WHEN ROMEO WAS A WOMAN’ FROM FOLGER SHAKESPEARE LIBRARY

(via Pam Green)

Listen to the podcast at: http://www.folger.edu/template.cfm?cid=4890

I will assume thy part in some disguise
And tell fair Hero I am Claudio
Much Ado About Nothing (1.1.316)

The actress Charlotte Cushman was a theatrical icon in 19th century America, known to the press by her first name, like Beyonce today. Her fame was not, however, for conventionally Victorian feminine portrayals.

Cushman specialized in playing male roles, principally Romeo and Hamlet, competing on equal terms with leading actors like Edwin Forrest and Edwin Booth. She was not the only actress of her time to attempt these parts, but Cushman’s style was uniquely assertive and athletic. When Queen Victoria saw Cushman as Romeo, she said she couldn’t believe it was a woman playing the part.

Rebecca Sheir, host of the Shakespeare Unlimited podcast series, interviews Lisa Merrill, professor in the Department of Performance Studies at Hofstra University and author of When Romeo Was a Woman, about Cushman’s professional and personal life, including her off-stage romantic partnerships with women and her changing public image after death.

Visit Stage Voices Publishing for archived posts and sign up for free e-mail updates: http://www.stagevoices.com/ .  If you would like to contribute a review, monologue, or other work related to theatre, please write to Bob Shuman at Bobjshuman@gmail.com .

     

IRELAND: NO COUNTRY FOR RENAISSANCE MEN?

(Eric Haywood’s article appeared in the Irish Times, 10/23.)

In 1513, shortly after completing The Prince, Machiavelli (1469-1527) wrote a letter to a friend describing his life on the farm to which he had been banished following the return to Florence of the Medici, against whom he was suspected of having plotted. It was a boring life, and Machiavelli would much rather still have been involved in the hustle and bustle of politics. But, “come evening,” he wrote, “I enter into the ancient courts of ancient men where, received lovingly, I seek nourishment from that food which is mine alone […]and for the next four hours I do not have any worries.”

What Machiavelli is referring to is what Petrarch (1304-74), the poet and so-called Founding Father of the Renaissance, dubbed “talking with books”. The Renaissance is the period when Europeans were taught to put their faith in books. Books, they were told, had the answers to Life and so were worth studying. Yet it was not just any books they should study. Above all it was the books of the ancients: the Greeks and especially the Romans. 

(Read more)

http://www.irishtimes.com/culture/books/ireland-no-country-for-renaissance-men-1.1969986

Visit Stage Voices Publishing for archived posts and sign up for free e-mail updates: http://www.stagevoices.com/ .  If you would like to contribute a review, monologue, or other work related to theatre, please write to Bob Shuman at Bobjshuman@gmail.com .

(Eric Hayward’s article appeared in the Irish Times, 10/23.)

In 1513, shortly after completing The Prince, Machiavelli (1469-1527) wrote a letter to a friend describing his life on the farm to which he had been banished following the return to Florence of the Medici, against whom he was suspected of having plotted. It was a boring life, and Machiavelli would much rather still have been involved in the hustle and bustle of politics. But, “come evening,” he wrote, “I enter into the ancient courts of ancient men where, received lovingly, I seek nourishment from that food which is mine alone […]and for the next four hours I do not have any worries.”

What Machiavelli is referring to is what Petrarch (1304-74), the poet and so-called Founding Father of the Renaissance, dubbed “talking with books”. The Renaissance is the period when Europeans were taught to put their faith in books. Books, they were told, had the answers to Life and so were worth studying. Yet it was not just any books they should study. Above all it was the books of the ancients: the Greeks and especially the Romans. 

(Read more)

http://www.irishtimes.com/culture/books/ireland-no-country-for-renaissance-men-1.1969986

Visit Stage Voices Publishing for archived posts and sign up for free e-mail updates: http://www.stagevoices.com/ .  If you would like to contribute a review, monologue, or other work related to theatre, please write to Bob Shuman at Bobjshuman@gmail.com .

     

*****FLORIAN ZELLER: ‘THE FATHER’ (REVIEW PICK, UK)

(Lyn Gardner’s article appeared in the Guardian, 10/23.)

There is usually a moment in the theatre, often after the first few minutes or the first few scenes, when you start to relax into a play. You are confident that you have a grip on it; all anxiety about making sense of the action disappears. It’s not so in Florian Zeller’s slippery but hugely rewarding play about Andre (Kenneth Cranham), an elderly man with dementia, and the efforts of his daughter Anne (Lia Williams) to balance her love for her father and the need to care for him with the demands of her own life and relationship with Pierre (Colin Tierney).

Winner of the 2014 Molière award for France’s best play, The Father makes us see things as if through the confused eyes of Andre, as he struggles to make sense of a progressively befuddling world. Sound grim? It’s not. It’s a play that constantly confounds expectations and works almost like a thriller, with a sinister Pinteresque edge, as complete strangers keep on turning up in Andre’s flat.

(Read more)

http://www.theguardian.com/stage/2014/oct/23/the-father-review-ustinov-theatre-royal-bath-florian-zeller

Visit Stage Voices Publishing for archived posts and sign up for free e-mail updates: http://www.stagevoices.com/ .  If you would like to contribute a review, monologue, or other work related to theatre, please write to Bob Shuman at Bobjshuman@gmail.com .

     

*****‘LOVE’S LABOUR’S LOST/LOVE’S LABOUR’S WON’ (REVIEW PICK, UK)

 

(Dominic Cavendish’s article appeared in the U.K. Telegraph, 10/16.)

Maybe it was the rain bucketing down outside but I approached this double-helping of Shakespearean comedy with an autumnal sense of gloom.

Love’s Labour’s Lost, that early play groaning with dense verbal wit, has been yoked in the RSC’s repertoire to that familiar beast Much Ado About Nothing – here restyled Love’s Labour’s Won, a title that might refer to a lost work but was likely an alternate name for an existing play, perhaps Much Ado.

There’s one director (Christopher Luscombe), one designer (Simon Higlett), one company (of 23) and a unifying concept: the earlier play has been set on the eve of the First World War; the later, greater comedy has been reframed to picture the men returning home in 1918. A neat-enough centenary tie-in but hardly the sort of thing to put a spring in your step.

(Read more)

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/theatre/theatre-reviews/11167470/Loves-Labours-LostLoves-Labours-Won-Royal-Shakespeare-Theatre-review.html 

Visit Stage Voices Publishing for archived posts and sign up for free e-mail updates: http://www.stagevoices.com/ .  If you would like to contribute a review, monologue, or other work related to theatre, please write to Bob Shuman at Bobjshuman@gmail.com .

     

PLAYING FALSTAFF

(Matt Trueman’s article appeared in the Guardian, 10/21.)

As a woman, I never expected to play Falstaff – but that meant I didn’t feel daunted by the part. You’re not following in anyone’s footsteps. That’s quite freeing.

Falstaff’s often this old man with a white beard, bumbling around the stage – a fool and a jester. I saw him differently, as an old soldier who’d slipped into villainy. He’s getting older and can’t get away with the things he once did. I saw a man looking for a way out. I’m from a working-class background and my family’s got its fair share of villains. Falstaff’s got the same charisma and brutality that they do. They’re very funny, but they can turn at any second. I wanted to come up with a Falstaff you’d want to have a pint with, but you wouldn’t like to meet down a dark alley. You can’t take your eyes off him for a second. Falstaff’s smart. Playing him like an idiot is a mistake.

Our production’s set in a women’s prison. We’re all playing prisoners first, who are performing Shakespeare’s play, so we interpret the characters as they might. It takes a while to get your head around. My Falstaff is a reflection of the men in this woman’s life, how they’ve treated her over the years; men that have been laughing with her one moment, then grabbed her by the throat the next.

(Read more)

http://www.theguardian.com/stage/2014/oct/21/joss-ackland-ashley-mcguire-playing-falstaff-shakespeare

Visit Stage Voices Publishing for archived posts and sign up for free e-mail updates: http://www.stagevoices.com/ .  If you would like to contribute a review, monologue, or other work related to theatre, please write to Bob Shuman at Bobjshuman@gmail.com .

     

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