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Giving Thanks | Speak the Speech

By November 27, 2014 No Comments

When icicles hang by the wall

And Dick the shepherd blows his nail

And Tom bears logs into the hall

And milk comes frozen home in pail,

When blood is nipp’d and ways be foul,

Then nightly sings the staring owl, Tu-whit;

Tu-who, a merry note,

While greasy Joan doth keel the pot.


Groundlings! Shakespeare frequently presents moments when disparate characters with competing agendas are brought together in unexpected and far-flung places. The tension mounts, resolving either in improbable hilarity and a fair bit of singing or in bloodshed, psychological cruelty, remorse, and a recognition that there is no going back to the way things were.

Which will your Thanksgiving be?

As someone who is hors de combat – Canadians get Thanksgiving out of the way in October – I’m happy to shoulder the duties of tracking exciting openings. Usually, we leave announcements of future openings for later posts, but as everyone else pigs out on turkey, I am going to pig out on juicy announcements.

Appropriately for a week in which The Hunger Games – Mockingjay opens (I hadn’t noticed the irony of it opening at Thanksgiving until now), we’ll be focusing on the Capitol: it’s good to be a Shakespearean in DC these days.

Gratitude for Gratis Tickets

DC readers should count their blessings, and get out their chequebooks to make a donation. Shakespeare Theatre Company (I love how, despite being in the US, they use proper – Canadian – spelling) is planning to give away a thousand free tickets to every production in its coming season, according to The Washingtonian. Some of the tickets will be reserved for school groups, but many will be available on a first-come, first-served basis. This is an amazing venture, and I think any theatrical company prepared to make this kind of investment in its community deserves recognition and support.

2014-11-26 Tempest

Even if The Tempest (I’d rather watch Cymbeline or Pericles) is their only upcoming Shakespeare, please consider donating to the Company. No, seriously. Pony up the cash, or I will send Ariel to get you. Prospero takes the stage December 2. Please support Miranda through his unbearably long exposition.

Into the Woods

The Courtly Crowd Cowers: Zoe Waites, Andrew Veenstra, Adina Verson. Photo: S. Suchman.

The Courtly Crowd Cowers: Zoe Waites, Andrew Veenstra, Adina Verson. Photo: S. Suchman.

I hope I won’t try readers’ patience if I turn to another STC offering, their staging of As You Like It, which runs until December 17. Director Michael Attenborough puts Zoe Waites through her paces as Rosalind, with supporting turns from Andrew Veenstra (Orlando), Adina Verson (Celia), and Andrew Weems as Touchstone, amongst others. In the absence of more intelligent commentary, here is a photo of the ladies with Touchstone. Am I the only one who sees Touchstones costume as a mash-up from Doctor Who, combining David Tennant blue pinstripes with Matt Smith’s fez? In any case, fezzes are cool.

Good Morning, Baltimore!

More capital region goodness! This column chronicled (okay, that’s pretentious – we mentioned) Chesapeake Shakespeare Company’s ventures earlier in 2014; Baltimore has more Bard than before. Cohesion Theater is not a Shakespearean company, but they’ve opted to mount a storefront production of Coriolanus. Alicia Stanley directs Dave La Salle in the title role with support from Nancy Linden as Volumnia and Matt Ancarrow as Aufidius.

Dave La Salle as Coriolanus. Photo: Tyrone Eaton.

Dave La Salle as Coriolanus. Photo: Tyrone Eaton.

Tim Smith, writing for the Baltimore Sun, draws attention to “the almost erotic fight scenes” which are staged “with particular flair.” Considering that the mainstream productions I have seen of the play (Ralph Fiennes’ film, Stratford’s almost shockingly static 2006 production) tend to shy away from the very queer side of this play, all I can say is “Groundlings! Someone needs to write a review! Or at least sound off in the comments.” Seriously, I want to know how Ancarrow delivers
I have nightly since

Dreamt of encounters ‘twixt thyself and me;

We have been down together in my sleep,

Unbuckling helms, fisting each other’s throat,

And waked half dead with nothing.


Tickets $15-20. Until December 7.

“Until the sun comes up over Santa Monica Boulevard”

Yes, the heading for this section is ironic. But all I wanna do is have some fun…. I am genuinely intrigued by the idea of staging a family-unfriendly Twelfth Night. The play’s virtuosity and wit make it a staple of high school productions, but a major sub-plot consists of a bankrupt lecher trying to pimp his niece out to a gullible (but rich!) idiot – or at least to make the idiot believe that is the case. A man appears to take up a sugar daddy, only to drop him for a sugar momma in a heartbeat. A grown man threatens to murder his page-boy – who masochistically accepts this, willingly, despite not being a boy at all. And the protracted confusions of identity are resolved by the hustler beating up the pimp and the idiot. I totally dig this. Families: stay away. This is the seamier side of life, just with really good jokes. I keep appealing to Standard readers to review productions. Come on, LA – there must be some of you out there who can go see this and give us a detailed review? See here for further information.

And for Zero-Calorie Dessert: Bankside!!

Finally, as promised, Shakespeare’s Globe has announced their next season, on the theme of justice and mercy. As you might expect, The Merchant of Venice and Measure for Measure will be staged. I’m not 100% sure that As You Like It  or Richard II  really flesh out the theme, but of particular note to me, King John will tour multiple locations. After Stratford’s production this summer – crisp direction and excellent performances couldn’t save an uneven play – I am dying to know how it plays out in actual medieval and early modern settings.


Author Rory

Rory earned his PhD in English literature from the University of Toronto. His thesis examines the role of language in creating and maintaining social distinction in the plays of Shakespeare. Rory has taught in several different divisions of the University: the English department, the School of Graduate Studies, Innis College's Writing and Rhetoric Program, and at the University of Toronto Mississauga (UTM).

More posts by Rory

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