This week’s Bard in Multimedia column features two very different kinds of books and a chance for actors to win $5000. The first book is an action adventure illustrated comic book Kill Shakespeare: The Mask of Night and the other is an Italian blogger’s adventures to see David Tennant and Catherine Tate performing in Much Ado About Nothing. And keep reading to learn how you can put money in thy purse.
The pitch is: “What Fables [comic books] does for fairy tales, Kill Shakespeare does with the greatest writer of all time.”
Comic book writers Conor McCreery and Anthony Del Col first created this series in 2009. During a brainstorming session, they joked, “Let’s kill Billy Shakespeare.” Soon the joke turned serious and the writing team started jotting down ideas. Now McCreery and Del Col have just released their latest installment: Kill Shakespeare: The Mask of Night, which introduces another Shakespearean character Viola from Twelfth Night.
So what’s it all about? For starters forget everything you know about Shakespeare. Hamlet and Juliet didn’t die. They, Othello, Falstaff, and now Viola live in a dark realm with villains Richard III, Lady Macbeth and Iago, who are all on a quest to kill Shakespeare, a wizard who entombs their futures in the pages of literature. If they can steal the enchanted quill perhaps they can control their destinies.
The series’ fourth volume The Mask of Night, from IDW Publishing, continues where volume three The Tide of Blood leaves off: Our heroes Hamlet, Juliet, Othello, and Shakespeare are lost at sea after Prospero’s island is destroyed. Titus Andronicus’ massive navy is intent on destroying “our heroes. But other threats lurk in the waters as well—the fabled pirate Captain Cesario and his first mate Viola, who will do whatever it takes to survive the coming storm….”
George Gene Gustine of The New York Times called the series “gripping, violent and dark fun, even if you’re not fully versed in Shakespearean lore.”
Much Ado About blogging:
The collision of Dr. Who and Shakespeare inspired Italian blogger Germana Maciocci to write A Double Heart for His Single One: A Much Ado About Nothing Experience. At first, the campy sci-fi series and William Shakespeare might seem rather unlikely to collide, but the two actually have close ties. Two of Britain’s top Shakespearean actors star in Dr. Who: Catherine Tate as Donna and David Tennant as the 10th incarnation of the Doctor. So when Maciocci—an avid fan of Shakespeare and Dr. Who—learned that Tate and Tennant were starring as the comic dueling lovers, Beatrice and Benedick in Much Ado About Nothing, she had to get to London to see them.
Her love for Tennant, in particular, grew from a wary eye. She grew up with Tom Baker’s Doctor, whom she loved, but this new lad was a “young and handsome regeneration, with a totally human instinct to snog any nice girl he stumbled upon,” writes Maciocci.
In spite of initial reservations, she did fall for him. “Apparently, I cannot fancy any actor unless he/she was or is involved in Shakespeare’s stuff.” Her latter reference to “stuff” illustrates nicely how unpretentious is her writing. Most would write “plays” or “works”, but Maciocci writes without care for elaborate language. Her voice is as relaxed as sitting down for tea with your best buddies.
For most, a story such as Maciocci’s would become nothing more than a chat among friends: “I bought the tickets; I loved show, or the show was mediocre, but still loved my trip…” but not for Maciocci. From this day forward she started blogging about her adventures in The Shakespeare Standard, and now she has compiled those musings in her book, A Double Heart for His Single One (newly released on Amazon).
What exactly is the book about? Many things. It chronicles her anticipation and preparation for what she calls her big MAAN date (Much Ado About Nothing) with an easy to understand analysis of the text (perfect for students and life-long learners who wish to understand the play), interviews with friends who were able to see the production first, and lastly her review of MAAN, which is now available on DigitalTheatre.com (captured live from the West End’s Wyndham’s Theatre).
Just going to the production wasn’t an option for Maciocci. Preparation for seeing the play was paramount, so she could concentrate on the production’s artistry rather than spending time trying to understand the text. So it was time to study. First, she purchased an English “parallel” text of the play (up to this point she had only read it in Italian) and bought a copy of the play’s audio book (Tennant also plays Benedick in this BBC3 Radio version). She shares her analysis of the play as she reads and listens. From a Shakespeare blogger one might expect heady verse, but Maciocci has a delightful, charming down-to-earth voice. She is all at once a well-learned Shakespeare geek and an avid Dr. Who and Tennant fan (almost to the point of idolatry).
In a cute aside, she notes that while she is listening to her audio book at the gym, she was not training to run after Tennant, “Though I openly declare I wouldn’t run away from him, either. I am not rude.” Bits such as this make it a charming read. My only disappointment was I wanted to read more about her time in London and her experience backstage with the stars, but overall reading the book was an afternoon well spent and while I am well-versed in Much Ado (both reading and viewing several versions) I still enjoyed reading her analysis of the play.
Put money in thy purse:
Be it as Romeo or Beatrice or some other choice role, actors have a shot at the $5000 prize from The Actors Process, which is accepting video submissions. Actors have the choice of 10 monologues. Most are from fairly modern films or plays such as Mamet’s Glengarry Glen Ross and John Sayles’ Passion Fish, but Shakespeare does make the cut: Romeo laments that death is kinder than banishment to a land that has no Juliet; Luciana from Comedy of Errors entreats her sister’s husband to hide his false love so well that her sister suspects it not; Beatrice’s chilling demand to “Kill Claudio” from Much Ado About Nothing, and King Lear‘s bastard Edmund’s grief over being considered less than the “legitimate” Edgar.
Judges are from the U.S., U.K. and Australia and include L.A. casting director Marci Liroff, who has worked with Hollywood icons such as Steven Spielberg and Ridley Scott and on films such as Pretty in Pink, Ghosts, Mean Girls, St. Elmo’s Fire and Footloose. Also judging are Australia’s casting director Greg Apps, who has casted more than 65 features including Mission Impossible 2 and Queen of the Damned, and American actress Gaby Santinelli, who won the Olivier Award for Jerry Springer: The Opera.
The winner’s work will be included on the final episode of the online talk show The Actors Process with host Clare Elizabeth Dea. The show’s goal is to shine a light behind the scenes of the audition world.
Want to see your competitors? They can be seen on YouTube. Some include Cherice McKenzie-Cook, who does a brilliant performance as Nina from Passion Fish, Stephanie May as Lisa from Key Exchange and Jill Edwards as Elizabeth Barry from The Libertine. Some Shakespearean competitors include Almir Kurtic, Dean Kelleher, Johnathan Harris. To see all the competitors simply search YouTube for $5000 Actors Process. When I typed it in, I had 980 hits come up. Submissions will be accepted through June 27.
This weekly column publishes each Monday and covers books, films, recordings, web content, videos, video games, radio, television, and all emerging mediums. Send all press releases and comments to the Associate Editor for Multimedia, Deborah Voorhees at email@example.com.