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Shakespeare, Large and Small | Speak the Speech

By August 28, 2014 No Comments

As the summer starts to wind down, and openings become fewer and farther between until fall, this week’s round-up is an interesting mix of the major and minor. Openings of three plays by two major players (Stratford and Public Theater) are balanced against a quirky and eclectic assortment of re-imaginings of Shakespeare – including an encounter with the Dude. I’ll put the major productions – with their tantalizing, shiny production photographs – at the end.

The Bard Abides

New Orleans sees a theatrical combination I never would have imagined. The Mid-City Theater is mounting a staged reading of The Two Gentlemen of Lebowski, a mash-up of…. Well, if I have to explain, you’re probably not going to go anyway. The play is two nights only, August 29th and 30th. The theater’s website is – let’s just say minimalist, so I sadly can’t provide much more information on the show.

Two Gentlemen of Lebowski

Two Gentlemen of Lebowski

If any Shakespeare Standard readers are going, please consider submitting a review.

Student Hijinks

Colorado State University students may be in trouble if they try to use this week’s offering to study for their English exams. The university is mounting a production of the always entertaining Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged). Any CSU students reading this, please note: this will not be enough to allow you to skip your readings. The show runs Thursday through Sunday this week and next. Rather than try to explain their complex ticket prices, I’ll simply tell you that you can find that information here.

Love’s Labour Day Won

Readers in New England or the Hudson Valley could do worse this long weekend than to head to Lenox, MA, where Shakespeare and Company is putting on productions of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Julius Caesar, and both parts of Henry IV.

Cloteal L. Horne. Photo credit: David Sprague.

Cloteal L. Horne. Photo credit: David Sprague.

Petruchio in the Presidio

Heading over to the west coast, San Francisco Shakespeare is mounting a production of The Taming of the Shrew in the Presidio on the Main Post Parade Ground Lawn. Shows are at 2 PM weekends (remember: this week, that includes Monday!) until September 7. The price is certainly right, as tickets are free; Petruchio would no doubt disapprove.

What’s most interesting for me, though, is that they’ll also be doing a staged reading of Fletcher’s sequel, The Tamer Tamed, in collaboration with the San Francisco Playhouse. You can read about that in a too-brief interview with director Rebecca J. Ennels.


Totally Not-Famous People Putting on a Play You’ve Never Seen, in a City You’ve Never Heard Of

Yes, the heading for this section is ironic. So, we didn’t give as much coverage as we should have to the Public Theater’s production of King Lear. But after all, who’s ever heard of John Lithgow, the guy they had playing Lear, or some “Annette Bening” who was cast as Goneril? Oh, right. Everyone. And Tony and Oscar voters, you say?

Lithgow and Bening take their curtain call. Photo: David Gordon.

Lithgow and Bening take their curtain call. Photo: David Gordon.

Making up for my lapse, I’d like to draw to the attention of Shakespeare Standard readers Public Theater’s fascinating sounding production of The Winter’s Tale, through their Public Works. The show is directed by Obie winner Lear deBessonet with musical adaptation by Todd Almond and choreography by Chase Brock. It’s the cameos that have me interested, featuring amongst others: the Staten Island Lions (a lion-dancing troupe), the Bond Street Theater’s Shinbone Alley Stilt Band, New York Theatre Ballet, and Sesame Street.

Sesame Street, people. If that doesn’t have you excited, I don’t even want to know you. The show runs from September 5th through 7th at the Delacorte Theater, and you can get ticket information here.

Meanwhile, back in Stratford

Finally, to round out the round-up, the second half of Canada’s Stratford Festival is in full swing, with productions of Antony and Cleopatra and a four-person “chamber” production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. I’m excited for both plays. Tony and Cleo are a well matched Geraint Wyn Davies and Yanna McIntosh. Wyn Davies is an habitual scene stealer, while I still remember being electrified by McIntosh’s Helen of Troy in The Trojan Women a few years back. One to watch.

McIntosh and Wyn Davies. Photo credit: David Hou.

McIntosh and Wyn Davies. Photo credit: David Hou.

I’m probably even more excited for A Midsummer Night’s Dream: A Chamber Play. Four actors will play the whole cast. They’ve commandeered the town’s Masonic Concert Hall as the venue; the intimate setting will be a stark contrast with the sprawling, brawling, loud, brash, camp (and extremely good) production at the main Festival Theatre. The young actors taking on this challenge are Sara Afful, Dion Johnstone, Trish Lindström, and Mike Nadajewski. I’m not as familiar as I’d like to be with Afful and Nadajewski’s work, but Johnstone and Lindström consistently turn in some of the Festival’s most interesting work.

Afful, Nadajewski, Johnstone and Lindström. Photo credit: Michael Cooper.

Afful, Nadajewski, Johnstone and Lindström. Photo credit: Michael Cooper.


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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