The Bill / Shakespeare Project presents: This Week in Shakespeare news, for the week ending Monday, July 31st, 2017

[archive]

twitter_TWIS4
This week’s Shakespeare news review podcast includes disruptive audiences, troubled youth, friendship, and a boatload of reviews. PLUS our usual recap of this week’s daily highlights in Shakespearean history.

Continue reading The Bill / Shakespeare Project presents: This Week in Shakespeare news, for the week ending Monday, July 31st, 2017

Theater review: Julius Caesar by Oregon Shakespeare Festival

On the final night of our trip, we caught Julius Caesar in the indoor Bowmer Theater. Directed by Shana Cooper, this was a modern-dress production, with an incredible set designed by Sibyl Wickersheimer, a visual representation of decay: what looks to be unfinished staging (the sides of the stage floor exposed, the “stairs” made up of building materials that have been left behind or discarded), gray flats that are partially cracked, broken, falling apart (literally, as one chunk falls off midway through the first act).

Continue reading Theater review: Julius Caesar by Oregon Shakespeare Festival

Theater review: Off the Rails by Oregon Shakespeare Festival

Saturday afternoon, we caught Off the Rails, a world premiere at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. The play, written by Randy Reinholz, and directed by Bill Rauch, OSF’s Artistic Director, is a reimagining of Measure for Measure set in the American Wild (mid)West of the 1880s, when Native American children were rounded up and moved from their families into government-funded boarding schools, in an effort to remove their heritage and make them “Americans.” The performance we saw, I believe, was the last preview performance before its opening on Sunday, July 30.

Continue reading Theater review: Off the Rails by Oregon Shakespeare Festival

Theater review: The Merry Wives of Windsor by Oregon Shakespeare Festival

Thursday night, we caught a different Falstaff in the outdoor theater’s production of The Merry Wives of Windsor. I don’t know where to begin. Maybe it was that this came after the two heavier histories, but I had an absolute blast. I haven’t laughed this much in a long time. I can’t stop grinning now. My wife says this may be the most entertaining Shakespeare she has ever seen.

Continue reading Theater review: The Merry Wives of Windsor by Oregon Shakespeare Festival

Theater review: The First and Second Parts of Henry IV by Oregon Shakespeare Festival

OK, as I mentioned yesterday, they’re doing something very interesting with the two parts of Henry the Fourth this year at Ashland. They’re doing both in the smaller, more flexible Thomas Theatre. With the same cast. The same set. Different directors. And because of this, I wanted to wait until I saw both before reviewing them…so today, you get two for the price of one: the two parts of Henry IV, and tomorrow you’ll get The Merry Wives of Windsor.

On Wednesday night, we caught The First Part of Henry IV. Directed by Lileana Blain-Cruz, it’s set modern-dress (I’m guessing this may be a holdover from last year’s Richard II, or it might be a individual choice by Blain-Cruz, which then affected the choices made by Carl Cofield for Part Two. The set is modern and non-representational (save for the throne that sits up in the last row of the audience (in the round)…and this totally feels like a holdover from Richard.

Continue reading Theater review: The First and Second Parts of Henry IV by Oregon Shakespeare Festival

The Bill / Shakespeare Project presents: This Week in Shakespeare news, for the week ending Monday, July 24th, 2017

[archive]

twitter_TWIS4
This week’s Shakespeare news review podcast includes Roman histories about our present, punk rock, drunk Titus, Michelle Terry, and lots of reviews. PLUS our usual recap of this week’s daily highlights in Shakespearean history.

Continue reading The Bill / Shakespeare Project presents: This Week in Shakespeare news, for the week ending Monday, July 24th, 2017

Late to the party…again

A couple of weeks back, Lisa and I caught Kingsmen Shakespeare Love’s Labor’s Lost on its final weekend, so I really didn’t get to properly give it a push (or rather give readers a push to go see it). Well, it’s happened again: this time we caught Independent Shakespeare Company’s always FREE production of Measure for Measure this past Thursday. And it closed last night.

I would have loved to write about it for Saturday’s blog (then at least people could still catch one of two remaining performances), but for some reason, I couldn’t wrap my head around the experience (seriously).

Continue reading Late to the party…again

Podcast 157: The Winter’s Tale — plot synopsis and introduction

[archive]

This week’s podcast kicks off our two-month discussion of The Winter’s Tale. We’re going to start off with a jumbo, econo-sized plot synopsis, and a bit of an introduction (and a cry for help).

Continue reading Podcast 157: The Winter’s Tale — plot synopsis and introduction

The Winter’s Tale – Act Five plot synopsis: it’s a miracle (maybe)

Previously… on The Winter’s Tale:

In the court of King Leontes of Sicilia, his friend King Polixenes of Bohemia readies to return to his own country after a nine-month stay in Sicilia. While Leontes is unsuccessful to convince his friend to say, Leontes’ pregnant wife Hermione is. This convinces Leontes that he’s been cuckolded by his friend. His lord Camillo is incredulous, but in an attempt to calm down the king, Camillo tells the king that he will poison Polixenes that night. Leontes leaves, and Camillo bemoans his state. Polixenes joins Camillo on stage, and a tormented Camillo explains the situation to Polixenes, urging him to flee the country. Polixenes agrees.

Leontes, after learning that Polixenes has left the country, taking Camillo with him, tells Hermione that he knows she’s carrying Polixenes’ baby, and orders her to prison. She denies this, but heads off to prison with her ladies, as her pregnancy, her “plight requires it” (II.i.118). In her absence, the lords, led by Antigonus, attempt to reason with Leontes who will have none of it, telling them that he’s dispatched two men to the oracle of Apollo’s temple in Delphos. Outside the prison, Paulina, wife to Antigonus, learns that Hermione’s given birth prematurely to a “daughter, and a goodly babe” (II.ii.26). Paulina presents the baby to Leontes. Leontes says he will allow Antigonus to take the child to “some remote and desert place quite out / Of our dominion” (II.iii.175-6), and abandon it, leaving its fate to Fate. Reluctantly, Antigonus agrees.

At Hermione’s trial, she speaks eloquently in her own defense, proclaiming her innocence. Leontes announces that the newborn, the “brat hath been cast out” (III.ii.86), and that she’ll feel the same justice. Cleomenes and Dion enter, and the oracle’s message is read: it tells the truth on all counts, but Leontes refuses to accept the news, and then a servant enters with news: Prince Mamillius has died. And in that instant, Leontes realizes his error, and Hermione swoons. Paulina and the ladies-in-waiting take Hermione offstage to tend to her. Leontes prays to Apollo to pardon him; he says he’ll reconcile with Polixenes, make up with Hermione. Then Paulina returns to announce that Hermione, too, is dead. Leontes asks to be brought to the bodies, which he says he will bury in a single grave, which he will visit every day as his “recreation” (III.ii.238). On the sea coast of Bohemia, Antigonus arrives with the baby to abandon it. He puts down the baby, and some gold to help pay for its raising, and then is chased off by a bear. A shepherd comes along and finds the baby; his grown son–known only as “Clown”–arrives with descriptions of two sights: a ship off-shore sinking in the storm, and a bear eating a man. The father and son then find the gold, and decide to raise the baby.

The very long fourth act of The Winter’s Tale begins with the choric figure of Time bringing us up to date. We just jumped sixteen years. Leontes “shuts himself up” (IV.i.19), and Perdita grows up in Bohemia, and Polixenes’ son, Florizel grows up, too. We then go to the palace of King Polixenes of Bohemia, where he meets with Camillo. Polixenes is concerned about Florizel, who has been seen mostly at the house of a shepherd, “who hath a daughter of most rare note” (IV.ii.42). The two decide to don disguises and check this out. We meet Autolycus, con-man and pickpocket. When Clown, the son of the shepherd, enters on an errand to purchase items for the sheep shearing feast, Autolycus asks for assistance, saying he’s been robbed. As the “good-faced” (IV.iii.111) Clown attempts to help, Autolycus picks the fool’s pocket. After Clown leaves to go buy spices (without money), Autolycus reveals that he will be attending that sheep shearing to see if he can fleece any of the attendees. We go to the festival, where we meet Florizel and Perdita, young and in love. She knows who (and more importantly, what) Florizel is (even though he’s dressed like a shepherd rather than prince)…of course, she has no idea who she is. The guests come in and she welcomes the disguised Polixenes and Camillo. Florizel gives her high praise in everything from speaking, singing, dancing: everything thing she does. Polixenes is impressed: she “smacks of something greater than herself, / Too noble for this place” (IV.iv.158-9). Gotta love irony. There is more dancing. And Autolycus. In a disguise of his own, he sings a song, and convinces the guests to buy his wares. There’s another song, another dance. At this point, the disguised king asks his disguised son his intentions with Perdita: marriage is the answer. The shepherd wants to start the wedding, but the disguised king asks the disguised prince if he has secured his father’s blessing. Florizel admits that he hasn’t and doesn’t plan to. The shepherd says that the father should know, and when Florizel again refuses, Polixenes takes off his disguise and goes off the deep-end, refusing to call Florizel his son, threatening to hang the shepherd and accusing Perdita of using witchcraft. And telling her that if she attempts to tempt his son again she shall face death as well, he leaves. Perdita is devastated, telling her love to leave, as she knew it would come to this. Camillo asks the shepherd what he thinks, and he says she knew he was a prince, and she should have known better, and now they’ll all be punished for it. And the second father figure leaves. Florizel says that none of this bothers him; he still wants Perdita. Camillo warns him of his father’s anger, but it doesn’t faze the prince in the least. He asks for the old man’s counsel. And after some thought, Camillo comes up with a plan: take Perdita across the sea to Sicilia, where Camillo envisions Leontes will welcome his old friend’s son. The lovers and the old man go off to put the plan into motion.

If the entirety of Act Four of The Winter’s Tale took us to Bohemia, Act Five returns us to Sicilia. Continue reading The Winter’s Tale – Act Five plot synopsis: it’s a miracle (maybe)

The Bill / Shakespeare Project presents: This Week in Shakespeare news, for the week ending Monday, July 17th, 2017

[archive]

twitter_TWIS4
This week’s Shakespeare news review podcast includes novelties, homesteading, Anne Hathaway (no, the other one), and a bunch of reviews. PLUS our usual recap of this week’s daily highlights in Shakespearean history.

Continue reading The Bill / Shakespeare Project presents: This Week in Shakespeare news, for the week ending Monday, July 17th, 2017

Bill Walthall (UCLA '85 English), a former high school English, Shakespeare, and Drama teacher, will read and blog about each of Shakespeare's plays, from The Comedy of Errors through The Tempest.

The Bill / Shakespeare Project