Category Archives: problem play

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.

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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).

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Podcast 142: Timon of Athens — concept, cast, and conclusions

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This week’s podcast concludes our discussion of Timon of Athens with a production concept and dream cast, as well as a wrap-up of the play.

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Midpoint: A midpoint without Timon

Using Professor Rodes’ midpoint theory, let’s take a look at Timon of Athens.

There are 2308 lines in in the play, which means the midpoint is at line 1154, or at Act Three, Scene Five, line 45. According to Dr. Rodes’ theory, you could find at this midpoint–or within twenty lines either way–a speech that perfectly sums up a major theme of the play (the 20-line leeway was to help remove the differences in prose line lengths between individual editions).

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Timon of Athens — a lil’ diff’rent scansion

As long-time readers of the blog can attest, I love to take a day toward the end of our time with a play to look at some interesting things in the scansion–places where an interruption or pause is called for, or maybe where the iambic pentameter goes so awry that the verse just screams to be looked at and reacted to. But to be perfectly honest, I think I’ve been getting into a bit of a rut. So we’re going to switch things up a little here with Timon of Athens.

I want to look at moments when the scansion disappears altogether, those moments when a speech moves from prose to verse and/or vice/versa. Note, I say speech and not scene. Those instances are common. Mid-speech changes are much fewer.

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Podcast 141: Timon of Athens — Video(s) and Money

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This week’s podcast continues our discussion of Timon of Athens with a look at videos (Timon and the BBC’s The Hollow Crown), as well as a money-mouthing discussion of wealth in the play.

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Timon of Athens: stage direction in the dialogue

Throughout the project, I’ve always searched in the dialogue for hidden stage direction (explicit ones which are usually few and far between…I say usually because as we get nearer the end of his career, I’m finding more explicit directions). Timon of Athens is no different.

But in this case, for me, it was like digging for roots and finding…not gold.

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Timon of Athens — Speech Study: Timon’s eureka moment

Last week, I took a look at some of the ‘graces’ in Timon of AthensApemantus’ before the first feast, and Timon’s before the second and final feast. Today, let’s look a (sort of) third.

In Act Four, Scene Three, Timon has left Athens and is now in full Misantropos mode. And at the beginning of the scene, he has another long soliloquy; this one at 48 lines, is longer than his Act Four, Scene One, full-scene torrent.

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Speech study: Timon’s torrent of rage

Act Four, Scene One of Timon of Athens is one of those strange scenes, one where there is but one character on stage, delivering but a single speech.

Timon has just booted his guests from his home in Act Three, Scene Six, and then fled Athens himself. And just fourteen lines later, we find Timon now outside the walls of his city. And he releases a forty-one line torrent of rage, a prayer of misanthropy:

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A prayer to dogs

OK, so a couple of days back, I talked a little about Apemantus’ grace, delivered before the Act One, Scene Two, feast in Timon of Athens. Mixing prose, blank verse, and a section of rhyming doggerel, it had a little something for everyone. At least, everyone who loves a heapin’ pile o’ cynicism.

Let’s jump to Act Three, Scene Six, and Timon’s gods-thanking speech, a quasi-grace before the last (and Worst.) feast (Ever.)…

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Dog-gone: of cynics and misanthropes

OK, in Act Four of Timon of Athens, Timon ‘introduces’ himself to Alcibiades as “Misanthropos” (IV.iii.54). Interestingly, the words ‘misanthrope’ and ‘misanthropy’ didn’t exist in Shakespeare’s day (and no, he didn’t invent them). “Misanthropos” is Timon’s self-moniker (Timon Misanthropos) from Shakespeare’s source material in Plutarch (though the version I quoted earlier in our discussion on sources seems to have left it out), and I’m guessing that enough people were aware of this for Shakespeare to use the reference.

And I’ve seen some people paint Apemantus with a broad brush as an misanthrope as well. (Did I? Let me check. Yup, I was just as guilty in my Act One review… and then again and again… bad Bill, bad). But Apemantus is not a misanthrope. He’s a cynic (but maybe even more than that, a Cynic).

What’s the difference, you ask?

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