Posts Tagged ‘Shakespeare & Company’

“Stonewall” DIldine and the Mess at Shakespeare & Company [Berkshire on Stage]

Monday, October 20th, 2014
Stonewall Dildine’s answer to all questions: “”We don’t discuss personnel matters.”

Stonewall Dildine’s answer to all questions: “We don’t discuss personnel matters.”

By Larry Murray

For more than a week, the board and management of Shakespeare & Company in Lenox have evaded every question about the sudden departure of artistic director Tony Simotes. It has also refused to give any indication of whether this signals a major reorganization of the theatre company, and just who is going to be next on the chopping block. The order to be silent has reverberated throughout the company and many of the founders and long-term members fear that if they open their mouth, they will lose their jobs. It seems that heads are going to roll soon, and that worries me as a veteran theater watcher who has a great love for this venerable company of actors.

Secrecy and stonewalling are a familiar form of corporate politics. Whether white collar workers or actors, using these sorts of wily tactics always backfires, and has already began to erode the company’s years of reputation and audience building.

Oddly, Shakespeare & Company chose to release the news of Simotes departure with hints of more changes to come in an after-hours news release (original story) late on a Friday night. They probably expected that few would print the news, or – most importantly – that few would notice that the popular Simotes was being unceremoniously ushered out months before his contract ends despite promises to the contrary. There were few details, just the usual meaningless niceties that accompany such corporate beheadings. My own attempts to glean more information were rebuffed even when such attempts were done using personal email rather than official ShakesCo email address which were undoubtedly being monitored for leaks.

Click to read the rest at Berkshire on Stage.

Advertisement

THEATER: “Private Eyes” @ ShakesCo Is a Befuddling Tangle of Lovers and Cheaters. Or Is It… [Berkshire on Stage]

Tuesday, September 30th, 2014
The Company of Private Eye (photo: Enrico Spada)

The Company of Private Eye (photo: Enrico Spada)

Theater review by Gail M. Burns and Larry Murray

Gail M. Burns: I had to be reminded that I had seen and reviewed a production of this play fifteen years ago, also at Shakespeare & Company in Lenox. Although I liked it at the time, it was not a memorable experience.

Larry Murray: Private Eyes is an odd concoction for sure, with some of the wittiest comedy and clever aphorisms of the current fall season. Written by Steven Dietz, the revival of Private Eyes features a fresh look and much younger cast from when the Company staged it in 1999 in the Stables Theatre at The Mount. There is one rather unmissable change, however, since the therapist Frank played then by Robert D. Lohbauer has had a sex change and is now played by Lori Evans Pugh. In your prophetic earlier review (link) you advised audiences to be prepared to go through the looking glass.

Gail: For all its twists and turns, Matthew (Luke Reed) is the central character and whatever happens happens to him, whether in fantasy or reality. Another solid bit of reality here is that Matthew and Lisa (Caroline Calkins) are married, or were married during much of the action of the play. Lisa may, or may not, be having or have had an affair with Adrian (Marcus Kearns), an insufferable British director who has cast the couple in an unnamed romantic comedy. Adrian’s wife (Elizabeth ‘Lily’ Cardaropoli) may be stalking her erstwhile husband in various disguises, or the whole thing may be a series of semi-fantastic stories Matthew spins for his psychiatrist, Frank (Pugh.)

Larry: Jonathan Croy is at work here as the director, which means that when there is fun, it’s rib-splittingly funny and where there is tragedy, it fully shocks and dismays. Everything is topsy turvy in this Diet-zy concoction. In the program notes, the director says that Private Eyes is a delicate Swiss watch of a play, moving gracefully through time and memory.

Click to read the rest at Berkshire on Stage.

Love! Passion! Deception! Get All Twisted Together in “Private Eyes” at S&Co [Berkshire on Stage]

Monday, September 15th, 2014
The cast of “Private Eyes” at Shakespeare & Company. (photo: Kevin Sprague)

The cast of “Private Eyes” at Shakespeare & Company (photo: Kevin Sprague)

It may be true that Caroline Calkins and Marcus Kearns played opposite each other in the appealing roles of Romeo and Juliet earlier this season at The Mount, but this hilarious thriller directed by Jonathon Croy is nothing like that. In fact, Private Eyes, written by Steven Dietz, has been described as a romantic comedy in which what’s real inevitably turns out to be an illusion. It’s a play within a play, within a play, within a play within a psychiatrist’s office — a Chinese box full of tricks and surprises.

Who can doubt that Croy is the perfect kind of director for this sort of mind-bending take on romance?

Click to read the rest at Berkshire on Stage.

REVIEW: “Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike” @ Shakespeare & Co. [Berkshire on Stage]

Monday, August 25th, 2014
(from left): Angel Moore, Mat Leonard and Ellizabeth Aspenlieder. (photo: Kevin Sprague)

(from left): Angel Moore, Mat Leonard and Ellizabeth Aspenlieder. (photo: Kevin Sprague)

Theater review by Gail M. Burns and Larry Murray

Gail M. Burns: I am deeply saddened, in the most appropriately Russian manner, to realize that Christopher Durang writes Chekhovian drama almost better than Anton Chekhov. Allow me a moment of deep reflection on the meaning of this revelation and its impact on my understanding of the cosmos and my pointless existence as an infinitesimal speck of useless matter within its vastness.

(Pause…)

Larry Murray: Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike – currently on view at Shakespeare & Company in Lenox through September 14 – could have easily been a parody of Chekhov’s classic plays but instead it is a valentine, a love letter of a play by Durang. The result is a comedy with deep life lessons, as its characters relearn what it means to be a family.

Gail: While you don’t have to know Chekhov’s plays to thoroughly enjoy this one, the more you know about dramatic literature, the more fun you’ll have. And while Chekhov is definitely an acquired taste, this will tickle the fancies of Chekhov lovers and haters in equal measure because Durang understands both what is wonderful and what is thoroughly annoying about the works of the Master.

Here Durang uses character names from Chekhov’s plays – Vanya and Sonia from Uncle Vanya, Masha from Three Sisters and The Seagull, Nina from The Seagull – and throws in endless allusions to his works throughout. Here Vanya (Jim Frangione), Sonia (Tod Randolph) and Masha (Elizabeth Aspenlieder) are siblings – after a fashion, Sonia is adopted – whose professorial parents named them after Chekhov’s characters. Masha, a five-times-divorced B-list film actress, owns the family home in Buck’s County, Pennsylvania, (just down the road from the home Dorothy Parker owned in the mid-20th century), where Vanya and Sonia, both unmarried, continue to live after caring for their parents through the ends of their lives. Nina (Olivia Saccomanno) just happens to be the name of a young woman visiting next door, and Spike (Mat Leonard) is Masha’s studly young lover. Like Madame Arkadina in The Seagull, Masha is an actress sliding precipitously over the hill, who is simultaneously jealous of and inspired by Nina’s luminous youthful beauty and incipient passion for acting.

Click to read the rest at Berkshire on Stage.

THEATER: “Henry IV, Parts I & II” (Condensed) @ Shakespeare & Co. [Berkshire on Stage]

Thursday, August 14th, 2014
The cast of Henry IV, Parts I and II (photo:  Kevin Sprague)

The cast of Henry IV, Parts I and II (photo: Kevin Sprague)

Theater review by Gail M. Burns

Shakespeare’s two history plays purporting to be about King Henry IV of England (1367-1413 CE) are actually about the coming of age of his son, the future King Henry V (1386-1422 CE). They form the center of the Bard’s tetralogy which begins with Richard II and ends with Henry V, although some will argue that Henry VI, Parts I, II and III are also a part of what becomes then a seven-play cycle. All of this was quite recent history for Shakespeare (1564-1616 CE) and these plays were not only very popular entertainment, but also formed the Tudor equivalent of the required high school course in American History we are familiar with today. At a time when most people were illiterate and few had any formal schooling, they could learn the royally sanctioned history of their land at the theater while laughing at Sir John Falstaff and his merry band of thieves and whores.

Performed in their entirety, Henry IV, Part I and Henry IV, Part II occupy the stage for a good seven hours. Hard to perform apart contextually, they are impossibly expensive and time consuming for a modern company to perform together. Starting off last year with a production of Richard II, Shakespeare & Company wanted to continue on with the history plays, and so commissioned actor/director Jonathan Epstein to condense Henry IV into one play. The resulting work runs a solid three hours, and when you add in the much-needed 20-minute intermission you walk out of the theater about three and a half hours after you entered. Thankfully the evening performances start at 7:30, not 8pm.

Epstein has cut much of the history in favor of the excellent comedy in the plays, but sadly that renders the politics and battles that remain even harder for the average audience member to understand. Adding to that muddle, just about every significant political player is named Henry (and sometimes called Harry or Hal), which is neither Epstein nor Shakespeare’s fault, that’s just history. For the sake of clarity in this review we will refer to them as Henry IV, Prince Hal (the future King Henry V), Hotspur (Henry Percy), and Percy (Hotspur’s father, the Earl of Northumberland).

Click to read the rest at Berkshire on Stage.

Jonathan Epstein Adapts, Directs and Stars in Shakespeare’s “Henry IV” Thru Aug. 31 [Berkshire on Stage]

Thursday, August 7th, 2014
In rehearsal: Henry Clarke (l) and Jonathan Epstein (phot: Elizabeth Aspenlieder)

In rehearsal: Henry Clarke (l) and Jonathan Epstein (photo: Elizabeth Aspenlieder)

A sweeping spectacle of bawdy buffoonery and bloody rebellion, director Jonathan Epstein’s razor sharp and condensed adaptation of Henry IV delivers both parts in one dynamic evening of theatre. Performances run in Shakespeare & Co.’s Tina Packer Playhouse through August 31. Press opening is Friday (August 8) at 7pm.

Shakespeare’s take on honor, war, sex and violence has never been more acute than in this riotous comedy that inter-mingles the young-rascal-that-would-be-king, Prince Hal, with the psychological underpinnings of father/son relationships. Epstein sets Shakespeare’s wildest history tale between a bustling 15th century Eastcheap and a more contemporary London, where both settings blend together as we follow this stirring history of succession to the throne. Meet the notorious Prince Hal, heir apparent, who rebels against his father, forsakes the court and engages in petty crime with that huge ‘sweet creature of bombast,’ the unruly knight Falstaff. When the Prince’s nemesis, Hotspur, and the northern lords rebel, will Hal stay and continue carousing with his surrogate ‘father’ Falstaff or heed the call of duty from the ailing King Henry? An exhilarating and potent journey through time and history, Henry IV offers many of the most memorable characters and lines in Shakespeare’s canon as it continues to captivate and mesmerize audiences over four centuries later.

Click to read the rest at Berkshire on Stage.

A Jazzy “Midsummer Night’s Dream” Set in 1930′s New Orleans [Berkshire on Stage]

Thursday, July 10th, 2014
(photo by Kevin Sprague)

(photo by Kevin Sprague)

Theatre review by Gail M. Burns and Larry Murray

Larry Murray: A Midsummer Night’s Dream is probably Shakespeare’s best known and most performed play next to Romeo and Juliet, and while it has within it the seeds of the tragedy about the star-crossed lovers, it does not end with a double suicide, but with the joy and happiness of a group wedding. But even more uplifting is that fantasy and reality are what we see married in this Shakespeare classic.

Gail M. Burns: And it is a very special show for Shakespeare & Company because it was the first show they ever presented outdoors at The Mount in 1978. Artistic Director Tony Simotes, a founding member of the company, played Puck back then. He has directed this production, which is the Company’s eighth, its second indoors in the Packer Playhouse.

Larry: Simotes decided to set this production in 1930’s New Orleans which means it opened, not surprisingly, with some Dixieland Jazz.

Gail: We both loved the music, composed by the multi-talented Alexander Sovronsky. In addition to acting as composer, music director and sound designer for this production, he also plays an hilarious Francis Flute who in turn is cast as the leading lady in Pyramus and Thisbe.

Click to read the rest at Berkshire on Stage

Tina Packer Returns with “Julius Caesar” @ Shakespeare & Co. [Berkshire on Stage]

Wednesday, June 25th, 2014
Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar brims with modern politics

Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar brims with modern politics

Idealism, ambition, conspiracy, honor, greed, betrayal and the lust for power — echoes of our own modern politics — are all on tap in Shakespeare’s potent and bloody Julius Caesar. Last performed at Shakespeare & Company. in 1993, Founding Artistic Director Tina Packer delivers audiences her ‘bare-Bard’ production of Caesar, marking its final leg of a three city tour – Orlando, Florida; Prague in the Czech Republic; and now at home in Lenox, with Shakespeare & Company. With seven actors playing multiple roles, this poetry-filled psychological and political thriller follows the conspiracy and assassination of the omnipotent Roman leader, and the consequences that ensue from his brutal murder. Performances run in the Elayne P. Bernstein Theatre from Friday (June 27) through August 30.

Click to read the rest at Berkshire on Stage.

Cartoonist John CaldwellHolly & EvanCaffe LenaAdvertise on Nippertown!Leave Regular Radio BehindBerkshire On StageThe LindaHudson SoundsKeep Albany BoringArtist Charles HaymesAlbany PoetsThe Law Office of Paul Rapp