Posts Tagged ‘Shakespeare & Company’

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.

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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.

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Rick Dildine to Head Shakespeare & Company in Lenox as Executive Director and President [Berkshire on Stage]

Wednesday, June 11th, 2014
Good fortune has smiled on Shakespeare & Company as Rick Dildine joins the staff.

Good fortune has smiled on Shakespeare & Company as Rick Dildine joins the staff.

Shakespeare & Company Board Chair Sarah Hancock announced that Rick Dildine, previously of Shakespeare Festival St. Louis, will become the organization’s Executive Director and President, starting early September, 2014. In this role, Mr. Dildine will be directly responsible for all of the Company’s programming and administrative activities.

Mr. Dildine comes to Shakespeare & Company after five years as Executive Director of the nationally acclaimed Shakespeare Festival St. Louis, and four years as Director of the MFA Program in Arts Management & Leadership at Webster University. He has a distinguished 15-year career in arts leadership, successfully managing several diverse organizations.

“I am honored to move into the role of Executive Director at Shakespeare & Company,” said Mr. Dildine. “It has been a long dream of mine to lead a destination theater, and to now work with one that is so well-regarded nationally for its work is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Shakespeare & Company has a 37-year history of producing exceptional theater and to be able to work alongside so many of its artists and craftsmen whose work I have admired for years is an incredible honor.”

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Review: Kristen Wold Makes a Tour-de-Force of “Shakespeare’s Will” [Berkshire on Stage]

Monday, June 9th, 2014
Kristen Wold (photo: Kevin Sprague)

Kristen Wold (photo: Kevin Sprague)

Theatre Review by Gail M. Burns and Larry Murray

Larry Murray: Shakespeare’s Will has everything going for it except the truth, and the details that would inform us about the life of Shakespeare and those closest to him are essentially unknowable. While Kristen Wold, who plays Anne Hathaway, is absolutely convincing on stage, we saw what was, in essence, a gossip play.

Gail M. Burns: We should make it clear that we are discussing Anne Hathaway (1555/56– 6 August 1623) who was married to William Shakespeare, not the Academy Award-winning actress who is alive today. Like most women of her time, we know nothing about her except for what she did through the church and the legal system, and what men she “belonged to.” We know that she was baptized, married, her children were baptized and she was buried. We know who her father, brothers and husband were and what property they owned. We know that she and the children lived in Stratford, in Warwickshire, England, while her husband lived for many years in London while he worked in the theatre. At the time of their marriage, Shakespeare was 18 and Hathaway was 26 and pregnant.

Larry: As a playwright, one of the things you have going for you when you write about a dead person is the inability of the deceased to come back and challenge your assertions. Far more people claimed to have sex with James Dean and Marilyn Monroe after they died than when they were alive. And I suspect that Shakespeare was far less randy than the playwright Vern Thiessen has worked into his play, Shakespeare’s Will.

Gail: Or more so. Mores were very different back then, and it would be interesting to learn more about how married but separate couples like Hathaway and Shakespeare were expected to comport themselves.

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Final 2014 Schedule and Casting for Shakespeare & Company in Lenox [Berkshire on Stage]

Thursday, May 29th, 2014
Annie Considine, Johnny Lee Davenport and Kelly Galvin invite all to the new 2014 season at Shakespeare & Company (photo: Kevin Sprague)

Annie Considine, Johnny Lee Davenport and Kelly Galvin invite all to the new 2014 season at Shakespeare & Company (photo: Kevin Sprague)

Casting for Shakespeare & Company’s upcoming Summer Performance Season was finalized last week which includes a roster of audience favorites, critics’ top picks and a bevy of newcomers joining the Company’s ranks in this celebratory season in honor of the 450th anniversary of Shakespeare’s birth. Please see play titles, casting, press openings and full schedules for each production listed below. (Note varied curtain times in this season’s schedule.)

TICKETS AND DISCOUNTS
For tickets, Gift Cards and information about the 2014 Performance Season: visit http://www.shakespeare.org, or call the Box Office at (413) 637-3353, or stop by in person at 70 Kemble Street, Lenox, MA. Ticket prices range from $10 to $80, with discounts from 10-50% off regular ticket prices for Groups, Students, Seniors, Teachers and the Military. Our very popular 40% Off Berkshire County Residents’ Discount will again be available. Both the Playhouse and Bernstein theatres are air-conditioned, wheelchair accessible and hearing-aid assisted. To learn more about the season, discount availability, to order tickets or request a season brochure, visit http://www.shakespeare.org. Groups: For bookings, parties, and special event rental information and details contact David Joseph, Director of Sales & Group Tours, at (413) 637-1199 ext. 132 or groupsales@shakespeare.org.

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“Shakespeare’s Will” Is Irreverent Tale of His Wife, Anne Hathaway [Berkshire on Stage]

Wednesday, May 21st, 2014
Kristen Wold in Shakespeare’s Will (photo: Kevin Sprague)

Kristen Wold in “Shakespeare’s Will” (photo: Kevin Sprague)

The stage lights come on again as Artistic Director Tony Simotes kicks off a celebratory season in honor of the 450th anniversary of Shakespeare’s birth with Shakespeare’s Will, directed by Daniela Varon and featuring Kristin Wold. This provocative one-woman play by Canadian playwright Vern Thiessen imagines the bold and unapologetic journey of Shakespeare’s enigmatic wife, Anne Hathaway, and the couple’s unconventional courtship and marriage. Performances run in Shakespeare & Co.’s Elayne P. Bernstein Theatre in Lenox from Saturday (May 24)–August 24.

450 years after his birth, Shakespeare’s works continue to survive and his popularity continues to accelerate with uncountable works of scholarship, criticism and literature that he has inspired. No other artist has ever had so much written about him, but the facts we have about William Shakespeare of Stratford are surprisingly few… and the facts we have about his wife, Anne Hathaway, are even fewer. Married to the greatest wordsmith of all time, Hathaway may well have been illiterate; no words of hers survive. However, we do have Shakespeare’s last will and testament, amended in March, 1616, about a month before his death.

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Theater: Problematic Production of “Private Lives” @ Shakespeare & Company [Berkshire on Stage]

Wednesday, March 5th, 2014
Private Lives at Shakespeare & Company (photo: Kevin Sprague)

Private Lives at Shakespeare & Company (photo: Kevin Sprague)

Theater Review by Gail M. Burns and Roseann Cane

Roseann Cane: Currently at Shakespeare & Co. in Lenox through the end of March, “Private Lives,” first presented in 1930, is probably revived more often than any play by Noël Coward. It has been subject of a myriad of literary analyses, many of which claim the play a reflection, or product of, Coward’s homosexual “world view.” Then, there are some who’ve declared Edward Albee’s “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf” to be a play about homosexuality; various reports have Albee guffawing or expressing sheer exasperation in response. Of course, the works of these two masters are different as chalk and cheese, but I feel the need to emphasize the grave error we make when we assume sexual orientation trumps common humanity.

Gail M. Burns: During the 1920′s American women got the vote and ladies world-wide threw off their corsets and bobbed their hair in an unprecedented statement of physical freedom and autonomy. Here Coward makes Amanda (Dana Harrison) by far the more sexually aggressive character on the stage, and makes it clear that she neither regrets it nor finds her lifestyle unusual. Implicit in her “slatternly” ways is that she uses some form of birth control, because she is overtly unmaternal.

Roseann: Probably the frequent ‘Private Lives” revivals have more to do with the sophisticated silliness, the buoyant wit and wordplay, and the famous lines that are still amusing today, particularly those of Elyot (whom Coward originally played, and who is played by David Joseph in this production). “Don’t quibble, Sybil,” he responds to his new young wife early in the play. Later on, he declares, “Women should be struck regularly, like gongs.” And it IS funny, because we understand that Elyot is being superficial, and supercilious, too . There’s also the matter that he gets stricken as much as he strikes.

Gail: Today we are highly sensitive to the issue of domestic violence, but there are couples, like Elyot and Amanda, for whom physical altercations are part of the mating dance. The aggression is mutual. Amanda claims to be “covered in bruises” but there are no visible results from her rough and tumble session. At the end we see that Sibyl (Annie Considine) and Victor (Adam Huff) are similarly matched. The issue is controversial, but here we have to accept it as a part of the wide spectrum of human attraction.

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Shakespeare & Company Brings on Jerry Bilik as Interim Executive Director [Berkshire on Stage]

Thursday, December 26th, 2013

Shakespeare and Company

Shakespeare & Company’s Board Chair Sarah Hancock announced the appointment of Interim Executive Director Jerry Bilik, who joins the Company’s management team lending his expertise and experience in the field to support the efforts of Artistic Director Tony Simotes, Managing Director Nicholas J. Puma, Jr., the Company, staff and artists, as well as the Board of Directors.

(There is much speculation about this shift of responsibilities, and for now, Berkshire on Stage will refrain from comment. We would prefer to watch how these changes actually play out, and report on that at a later date. – LM)

A long-time supporter, friend and current Board member of the Company, Bilik has an outstanding and distinguished 40+ year career in performance producing, management and directing. His career includes highly successful positions with several notable corporations such as Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Circus and Feld Entertainment, where he was instrumental in the development and production of Disney on Ice.

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