Posts Tagged ‘Shakespeare & Company’

Finn Wittrock to Star in Shakespeare & Co.’s “Hamlet” Reading [Berkshire on Stage]

Wednesday, September 21st, 2016
Finn Wittrock

Finn Wittrock

Shakespeare & Company in Lenox will present a staged reading of William Shakespeare’s masterpiece, Hamlet, at 7pm on Saturday, October 8. Featuring Finn Wittrock – of American Horror Story and The Big Short – and other special guests, the reading will be presented in the Tina Packer Playhouse, and will be directed by Kevin G. Coleman, Shakespeare & Company’s Director of Education and a 2016 Tony Award nominee.

A star of stage, film and television, Finn Wittrock grew up with the Company. As a child he appeared in many of the Company’s outdoor Shakespeare productions at The Mount, as well as with Jonathan Epstein in Richard III at the Duffin Theatre in 1999.

Most recently, Wittrock was seen in the Oscar nominated film The Big Short, in which he starred opposite Brad Pitt, Ryan Gosling, Christian Bale and Steve Carell. Wittrock has been a part of the critically-acclaimed series American Horror Story for the last two seasons and he was nominated for an Emmy for his season four portrayal of Dandy Mott. This fall, Finn will be seen with Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling in the film La La Land for Lionsgate. Upcoming theatrical productions include Othello with Daniel Craig and David Oyelowo directed by Sam Gold and The Glass Menagerie with Sally Field.

Click to read the rest at Berkshire on Stage.


THEATER REVIEW: “Or,” @ Shakespeare & Co. [Berkshire on Stage]

Wednesday, August 3rd, 2016
Tod Randolph and Allyn Burrows in ‘Or,’ at Shakespeare & Company, 2016. Photo by Ava G. Lindenmaier.

Tod Randolph and Allyn Burrows in ‘Or,’ at Shakespeare & Company. Photo by Ava G. Lindenmaier

Review by Macey Levin

Aphra Behn is considered to be the first professional woman playwright, having been paid for her first play The Forc’d Marriage in 1670. Her plays, novels and poems were criticized for having too many references to sex and gender equality. There is a great deal of conjecture about her life including the possibility that she was never married to a merchant named John Behn. Having had an earlier career as a spy with a dubious reputation makes her a dramatic subject for a fictionalized, hilarious play by Liz Duffy Adams titled simply Or, at Shakespeare & Co.’s Tina Packer Playhouse in Lenox.

After a prologue and an opening scene that places her in debtor’s prison, the bulk of the play occurs in Behn’s apartments during the course of one night. Several people call on her while she is attempting to write her first play. Through talk about sex, arguments, talk about sex, conversations, talk about sex, displays of wit and a lot of back story, we learn of her adventurous life, but more, we learn of her courage and determination in an age when a woman was not allowed to have a place in the world other than in her home.

Her visitors include King Charles II who has been recently restored to the throne of England and for whom she spied on the Dutch during the second Anglo-Dutch War, the actress Nell Gwynne, a fellow spy William Scot who may also have been working for the Dutch, and the eccentric widow Lady Davenant who produced Behn’s first play. There are several threads of relationships and stories that bind these people together. The recounting of the plot though relatively simple could tend to be convoluted since the interaction of the characters is quite involved. In this production the story is easy to follow because the acting is so wonderful.

Click to read the rest at Berkshire on Stage.

“Or,” Takes a Look at the First Female Playwright @ Shakespeare & Co [Berkshire on Stage]

Friday, July 22nd, 2016
Tod Randolph (photo:  Kevin Spragu

Tod Randolph (photo: Kevin Sprague)

In Lenox, Shakespeare & Company presents Liz Duffy Adams’ playful comedy Or, based on the real life of Britain’s first female playwright Aphra Behn. Directed by Alice Reagan and featuring actress Tod Randolph, the in-the-round production begins previews on Saturday (July 23), officially opens on Friday, July 29 and runs through Sunday, September 4 in the Tina Packer Playhouse.

“The play is bittersweet,” says director Reagan. “We know that Aphra Behn would be forgotten and rediscovered many times in the more than 300 years since her death. And yet, the plot keeps moving, the world keeps spinning, and lovers will love. Or, is the story of one woman’s artistic beginnings and a larger story of a permissive, exciting moment in history when the culture shifted an inch or two, and a woman slipped in the door.”

Aphra Behn, known to history as the first credited female playwright, has one opportunity to have her play produced and fulfill her desperate desire to leave the spy trade behind her. The catch? She must finish and deliver her play by morning all while fighting off distracting romantic temptations, attempting to win a pardon, and trying to save the life of royalty. Her hectic antics unfold into a night of hilarity, passion and self discovery that tells a story that transcends time.

Click to read the rest at Berkshire on Stage

THEATER REVIEW: “The Emperor of the Moon” @ Shakespeare & Company [Berkshire on Stage]

Monday, July 18th, 2016
Lori Evans and Kaileela Hobby in The Emperor of the Moon (photo:  Ava G. Lindenmaier)

Lori Evans and Kaileela Hobby in “The Emperor of the Moon” (photo: Ava G. Lindenmaier)

Review by Macey Levin

One of the delights each summer at Shakespeare and Co. is the over-the-top farce staged at the Rose Footprint in Lenox. This tent-covered playing space is similar to 16th and 17th century theaters, and the shows echo back to the famed Commedia del’Arte style of acting.

This summer’s show is the world premiere adaptation of The Emperor of the Moon by Aphra Behn (who is the subject of Or, to be presented at the Bernstein Theatre starting on Saturday [July 23]). This production is a hoot-and-a-half with its larger-than-life characters, tongue-in-cheek line delivery, vigorous staging and very talented actors who are obviously enjoying themselves.

The plot is predictable since it has been used again and again by myriad authors over the centuries. The Doctor (Lori Evans), who believes there is a moon-civilization, will not allow his daughter Elaria (Caroline Calkins) and niece Bellemante (Zoe Laiz) to meet men because earthlings are inferior; he is preparing them to marry moon-men.

Click to read the rest at Berkshire on Stage.

“The Emperor of the Moon” Brings Farce to Shakespeare & Co. [Berkshire on Stage]

Friday, July 15th, 2016


Shakespeare & Company’s Rose Footprint Theatre presents a world premiere adaption of The Emperor of the Moon by Aphra Behn. Directed by company veteran Jenna Ware, the uproarious and musically jam-packed comedy opens today (Friday, July 15) and runs through Saturday, August 20.

When love strikes, chaos ensues and a coup of astronomic proportions results. Sisters, suitors, servants and a father obsessed with the moon set the stage for a stellar farce performed under the open-air tent. Ware’s fast-paced family-friendly adaptation of Aphra Behn’s Restoration comedy, based in commedia dell’arte, offers audiences of every age a hearty dose of mayhem, music and merriment.

Click to read the rest at Berkshire on Stage.

ShakesCo Offers “Twelfth Night” @ The Mount [Berkshire on Stage]

Thursday, July 14th, 2016
Last year at the Dell at the Mount, Luke Reed gave us a memorable Hamlet (photo: Elizabeth Aspenlieder)

Last year at the Dell at the Mount, Luke Reed gave us a memorable “Hamlet” (photo: Elizabeth Aspenlieder)

Shakespeare & Company continues to roll out its 39th season with Twelfth Night, opening tonight (Thursday, July 14). Directed by Jonathan Croy, Shakespeare’s rebellious comedy plays at the Dell-Outdoors at The Mount: Edith Wharton’s Home through Saturday, August 20.

Outdoors, fresh and fast-paced, this popular comedy catapults audiences into a world of illusion, debauchery and mayhem. Amidst the forest and foliage, audiences are transported to the mythical land of Illyria – alongside the recently shipwrecked and lovelorn Viola. This 90-minute frolic unravels a madcap mix-up of characters and offers a reunion of epic proportions.

“There’s something magical about seeing a play at The Mount,” says veteran director Jonathan Croy. “Many people bring picnics and sit on that beautiful hillside in the open air, watching fight call or chatting with the actors before the show. I’ve seen conversations begun during the nightly Talkback continue well after the show was done. There’s a different energy, a ‘communal’ spirit that reminds me of the old days, when we performed down by Edith’s mansion under the stars.”

Click to read the rest at Berkshire on Stage.

THEATER REVIEW: “The Merchant of Venice” @ Shakespeare & Company [Berkshire on Stage]

Tuesday, July 12th, 2016
John Hadden, Jonathan Epstein and Jason Asprey

John Hadden, Jonathan Epstein and Jason Asprey

Review by Gail M. Burns

The Merchant of Venice is fairly early play in the Shakespearean canon, and it is not a particularly good one, being a mash-up of two or three folk tales well known to Elizabethan audiences, that don’t hang together particularly well. Add to that that attitudes towards Jews are very different in 21st century America than they were in 16th century Britain, and you have a real “problem play.” When Shakespeare & Company last staged this work in 1998, then as now with Tina Packer directing and Jonathan Epstein playing Shylock, there was a great public outcry against the play, with questions raised about whether it could, or even should, be staged in modern times.

Having taken the plunge and mounted a new production, I can only imagine the dismay with which Packer and company watched racial tensions and violence erupt nationally during the course of their previews. Merchant… is the big Shakespearean production for 2016, the centerpiece of their season. Would the national mood turn audiences against their choice? Or would they be more open to exploring the prejudice that has always raged within society?

At least on the official opening night, the audience, comprised primarily of the press along with Shakespeare & Company board and company members and donors, was open to being schooled in the depth and persistence of anti-Semitism in particular and racial/ethnic/religious hatred in general. It was perfectly acceptable to be prejudiced in Shakespeare’s time, particularly on religious grounds, as Roman Catholics and Protestants of various ilks waged bloody warfare across most of Europe for the right to be considered the “true” religion of the people. Catholics considered Protestants, Jews and Muslims alike to be pagans and heretics. Their souls were going to burn in hell if not “saved” by conversion to Christianity.

Click to read the rest at Berkshire on Stage.

Theater Review: “Ugly Lies the Bone” @ Shakespeare & Co. [Berkshire on Stage]

Thursday, June 30th, 2016
Christianna Nelson in Ugly Lies the Bone

Christianna Nelson in “Ugly Lies the Bone”

Theater review by Macey Levin

For years countless men and women have returned from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan with horrendous physical injuries. In Lindsey Ferrentino’s play Ugly Lies the Bone, currently at Shakespeare & Co.’s Bernstein Theatre in Lenox, we meet Jess (Christianna Nelson), a young woman who has suffered severe physical damage as well as profound psychological pain.

Having returned to her childhood home in Florida she shares with her sister Kasie (Rory Hammond), she is undergoing a rehabilitation process that involves a virtual reality experiment in which she wears goggles and is urged by an unseen character (Ariel Bock) to create her personal version of Paradise. This, presumably, will move her away from her bleak daily existence into a world that will give her hope for the future.

As Jess creates her idyllic space, the voice continually urges her to “Move forward!” Her conflict is that she wants life to be what it had been, especially before her third deployment. Her mother (Ms. Bock) was well and vital, her lover Stevie (Hamish Allan-Headley) cheered her and her sister Kasie was happier. Now, mother is institutionalized with Alzheimer’s, Stevie is married and works as a gas station attendant and Kasie is in love with Kelvin (Dylan Chalfy), who is unemployed plumber.

Click to read the rest at Berkshire on Stage.

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