Thursday, November 17, 2011

Published!

So I just posted over at the STJ English Dept Blog about my publication experience. This was my very first publication, and boy was it intimidating. Very cool. But intimidating. Here's the story:

I have been having a slightly surreal week. When I woke up yesterday morning, I had an email in my inbox informing me that my article on The Bookend Project had gone live. This is the coolest thing I've woken up to ... maybe ever!


Last year sitting in Dr. Mentz's Introduction to the Profession class, I remember talking about publication. It seemed an impossible goal. Especially the goal of publishing twice while in school. I didn't think I'd ever be able to do this. I was sure my writing wasn't strong enough. My ideas weren't original enough. My thinking wasn't critical enough. Enter the St. John's English Dept Blog. Danielle posted a CFP for a French journal, which was looking for articles about Shakespeare and the rhetoric of violence. My seminar paper for Intro to the Profession was about Titus Andronicus (hello, violent!) and The Tempest, so I thought it wouldn't be too much trouble to skew my paper in that direction. So I wrote up an abstract and sent it in.

I absolutely could not believe it when I received an email in January that my abstract had been accepted, and the draft of my article would be due at the end of May. Working from my seminar paper and Dr. Mentz's very helpful comments, I submitted a new draft after the semester ended. My impression was that I wouldn't hear back for awhile about this draft, and in fact, I heard again in mid-September. The readers were pleased with the draft and had some recommendations for revision, which they gave me about a month to make.

To my article, I added some visual material - a photograph and two videos from performances of Titus Andronicus and The Tempest, which I directed last spring. I expanded on a few points and made some suggested corrections for tone, and back the draft went to France. As of yesterday, here is the final product.


Friday, November 11, 2011

Confessions of an Overworked Artistic Director

Some days (like a week before season auditions and six weeks before the end of the semester) I want to throw everything over.

Today, I would rather make homemade butternut squash soup than finish my article revisions.

I would rather bake loaves of pumpkin bread than send out sides to those folks sending in a video submission.

I would rather knit a ruff for my dog, Pippin, while watching a movie than brainstorm for any of my three final papers.

I would rather be working on my homemade Christmas gifts (sorry, can't tell you what they are! It's a surprise!) than reading a couple hundred pages of theory.

Some days it's hard to stay focused. Every once in awhile one needs a mini-vacation, a refresher, a way to charge the batteries. As soon as I do finish my article revisions, I think I will indulge in that butternut squash soup. Hopefully that will keep me going through the rest of the work until Thanksgiving!

from Wikipedia. Attributed to: Spedona


How do you stay focused on the hard work without losing your marbles?

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

She Leads a Lonely Life


I just posted over at the St. John's Department of English blog, which I write for during the school year. It's November so I'm feeling the post-midterm lull and trying to enjoy it while I can. But November also means it's a time to think about what we are thankful for in our lives. I wrote about how thankful I am for the graduate community at St. John's:

Perhaps you caught the Ace of Base reference in this post's title. (And yes, I am perfectly aware that I am dating myself with that reference.) It captures quite succinctly a lot of what I've been feeling since I entered this doctoral program. Graduate school is a lonely experience. Most of my friends and family have not the slightest conception of the work I am doing. They appreciate that it's important to me, which is itself a blessing. Even so, they don't really get it. Maybe they get upset if I forget to call one week. Or they feel snubbed if I cancel or if I am forever putting off hanging out by saying "I'm sorry, I'm just so busy." It's not a line. Really. I am just that busy.

Every other student in my classes knows exactly what I'm going through, because you all right there with me. We have hundreds of pages of reading to do every.week. We respond to these readings. We respond to other students' responses to these readings. And that's all before the midterm and final term papers even enter the picture. So, thank you to every one of you whether you are in class with me or you have already begun your terrifying comps list (insert my undying respect for you here) or you are churning out chapters of your dissertation.

Thank you.

It might feel lonely at times, but we're in it together and for that I am thankful.

It's hard leading a double life as full-time doctoral student and trying-to-be-full-time Artistic Director of this company. I constantly feel as though my time is split (which it is) and that whatever time I'm giving to one I am taking from the other (which is true, too, I suppose). So I also want to say how thankful I am to our extended ADK Shakes community who are understanding and flexible and patient as I juggle these two massive lives. Your support means a lot, and it does not go unnoticed.

As we sit down in a few weeks to a beautiful celebration with friends and family, I will be thinking of these two special and amazing communities. I am so thankful to have you in my life, however far away you might be.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

The penultimate hurrah for The Bookend Project

Caroline Gombé as Caliban. Photo: Jaime Medrano, Jr.
It has been such a very long time since I received this particular piece of news, that sometimes it doesn't feel real. But yesterday's deadline was incredibly concrete: the revision of my article for publication. Wait, whaaaaaat? OK, nope, still doesn't feel real. Maybe when I finally get to see it published!

What a crazy ride since last September, when I first proposed the idea of The Bookend Project in my Intro to the Profession class. It was just a proposal on a single sheet of paper talking about this double production of Titus Andronicus and The Tempest with the same cast acting in both plays. And after that, things just started to snowball. I worked for hours with sticky notes to achieve the doubles I wanted. We had auditions (which P.S. - we're about to have again! Aaaaaah! How did this year go by so quickly?) Before production was even upon us, I had submitted an abstract taken from my seminar paper for publication, and it was accepted. Again, whaaaaaat? Production came and went in the blink of an eye. The draft of my article was due in May. Last month I received revision recommendations, and now it's basically done. Yep. Still not believing all this.

Here is a taste of the fruits of my labor for the past year. Enjoy. I have. For the rest ... well you'll have to wait until December when it's -- whaaaaaat? -- published! (insert freak out here)

Oh! And here's why The Bookend Project is having its penultimate hurrah -- I will be presenting an incredibly condensed version of this paper at the Blackfriars Conference at the American Shakespeare Center at the end of this month. I am so so excited to have an opportunity to work with two members of their amazing acting company to present this paper on Wednesday, October 26 at 3:15 p.m. After that I can kick back, relax, see a bunch of other presentations, not to mention their entire season of plays. Whaaaaaat?


-------------------


The Bookend Project: Transforming Shakespeare’s Revenge Play
from Violence to Virtue in Titus Andronicus and The Tempest 
Tara Bradway
     In Titus Andronicus and The Tempest we have perhaps the earliest and latest examples of Shakespeare’s revenge play. Violence is a hallmark particularly of Shakespeare’s early work, Titus, but is certainly present in The Tempest as well. In February, 2011, I directed a dual production of Titus Andronicus and The Tempest with the Adirondack Shakespeare Company entitled The Bookend Project. The intent of this project was to explore in production how Shakespeare’s revenge play altered from the beginning of his career to the end. How does Shakespeare move from violence to virtue? I employed a company of thirteen actors across the two shows and made very specific choices in doubling the roles. In this article, I will explore the particular choice I made in doubling Lavinia and Caliban. The same actor (Caroline GombĂ©) was cast as Lavinia, Alarbus, and ensemble in Titus Andronicus and as Caliban and the Ship’s Master in The Tempest. By using the same physical body in these vastly different roles, my intention was to invite the comparison between the characters. I felt the greatest challenge for the actor would be to inhabit the identities both of the victim of sexual violence -- in the role of Lavinia who is brutally raped in Titus Andronicus -- and the perpetrator -- in the role of Caliban, who has attempted to rape Miranda in The Tempest. It is unusual to see Caliban played by a female actor, and perhaps more so to invite comparisons between this role and Lavinia, considering their respective relationships to sexual violence. Yet I see Caliban and Lavinia both as victims of violence and revenge in their respective plays. They operate in these texts in strikingly similar ways: both cast in the role of children, both the pawns of powerful male figures. Both have violence perpetrated upon them, and yet they respond to it very differently. For characters who seem on the surface to have very little power, I think we may see both in their speech and in their silences, they have much more agency than they are often attributed. Throughout this article, I will explore how the ways in which these characters use language and how silence might have a significant impact on the transformation of the revenge play from violence in Titus Andronicus to virtue in The Tempest.


(lots and lots and lots of paper ... and then!)

     In the final scene of The Tempest, the text enforces a different kind of silence on Caliban. Whereas in describing the noises of the isle, Caliban is overcome with high emotion, his silence at the end of the play seems to be rather fearful. In the entire scene, he speaks a mere eight lines of verse, upon only three separate occasions. The first two are declarations of his fear of Prospero: “I am afraid / He will chastise me” (V.1.262-3) and “I shall be pinched to death” (V.1.276). His silence is broken by exclamations of fear, which prove to be unfounded. Prospero pardons the ill-conceived rebellion, and indeed acknowledges Caliban as his own: “this thing of darkness I / Acknowledge mine” (V.1.275-6). With this acknowledgment, the cycle of threats and violence between Prospero and Caliban comes to an end. Prospero owns the Otherness of Caliban; he brings it into himself, rather than continuing to “other” Caliban. Caliban, in turn, responds to Prospero’s gesture: “I’ll be wise hereafter, / And seek for grace” (V.1.294-5). Caliban’s sexually, violently charged speech of his first scene is dissipated. He has exchanged it for a more elegant, peaceful language that may emerge because in his silence, Caliban has learned to listen. His silence is directed outward; it is attentive. Lavinia’s silence, however, draws attention only to herself; she seeks to be understood. Caliban understands.
In both plays, language tinged with violence and sexuality, as represented in the characters of Lavinia and Caliban, is superseded in the end by silence. Alexander Leggatt points out “the extraordinary power to command attention and concern” Lavinia’s silence gives her. He claims that Chiron and Demetrius in their wanton violence, “inadvertently made her the most powerful character in the play.” Certainly, Lavinia’s silence is incredibly powerful, and she finds new, resourceful ways of communicating. Her resourcefulness threatens the integrity of the narrative text, however, and she is destroyed at the end of Titus Andronicus. Caliban seems, on the other hand, ultimately to be transformed at the end of The Tempest. Silence itself is not what actually ends the cycle of revenge in The Tempest, but silence is what allows for the possibility of acknowledgement of the Other. It promotes active listening and sympathy. It allows us to be “wise hereafter” and to “seek for grace.” This is what successfully breaks the cycle of violence and vengeance. We must “seek for grace.”

Alexander Leggatt, “Titus Andronicus: This was thy daughter,” Shakespeare’s Tragedies: Violation and Identity, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2005, p. 26


Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Kings as epic heroes, heroes of tragedy

For my Theory of the Novel class, I'm reading some excerpts by Georg Lukacs and came across this snippet which jumped out at me:
Epic heroes have to be kings for different reasons from the heroes of tragedy (although these reasons are also formal). In tragedy the hero must be a king simply because of the need to sweep all the petty causalities of life from the ontological path of destiny -- because the socially dominant figure is the only one whose conflicts, while retaining the sensuous illusion of a symbolic existence, grow solely out of the tragic problem; because only such a figure can be surrounded, even as to the forms of its external appearance, with the required atmosphere of significant isolation. (192)
No time to really do any thinking on the screen here about this quotation, but I didn't want it to get lost in my giant book. So I'm tagging it in a post here for later consumption.

Just curious -- anyone else out there using scholarly blogs for note-taking on larger research projects?

Above quote excerpted from The Theory of the Novel: A Historico-Philosophical Essay on the Forms of Great Epic Literature. in Theory of the Novel: A Historical Approach, ed. Michael McKeon. John Hopkins University Press, 2000.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Audition for ADK Shakes!

It's that time of year again! Here is the most up-to-date information on our season auditions for our entire 2012 season. There are some changes from the website page already ... so I'm glad you're here. Check it out, pass it along, trade it amongst your friends.


Alexander Ristov as Flute and Tom Morin as Bottom,
A Midsummer Night's Dream, 2011.

Auditions for the 2012 season will be held in NYC in early November. We are now accepting headshot and resume submissions, as well as video auditions, for the 2012 season.

SUBMISSION GUIDELINES

You may submit a headshot and resume via email to casting@adkshakes.org. Please submit with “2012 Auditions” and your name in the subject line of the email. Headshots and resumes are best submitted as photo and document attachments (.JPG, .PDF, .TIF, .DOC or .DOCX files are accepted). You may include a link to a professional website, in addition to the attached files. Email submissions without attached files will not be considered.

We will begin contacting actors for in-person audition appointments in mid-October. Audition appointments are offered in one-hour blocks and must be confirmed in advance. The auditions are held in groups of 8-10 actors. Actors will present a prepared monologue (
classical verse only) and will also read sides from the season. These are intended to be cold readings, but a complete selection of sides will be posted on the website in advance for your perusal.*

Due to a high volume of submissions, we are unable to schedule in-person auditions for every actor. If we are unable to schedule you for an audition, we strongly urge you to consider submitting a video audition (see requirements below). If you plan to submit a video, please contact the Casting Director at casting@adkshakes.org with a request for sides, which may be included in your video.

*If you require additional time to prepare specific sides due to a learning disability or other need, please contact the Casting Director at casting@adkshakes.org and your request will be considered.

Our 2012 Casting Call is for:
The Justice Project: The Merchant of Venice and Measure for Measure
(February, 2012 at St. John’s University, NYC) 

Please note, some roles in this project are already cast. Actors will be cast in both shows and perform in repertory over two weekends in Queens and Manhattan. All roles are paid.

The Summer Festival Season: Hamlet, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead, Twelfth Night, and an original children’s production of Hercules
(Scheduled for July - August, 2012 in the Adirondack Mountains, NY)
Seeking a company of 12 actors. Actors will perform in repertory over a period of three to five weeks. Housing is provided. We are also seeking a Production Stage Manager and an Assistant Stage Manager. All positions are paid.

More information on video submissions is available on our website. Also please note, we are dedicated to seeing as many new actors as possible during our limited audition time. Due to the nature of our hour-long group sessions, we can only see a small number of people, and we prefer to schedule auditions for actors whose work we don't know. So if you have worked with ADK Shakes in the past and would like to be considered on your past work with the company, please send an email to casting@adkshakes.org and let us know of your interest.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

King Coffees: Richard II

Possibly my favorite speech from R2.
This morning I met my friend Collin for a "King Coffee." We are both really excited about the Kingship Cycle and just having a great time talking through the Big 8. At our last King Coffee, we came at the whole project, but today we focused just on Richard II.

I. love. this. play. It's been probably about eight years since I last read it. What an absolute joy to come back to it -- and no longer as a junior in college with little-to-no background in English history, little-to-no experience acting Shakespeare, (come on, let's face it) little-to-no experience whatsoever. Since then, however, I have acted in 1, 2, 3 Henry VI, Henry V, and Richard III. So I know the personnel in these plays now. No simple feat. And well ... just having lived a little bit of life changes the way you read a play. I'm a completely different person than I was eight years ago. Thank goodness.

Anyway. Armed with sticky notes, highlighters, multi-colored pens, and iced coffee -- Collin and I sat down to get any kind of handle on this play whatsoever. Here are some of the things I was interested in (as indicated by blue, green, and yellow sticky notes):

  • the abilities of the king. What is able to do? What are the things he is incapable of doing? (These started out as blue sticky notes, which ended up becoming a little more general and inclusive mentions of 'kingship.')
  • the death or downfall of kings (green sticky notes). The dichotomy of high/low is, of course, incredibly pronounced in this play. Great concerns with high ambitions, lofty thoughts, the heavens, the association of the king with the divine/height. And how far a king has to fall, to "come down," the earth, baseness, the common people.
  • England, the realm, the nation. (yellow stickies) This ties into the body politic, how the body of the king embodies the nation.
There are so many passages that interested me in this play, but one that particularly jumped out at me is in the above photo: "throw away Respect, / Tradition, Forme, and Ceremonious dutie, / for you have but mistooke me all this while" (3.2.175-7). Without these things, Richard argues he is not a king. He becomes a common man, as other men are. This speaks all the way across to Henry V's monologue on "ceremony" and kingship. But I get a little ahead of myself! Shakespeare introduces here in R2 how we might think of kings and common men. Let's see how it unravels next in 1 Henry IV.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

The Body Natural and The Body Politic

Last night I finished the first two chapters of The King's Two Bodies by Ernst H. Kantorowicz, which were on Plowden's Reports and Shakespeare's Richard II. My first conclusion is that I need to learn Latin for my foreign language requirement. (Even though I took three years of Latin in high school, it's not enough to be useful to me anymore. Oh, high school.) My second conclusion is that I can't wait to reread Richard II with this very thought in mind, that a king possesses within his own person two identities, or bodies. Yes, it's so obvious from the title, I know. But here's the argument in a bit more detail.

A king (lowercase 'k') has his "body natural," his physical, frail, mortal, human body. This body is subject to aches and pains and diseases and old age and eventually death. Once he is crowned King (uppercase 'K'), he gets an added bonus. He takes on a "body politic" and becomes the body of the realm.

What's important about Edmund Plowden's Reports is that he collects and expounds on the legal argument behind the king's two bodies, which is an older more medieval and mystical concept and not one cooked up in Plowden's day. (PS - You can get Volume 1 of Plowden's Commentaries or Reports free on Google Books. I love Google Books.) The Elizabethan culture was clearly concerned with legal questions of kingship, how do we define it, how do we define the body of a king -- or queen, for that matter, how do we deal with the assumption that a king's body is different from that of a common man. These questions are not just tackled in medieval and renaissance courts, but the very questions tackled in Shakespeare's history plays.

Plowden was 46 years old when Shakespeare was born, so they were not of the same generation. Shakespeare would likely have been familiar with Plowden's work though, given his own interest in the law and activity in the English courts. Kantorowicz pulls several passages from Richard II to show how Shakespeare is thinking in terms of the king's two bodies through the character of Richard. Here's a snippet from Plowden's Reports which opens up both The King's Two Bodies and Richard II, and I can't wait to dig in further.

For the King has in him two Bodies, a Body natural, and a Body politic. His Body natural (if it be considered in itself) is a Body mortal, subject to all Infirmities that come by Nature or Accident, to the Imbecility of Infancy or old Age, and to the like Defects that happen to the natural Bodies of other People. But his Body politic is a Body that cannot be seen or handles, consisting of Policy and Government, and constituted for the Direction of the People, and the Management of the public weal, and this Body is utterly void of Infancy, and old Age, and other natural Defects and Imbecilities, which the Body natural is subject to, and for this Cause, what the King does in his Body politic, cannot be invalidated or frustrated by an Disability in his natural Body.

(Kantorowicz, Ernst H. The King's Two Bodies. Princeton: Princeton UP, 1957. Book. From page 7, citing Plowden's Commentaries or Reports published London, 1816, page 212a.)

Friday, September 2, 2011

Richard II: Reading List

I love the excitement of beginning a new project. Research is something I enjoy doing (yes, I'm a big dork).

This project has been percolating for some time. Back in January, I was already thinking ahead to a possible dissertation project. I used my Medieval Romance class in the spring semester to think about the nature of kingship, which was often periphery but nevertheless important in the various romances we read. My final paper in that class considered how the nature of kingship is closely tied to genealogy and kinship and is set in tension against foreignness or otherness. Here's my introduction to that paper (which I quite like!):


In the Alliterative Morte Arthure, the anonymous poet offers an incredibly complex presentation of King Arthur. There is tension in the poem surrounding the figure of the king in terms of kinship, most especially evident in Arthur’s relationships with Mordred and Gawain, but also in his genealogy and claims to rule in Britain and in Rome. In addition to the poem’s attention to close familial relationships, it is also troubled by an element of foreignness, or otherness. We see these troubling elements in Mordred’s foreign allies and mercenaries, as well as in the giant of Genoa whom Arthur battles on St. Michael’s Mount. I would like to suggest that Mordred and the giant are set up as particular foils of Arthur, representative of foreign elements, as Others in the text. Mordred is nephew to the king, and there are also clear parallels between the giant and Arthur in the text. In light of the parallels between these othered figures and Arthur, I would like to argue that the figure of Arthur in this poem embodies a tension between kingship and otherness. We see Arthur as a king who is simultaneously an individual body, with kinship ties, and a more expansive figure whose individual bloodline has greater importance as the bloodline of a nation. If the king’s bloodline or kinship is corrupted, or indeed if the king himself is Other, there is a present danger for the identity of the nation. First, I will establish the prevalence of textual concern with royal lineage and genealogy in the poem, moving forward to consider Arthur’s close blood ties with living kinsmen. I will then move to establish that, against this reading of kinship, there is tension regarding otherness and foreignness, even in the royal personage of the king himself. Arthur’s self-destruction and active reconstruction of an Other identity is significant in our reading of this text, as the figure of Arthur  therefore challenges established notions of kingship and sovereignty.


This was a pretty interesting paper in its own right. Part of its purpose was to whet my appetite for considering kingship -- would I find myself uninterested? Or (as I hoped and suspected) would I simply become ravenous for more? My Amazon wish list confirms this suspicion.

So now, I go forth into considering the Big 8 histories by Shakespeare and just what is it he is trying to say about kingship in these plays. At the moment I am dipping my toes into the various resources in English history and in literary criticism and in Shakespeare's source material and in anthropological studies on kingship and theatre practitioners' journals and commentaries. Oh forget dipping my toes ... I'm just diving in and going swimming in it.

Portrait of Richard II,
Westminster Abbey
This Monday, I'm having coffee with my friend Collin (my partner in kingship!) and we are specifically discussing Richard II. I'm very happy to start with this play, even though in the chronology of Shakespeare's writing it's right smack in the middle of these histories. Chronologically in terms of rule, however, Richard II comes first. I'm so intrigued to compare the historical record with Shakespeare's dramatization and see exactly what Shakespeare is doing with his dramatization. Here's where I'm starting with my reading list. If you have any suggestions, feel free to post them in the comments section!

  • The Life and Death of King Richard the Second, William Shakespeare (duh!)
  • Narrative and Dramatic Sources of Shakespeare Vol III: Earlier English History Plays, "Richard II," Geoffrey Bullough, ed.
  • The Meaning of Shakespeare Vol 1, "Richard II," Harold C. Goddard
  • The King's Two Bodies: A Study in Mediaeval Political Theology, "The Shakespeare: Richard II," Ernst H. Kantorowicz
  • Shakespeare's English Kings: History, Chronicle, and Drama, "Richard II: The Fall of the King," Peter Saccio
  • Shakespeare's Kings: The Great Plays and the History of England in the Middle Ages: 1337-1485, "The Young Richard," "Favourites and Appellants," "The King's Revenge" and "The Triumph of Bolingbroke," John Julius Norwich
  • Shaping the Nation: England 1360-1461 (New Oxford History of England Series), Gerald Harriss
  • "Richard II and the Vocabulary of Kingship," Nigel Saul, The English Historical Review, 1995
That should do for a start.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

A New Semester

We are entering one of my favorite times of the year: back-to-school! This officially became a favorite time of year last year when I started the doctoral program at St. John's. My first back to school in six years -- count 'em, six! 2011 is even better, because I'm all set with books, a few new outfits, and I don't have to be so nervous about not knowing a soul.

Here's a little heads-up of what's on the horizon over the next few months.

  • I'm taking three classes: Jane Austen Today, Modern Critical Theories, and Theory of the Novel. I finally get to beef up on a little theory (or a lot). It's definitely something I feel less knowledgable about, so I'm excited to learn. I also get to nurture my fascination for 19th C British Fiction -- my other love besides Shakespeare.
  • I'll be working in the Writing Center for about 15 hours a week and blogging for the English Department about 3 hours a week. (Hopefully this will help me keep up with some blogging here too!)
  • In October, I get to present at THIS -- the Blackfriars Conference at American Shakespeare Center. I love love love this place. Hands down, some of the best Shakespeare I have seen (Othello, Tempest, Love's Labour's back in maybe 07 or 08 ... whew!). So I am humbled and thrilled and nervous about having the opportunity to present a paper here. Also my friend Danielle's paper was accepted so we get the added bonus of some great girl time!
  • November brings in Season Auditions for ADK Shakes's 2012 Season. (Follow the link for info.)
  • And the end of the semester means I'll have to start work on submitting my Master's Portfolio.
So I guess this is the deep breath before the plunge! First class tomorrow and away we go.

Friday, July 15, 2011

How To: Not Stress

The full company of actors arrives in a mere two days' time. We will also host Professor Leslie Reidel for a Verse-Speaking Master Class. ADK Shakes believes strongly in the power of the verse, and we admire Leslie's work a great deal. When he reached out to us last month to propose doing a workshop for our actors, I was absolutely thrilled.

This Master Class is just one of the many puzzle pieces that Patrick and I have been attempting to fit into place for our Second Summer Festival Season. (It is so cool to be able to say that, by the way.) Currently, Lee Ann is hard at work finishing the program. Yep, it's 2:30 a.m. What can I say? We are a busy clan!

Already today, there has been one tour of Complete Works. There's another tomorrow, two on Saturday, and one on Sunday. I have been compiling a detailed schedule for our actors, a housing map for where our company of lucky thirteen will be staying for the next three weeks, and a dinner map. Oh yes, we have a fun tradition of company dinners where one person cooks for the entire company. The wonderful catch is that you will only have to cook twice for everyone, and the rest of the nights you enjoy a fabulous home-cooked meal that someone else made. Those always taste better, don't they? Mixed into these activities are calling to confirm rehearsal venues, tracking down those last-minute ads for the program, shoring up the mother-mold for the Bottom mask, and oh right, I have lines that I need to be working on too!

So here's my How To for coping with some of this stress:

1. Yoga.
True North Yoga in Schroon Lake Village has graciously donated yoga classes to the Adirondack Shakespeare Company actors during their stay this season. Hatha is my favorite, but I did feel brave enough to try the Active Flow Vinyasa class on Tuesday. Boy, was that a stress-reliever!
2. Run.
Not away. No, no. I put on my running shoes and take a half-hour to myself a few times a week. I'm working on the Couch to 5K program and am just about to start Week 6. The side-benefit is that I get to eat:
3. Ice Cream.
It's not really summertime without ice cream at Stewart's Shops. I am incredibly excited that my all-time favorite flavor "Crumbs Along the Mohawk" is back on the board this year. Graham-cracker flavored ice cream with graham cracker chunks and a caramel swirl.
Mmmmm....so tasty.
So ... my advice, if you're feeling like your head is about to explode because even though you caught one mouse last night, another one just ran across the counter mocking you, is to remember that "stressed" backwards spells "desserts." And you know, then do some yoga or some running to burn off those ice cream calories.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

ADK Shakes Summer Tickets

The Important Information: TICKETS via Ticketleap and our detailed SUMMER SCHEDULE

I am incredibly proud to announce the opening of our 2011 Summer Festival Season, our second annual Summer Festival Season, that is. We had an amazing first year of shows in Schroon Lake, NY last summer. We are beginning to make a name for ourselves, and it is a very big year.

Lesley Berkowitz rehearses Complete Works
In fact, we have already opened The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged) by Adam Long, Daniel Singer, and Jess Winfield. We opened on July 3 and we have already performed the show in Lake George, Long Lake, Glens Falls, Chateaugay, Scaroon Manor, and Lake Placid. Tomorrow the company heads to Saratoga Springs for a "good will" performance at the Wesley Health Community.

Friday kicks off another busy weekend with a free public performance right outside the beautiful Crandall Public Library in downtown Glens Falls at 7:00 p.m. On Saturday, July 16, we have two performances in North Creek at the Tannery Pond Community Center. And on Sunday, July 17, we have been invited to perform at the incredible Crown Point Historic Site, which is right on the shores of Lake Champlain. The company will be performing amidst the ruins of 18th-century pre-Revolutionary War barracks. Amazing! The show is at 2:00 p.m. and it is free. (Bring your own seating!)

The other exciting thing about Sunday's show is that the entire 2011 Summer Company will be in attendance! We pick them up in Albany on Sunday morning from the bus and head straight up to Crown Point. Get some time in with the actors before they start stressing about Midsummer and Merchant rehearsals.

Which start on Monday!

Here is what you need to know for opening week of the Mainstage Season:
  • A Midsummer Night's Dream opens Thursday, July 21 at 2:00 p.m. at the Boathouse Theater in Schroon Lake Village
  • A Midsummer Night's Dream tours to beautiful Long Lake on Friday, July 22 at 7:30 p.m. at the Mt. Sabattis Pavilion
  • The Complete Works tours to Lake Placid on Saturday, July 23 at 2:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. at Mid's Park
  • The Merchant of Venice opens on Sunday, July 24 at 2:00 p.m. at the Boathouse Theater in Schroon Lake Village
  • The Complete Works returns to Lake George on Sunday, July 24 at 2:00 p.m. at Shepard Park
  • A Midsummer Night's Dream comes to Lake George on Sunday, 24 at 7:00 p.m. at Shepard Park

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Meet Tara and Patrick!

So I am the last actor in the company to be introduced, but I feel strange introducing myself. I have therefore decided to introduce Patrick and myself as a team. Behold: your Executive and Artistic Directors!

Patrick and I first met in 2005 acting in back to back productions in Delaware and in Harrisburg, PA. We continued to act in the occasional show together, but by 2008, we knew it was time to begin a new venture. One of the things I found most frustrating about being an actor was being subject to someone else's ideas. (I have had the most interesting time reading about this dilemma in Simon Callow's book Being an Actor.) I fully appreciate a director's vision of a production, but no one was quite producing Shakespeare the way I wanted to perform it. So Patrick and I began our Shakespeare IN THE RAW experiment.

No more props. We used dowels -- you know those thick wooden sticks you buy at the hardware store. Those were our swords. We've progressed to daggers -- blocks of wood you'd use to stop a door, wrapped in duct tape. No more costumes. We used basic blacks as a base costume and augmented with jackets, sashes, hats, skirts, etc. No more rehearsal time. We've whittled it down to approximately 12 hours per production. Yes, that is correct. We don't have anyone holding book during the show. No one carries a script. These are all-out, uncut, full-on productions of Shakespeare by some of the finest classical actors I have ever met or seen perform. The focus is almost entirely on the text and on the verse and musicality therein. And these productions are exciting! This is the way I love to perform Shakespeare and to see Shakespeare performed.

To date, Shakespeare IN THE RAW has encompassed ten productions:

1 Henry VI
2 Henry VI
3 Henry VI
Richard III
As You Like It
Romeo and Juliet
Macbeth
Titus Andronicus
The Tempest
The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged)

And in just a few weeks we will open the rest of our second annual summer festival:
A Midsummer Night's Dream
The Merchant of Venice

and our very first children's show: Theseus and the Minotaur


In our non-ADK Shakes world, Patrick attends the St. John's University School of Law as a St. Thomas More Scholar. He will be entering his third and final year this fall. I also attend St. John's University and am enrolled in their Doctor of Arts (think PhD) program in the English Department. I will be entering my second year of coursework this fall. I also tutor in the Institute of Writing Studies and this year I am looking forward to working more closely with the Writing Fellows program, which involves placing undergraduate writing tutors into first year writing courses. This year at St. John's I will also be producing The Gender Project. I will leave you hanging on that one. It deserves its own post. I will tease you with the fact that it involves three productions throughout the course of the academic year.

I'm not sure when Patrick and I will get to be together on stage again, but here's a walk down memory lane of some shows we have done together over the last six years.

as Celia and Oliver in As You Like It, 2010
My back as Nurse and Patrick as Friar Lawrence
 beating up on Aaron White as Romeo.
There's not a picture of us together in this scene, but Patrick played Hecate (with Becca Stevens) and I played Witch 1 in Macbeth.


Fuzzy pic from Richard III
3 Henry VI rehearsal
The rabble about to take down Lord Say in 2 Henry VI
Patrick accompanies my beat-down of Lord Talbot
(The shot is a little stretched and grainy - sorry!)
There's a few others mixed in there too but I'm having trouble digging up some pictures. So last but certainly not least, our very first Shakespeare production together, Henry V at Harrisburg Shakespeare Festival in 2005.
Ahhh... memories.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Meet Laura!

Aaron White as Romeo and Laura Montes as Juliet
I have had the pleasure to know Laura Montes for the past (nearly) three years and the privilege to work with her in perhaps nine productions over those three years. Laura is a tremendous performer, and she is just plain awesome to have around. If I need an ear, ladies and gentlemen, this is the one.

If you are a returning ADK Shakes fan, you will no doubt remember Laura's stunning performance as Juliet, which I have to say is the finest portrayal of this character I have ever seen. And I've seen R&J performed a bunch. Laura was able to bring an utterly convincing simplicity to her portrayal of Juliet that I haven't encountered anywhere else. It was rather deceptively simple, because the complexity of her character work was incredible.

Laura Montes, Tara Bradway, and Greg Davies
 as the Witches in Macbeth
Here are a few pictures of Laura from last season. She appeared as Juliet and Sampson in Romeo and Juliet, as 2nd Witch, Gentlewoman, Messenger, and Macduff's son in Macbeth, and Phebe in As You Like It. Laura received a Moosie Award for her dramatic death as young Macduff. Welcome her back this year as Hermia in Midsummer, Jessica/Duke of Venice/Solanio in Merchant, and she is in the ensemble of Theseus and the Minotaur playing multiple roles. Somehow Laura always ends up with a larger track of roles than anyone else, and she holds the current record of 9 characters in one show for 2 Henry VI in 2008.

If you love Laura and her work as much as we do, adopt her or Hermia! In fact, Laura has already been adopted once this year, and a portion of this donation is going straight to her. But that doesn't mean that she can't be adopted by others as well! We are so grateful to all who support our actors. It's a tough job, but where would we be without them?

LAURA MONTES
(MID: Hermia; VEN: Jessica, Duke of Venice, Solanio; KIDS: Hermia, Wall)


Laura originally hails from New Mexico, currently lives in New York City, and has a special place in her heart for California and Ohio. She has an MFA from Ohio University's Professional Actor Training Program.

For more information, please visit:
http://resumes.actorsaccess.com/lauramontes1

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Didgeridon't.

On Thursdays, Mark Piper (of Schroon Lake Bed & Breakfast -- If you're coming up for the Summer Festival, this is a must-stay place. Gorgeous!) hosts an Open Mic Night at Witherbee's Carriage House and Restaurant. It is so much fun! This is the second week that I have gone. This week it was packed, and it was exciting to have several ADK Shakes fans in attendance.

Lesley and Ross performed something special. Please enjoy!

video


It is also Lesley's birthday, so:

Happy Birthday, Lesley!

Complete Works - Day 1!

The summer has officially begun!

Yesterday, I picked up Ross and Lesley from the bus in Albany. We traveled north through Glens Falls, stopping at a few places to drop off brochures and discuss future touring possibilities. At the Visitors' Center in Hague, NY, the "kids" had a play break on the horses. Not sure who won here.


After the playground, we continued north through Ticonderoga in search of our Sunday, July 17 touring venue: the beautiful Crown Point Historic Site. We will be performing in the midst of the ruins of barracks constructed in the 18th Century. This fort was taken over by British from the French in the 1750's. During the American Revolution was occupied briefly by the colonists before reverting again to British control. What's left are the ruins of the officers' and the soldier's barracks, as well as the earthen walls (though these have sunk about 12 feet since they were first constructed). This location is crying out for a Shakespearean performance! What do you want to see performed here? Julius Caesar, King Lear, Henry V, Macbeth?


We can't wait to perform Complete Works here on July 17 at 2:00 p.m. Join us for a FREE performance!

In anticipation of our opening, of course, it's time to begin rehearsing. This morning we read through Complete Works for the first time, then worked through the more complicated physical bits before lunch. A well-balanced melange of tacos, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, yogurt, and CHEESE. This afternoon: stumble-through. Here's a sneak peek at Romeo and Juliet:

video

Join us on Sunday for our opening performances of the 2011 Festival Season. We will perform at Shepard Park in Lake George, NY at 2:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. Don't miss it! This show is going to be hilarious!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Meet Mike!

Oh wow ... I have known Michael Pauley for three years now, I guess! I met him ever so briefly at Texas Shakespeare Festival in the summer of 2008, but I didn't really get to know him until he came to do Shakespeare IN THE RAW with us that November. The cast of 2 Henry VI spent the Thanksgiving holiday driving down from New York City, Harrisburg, Baltimore, and Delaware. We arrived at Casa Siler for a glorious Thanksgiving dinner, a read-through of the play, and a chilly weekend of rehearsing and performing this little known play. And Mike absolutely stole the MVP award for that show. I had no idea what to expect, but he brought his A-Game. Not only was he absolutely 110% memorized, but he could fly through them at incredible speeds during the Italian. Needless to say, we were pretty impressed.

His feature role in that production was Humphrey, Duke of Gloster, but it was his smallest role as Edward (2 lines, I believe) that jettisoned him into our next two productions of 3 Henry VI and Richard III following the full arc of this character through all three plays. Mike always comes to play hard at Shakespeare IN THE RAW, so it was an easy decision for me to invite Mike to play Macbeth last summer. Check this out:

But now check this out:

I had a devil of a time choosing a photo, so you should really take a look at all the glorious pictures from Macbeth. It's impossible for me to choose an absolute favorite play by Shakespeare, but Macbeth without a doubt always makes my Top Five.

If you loved Michael Pauley last summer, adopt him this year! You can also write in to adopt Lysander or Bassanio. And a portion of donations made in Mike's name will go directly to him.

MICHAEL PAULEY
(MID: Lysander; VEN: Bassanio, Gaoler)

Michael is proud to be a member of ADK Shakes. Based in New York City, Michael has worked regionally with companies including The Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey, Texas Shakespeare Festival, the Theatre at Monmouth, and Arizona Theatre Company. On television, Michael has worked on Saturday Night Live, All My Children, One Life to Live, As the World Turns and Guiding Light. Michael also serves as the Executive Artistic Director of The Hyperion Theatre Project, which produces many projects including The Red Tie Mafia, the resident improvisation group at The Living Theatre. He also specializes in Commedia Dell Arte, producing a yearly show in Manhattan to raise funds for cancer research, now entering its sixth year. Michael is a member of The American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, is a Tier II company member with The Southwest Shakespeare Conservatory, and holds his BFA in Acting from The University of Arizona in Tucson.

For more information, please visit: www.hyperiontheatreproject.com.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Meet Andi!

Andi Dema is one of those people that I just love to say his whole name when I refer to him. To me, he is always "Andi Dema." I remember first meeting Andi Dema a few years back at Texas Shakespeare Festival. I saw him in The Royal Hunt of the Sun, Julius Caesar, and most memorably 1776. The very phrasing and tone of the way he said, "Delaware seconds!" will forever live in my memory. It was hilarious, partially because he was so committed to it.

We are so fortunate to have Andi Dema with us this season, and I am most especially looking forward to his Shylock. So many productions attempt to make Shylock the hero of this play. I understand this, I really do. Shylock is an incredibly complex character. Shakespeare was top-notch at creating incredibly complex characters. But many productions lose sight of the fact that Shylock is actually the villain in this play. I'm not saying he needs to be a mustache-twirling, cardboard cut-out villain. No way! But the beauty of Shakespeare's villains and why we love them so much is because they much more complex and interesting than a cookie-cutter cartoon. Of course, we must find the humanity in Shylock's character. He's got it in spades. But we shouldn't cover up the fact that Shylock is indeed the villain.

To stand on my soap-box for a moment: I am firm in my belief that the fact that Shylock is Jewish and the fact that Shylock is a villain have nothing substantial to do with each other. Shylock is not a villain, because he is Jewish. He is a villain, because he is a villain. And he happens to be Jewish. There I said it! Now this is turning into a post not at all about introducing Andi Dema to you, so I apologize and I will now step off my soap-box.

Andi and I will just have to post about character discussions in just a few weeks, won't we? We are very excited about this production! I know Andi is going to bring a great deal of depth to this role, at the same time as he fearlessly embraces what is terrifying in this man. The unabashed and hard will to cut a pound of flesh from another man's chest. Think about that for awhile. Really.

And after you think about that, picture this handsome man holding the knife:

ANDI DEMA
(MID: Egeus, Peter Quince; VEN: Shylock, Stephano; KIDS: Chorus 1, Egeus, Bottom)

Andi Dema
Andi Dema is an Albanian actor who has previously worked with Texas Shakespeare Festival, Oklahoma City Repertory Theatre, Oklahoma Shakespeare in the Park, Bright Star Touring, National Theatre for Children, and Oklahoma Children's Theatre. Favorite roles include Clitandre in The Learned Ladies, Joey Percival in Misalliance and Jack Tanner in Man and Superman. Mr. Dema is a BFA graduate of Oklahoma City University.

Support Andi's work with us this summer by adopting him. You can also adopt the wonderfully complex Shylock! A portion of donations made in Andi's name will go directly to him. An actor needs ice cream.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Good Master Mustardseed

I love masks! I just knew from the beginning that I wanted Mustardseed (the fairy I'm playing in A Midsummer Night's Dream) to have a mask. And I had this vision of wanting points at the bottom. So I drew all over my face with an eyeliner pencil to mark the points at the bottom, and Patrick went to work covering my face with plaster strips.


He did a great job with the points! He also really liked the look of the points around the eyehole. It swoops up and points above my eyebrow, which ended up giving it a pretty fierce look once it dried.

I didn't get pictures of the next steps, but I worked on adding some expression to the mask once it had dried. I cut a circular cotton swab in half to accentuate the cheeks, and I used some pipe-cleaners for brows. They too got a layer of plaster and dried before traveling up north wrapped in a big swath of bubble-wrap.

We made it safely! In Lake Placid, I got a box of mixed acrylics. I knew I wanted a neutral base of brown to go with all the feathers I had bought at Michael's. For some reason, I was really inspired by the feather picks.


After the neutral base, I accentuated the "expression" with a little green. I love green. Can you tell that I am not an artist? I'm not too worried because most of it will be covered in ....

FEATHERS!


Now to drill the holes and add the elastic to keep it on my head during the performances! I think Good Master Mustardseed is looking pretty fierce.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Step into my office.

This last week has been so busy! Lee Ann arrived on Tuesday morning. I took advantage of the trip down to pick her up in Albany by also stopping in Glens Falls for essentials at Staples, JoAnn's, and comparatively cheap gas (i.e., $3.93 in Schroon Lake vs. $3.65 in Glens Falls). We distributed some brochures while we were there and had the most serendipitous meeting at the gas station: a lady who recommended that we check out the Old Courthouse in Hudson Falls, which has been recently renovated. Hopefully we can add a few more venues around the Park for Complete Works!

We have been reveling in our new internet connection since yesterday afternoon. Prior to installation, I was forced to turn my attention to other non-computery related items. Since it is so gorgeous here at the cabin, I decided to make the front porch my office. Plus, it's the only place I can get reliable cell phone reception. I can also keep a close eye on the underlings from here:


I encourage them to take long lunch breaks, especially when they are munching on small pests:

He was noshing on a big horsefly.
While these fine friends were keeping me company, I was hard at work with PAINTING! Specifically, the golden casket for The Merchant of Venice and my fairy mask for A Midsummer Night's Dream. Here is my totally blank slate:

I did a test patch of iridescent gold acrylic paint. I covered that with a coat of wood varnish. Cherry. I like cherry. So far so good.

I call it: Untitled, Gold Acrylic on Wood
After drying, I ended up adding another coat of the acrylic over top of the varnish. It's quite pretty when the sun hits it. The gold really lights up, but otherwise it is fairly subtle. Which I like. The casket is made of gold, because we say so, right? So it doesn't matter that it's not actually made of gold. And the last thing I want is an offensive, distracting prop that's a little box painted bright yellow or gaudy shiny gold all over and covered in sequins.

You can see the progress of making my fairy mask in my next post. And if you want to see how the gold casket turned out, well, I guess you'll have to come and see the show!

What a big day in the office! Time to rest ...


Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Meet Alex!

ALEXANDER RISTOV
(MID: Oberon, Flute; VEN: Gratiano, Arragon; KIDS: Minos, Minotaur, Lysander, Flute)

I received one of the coolest video auditions from this gentleman, a native of New Zealand. He filmed his monologues in Central Park, and had people in the park cheering by the end. I was fascinated!

When we held a small round of callbacks for the summer season, Alexander Ristov was on our must-see list. I needed to meet this fascinating person. Because in addition to the monologues, he also included a demo of a "special skill" -- which is something we encourage. What's your special skill? People did foreign languages for us. They ate fire. (Yes. Seriously. And it was amazing.) And Alexander attached a video of his stage combat demo, a scene which I cannot properly introduce because I am completely incapable of doing justice to its awesomeness. Please enjoy, courtesy of Alexander Ristov:
video

Alexander Ristov has been living and training as an actor in New York for the last three and a half years. He is originally from New Zealand, and he was inspired to come to New YOrk to train as an actor by watching New York actors' brilliant performances on the big screen. He is a recent graduate from the Stella Adler Day Conservatory program and is very excited to be part of the Adirondack Shakespeare Company's Summer Festival. Alexander's recent credits include "Purge" at La Mama Theatre. He is currently a company member of the American Mime Theatre Company and is also a Stage Combat assistant to Steve White at the Stella Adler Studio of Acting.

If you are as a big a fan of Alex's video as we are, please support his work with us this summer: Adopt him! A portion of all Adopt-a-Character or Adopt-an-Actor donations in Alex's name goes directly to him!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Welcome to the Adirondacks!

I am finally here! And by here I mean both here in the Adirondacks and here on the interwebs. Time Warner has not yet made their way to hook up internet for our cabin, but I'm making do until Thursday when they do finally show up. So I appreciate your patience while I have been rather "quiet" on the blog for awhile.

I'll be continuing this week with our last several "Meet the Company" profiles. Until then, however, I will leave with a list of the exciting things that have happened in the past week.
2011 Summer Brochure

1. Drove over 560 miles on a single tank of gas. (Thank you, '99 Camry.)
2. Met with the wonderful Village Clerk in Lake Placid. We will hopefully have the opportunity to perform in Mids Park over Ironman Weekend.
3. Disposed of two mice carcasses from their unfortunate resting place of the kitchen garbage can.
4. Tripped the correct breakers for the hot water, and turned the correct valve to get the cold water running in the shower. This was a happy day.
5. Received 2000 brochures for the 2011 Summer Season! They are beautiful, and they have so far been delivered to the North Warren Chamber of Commerce, Indian Lake Theater, and Tannery Pond Community Center.
6. Met with our Schroon Lake Community Committee about our Fundraiser/Benefit. It's coming up on July 7, and I am currently accepting suggestions for a new title. We were going with a Queen's Tea, but another organization does a fundraiser Tea every year. It is a big deal, and they go all out. So we're rebranding -- thoughts?
7. Eaten one spooner pint of Stewart's Mousse Trail ice cream.
8. Two runs, one walk, and one bike ride on East Shore Drive.
9. Seen chipmunks, red squirrels, blue jays, butterflies, and dragonflies. No hummingbirds yet or deer. Maybe this week?

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

The Stressball that is June

June is rolling by incredibly fast! It's not just me, is it? My To Do List keeps getting longer and longer ... except that I have lists all over the place, and on each one I should probably write "Consolidate To Do Lists." So, my apologies that I have not kept up with the company introductions while I have been submerged in article completion and out of town activities.

There are still several company members I cannot wait to introduce you to, and I will get those started up again next week once I am ......drumroll....... upstate! I will be heading up in the next couple of days to get things ready for the season. I still need to figure out a reliable internet connection. I need to be workably memorized on Act III of Merchant by Sunday. I have to pack bed sheets, rice, cans of beans, a few bottles of wine (those are for me!), paper towels, toilet paper, tissues, and dish soap into the car (thoughtfully donated by the Bradway family). Once I'm back in NYC, Patrick and I will be compiling our movement playlists (I cannot wait to tell you about these rehearsals in July!) for Midsummer and Merchant, transferring the website files to my laptop so I can work on the website while upstate (oh right, that internet connection again), and acquiring our very cool presentation board created by our amazing intern Jessica which is detailing our activism re: Scaroon Manor Amphitheater (this deserves its very own post).

To prepare myself for the freak out that will occur when packing the car later this week, here's what needs to come to the idyllic cabin in Adirondack Park:

Things to Fit in Furby (that's my car)
- one big box of ADK T-Shirts (PS - You can still order! They look amazing!)
- two weapons bags (re-appropriated golf bags from Good Will!)
- one floor tom
- box of singing bowls
- Scaroon Manor Amphitheater presentation board
- two dogs
- one "Fort Knox" dog-food container
- 4 skulls
- 2 swords, a dozen dowels
- backpack stuffed with scripts, notes, permits, laptop
- suitcase filled with normal clothes, running clothes, bathing suits, and costume pieces!
- extra bed sheets
- 10 pound bag of rice, half dozen cans of beans, one bag of ground flaxseed, and a box of red quinoa
- Complete Works props
- detergent (dish and laundry), tissues, toilet paper, hand soap and paper towels
- a hoodie!
- a bottle of zinfandel, a bottle of white zinfandel, and a bottle of cabernet sauvignon
- oh! and me!


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