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.


You may submit a headshot and resume via email to 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 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 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 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.
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