Saturday, September 29, 2012

Comps Installment 1

It is the start of a new semester. Actually, we are already a few weeks in. I've been devoting the last few weeks to shoring up one of my comps lists on the Early Modern English History Play. So the blog has been a bit quiet of reading responses. I'll be adding a reading response post over the weekend or early next week on some of the Henry VI's, but in the meantime I'd like to share how this list is shaping up.

Shakespeare really corners the market of the English history play. He tops my list by more than ten to one, if we also include those he likely co-authored. I'm excited to be able to order some of these texts on Amazon and others I have access to via EEBO (Early English Books Online).

Shakespeare, William.
1 Henry VI2 Henry VI3 Henry VIRichard IIIRichard II1 Henry IV2 Henry IVHenry VHenry VIIIKing John
And the plays that have been engulfed in the authorship debate lately:
Edward III (New Cambridge Shakespeare)Sir Thomas More (Arden Shakespeare)
And in the firmly, non-Shakespeare camp:
Marlowe, Christoper. Edward II.Ford, John. Perkin Warbeck.Heywood, Thomas. The First and Second Parts of King Edward IV. (EEBO / Revels Plays)
Peele, George. Edward I (c. 1591) (EEBO)
Anonymous. The True Chronicle History of King Leir. (c. 1590)
--. Famous Victories of Henry V.--. Thomas of Woodstock. (Revels Plays)
I'm a little on the fence about including King Leir, but it is billed as a "True Chronicle History" so it seems worth it to have on there at the moment. I can always delete it later on.

I'm really intrigued by adding the following series of poems to my list. Although they don't fit neatly into the category of "history play," it seems clear that they were influential to many of the plays written in this period.
Baldwin, William et al. Mirror for Magistrates. (EEBO)
Since I am also focusing on performance in my dissertation, I have acquired a few of the following already. Some are films, some are filmed stage productions, some I have yet to find but am hoping they are available.
The Hollow Crown. Dir. Richard Eyre and Rupert Goold. BBC, 2012. 
The Wars of the Roses. Perf. Michael Pennington. BBC and English Shakespeare Company, 1989. 
Wars of the Roses. Dir. John Barton and Peter Hall. Perf. David Warner and Ian Holm. Royal Shakespeare Company, 1965.
An Age of Kings. Perf. Robert Hardy, Sean Connery, and Judi Dench. BBC Worldwide, 2009.
Edward II. Dir. Derek Jarman. Perf. Steven Waddington, Kevin Collings, and Andrew Tiernan. Sales Company, 1991. 
Edward II. Dir. Richard Marquand and Tony Robertson. Perf. Ian McKellen and James Laurenson. BBC Worldwide, 2009. 
Richard II. Dir. William Woodman. Perf. David Birney. Bard Productions Ltd., 1982. (Just ordered on eBay!)
I know there is also a 1971 production with Ian McKellen as Richard II, but I have not been able to track that down anywhere. I also believe I found some copies of the NBC Hallmark Hall of Fame TV production (1954) starring Maurice Evans. University of Delaware, UT Austin and UC Berkeley libraries have copies according to worldcat.org. I also think I can get a copy of the 1997 production of Richard II starring Fiona Shaw at the NYPL. Included in the BBC Complete Shakespeare Collection should be the 1978 Richard II with Derek Jacobi as Richard. If so, I'll be ordering that on eBay as well.

We're going to need a bigger bookshelf.


Monday, July 23, 2012

Or Else What Follows? - 7.23.12

Twelfth Night opens this Saturday!
Summer is our busiest time of the year here at ADK Shakes. There are things going on just about every day, which makes it a bit difficult to keep up with my posting on here. Here's a recap of our weekend:

On Friday, we toured down to Congress Park in beautiful Saratoga Springs. We set up by the War Memorial to perform selections from The Twelve Labors of Hercules, and we learned quickly that some feathered friends would play an important role in our performance. Long lines of ducks marched right through our makeshift stage, which was pretty hilarious. Patrick particularly enjoyed scattering them with the Nemean Lion's entrance. Perhaps my favorite part of the day, however, was even before we got to the park -- I was on the radio!! In case you missed out, I gave an interview about ADK Shakespeare's third summer season on The Eight O'Clock Hour on North Country Public Radio. But don't worry, you can listen to the broadcast right here!

Saturday brought beautiful weather and an adventure down to Albany to pick up our NYC contingent of actors who traveled via bus to the capital. Almost everyone has now arrived, and we had a delicious dinner at our rental house in Wevertown.

Sunday was all about workshops (as is today!), and we are hunkering down at the Schroon Lake Central School to work on sonnets, verse speaking, and spatial awareness with Leslie Reidel (of the University of Delaware and the Enchantment Theatre Company). We are so fortunate to have Leslie returning to do workshops again this season. If I can find some time, I'd love to write a more detailed post on the experience of doing these workshops. I've found them so valuable in my own work as an actor, and I see a monumental difference in the work of others as well. And I have to say, I love it!

The rest of the week is rising action until we open Twelfth Night on Saturday evening -- 7:30 p.m. at the Boathouse Theater. Our first rehearsal for this show is Thursday, followed by one of our final Hercules performances in Ticonderoga. We'll be performing at 4:00 p.m. as part of their Arts Week festivities! Friday will be our long intensive rehearsal day all driving towards our evening opening performance on Saturday. Sunday we cap the week off with our very first tour to Caroga Lake -- we will be at the outdoor amphitheater on Main Street at 2:30 p.m. I'm already super proud of this ensemble and the amazing show I know they are going to put on -- don't miss our opening weekend of mainstage performances!

Reserve your tickets now at adkshakes.ticketleap.com and view our full performance schedule right here.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

A Herculean week!

I couldn't be more thankful. We had an especially fantastic performance of The Twelve Labors of Hercules this morning! An amazing audience of 70 people laughed, applauded, and enjoyed the show today. All the actors felt especially "on" and the energy was completely contagious. I love shows like this!

Today's show was a wonderful cherry on the cake of yesterday's Meet and Greet. We had a great time chatting with many members of the community, snacking on some delicious treats, and running for cover from the insane thunderstorm that hit in the middle of Hippolyta whooping Hercules's you-know-what. We rolled with the punches and really enjoyed lighting candles and gathering in the beautiful parlor at the Paradox House Gallery Retreat. It was an evening to remember! Here are some pictures from the selected scenes we performed:
Deinos, the man-eating mare of Diomedes
Hercules moves rivers and puts the ram in the ramalamadingdong
Eurystheus discourages Iolaus
This evening we are working on some Hydra repairs and probably running some Twelfth Night and Hamlet lines. The main stage company arrival has felt so far away all month, but they will all be joining us here on Saturday -- a few short days away. I can't believe it's here already! Before they arrive, I have a paper to write on Romeo and Juliet for class. It certainly is an interesting experience to have my head in the production zone as well as the critical scholar zone. We'll be studying Hamlet and Twelfth Night for class too, so I'm particularly looking forward to what my different mode of thinking will bring to the performances.




Monday, July 16, 2012

Or Else What Follows? - 7.16.12

Tomorrow afternoon we are holding our annual Meet and Greet fundraiser for our summer festival season. This year, we are graciously hosted by the Paradox House Gallery Retreat in Severance, NY, and you can have the chance to mingle with the acting company and crew of our children's show The Twelve Labors of Hercules.

Meet the author, Jessica Hackett, who has done a beautiful job marrying lessons for children about friendship, cooperation, and loyalty with more complex, political themes, all written through the historical lens of Octavius (more familiar to us as Augustus Caesar) and Agrippa. Also in attendance will be the acting company of the show: Mitchell Conway (Agrippa/Hercules), Rachel Ritacco (Athena, ensemble), and Aaron White (Octavius/Iolaus), as well as myself (Hera, ensemble) and Patrick Siler (Zeus, ensemble) who is also our Executive Director.

You'll get to meet the cast, enjoy some scenes from the show, and browse our Silent Auction of items donated by the company in order to benefit our summer season. This is our single fundraising opportunity for the season, and we need your help! ADK Shakespeare did not receive any grant funding this year, and yet our season is bigger than ever as we continue to grow to meet demand. Help us out with a donation to support the amazing work happening right here in your community.

Debbie Philp, the owner of True North Yoga, came to see our opening performance with her son last week and posted a rave review on The Schroon Laker. I was especially proud that Debbie wrote on the complexity of the play and its relevance for both young and older children, as well as adults. This is exactly the message that we were hoping would come through in the performance of Hercules. And Hercules is only the first offering of the season. Our mainstage season opens with Twelfth Night at the end of the month, followed swiftly by Hamlet and Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead. Please support our programming! Tell your friends about our performances and come check us out at tomorrow's Meet and Greet.

If you missed last week's performances of The Twelve Labors of Hercules, don't worry! The company returns this Wednesday at 11:00 a.m. to the Boathouse Theater in Schroon Lake. Last week's house was packed, so be sure to arrive at 10:30 when the house opens to get the best seats! On Thursday, we will be touring to the Tannery Pond Community Center in North Creek for an 11:00 a.m. show. Friday brings us to the War Memorial at Congress Park in Saratoga Springs from 10:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m. Meet the stars of Hercules, see what goes on behind the scenes, and maybe even treat yourself to one of our really cool t-shirts featuring Hungry Will.


If you are unable to attend the Meet and Greet, but would still like to make a tax-deductible donation to support Adirondack Shakespeare, you can make a secure donation through PayPal by visiting our home page: www.adkshakes.org

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Friends, ye Romans, gather here

What an exciting morning! The Twelve Labors of Hercules performed for the first time this morning to an audience of 65 parents, grandparents, children and friends of the company. And they were absolutely spellbound!

Openings are a complete roller coaster of emotion. There is excitement and nerves. Who will come see it? Will I remember all my lines and cues? I don't feel ready for performance yet. What if I forget to set this prop? I'm nervous about this line that I never ever get right. And then the audience arrives. They are glowing with excitement, here early to make sure they get a good seat. They're fans from seeing Midsummer or Theseus last summer. They giggle in all the right places. They even talk to us during the show -- and afterwards! They come to tell us which of the monsters was their favorite. To grab up brochures so they can come to see another show. To say "Thank you for bringing this to our town. We're glad you're here." 


Thank you for welcoming us to your town. For being the most terrific opening audience I could ask for. For laughing and smiling. For listening, for imagining, for playing with us. We can't do it without you!

The cast of Hercules (L-R: Patrick Siler, Mitch Conway, Tara Bradway, Aaron White. Center: Rachel Ritacco

We hope to see you again very soon. Our next performance of Hercules is tomorrow morning at 11:00 a.m. the Indian Lake Theater in Indian Lake. You can reserve your tickets now at adkshakes.ticketleap.com. On Friday, we'll be traveling to Mid's Park in Lake Placid for a day at the park. Saturday, you can find us in Shepard Park in Lake George Village, and Sunday we'll be hanging out in Rogers Memorial Park in Bolton Landing. We hope to see you there!

Monday, July 9, 2012

Or Else What Follows? - 7.9.12

An exciting week is ahead of us -- The Twelve Labors of Hercules opens on Wednesday at the Boathouse Theater in Schroon Lake village at 11:00 a.m. Join us! This show promises to be absolutely amazing. The masks and monsters alone are going to be quite incredible. I think the grown-ups are going to enjoy this just as much as the kids.

After we open on Wednesday morning, we'll be doing a little more poster-hanging around the area. Look for our blue ADK t-shirts wandering around Bolton Landing and Ticonderoga. Thursday morning brings us to Indian Lake, where we will perform at the Theater on Main Street at 11:00 a.m. We're excited to perform at Indian Lake Theater again this summer. We toured The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged) here last season and really enjoyed the audience and the town. Thanks for welcoming us back!

Friday the 13th brings us to Lake Placid for the first time this season. We will be performing scenes from the show every half hour in Mid's Park. Join us starting at 10:00 a.m. -- come visit with the actors, hear about how we constructed our masks and monsters, and pick up one of our t-shirts as a souvenir. We'll be returning to Lake Placid in August -- you can see the full production at the Lake Placid Center for the Arts on August 15 at 10:30 a.m. as part of LPCA's Young and Fun Series.

It's so wonderful to have the kids' show company here settling in! Keep an eye out for our Meet the Company posts, which will be starting up later this week. Get to know the actors of The Twelve Labors of Hercules!

QB6WCKTRGV78

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Hercules rehearsal {day 1}

It begins! All of our company members (for the children's show, that is) have arrived, and we begin rehearsals today. We'll have a full day ahead of us -- starting with building Rachel's base mask for Athena. Throughout the day, we'll be working a lot on our lines. This is the first time we have gotten to hear the script aloud, and I have to say that I am really looking forward to seeing this up on its feet this Wednesday.

Before then, though, we have monsters to finish, battles to choreograph, and lines to polish. The Nemean Lion is coming along -- he looks absolutely amazing, and so much cooler than I could possibly have envisioned.
Aaron has been working at adding more color and shading to the lion today. Yellow and gold have been added to the reddish-brown base. Patrick painted the eyeballs today, as well.

Tomorrow we'll be adding his raffia mane and perhaps some bristly whiskers. We've got some foam cones (from the floral arrangement section of A.C. Moore) that Aaron has trimmed down for his nasty, big, pointy teeth.

Here's Aaron working on the shoulders. They're constructed from drum heads, with straps for me to wear around my own shoulders. The raffia gives the suggestion of bulk, and will hang down to cover my hands. You'll get to see a sneak peek of us working the lion in tomorrow's post!

Somehow I have a feeling that the Nemean Lion will be my favorite of all the monsters. I wuv him!

Don't miss this production -- we open on Wednesday morning at the Boathouse Theater in Schroon Lake village. The house opens at 10:30 a.m. and the show starts at 11:00 a.m. Reserve your tickets in advance at adkshakes.ticketleap.com!

Saturday, July 7, 2012

The Nemean Lion is born

Things are coming up so rapidly! One of our company members, Aaron, arrived on Thursday evening, and the rest of our group arrives later on today. I'm so excited and nervous to have the season starting up for reals.

As I type, I just completed our Orientation Meeting for Part One of the Kingship Cycle. I cannot wait to get to work with these folks -- what an amazing group of actors. These shows are going to be epic (in multiple ways).

I'm also listening to the pleasant buzz of the Dremel tool as Aaron sculpts foam for our Hercules monsters. This is so exciting, people! Our Nemean Lion began as little more than a huge sheet of foam. Patrick and I cut some chunks from it a few nights ago, and he began sculpting the beast's eye. The design is based on the Chinese lions (which I had always assumed were dragons), and it is turning out to be absolutely stunning. This guy is fierce! Check out this sneak preview:
We will be adding raffia for a mane, and we're starting to construct his shoulders and legs today. This is one awesome monster.

Also on our list is the Lernean Hydra, the man-eating mare of Diomedes, and the Stymphalian birds. It's coming together! I can't wait to share this production with our audience on Wednesday.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Happy 4th of July!

ADK Shakes will be hanging out in Schroon Lake Village all day today, unless we are driving away by the threat of thunderstorms. We're keeping our fingers crossed that 30% chance of thundershowers will just miss us altogether.

Stop by and visit us -- we'll be working on some masks for Hercules at the table today, and we'll have a lovely collection of t-shirts, season passes, and cds as well as our brochures so you can make your plans to see ADK Shakes in action in a just a few short weeks.

I might also be hunkered down with some reading as my summer class starts in five days, and I'm going to need to get a jump on my assignments before the company begins arriving on Saturday!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Or Else What Follows? - 7.2.12

Busy day today! This morning Patrick and I hung posters at some of our favorite locations in Schroon Lake Village. The town has been painted red in advance of the 4th of July celebrations coming up on Wednesday.

ADK Shakes will be there manning a table just in front of True North Yoga -- hands down, our favorite yoga studio anywhere. (We had our first class of the season just last Thursday, and we were super bummed to be too late to make this morning's class.) If you are in the Schroon Lake area, definitely drop in for a class. You'll love it! You can pick up a schedule on Wednesday when you come to visit our table.

We have a beautiful series of promo materials this year -- large size season posters and Hercules posters, a smaller sized poster for Hercules, as well as a brochure featuring all our artwork and our full schedule.

We'll be selling season passes: $35 - for unlimited access to our performances. This is an amazing deal -- if you are planning to come see more than one show, pick this up. (The only thing it does not cover is paid admission to the Scaroon Manor state park facility, because, well, that's run by the state DEC and not by us.) Visit the table for more details. We also have some cd's featuring music from our first season and some brand new t-shirts. And since you asked for it -- we have KIDS' sizes this year! This shirt features our beloved Hungry Will mascot on the front with a quote from Hamlet: "Eat a crocodile? I'll do it."

I'm looking forward to spending the day in the sunshine on Main Street in Schroon Lake on Wednesday and to chatting with everyone about our upcoming season. It's been wonderful to be back in town and seeing familiar faces. What a particular treat to hear wonderful thing about the company, about last year's productions, and the excitement folks are feeling about the shows this year. I absolutely cannot wait to see you all at our performances at the Boathouse, the Manor, and the Center for the Arts and all around the region.

And now, an endnote. I just added the title "Or else what follows?" to this post, which is a quote from Henry V. In the very back of my head I often tuck ideas on what to write about, and I've been toying with the idea of a weekly series for a long long time. Tonight, inspiration has struck. Not sure that "Or else what follows?" is the perfect title for such a series, but I like the idea of posting on what's coming up in my world "this week." So, here it is. What follows this week is Wednesday's Fourth of July celebration and parade in Schroon Lake, hanging more posters up in the Saranac Region, sending out multitudes of emails to build steam for the season offerings, cleaning the cabin for the kid's show company, a meeting with an environmental advocate on Friday, an orientation meeting for the Kingship Cycle Part One, and last but not least the long-awaited arrival of the Hercules company on Saturday evening!

Friday, June 29, 2012

Hercules Masks {Day 6}

Yesterday I shared this image of my inspiration for Charon. Alas Poor Yorick is not an easy model, however, for someone building large features on a mask for the first time. Actually, last year was my first experience building a mask from start to finish with my Mustard-seed mask for A Midsummer Night's Dream. I really love that mask -- but what I did was mostly just paint and add really cool feathers to it, no building up up features with other items.

What I love about the Charon base mask in this photo is actually how smooth it is. There's not much feature on it, so I think it looks a little creepy. I definitely wanted to keep the creep factor as I built, but I wanted him to end up looking more skull-like.

Using cotton balls pulled out into thinner strands, I built out larger eye sockets, working them into large circles. I don't think he looks terribly skull-like yet, but he does have this really bizarre and cool alien helm look to him. You can also see where I built out some cheekbones for him. I also added quite a bit of mass to his browline, which is harder to see in this image.

Hera is also coming along. The next step for her was adding a crown. I was a little nervous about this step as I wasn't certain the plaster strips would be sturdy enough to hold up the mosaic tiles standing on end. Worked on the first try, though - yea! I'll be painting over the plaster strips and finishing the mask with more of the red mosaic tiles and beading. Then all she'll need is some drilled holes in the temples and elastic to be fully completed. Can't wait!
A close-up of the crown

Oh, speaking of Mustard-seed ... here's a photo from last year's production of A Midsummer Night's Dream, featuring the finished product!
Ross Hamman as Cobweb and me as Mustard-seed
Claim token: HJUY3E3DQ9KT

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Hercules Masks {Day 5}


Well, technically today is Day 5 and I haven't done anything on masks yet today. These pictures are from work over the last several days. You got a nice look at the base masks for Charon and Hera, and I've been working mostly on Hera since then. She got a nice base coat of red mixed in with silver, which turned out a really nice mauve shade. I used dark brown to emphasize her very crooked, fierce brows. To the brows I've also added a line of dark red glass beads, which are highlighted by clear glass beads. She is also getting an "eyeliner" of clear and gold glass beads.

Here you can see the "eyeliner" as well as the lining around the edge of orderly red glass beads. 
Here's a nice close up of the broken mosaic tiles on the left side of the mask. I've decided that Hera's left (sinister!) side will be made up of the smashed tiles and the beads filling in. On the right side will be the unbroken tiles arranged in a much more orderly fashion.
Here's a close-up of the mosaic tiles laid in straight and unbroken. I need to drill holes in the temples for the elastic to go through before laying the rest of the tiles. I'm also hoping if I score some of the tiles I might be able to break them straight across and have some smaller rectangular pieces to lay alongside the eye.
This is a view of the mask so far. I'll be adding more tiles to the forehead, as well as laying in a golden crown with some other mosaic tiles. I love seeing this mask come together, and I can't wait to see the finished product!

Stay tuned for more updates and photos of the Zeus mask, and the progress on Hades and Charon. Here is my inspiration for the Charon mask. Let's see if I'm up to the job!

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Hercules Masks {Day 1}

Here is Day One of making base masks for Zeus, Hades, Hera, and Charon! We set up outside so we could make a mess with our plaster strips. First we coated our faces with the Vaseline so we wouldn't be pulling up eyebrows. Then we got to work laying wet strips of plaster on each other's faces. I think the neighbors must have thought we were pretty strange.

No pictures of the actual process, since it was too messy and no plaster-fingers are coming near my camera. But you can see the finished base maks of Hera:

And Charon, the ferry-man who sails dead souls over the Lethe River and into the underworld. I like this guy. I think he's going to be a little creepy and unsettling when finished:

Mask-making for Hercules continues today! Yesterday, we spent time down in Albany shopping for foam for the Nemean Lion puppet as well as buying a ton of mask-making supplies at A.C. Moore. We made off with a good haul -- mosaic tiles, new paints, feathers, and glass beads.

I painted a base of a sort of mauve shade onto Hera last night and began to add glass beads and broken red mosaic tiles. She's this great raised eyebrow to make for a pretty fierce expression. More pictures tomorrow of the continued process. I think I'm going to like this one!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

The Twelve Labors of Hercules

The time is nigh! We here at the Adirondack Shakespeare Company are gearing up for this summer's original children's show, The Twelve Labors of Hercules, penned by Jessica Hackett.

Jessica is no stranger to ADK Shakes. For the past year, she has worked for us as a social media marketing guru. For the 2012 summer season, she will also be serving as the company's Assistant Stage Manager. Jessica is currently working towards a Master's Degree in English at St. John's University, where she is heavily involved as an actress, playwright and occasional director in the university's official theatre group. When we approached Jessica about writing our children's show script this summer, we encouraged her to take inspiration from one of our heroes of children's work, Jim Henson. At Christmastime, we watched Emmett Otter's Jug Band Christmas and suggested Henson's The Storyteller series in particular. The script is everything we hoped it would be!


The characters of Octavius and Agrippa are quite compelling, and the journey of their friendship is going to be great fun to watch as it unfolds! This play has it all: friendship, struggle, adventure, and (perhaps best of all) monsters!


Today we are starting work on the masks and puppetry for the show -- which will include masks for the Greek deities (Hera, Zeus, Athena, Hades, Persephone -- this play represents!). We are especially excited to get to work on the Hydra and the Nemean Lion puppets. I'll share the process as we go, and I can't wait to see how they turn out.


In the meantime, you can reserve tickets for the performances which begin July 11 and run through August 15. Check out our ticketing website (provided by Ticket Leap): adkshakes.ticketleap.com. We have full-length performances in Schroon Lake, Indian Lake, North Creek, Lake Placid, and Ticonderoga. And we are also performing scenes from the show throughout the day at public parks in Saratoga Springs, Lake Placid, and Bolton Landing on the beautiful Lake George waterfront. For more details visit our Ticket Leap site or visit our website to view the full schedule here.

Monday, June 18, 2012

There is nothing either good or bad ...

Today was a rough one. No time to post this morning -- if you'd be so kind as to keep us in your thoughts and prayers, we would appreciate it! Thankfully, everyone is well and healthy, but we are dealing with the aftermath of a fire to the building our condo is in and it is pretty awful. It's been hard to focus on things for the season today with that on my mind as well as all the phone calls to insurance companies, property management, etc.

On the positive side, our proofs came through for our season posters, and they look beautiful. Here's a sneak peek of our Hercules poster, which I love:
We also confirmed our performances in Saratoga Springs for Saturday, July 14. We will be performing scenes from Hercules every half hour at the War Memorial in Congress Park starting at 10:00 am and running until 3:00 p.m.

Tomorrow I'll be meeting with Tannery Pond Community Center and hopefully sorting our performance there as well! That leaves only one final date open on our Hercules touring calendar as well as one tour date for Twelfth Night. We're getting there!

Thank you everyone for your thoughts and support.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

A happy thing

Why, ’tis a happy thing
To be the father unto many sons.
3 Henry VI

I keep losing track of the days, so it's nice to have Facebook to remind me that today is Father's Day. So I'd better add "Call Dad" to today's to-do list!

One of the major things on my list today is to finish textual notes for 1 & 2 Henry IV for next spring's round of the Kingship Cycle. Between Hal, Falstaff, and King Henry and it being Father's Day, I'm going to have dads on my mind a lot today. And I'm sure we'll be running Hamlet lines today, so there's another one!

Fathers and sons are so prevalent in Shakespeare's plays, and to be frank, not something I've given a great deal of thought to. This is about to change, however! These relationships (especially in the history plays) are profoundly troubled. Hal struggles with living up to his father's expectations, actively spoiling the view his father sees of him. Falstaff stands in as an alternate father figure, but which father's approval does Hal actually seek? Either? Both? At the end of 2 Henry IV (V.ii), Hal speaks about how he hopes he shall behave when he becomes a father and has a son like himself and how grateful he is to have the Lord Chief Justice to aid him when he does.

Prince You are right Justice, and you weigh this well:Therefore still bear the Balance, and the Sword:And I do wish your Honors may increase,Till you do live, to see a Son of mineOffend you, and obey you, as I did.So shall I live, to speak my Father’s words:Happy am I, that have a man so bold,That dares do Justice, on my proper Son;And no less happy, having such a Son,That would deliver up his Greatness so,Into the hands of Justice. You did commit me:For which, I do commit into your hand,Th’ unstainèd Sword that you have us’d to bear:With this Remembrance; That you use the sameWith the like bold, just, and impartial spiritAs you have done ‘gainst me. There is my hand,You shall be as a Father, to my Youth:My voice shall sound, as you do prompt mine ear,And I will stoop, and humble my Intents,To your well-practis’d, wise Directions.
If you are lucky enough to have your father in your life, give him a call or a hug today and let him know you're thinking of him. I'll be doing the same. Happy Father's Day!

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Happy Summer!

Well, it is very nearly official. Just a few days away!

Things are gearing up for our festival season, so I can tell summer is just around the corner. Two weeks ago, the cast gathered for their first official meeting and to read through our three mainstage plays: Twelfth Night, Hamlet, and Tom Stoppard's Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead. And let me tell you, these are going to be some rocking shows this summer. It is privilege to work with actors like these -- and they are going to knock your socks off.

A few days ago, we also sent out our finalized script for The Twelve Labors of Hercules to the children's show company. Our playwright, Jessica Hackett, has done a wonderful job bringing a tone of the truly classic to storytelling for kids. I can't wait to get memorizing on my roles in this show. We continue to fill our calendar with additional tours for Hercules -- see how we're doing so far by checking our summer schedule here.

Casting is also underway for Kingship Cycle Part One, and I have Part Two beginning to roll around in my brain as well. I can't believe just how many wonderful things are on the horizon for Adirondack Shakespeare Company this year. It's kind of incredible!

Thanks for welcoming me back to the world of blogging this summer. It's nice to be back after a hiatus. I'll be keeping you posted on the goings-on at the cabin as we prepare for the season and letting you know just what's coming up next for us. I would be thrilled if you would consider sharing this blog with others -- follow me on Facebook via Networked Blogs, or add me to your Google Reader, or take it a step further and consider making a donation to support Adirondack Shakespeare Company's 2012 Summer Festival Season! We'll be launching our IndieGoGo campaign very very soon!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Kingship Part Two Casting Matrix

*UPDATE 6/16/12* - It's come to my attention what a useful tool this Matrix is for others and that all our hard work is totally up for grabs here on the interwebs. Since this Matrix represents dozens of hours of work, I am going to take the images of it out of the post. You can still see a sample of what the matrix looks like by viewing this post.


If you are interested in using it for production, you may contact me at tara@adkshakes.org. Thanks!

I'm excited to share the Part Two Casting Matrix with you. This one was kind of a beast -- more so than the Matrix for Part One. In Part Two there were more supporting roles that could have doubled. In Part One it was generally the heftier roles that went across multiple plays. And for Part Two, the individual show maps were just a bit trickier. I couldn't get everything to fit just perfectly.

I'm really pretty happy with what's here. I think the individual packages of roles are really fascinating. Some interesting connections are bound to be made when roles like Hotspur and Katherine are paired, or Richard II's murderers being played by the actors who were also his confidants. I love it!

Monday, April 23, 2012

Happy Birthday, William Shakespeare!

I am so pleased to be writing this post as a part of the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust's online celebration of William Shakespeare's 448th birthday. My Facebook feed today is lit up with birthday messages for the Bard (and for St. George's Day). I love it!


In a few short weeks, I will be facing the big 3-0 so I have been doing a lot of retrospective, nostalgic thinking lately. Evaluating the events, things, and people who've had an effect on the person I've become and the kind of person I want to become as I get older. One figure in particular looms very large for me: William Shakespeare. A man I have never met and never will meet, because he is 448, and I am only 29. But his words have touched me in ways that I am sure I can never fully express or appreciate.


When I was twelve years old, my parents took me to see Hamlet at Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival. We sat in the front row, and Horatio was very cute. It was funny when Hamlet crab-walked. It was, simply put, larger than life, and I had no inkling at the time how this experience would change the course of my life. A week later, I bought a copy of it at a bookstore. That fall I began middle school where I read the middle-school-staples: Romeo and Juliet and Julius Caesar. High school brought Macbeth and Hamlet. And still every summer, we went to see a show at PSF in Center Valley, PA.


After so many summers of seeing Shakespeare's plays and many English classes of reading them, I learned that one of the local community theaters was holding auditions for As You Like It. What a fun thing to do over summer break! It was time to cross over to the stage. I can't believe that was ten years ago. I auditioned and was thrilled for the opportunity to play Phebe, the feisty shepherdess. I didn't realize how badly I'd caught the bug until after I graduated college and decided to become an actor.


My first professional experience in acting Shakespeare came in the summer of 2005 at Harrisburg Shakespeare Company (then Festival) in Henry V. The following summer I played Juliet in West Chester, PA. Following on Juliet's heels, I did an educational tour of A Midsummer Night's Dream as Hermia and Starveling. I was hooked!


1 Henry VI, May 2008
A few years later, I co-founded what has become the Adirondack Shakespeare Company with Patrick Siler. Our first production as (Shakespeare IN THE RAW) was 1 Henry VI in May 2008. Our humble beginnings were on a hillside in the Brandywine River Valley of Delaware, our stage a 10x10 wooden platform. This first RAW production remains one of the most exhilarating experiences I have ever had. Our aim was to strip away everything that we could from production so that the play itself was front and center. Eleven actors played somewhere between 50-60 roles, learned an uncut script over the course of about eight weeks, rehearsed for twelve hours, and performed for a small but appreciative audience on a beautiful spring afternoon. So Shakespeare IN THE RAW was born.


2 Henry VI, November 2008
This company has become the cornerstone of my professional life and my passion. We have gone on to produce 2 Henry VI and 3 Henry VI. We incorporated as Adirondack Shakespeare Company in early 2010 and produced Richard III. As the War of the Roses came to an end, we launched our first summer festival season in upstate New York with As You Like It, Romeo and Juliet, and Macbeth. That fall I began graduate school -- as a Doctoral Fellow studying (you guessed it) Shakespeare and Early Modern Literature at St. John's University. In the spring of 2011, we produced at St. John's for the first time (Titus Andronicus and The Tempest). 


A Midsummer Night's Dream, August 2011
Last year's summer season grew to include a children's production as well as main stage performances of The Merchant of Venice, A Midsummer Night's Dream, and The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged) by Adam Long, Daniel Singer, and Jess Winfield. Our first repeat show happened this spring with The Merchant of Venice as part of The Justice Project, alongside Measure for Measure. And we are gearing up for this summer's third festival season with Hamlet, Twelfth Night, and Tom Stoppard's Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead. In the fall, I kick off my dissertation project The Kingship Cycle, which includes what I call the "Big 8" history plays (though I'm sure I'm not the first to coin that term): 1, 2, 3 Henry VI and Richard III in the fall, followed by Richard II, 1 & 2 Henry IV, and Henry V in the spring.


*Nerd Alert* Can I just say how excited I am that our repeats are Merchant, the Henry VI's and R3 before we've even touched Much Ado or Shrew?


Looking back, I wonder what my life would be like if my parents had never taken me to the performance of Hamlet in 1994? Or what if Shakespeare's plays had been lost? Or if the man himself had never written these incredible works? What would all of our lives be like? I shudder to think. So let us give thanks, recite a sonnet, raise a glass, have some birthday cake and celebrate this man, his genius, his work, and our own good fortune. Thank you, William Shakespeare. Because of you, I have pride in my work. And humility. Because of you, I am smarter. Because of you, I have passion. Happy Birthday!




To connect with other bloggers taking part in this celebration, please visit www.happybirthdayshakespeare.com. You can also follow along on Twitter: #happybirthdayshakespeare or #hbws

Friday, March 30, 2012

Law and Justice {week 9 response}


I’ve been doing a lot more reading this week that’s been specifically geared towards Merchant and, more particularly, Portia. It really is time (soon, very soon!) to stop reading and start writing. The semester is coming rapidly to a close, and I am having trouble not drowning in the articles and chapters. My thoughts are getting lost in a sea of other people’s arguments,  and I’m feeling uncertain about what I have to contribute to this conversation.
Hopefully I will have something to say, and it will hopefully go a little like this. In the very vaguest of maps for the final paper I am envisioning, I am looking to:
  1. tackle the idea of equity. In a legal sense, what is its history in England?
  2. How is the notion of equity figured in MOV?
  3. Equity is (basically) the legal sense of the idea of mercy in this play. It is set in opposition to the notion of justice, but this opposition seems too simplistic. I think this will be the meat of my paper -- figuring out exactly how this tension works.
  4. If equity is the prerogative of the monarch, then I would like to at least begin considering in the “second half” (or so, ish) of the paper, how this figures into the history plays where the monarch is so central?
Last week, I spent some time with “the quality of mercy,” and I’m really not even close to scratching the surface.
I’m interested in the idea of compulsion in this speech. It begins with Portia’s line “Then must the Jew be merciful” (IV.i.201, emphasis added). Shylock’s answer responds directly to this word “must”: “On what compulsion must I? Tell me that” (203-4). I’ve read a couple different arguments about these lines -- that Portia slips up with the use of “must,” that Shylock misreads “must” as compulsion when really what Portia means is that if Antonio is to be saved, then the only course is for Shylock to be merciful, that the beauty of “The quality of mercy” is that it is completely spontaneous because of this question and answer. The line could certainly be read in a number of ways, but the important argument of the speech is that mercy must be freely given; it cannot be compelled. Whether she is correcting herself or not, Portia is certainly correcting Shylock. There can be no compulsion: “The quality of mercy is not strained” (204). Does this mean that mercy is without strength or power, however?
The “quality of mercy” stands in contrast to “the force of temporal power” (211, emphasis added). Mercy cannot be “strained” or compelled; it is therefore the opposite of forceful. Mercy stands “above this sceptred sway” of forceful, earthly power (214). 
Many critics have commented on Portia’s turn back to the concept of justice at the end of this speech. They often suggest that Portia undercuts her arguments about mercy or that she is even vengefully drawing Shylock away from the idea of mercy and insidiously suggesting that he should push for justice. [Got to find and footnote these!] I would like to suggest, however, that she is returning not specifically to the idea of justice but to the idea of compulsion. If Shylock continues down the path of justice, then the court “Must needs give sentence ‘gainst the Merchant there” (228, emphasis added). By impressing upon Shylock that he is using force, compelling the court to act against Antonio, she is offering a reminder of the umbrage Shylock took at the idea of being himself forced to be merciful. It is a final gesture towards mercy, whose quality is decidedly “not strained” (204).
All in the speech points towards ease and gentleness, including my favorite phrase of the play, “When mercy seasons Justice” (218). The meaning of “seasons” here is “to qualify by a beneficial admixture; to moderate, alleviate, temper” (OED, 1d). When mercy moderates or tempers the harshness of Justice, it softens it. It is the “quality of mercy” to do this, “not strained” but qualified, softened, alleviated. Once again, this is the sense which Portia tries to leave us with. She has spoken “To mitigate the justice of thy [Shylock’s] plea” in hopes of softening his cries for justice into a gentler act of mercy.
This week, I used the Applause First Folio edition edited by Neil Freeman. 

Friday, March 23, 2012

Law and Justice {week 8 response}

In working towards my final paper, I've begun compiling an annotated bibliography. There are piles of books everywhere, and I just invested in a file box to keep all the article print-outs and photocopied chapters. I'm trying to balance research, reading, and writing in these last few weeks of the semester so that my seminar paper won't be a complete nightmare on May 4!

In the interest of balance, therefore, I've done some free-writing on "The quality of mercy" from Merchant with some pointed questions at the end thinking towards 2 Henry VI.

***********************


On a simplistic level, in the quality of mercy speech, the text is pitting the notions of mercy and justice against each other. They feel at first like opposites, but they are not entirely mutually exclusive concepts. Although Portia suggests that if we proceed exclusively “in the course of Justice”,  mercy is not possible, she also suggests that it is indeed possible, even desirable, for mercy to attenuate justice: “when mercy seasons Justice” (IV.i.195). This is after all what she is arguing.
Mercy also is seated in a power relationship. Mercy is offered to and begged by those in a position of weakness. Antonio hopes for mercy; he is entirely in Shylock’s power. Portia acknowledges this relationship: “‘Tis mightiest in the mightiest” (186). Those who can offer mercy have power over those who seek it. Mercy is most powerful in the hands of the most powerful. It places spiritual power in the hands of those who already possess earthly power, most notably, of course, “The throned Monarch.” Mercy is the prerogative of kings, or rather when kings exercise mercy it has a more powerful effect than when a commoner does. Perhaps Portia hopes to sway Shylock with this idea of kingly power?
In this speech, Portia clearly argues for the preeminence of mercy. It is above all the other symbols of power the king possesses: his crown and scepter: “But mercy is above this scepter’d sway” (191). Although crown and scepter are the visible symbols which identify the king’s position and power, they are less significant. If the king shows mercy, he shows himself to be beyond “temporal power” (188) and more “likest God’s” (194). A crown, a scepter, a throne, awe, majesty, dread, and fear are also subject to the power of the divine, which is specifically identified not with Justice but with mercy.
It is worth noting that Portia herself does not take on the power of distributing mercy. She deflects it to the Duke -- the seated monarchical power in Venice. “Down and beg mercy of the duke.” Antonio becomes conflated in this position as well since Shylock’s wealth is to be split between the treasury of Venice (represented by the Duke) and Antonio. This is where I become frustrated by arguments of Portia’s “con.” I don’t see her as acting entirely out of self-interest. If she were, she could take Bassanio’s suggestion that she “Wrest once the Law to your authority” (213). The law must take precedence. Portia is here, then, identified with the law. The law itself is identified with justice. Mercy is seated in the human (divine?) figure of the monarch. If Portia speaks for the law, then mercy is not her prerogative.
Looking to the early histories (2 Henry VI in particular), what then do we see as the king’s relationship to the law? In the courtroom of Merchant, the figure of Portia seems to separate the voice of the law from the voice of mercy, which is the voice of the monarch. The voice of King Henry VI, however, is weak. He seems strongest when banishing Suffolk (unmercifully?), yet this is at the force of Warwick and the commons. What is the king’s relationship with justice and equity? Is he unjust in the hearing of accusations against Gloster? Is he just in his banishment of Suffolk? Where does Henry exercise mercy? Although it feels like he preaches it, where does he enact it?

**Line numbers are from Bevington, Complete Works, 4th edition. Capitalizations are preserved from First Folio.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Audition Sides for Kingship Part 1

Things are falling into place for our first round of Kingship Cycle auditions coming up on April 1. Studio space is reserved. The info sheets are typed. Over a hundred submissions from actors came in in the first 24 hours after sending the announcement. Audition appointments will be sent out soon!

In the meantime, you can check out the acting company matrix that I'll be drawing on for casting here. See how roles are pairing up across the shows. Mind you, these are not set in stone, but they're a great beginning point to see what we're thinking of right now.

And you can also download our selection of sides for the audition day here. We have selections from 1, 2, 3 Henry VI and Richard III as well as two sides from 1 Henry IV and Henry V. Here's the list to preview:

One correction: The Duchess is not included in the side from Richard III, Act IV scene iv.

All roles are open. All roles are paid.

If you would like to be considered for The Kingship Cycle, please send an email with your current headshot and resume to casting@adkshakes.org.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Kingship Cycle Auditions


Kingship Cycle Audition Announcement
Adirondack Shakespeare Company will be holding auditions for the 2012-2013 Kingship Cycle on Sunday, April 1 and Monday, May 14 at CAP21 Studios (18 W 18th Street, NYC). Please email a headshot and resume to casting@adkshakes.org if you are interested in being seen.
The Kingship Cycle is a two-part project. The first half will take place in the fall of 2012 and includes productions of 1 Henry VI, 2 Henry VI, 3 Henry VI, and Richard III. We are seeking a company of 12 actors for this project. The second half will take place in the spring of 2013 and includes productions of Richard II, 1 Henry IV, 2 Henry IV, and Henry V, for which we are also seeking a company of 12 actors. These auditions will consist of readings from all eight plays. Auditions held on April 1will consist mostly of readings from Part 1 of the Cycle. Auditions held on May 14 will consist of readings from Part 2 of the Cycle.
Dates for this project are tentatively set for October 18 - November 17, 2012 for Kingship Part 1 (1 Henry VI, 2 Henry VI, 3 Henry VI, and Richard III) and for March 28 - April 27, 2013 for Kingship Part 2 (Richard II, 1 Henry IV, 2 Henry IV, and Henry V). Rehearsals and performances will take place on both the Queens and Manhattan campuses of St. John’s University.
Please note that for roles spanning multiple plays (Richard III, Prince Hal, Margaret, for example), one actor will be cast to play the same role across each of the plays in which this character appears. The idea of these productions is to create as clear a through-line as possible for the story, the characters, and the ultimate question of this project: What makes a (good/bad) king? The culmination of this project will be my doctoral dissertation in English Literature, which will focus on the text of the plays as literature, but also on elements of theatrical performance and original practice-influenced production.
We will be casting a company of 12 actors for each Kingship Part. This means there will be a cast of 12 actors for Kingship Part 1 (1, 2, 3 Henry VI and Richard III). Actors will also be considered for Kingship Part 2 (Richard II, 1 & 2 Henry IV, and Henry V). Each contract represents a commitment for the four shows within each Kingship Part. Casting in one Part does not guarantee casting in the other.
Auditions on Sunday, April 1 and Monday, May 14 will held in groups of 8-10. Each group session will last one hour and consist entirely of cold readings from the plays. If you have not auditioned for the company in the past, we will ask you to present a prepared monologue (1-2 minutes in length, classical verse ONLY).
This project differs from past Shakespeare IN THE RAW productions in that it will include several workshop rehearsals prior to the shortened, intensive rehearsal period (which is comprised of approximately 12 hours of rehearsal per production). These workshops will incorporate movement, text analysis, and discussions of political, social, and historical context for these plays. I anticipate a series of three to five workshops (one per week) in the weeks preceding the opening dates listed above. Read-throughs will also take place several weeks in advance of the rehearsal and performance dates listed above.
Our intensive rehearsal period will consist of a speak-through of the entire text of each play; small group scene work focusing almost entirely on text; working through any music and/or violence; and a final cue-to-cue of each play. The cue-to-cue is the last portion of rehearsal, in which we work entrances, exits, music, violence, and any tricky staging. There is no run-through of the show prior to performance. I’ll say that again -- the very first time we run through the play is in the first performance.
All company members must arrive for the first rehearsal on fully memorized and able to run through all of their assigned roles off-book.  Preparation is a crucial element to this process, so please consider your ability to dedicate ample time ahead of the performance weekend when determining your availability. With only 12 hours of rehearsal for each play, there is no time to dedicate to learning your lines.
Company members must have a high degree of comfort with the mechanics and musicality of verse-speaking.  
All roles are paid. Non-Equity contracts only.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Heads ... heads ... heads ...

Check out the artwork for Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead! I am particularly proud of this one. Even though I did not do any of the design whatsoever, I did suggest to Patrick the idea for the coin.

At the start of the play, Rosencrantz is tossing a coin up in the air over and over again, and every time the coin lands heads up. I thought this would be a cool starting place for the design image ... and now here you go!

Heads!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Alas, hungry Yorick.

Although it's only March, summer is deceptively close. We are cementing our summer calendar, adding children's show tours, and putting together the artwork. Lots of behind the scenes things are happening now to make sure that our summer season is successful!

One of those things is art design. Patrick has been hard at work designing the images for our 2012 main stage shows. These images appear on the website, our Facebook page, our promotional postcards and posters, and go out with our press releases. We'll be living with them for a long time! Lucky thing I kind of (read: really, really) love these designs for this summer's shows. Here's a sneak peek at the first design Patrick has done for Summer 2012.

Alas, Hungry Yorick.
Meet Hungry Yorick! He's a very fun combination of our traditional "Hungry Will" image of Shakespeare with some Adirondack antlers and the famous skull from Hamlet: "Alas, poor Yorick."

Stay tuned for more of our summer art tomorrow!

Fun fact: While typing this post, I had two interesting typos. Instead of "kind," I typed "king." And for "Yorick," "York." Too much kingship on the brain?

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Hercules: 2012 Summer Tours

Today I am blasting out some emails for our summer touring production. Last year we toured The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged) around Adirondack Park, but this year we are switching gears a bit. We will be touring an original children's production of Hercules, written by Jessica Hackett, a young lady of many talents who will also be serving as our Assistant Stage Manager for the summer and managing our PR & Marketing.

So far I have been in communication with Ticonderoga, Indian Lake, Schroon Lake, and Bolton Landing. We are set in stone to be at the Lake Placid Center for the Arts on Wednesday, August 15 (hooray!), and I'd love to be in Mid's Park again right in the middle of town in July. I'll be sending more emails out to public libraries in Jay, Keene, Saranac, Warrensburg, Glens Falls, and further afield. Where would you like to see ADK Shakes perform Hercules this summer?

We have several dates available between July 11 - 21, with some flexibility to perform in early August as well. Send an email to info@adkshakes.org if you'd like to see Hercules in your town!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Same Name Syndrome

I'm working through editing and re-setting the scripts for the first tetralogy of The Kingship Cycle, and last night was devoted to 3 Henry VI. Luckily, this script is in really good shape. I fixed a few typos and reset the character names. King Henry VI is sometimes set as "Henry" and sometimes as "King." King Edward IV - same thing. But there's also Prince Edward, son of Henry VI, who fortunately is usually set as Prince.

Throughout these 8 history plays, the characters have good, strong English names. How are we supposed to keep them straight?

My approximate count (since I'm certain to be missing at least a few) is:
  • 7 Henrys
  • 6 Edwards (technically Edward III and the Black Prince of Wales are only mentioned)
  • 4 Richards
  • 4 Edmunds
  • 2 Humphreys
  • 1 George
  • 8 Johns
  • 3 Thomases
  • By the time I got to William, I gave up.

I finally feel after having performed in 5 of these 8 plays in the past, seen films and theatrical productions, read them multiple times like I can begin to keep many of these names straight with titles. How do I make this easier on an audience member who perhaps has never seen 1 Henry IV? Or an actor who is familiar with Richard III but not 2 Henry VI? Maybe I should invest in a wall poster on the genealogy of England's Royal Houses.

Monday, March 12, 2012

King-Sized To Do List

The preparation for The Kingship Cycle is occasionally overwhelming. This is the largest project that ADK Shakes has undertaken to date, so there's a lot to keep up with. I really enjoy writing posts about what is taking place behind the scenes on all our projects, so here's a look at the many things going on right now in order to prepare for next fall and spring's two-part Kingship Cycle.

Tudor Rose Window. Source.
  • Character Maps

Also known as "French Scenes," these maps track each character's trajectory throughout the course of the play. This helps me build Character Tracks to assign to each individual actor, as I can see how the roles can conceivably double up. Luckily, since we have already produced 1, 2, 3 Henry VI and Richard III, we already have maps for these shows complete. I reorganized the doubles based on the concept for this project, but I didn't have to start from scratch. Henry V is also already complete, and we just finished Richard II yesterday.
To Do: 1 & 2 Henry IV

  • Casting Matrix

You can view the Casting Matrix for the first part of The Kingship Cycle and get an idea for how complex this project is! I have only just begun the Matrix for Part Two, but I won't be able to complete it without the aforementioned Character Maps. What makes this project particularly difficult to map is that I want individual actors to follow a character through multiple plays. For example, Falstaff appears in 1 & 2 Henry IV, and therefore the same actor will play Falstaff in both plays. Exciting stuff! But it can be messy when building the Matrix. I learned last weekend that it's better to start from the end and work backwards. The Richmond / Edward double in Richard III is clear from the Map, so that meant Edward and Richmond double in 3 Henry VI. OK, no problem, but where I had Edward placed in 2 Henry VI (in which he speaks only 1 line) didn't work at all. I had to unravel and re-do the Matrix three plays back. Now I know! I will start from Henry V and work backward!
To Do: R2-HV Matrix

  • Scripts

When Patrick and I prepare scripts for performance, we begin with the First Folio. I love the Applause texts of the individual plays. Neil Freeman's notes are terrific. He marks alterations between the various Folio and Quarto texts and describes in detail the changes that appear in each iteration. In our scripts, we preserve First Folio capitalizations and punctuation always, and spelling sometimes. Decisions on alterations to the line are discretionary, and sometimes I will make a note in our script so an actor can see the change and make the decision for themselves. Here's a peek into how different the versions can be. When we first started producing Shakespeare IN THE RAW, though, we had not yet developed this method. So our early scripts are ... well ... kind of a hot mess. I'm currently going through and re-setting the format, fixing typographical errors, and adding footnotes. I won't lie, it's kind of tedious. And there's a giant ticking clock ... the actors are going to need these scripts just as soon as possible. The actor who will be playing Richard III will have approximately 1900 lines to learn. To put that in perspective, an uncut Hamlet speaks 1476 lines. Yeah! What?!?
To Do: Formatting and editing for 1 Henry VI. Light editing for 3 Henry VI and Richard III.
Footnotes for 1, 2, 3 Henry VI, Richard III, Henry V
Everything (!) for Richard II, 1 & 2 Henry IV

  • Auditions

Right! I have to cast these shows! Because the actors playing Richard III and Henry V in particular have such a massive line load, I need to cast and get these scripts out so they have time to actually learn all these lines and prepare these intricate characters. That means auditions have to happen soon! So -- any actors reading this blog, this is for you! -- I'm planning to hold auditions for Part 1 of The Kingship Cycle on Sunday, April 1 and for Part 2 of The Kingship Cycle on Monday, May 14. You can send me your interest at casting@adkshakes.org now, but I'll also be emailing a notice to our Actor Mailing List. (If you're not on that and you want to be, email info@adkshakes.org.)
To Do: Actor Info Sheets and Sides from all eight plays.

  • Calendar

We have come up with a schedule for these rehearsals and performances. It's intense, and I love it! I'm planning a series of weekly workshops leading up to our intensive Shakespeare IN THE RAW style of rehearsal and performance. These workshops will include read-throughs, movement rehearsals, discussions on the genealogy, history, and socio-political issues in the plays. The rehearsals will be set up to put up two plays over the course of a weekend (as we have done in the past with the Bookend and Justice Projects) and then perform the same two plays the following weekend. Weeks 3 and 4 will be putting up and performing (twice each) the second two plays. And Week 5 (my favorite!) will be a marathon of all four plays. This week we have a meeting to ensure that we can hopefully get the specific dates we are looking at -- keep your fingers crossed!
To Do: Reserve all dates for workshops, rehearsals, and performances.

  • Research

This is just an ongoing piece of the puzzle. I am fortunate to be doing a portion of this work as my directed research for the spring semester. It's fascinating reading, and it's great exercise for my brain. I can't wait to dig into more reading on the law and history of the period. I'm swimming around in the first tetralogy of plays right now and also looking forward to diving into the second tetralogy.

Even though this To Do List is big and long and complicated, it's a wonderful feeling to realize that there's nothing else I'd rather be doing.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Reading List

Since heading back to school last year, I've noticed that I have developed a pretty consistent trend over the course of the semester. I start out reading like crazy (which never really lets up), and perhaps I also have an overarching idea that I'm interested in pursuing throughout the class (which sometimes changes drastically). Around midterms (usually just after I've written my midterm paper), I start researching with my final paper in mind. I've read around enough to have a good (if sometimes basic) idea of what's out there, or at least where I should start looking. And I've refined my "overarching idea" enough to make a final paper out of it.

That's about where I am right now in my Emergence of Modernism class and in my directed research. I spent most of Friday trolling library online catalogs and databases. I've got a list of books to pick up and a pile of articles in my downloads folder to sift through - exciting! I'm working towards writing on the legal notion of equity and its historical place as the purview of the monarch. It's the perfect marriage between The Justice Project and the beginnings of The Kingship Cycle. I still have to do the legal part of the research, so I'm hoping for some help researching on West Law and Lexis Nexis. Here are a few of the titles on my reading list:

Law and Empire in English Renaissance Literature by Brian C. Lockey

Rhetoric and Law in Early Modern Europe by Victoria Kahn

The Poetics of English Nationhood, 1590-1612 by Claire McEachern

Shakespeare and the Legal Imagination by Ian Ward

Treason by Words: Literature, Law, and Rebellion in Shakespeare's England by Rebecca Lemon

Metadrama in Shakespeare's Henriad by James Calderwood

Forms of Nationhood by Richard Helgerson

I'd better put some tea on and get reading!
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