Category Archives: Baltimore Shakespeare Factory

Richard III is at it again!

Baltimore Shakespeare Factory Richard III promotional coaster. *

Baltimore Shakespeare Factory Richard III promotional coaster features the King’s crest and a White Boar, his symbol. *

Everybody’s favorite Shakespearian villain is haunting the streets of Baltimore again. This time at Baltimore Shakespeare Factory’s indoor performance space, The Great Hall Theatre at St. Mary’s on Roland Ave.

The Factory presents the Bard’s works as they were originally presented:

  • Universal lighting
  • Minimal sets
  • Music period to the time
  • Cross gender casting
  • And actors taking on multiple roles.

Given The Great Hall’s thrust stage and the the fact that they keep the lights up it is no wonder that as an audience you feel very engaged in the play. The players can see YOU as much as you can see them, and when Richard cracks some scheme or Elizabeth pleads to the heavens for mercy… they are talking to you.

This production snaps along at about 2 hours and 45 minutes (plus intermission) and stars Chris Cotterman as Richard. Cotterman is ruthless and –somehow– heartbreaking in the role. I (very unexpectedly) found myself (kind of) routing for the guy. Ian Blackwell Rogers– who won me over as Macbeth and Hamlet in past Factory productions — is delightfully oily as the power hunger Buckingham. And Lily Kerrigan, Kelly Dowling and Barbara Madison Hauck do justice to the trio of women (Lady Anne, Queen Elizabeth and Queen Margaret) who have their lives torn apart by Richard’s ambitions. The show is directed by Tom Delise.

You’ve got one more weekend to catch it as the show runs through April April 19.

Poster for Richard. *

Poster for Richard. *

 

 

*I was lucky enough to design the promotional materials for the Factory’s production.

Advertisements

After the Ball is Over…

Just a few pics from the Regency Harvest Ball benefit at Hopkins Homewood House Museum last night.

The Museum , which is open for tours from 11-3:30 Tuesday through Fridays, and from Noon to 3:30 on Weekends, is located on the Hopkins campus at 3400 N Charles Street in Baltimore.  It was built in 1801 by Charles Carroll, Jr. (largely with funds from his father) and cost roughly 4 times the original estimate. But it was worth every penny. This is a gem of a Federal building and it is beautifully kept.

The ball took place at the beautiful Homewood . [Image couratesy: www.constantinos.us]

The ball took place in and behind the beautiful Homewood . [Image courtesy: www.constantinos.us]

I spent most of the evening in the master bedroom  — a lovely room with a four-poster bed and 19″ ceiling — in my role of the girl’s “governess” I took on the added duties of “helping” the guest primp for the festivities. I offered the gentlemen gloves. If they happened not to have come in proper neck attire — shocking! — I offered them a cravat and helped them tie it in period fashion. For the ladies I had fans. [Click here to read my blog on fans] I gave them a quick tutorial on how to open the fan and how to attract a gentleman (or repel a cad).

Besides meeting the guests I very much enjoyed interacting with the “family” as portrayed by members of the Baltimore Shakespeare Factory.  Like a good “governess” I helped out where necessary and started my evening by fixing hair and altering costumes at the Factory’s home at St. Mary’s Community Center in Hampden.

Lorraine Imwold  and Shaina Higgins look  out over grounds of Homewood House.

Lorraine Imwold and Shaina Higgins look out over grounds of Homewood House.

Tegan Williams, Brendan Kennedy and Shaina Higgins get into character.

Tegan Williams, Brendan Kennedy and Shaina Higgins get into character.

Ian Blackwell Rogers  and Katharine Vary

Ian Blackwell Rogers and Katharine Vary prepare to go up to the entrance and greet guest.

Chris Ryder portrayed the Butler.

Chris Ryder portrayed the Butler.

 

As the guest finished up their $250 a plate dinner (proceeds benefited the Museum) The Chorégraphie Antique ensemble performed period dances.

IMG_6312

Dancers from Chorégraphie Antique which meets at Goucher performed for the guests. (As a humble governess I kept to my place — well in the back of the assembly. But I still enjoyed the festivities.)

It was quite fun to step back into the Regency / Federal period for the evening. The only question in my mind is… now that we know how wonderful everyone looks in their Regency finery… when will the Factory tackle a Jane Austen drama/comedy? (PLEASE!!!)

Yours, most humbly,

The governess…

IMG_6297

Please note, I was going to authenticity, not glamor.


Fan-tastic — Prepping for the Regency Ball

Period print. [Image courtesy: JHU.edu]

Period print. [Image courtesy: JHU.edu]

When you are a middle-aged, middle class, American woman you don’t get invited to many balls. It just doesn’t happen. I’ve reconciled myself to that small fact of life.  Unlike Emma Woodhouse I don’t scan the mail looking for invitations. However, when Johns Hopkins announced that they would be hosting a  Regency Harvest Ball my heart did a little flutter.

I have my own Regency dress, long gloves, shawl and reticule, if ever there was a ball at which I was destined to dance… this is it. I will be attending with the Baltimore Shakespeare Factory. We’ll be adding period color by portraying real life Federal men and women from the Baltimore area.

I quickly fessed up to the fact that my dress, while authentic down to the material and the covered buttons,  is more  everyday dress and less ball gown. I will definitely be attending in my ” ‘Country’ fashions.” So I’ll be portraying a servant and helping the ladies (those who are spending $250 a ticket for this fundraiser) with their hair in the Fan Room.

This is super awesome [two words I will not be using at the ball] because I love Art of the Fan and doing “costume” hair.

jane austen fan 2008

jane austen fan 2008 (Photo credit: Owen Benson Visuals)

The language of the fan was often the most direct means of communication between a two people. It would be unthinkable for a young woman to come up to a gentleman she didn’t know and engage in conversation. But if she ran her fingers through the ribs of her fan in his direction, and he was perceptive enough to get the cue, he knew she had just said “I want to talk to you.”  Other fan gestures indicated jealousy, love, desire, and attachment to another.

A replica Brise style regency fan found on Etsy.com

A hand painted, wooden replica Brise style regency fan. This fan, which is painted on both sides, can be found for sale on Etsy.com

Silk on Ivory fan from the Victoria and Albert Museum

1820-1830 Silk on Ivory fan from the Victoria and Albert Museum

An assortment of fans found on www.JaneAusten.com http://www.janeausten.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2000/01/3-regency-fans.jpg

An assortment of fans found on www.JaneAusten.co.uk


WELL met by Moonlight (and mid day) — Midsummer in the Meadow

The Baltimore Shakespeare Factory’s second offering this summer is the Bard’s classic comedy, A Midsummer Night’s Dream. The play runs weekends  until 8/18th in the Meadow at Evergreen Museum on Charles Street, with command performances at Boordy Vineyards on 8/23 and at the company’s winter residence at the Great Hall at St. Mary’s in Hamden on 8/24 and 25.

    Puck (Jenna K. Rossman) puts Lysander (Tanner Medding) into a spell induced slumber.

Puck (Jenna K. Rossman) puts Lysander (Tanner Medding) into a spell induced slumber.

Midsummer is a lovely companion piece to the Factory’s earlier summer production of Hamlet. It is lighter and full of mirth. A sweet ending to a meaty Danish feast.

Much of that mirth is due to two of the players, Jenna Rossman (Puck) and Zach Brewster-Geisz (Nick Bottom). Shakespeare sets Puck and Bottom up as comedy relief and Rossman and Brewster-Geisz steal the show. — I feel for the less raucous (but wonderfully played) lovers and nobles who have to compete with Puck and Bottom for the audience’s attention.

Puck (Jenna K. Rossman) and Oberon (Joel Ottenheimer) control the Meadow -- er -- fairy kingdom.

Puck (Jenna Rossman) and Oberon (Joel Ottenheimer) control the Meadow — er — fairy kingdom.

Rossman’s Puck strutted, preened and danced around like some Isadora Duncan nymph channeling Mick Jagger (in a good way). She seemed to be everywhere. It was a delight to watch her weave her magic both over the characters in the play and over the audience.

Puck and Nick during the post show "cast chat". (Sorry I don't have a better pic of Nick).

Puck and Nick during the post show “Cast Talk”. (Sorry I don’t have a better pic of Bewster-Geisz).

Brewster-Geisz’s Nick Bottom was simply a hoot. It’s a funny part on paper, but Zach really brought Bottom to life. Ever meet some one who thinks they can do everything better than any one else? That’s Nick Bottom. He’s so over the top. It’s just wonderful. Brewster-Geisz’s transformation from the uber confident self-proclaimed leader of the acting troop to the confused donkey-headed man who finds himself the lucky recipient of Titania’s affection is nicely done as well.

Demetrius and Lysander protect Helena from Hermia.

Manly-men Demetrius and Lysander protect Helena from Hermia.

The lovers quartet — Hermia , Lysander, Helena and Demetrius — is also strong. Lisa Davidson, Tanner Medding, Shaina Higgins, and Rick Lyon-Vaiden are in turns earnest, funny, feisty and gob-smack in love — though not always with the right people.

Joel Ottenheimer commands as Oberon

Joel Ottenheimer commands as Oberon

The rest of the cast is tight as well.  Joel Ottenheimer and Laura Rocklyn are noble and appropriately pompous as the Royals (both in the “real” world and in Fairy). Lee Condreacci, as Peter Quince, did her best to keep the players and Nick Bottom under control. Lisa Bryan, Lorriane Imwold, Lonnie DeVaughn Simmons, Emily Sucher and Tegan William are the backbone of the production as they round out the company, each playing multiple roles as fairies and players.

Lisa Davidson playing mandolin and singing during intermission.

Lisa Davidson playing mandolin and singing during intermission.

I love how FACTORY members perform modern music that relates to the show in the pre-show and intermission. It is yet another level on which the players relate to the audience. And it gives us a glimpse at how multi-talented these actors really are.

Post show "Cast Talk"

Post show “Cast Talk”

Be sure to stay after the curtain call for the “Cast Talk” when the cast and directors are happy to answer all questions Shakespearian.

The Baltimore Shakespeare Factory continues its Play On. 4 FREE. 4 Ever. campaign with the goal of bringing Shakespeare to all for free by 2016. To learn how you can help or to get tickets to an upcoming show visit their website at http://theshakespearefactory.com/


July Creative Challenge: Shakespeare on the Grass

Ian Blackwell Rogers (Hamlet) in action.

Ian Blackwell Rogers (Hamlet) in action.

This Sunday I spent the afternoon at Meadow at Evergreen enjoying the Baltimore Shakespeare Factory’s performance of HAMLET.

I love to see Shakespeare live, and especially love to see it live outdoors, and super especially love to see it live outdoors the way Shakespeare’s audiences would have seen it 400 years ago. So I put aside my dislike for summer weather and bugs (I came prepared with bug spray, a sun hat, sun screen and lots of ice water) and headed into Baltimore for some murder and mayhem — Tudor Style.

The body count mounts as the play winds down.

The body count mounts as the play winds down.

Tom Delise, The Factory’s Artistic Director and the director of this production, used a light touch when it came to staging. A single set piece standing in for Elsinore Castle rises from a simple wooden platform.  Three red curtains  allow the actors access on and off stage. But Delise has his actors using all of the Meadow, so the actors are moving up and down aisles and entering from behind the audience too.

Unlike the 1,500 to 3,000 people who went to see the original play in the Globe Theatre, audience members in the Meadow have an intimate connection with the actors. Engaging the audience is one of The Factory’s core principles, and at times it felt like Hamlet, Ophelia, Gertrude and the rest were talking right to me. That really draws you into the action, and gives you a stake in what happens in the plot.

Ophelia, about to be taken to the graveyard.

Ophelia (Ann Turiano), at peace at last, about to be taken to the graveyard.

Given that just about every high school student reads Hamlet for some English class between 9th and 12th grade, and most people have seen at least one film version of the play its a pretty good bet that you’ll know the plot and at least some of the lines before the show begins. That’s helpful because this production is fast paced, and if you didn’t already have a little knowledge of what was going on you might get overwhelmed.  And when I say fast paced I mean tight, as in TIGHT. As  in sweetly, seamlessly: bam, bam, bam; scene, scene, scene. It’s no wonder they got this notoriously long play (it’s Shakespeare’s longest) down to about 2 hours 40 minutes. Very impressive. (Although the only “complaint” I have is that without breaking for scene changes I couldn’t CLAP! And I really wanted to clap.)

Ian Blackwell Rogers (Hamlet) and Jess Behar (Rosencrantz).

Ian Blackwell Rogers (Hamlet) and Jess Behar (Rosencrantz).

The Factory has several actors playing multiple roles. Hugh F. Hill, III was vain and a little evil as Claudius and wonderfully creepy as the zombie like Ghost. Frank Vince was funny as the annoyingly dotting father Polonius and as the pious Priest.  James Miller intense as Laertes and animated as the Player King. Jess Behar and Katherine Vary were wonderful as the sycophantic  Rosencrantz and Guildenstern. They also played Francisco and Bernardo. Jim Stimson is both in the ensemble and is lead musician for the group (he plays a mean lute and guitar). Poor Amy Parochetti and Chris Ryder played 12 roles between them!

Other actors had one role.

Kelly Dowling as Gertrude

Kelly Dowling as Gertrude

I liked Kelly Dowling’s tender/tough approach to Gertrude. And I loved the heart-break and surprise she brought to the stage when her character realizes what a mess her life suddenly has become.

Chris Cotterman (Horatio) learns that Hamlet is coming back to Elsinore.

Chris Cotterman (Horatio) learns that Hamlet is coming back to Elsinore.

Chris Cotterman plays my favorite character in the show, Horatio. It’s a tough role because he’s the best friend, the second guy. He can’t upstage Hamlet (literally) and Chris doesn’t. He plays the supporting role (both in the character’s life and on stage) perfectly.

Kelly Dowling (Gerturde) and Ann Turiano (Ophelia)

Kelly Dowling (Gerturde) and Ann Turiano (Ophelia)

Ann Turiano is lovely as Ophelia. Her confusion over familial duty and her suddenly rocky love life in the first half is tender and heartbreaking, but its her mad scenes in the second half that steal the show.

Ham Yurick

I last saw  Ian Blackwell Rogers as the title character in The Factory’s Macbeth. He brings the same energy and intensity here. It is hard to take your eyes off of him as you try to puzzle out what’s going on in that head of his. As the lines spill out of him at break neck speed he keeps you engaged and on point with the plot.

Larertes Ham

As hot as it was on Sunday I expected the actors to lose some gusto as the show went on, but the opposite happened. As they plowed into Acts Three, Four and Five they only got more intense. By the time Hamlet and Laertes were at each other’s throats my heart was pounding. And it didn’t have anything to do with the temperature.

Click HERE to read the Today in MD Theatre Guide  Review.


Summer fun with Baltimore Shakespeare Factory

The BSF's Summer with Shakespeare: Performance Workshops take place  July 29 - Aug 16.

The BSF’s Summer with Shakespeare: Performance Workshops take place July 29 – Aug 16.

If you:

  • live near Baltimore, Maryland,
  • are kid about to start 3rd to 12th grade,
  • and you like Shakespeare

… boy do I have a deal for you!

The Baltimore Shakespeare Factory is offering three, one week long workshops that will allow kids to experience what it might be like to travel back in time to the 1600s and be a part of the fun and excitement of Shakespeare’s acting company–The King’s Men. The BSF’s  “Summer with Shakespeare:Performance Workshops” will help students develop acting skills, make friends, build confidence, and develop an appreciation and understanding of Shakespeare’s work.

The campers will:

  • Work one-on-one with professional actors and educators
  • Learn and practice the same acting techniques Baltimore Shakespeare Factory uses in its productions
  • Study Shakespeare’s poetic language in ways that make it easy to understand, and learn how to use to enrich performance
  • Bring some of Shakespeare’s most famous characters to life!

“Shakespeare is a wonderful platform to get the kids active and engaged in group activity that stretches their imaginations as well as their ability to interpret complex language.  And it is a ton of fun!” says Wendy Meetze, Director of Education for the BSF.

This is the second year for the camp in Baltimore City (the camp is held in the Meadow at Evergreen House on Charles). The group, which began in Carroll County, hosted a similar camp starting in 2006 and have taught over 500 students. That Carroll County camp is still going strong on the campus of Century High School.

Students come in all shapes, sizes and from various backgrounds and skill levels. “Kids who are interested in theatre are especially attracted to the workshops” says Meetze, but “we truly believe there is no “typical” Shakespearean student or audience member. Shakespeare wrote for EVERYONE in his time, from peasants to princes.”

The camp will offer a small group setting with lots of one on one coaching. As a non-musical theatre performance camp the focus is squarely on the script, something that sets this camp apart from other performing arts camps in the area. “While the outcome is a production, the curriculum is a healthy mix of various skills needed to make that production a reality,” said Meetze. The campers perform their production prior to the professional company’s Friday performance. “We find the kids learn so much more by comparing and contrasting their version to a full production. There have certainly been occasions where our professional actors have discovered something new during the student’s performance!”

For more information on the camp, including a link to register  CLICK HERE.

Summer clipping

The Baltimore Shakespeare Factory  is dedicated to bringing the works of William Shakespeare to life for audiences of all ages and backgrounds. In Shakespeare’s time (1564-1616), the theater was accessible to everyone, and The Factory prides itself on continuing that tradition by presenting professional quality work at affordable prices.

This year, the group, which is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization, will present Hamlet and Mid Summer Night’s Dream this summer in the Meadow at Evergreen House on Charles Street and at other locals around town.  Click HERE for Hamlet’s schedule. Click HERE for Mid Summer’s Schedule.

Factory productions bring Shakespeare’s works to life in a way that is accessible to modern audiences without compromising the cornerstone of their artistic and literary merit—Shakespeare’s original language. The Baltimore Shakespeare Factory is built on a love of language, and productions are designed to not only help audiences understand Shakespeare’s words, but to love them, too.

This year the BSF launched it’s “4 free, 4 ever!” campaign which hopes to raise $750,000 by April , 2016–the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s Death> This will allow the group to present its shows at no cost to the public the following season.

Play on 4 free


Secondary Character Saturday — Iago

Illustration of Othello and Iago

Illustration of Othello and Iago (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“…What’s he then that says I play the villain?” — Iago

Who: Iago

From: Othello

By: William Shakespeare

Written: Around 1603

Pros: Intelligent, ambitious, funny. Although he is the play’s worst character, he is also its most interesting and complex by far… you can’t take your eyes off the scum ball.

Cons: Manipulative, abusive, sociopathic, vengeful, bitter, jealous, petty. He’s a liar and bully that will literally commit murder to get what he wants.

English: Carl Schurz as Iago from Shakespeare'...

English: Carl Schurz as Iago from Shakespeare’s play Othello, amidst his co-conspirators, prepares to enter the limelight. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Most Shining Moment: (Yeah, I’m leaving this one BLANK)

Least Shining Moment: So many to choose from. I’m going to go with killing his wife, Emilia. He’s treated her like dirt the entire play, and when she finally looses it and stands up to him he doesn’t think twice about running her through with a rapier.

Why I chose Iago: As you may have noticed most my Secondary Characters are pretty stand up guys. They all  have something going for them…maybe its charm… maybe they have good heart… but there is usually some nice feature that makes me like a character enough to give them the honored Saturday spot. Not so with Iago. Honestly I’m hard pressed to think of anything really nice to say about him. But…it is a really juicy role. He’s the one people remember. It is kind of the Darth Vader effect. You aren’t supposed to like him at all, but he’s the one whose theme song you remember.

English: Photographic full-length portrait of ...

English: Photographic full-length portrait of Edwin Booth as Iago in Shakespeare’s Othello, the Moor of Venice (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Is Iago a SECONDARY character: I often struggle with whether a character is indeed Secondary. And it is hard to make that case with Iago when he is on stage more than any other character in Othello.  (He has 1,070 lines.) Without his wicked machinations you’d have a very different/happier story so, unlike other Secondary Characters, he is pivotal to the plot. But, when it comes down to it, the play is called Othello, not Iago. So I’m giving the slimy little so-and-so the nod this week.

Othello (1995 film)

Othello (1995 film) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

————————————————————-

I’m feeling very Shakespeare-y today. I had the good fortune to attend the Baltimore Shakespeare Factory‘s Bard’s Birthday Gala last night. We were treated to scenes from their upcoming production of Romeo and Juliet (April 6-27) as well as a 3 person / 20 minute version of Othello. It was a fabulous lesson in suspending disbelief as the actors literally transformed before your eyes from one character another, and it worked beautifully. With a handful of props, no set and no furniture these three actors told the this timeless story in an engaging, new way. Play on! Indeed!


%d bloggers like this: