Tag Archives: Chesapeake Shakespeare Company

Richard the 3rd UPDATE

R3 UPDATE!

Those bones found at the Leicester car park are those of King Richard! DNA testing matched the bones to one of Richard’s descendants.

[The play Richard III  at Chesapeake Shakespeare has run its course, But you can catch Vince Eisensen (who played Richard) and James Jager (who played Henry) as Proteus and Valentine in the company’s current production of The Two Gentlemen of Verona weekends from Feb 22nd to March 17th. Click HERE for details

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Blog Note:  Richard the Third’s Birthday was Oct 3 1452.

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Richard III Royal Collection
Richard III Royal Collection (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Today I’m thinking about Richard the Third of England.

We just saw the terrific Moveable Shakespeare production of Richard III at Chesapeake Shakespeare Company in the ruins of the Patapsco Female Institute in Ellicott City Maryland.

Director Ian Gallanar chose to pick the characters up from the 15th century and time warp them  to something resembling War War One. Clever, especially considering the Patapsco Female Institute was used as a war hospital during the Great War. In his director’s notes he says:

“The production really uses the visual palate and the historic technology of the World War One era as a way to clarify the relationships of the characters….[The audience] might also recognize the futility and wastefulness of a war that, much like the English “Wars of the Roses,” seemed more about resolving who would inherit power rather than who ought to inherit power.” [Chesapeake Shakespeare Company, Richard III: Program Notes]

So on a cold October night we got to see one of Shakespeare’s bloodiest plays in and around the shell of a burned out 19th Century building that some people claim is haunted. The occasional gas-masked actors quietly playing cards in a dimly lit corner or typing away orders on an antique typewriter upped the creep factor. As did the lighting effects, the period music and wonderful costumes.

Vince Eisenson as Richard III. Photo by Teresa Castracane. [Image courtesy: Chesapeake Shakespeare Company]

 

This version of Richard really worked. I really liked the “Moveable” aspect too. It added to the length of the play (instead of quick scene changes the audience literally did a scene change by moving to a new part of the building or grounds, and that took a while.) My only problem was that there was a scene or two where I couldn’t see the action because I had the bad luck of standing behind some one tall.)  Still, I liked that we kept moving through the building, and “discovering” new rooms. It really put the audience DEAD center into the action of the play (and moving about  kept us warm.)

Richard III runs for one more weekend at Chesapeake Shakespeare. So if you are local to Maryland jump on their website and grab some tickets before they sell out. http://chesapeakeshakespeare.com/

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Scrap for a Shakespeare character card: Richar...

Scrap for a Shakespeare character card: Richard III., c. 1890; Printer: Siegmund Hildesheimer & Co. Victoria and Albert Museum, London, Museum number: S.63-2008, Link (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Of course they didn’t have instant fact checkers in Shakespeare’s day, and history, as they say is written by the winners. So it comes as no surprise that the Richard the Third we met last night was a real piece of work. Shakespeare was writing for an Elizabethan audience. Elizabeth, a Tudor, was the granddaughter of the man who finally brought about Richard’s undoing on Bosworth Field in Leicestershire, Henry VII. It was in his interest to make Richard as loathsome as possible.

Henry VII’s claim to the thrown was weak at best. So he took…

“every opportunity of enhancing his own reputation at the expense of his predecessor. Richard’s actions and behaviour were the subject of attention and scrutiny and were presented, in the weeks and years after his death, as those of a wicked and unscrupulous tyrant.” [The Richard III Society]

While he was alive Richard was well thought of.

  • He was loyal to his brother Edward.
  • He was effective in his administration of the North.
  • He defended the country against the Scots.
  • He handled the premature death of Edward with out plunging the country into crisis.

Shakespeare wasn’t the first writer to take up the thread of anti- Richard-ism. (Yes, I just made that up.)

By the time the Elizabethan playwright William Shakespeare penned what was to become one of his most popular and frequently performed plays, The Tragedy of King Richard III, the works of the anonymous Croyland Chronicler, John Rous, Bernard André, Polydore Vergil, Sir Thomas More, Edward Hall, Richard Grafton and Raphael Holinshed had been written. [Ibid]

So, as Chesapeake Shakespeare Managing  Director and Richard III Dramaturge says in her note… The Bard’s “fictitious villainous Richard has triumphed over the historic Richard for centuries now.” [CSC Program]

Richard III earliest surviving portrait. [Image courtesy: Wikipedia]

 

In a timely twist of history archeologists digging up a parking lot in Leicester have found the remains of  the Greyfriars Church that might be those of Richard, the last King of England to die on the battlefield. They have found a skeleton in the choir area (Richard was buried in the choir of Friars Minor at Leicester), that had a skull injury caused by a bladed implement, an arrowhead was found between its vertebrae and upper back, and it had spinal abnormalities.

“the individual would have had severe scoliosis – which is a form of spinal curvature. This would have made his right shoulder appear visibly higher than the left shoulder.” [University of Leicester Press Release : The Leicester Greyfriars Dig]

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Bonus Material:

Not sure how many of you watch HBO’s Boardwalk Empire… but I couldn’t stop thinking how much Michael Shannon  (who plays messed up Treasury agent turned iron salesman Nelson Van Alden) looks like our boy Richard.  I think they ought to do a new film version of Richard cubed with Shannon in the lead. He certainly has the intensity to play the role.


Thought of the Day 10.21.12 Richard the Third

Blog Note: Today is NOT Richard the Third’s Birthday, that’s Oct 3 1452.

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Richard III Royal Collection

Richard III Royal Collection (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Today I’m thinking about Richard the Third of England.

We just saw the terrific Moveable Shakespeare production of Richard III at Chesapeake Shakespeare Company in the ruins of the Patapsco Female Institute in Ellicott City Maryland.

Director Ian Gallanar chose to pick the characters up from the 15th century and time warp them  to something resembling War War One. Clever, especially considering the Patapsco Female Institute was used as a war hospital during the Great War. In his director’s notes he says:

“The production really uses the visual palate and the historic technology of the World War One era as a way to clarify the relationships of the characters….[The audience] might also recognize the futility and wastefulness of a war that, much like the English “Wars of the Roses,” seemed more about resolving who would inherit power rather than who ought to inherit power.” [Chesapeake Shakespeare Company, Richard III: Program Notes]

So on a cold October night we got to see one of Shakespeare’s bloodiest plays in and around the shell of a burned out 19th Century building that some people claim is haunted. The occasional gas-masked actors quietly playing cards in a dimly lit corner or typing away orders on an antique typewriter upped the creep factor. As did the lighting effects, the period music and wonderful costumes.

Vince Eisenson as Richard III. Photo by Teresa Castracane. [Image courtesy: Chesapeake Shakespeare Company]

This version of Richard really worked. I really liked the “Moveable” aspect too. It added to the length of the play (instead of quick scene changes the audience literally did a scene change by moving to a new part of the building or grounds, and that took a while.) My only problem was that there was a scene or two where I couldn’t see the action because I had the bad luck of standing behind some one tall.)  Still, I liked that we kept moving through the building, and “discovering” new rooms. It really put the audience DEAD center into the action of the play (and moving about  kept us warm.)

Richard III runs for one more weekend at Chesapeake Shakespeare. So if you are local to Maryland jump on their website and grab some tickets before they sell out. http://chesapeakeshakespeare.com/

————————————

Scrap for a Shakespeare character card: Richar...

Scrap for a Shakespeare character card: Richard III., c. 1890; Printer: Siegmund Hildesheimer & Co. Victoria and Albert Museum, London, Museum number: S.63-2008, Link (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Of course they didn’t have instant fact checkers in Shakespeare’s day, and history, as they say is written by the winners. So it comes as no surprise that the Richard the Third we met last night was a real piece of work. Shakespeare was writing for an Elizabethan audience. Elizabeth, a Tudor, was the granddaughter of the man who finally brought about Richard’s undoing on Bosworth Field in Leicestershire, Henry VII. It was in his interest to make Richard as loathsome as possible.

Henry VII’s claim to the thrown was weak at best. So he took…

“every opportunity of enhancing his own reputation at the expense of his predecessor. Richard’s actions and behaviour were the subject of attention and scrutiny and were presented, in the weeks and years after his death, as those of a wicked and unscrupulous tyrant.” [The Richard III Society]

While he was alive Richard was well thought of.

  • He was loyal to his brother Edward.
  • He was effective in his administration of the North.
  • He defended the country against the Scots.
  • He handled the premature death of Edward with out plunging the country into crisis.

Shakespeare wasn’t the first writer to take up the thread of anti- Richard-ism. (Yes, I just made that up.)

By the time the Elizabethan playwright William Shakespeare penned what was to become one of his most popular and frequently performed plays, The Tragedy of King Richard III, the works of the anonymous Croyland Chronicler, John Rous, Bernard André, Polydore Vergil, Sir Thomas More, Edward Hall, Richard Grafton and Raphael Holinshed had been written. [Ibid]

So, as Chesapeake Shakespeare Managing  Director and Richard III Dramaturge says in her note… The Bard’s “fictitious villainous Richard has triumphed over the historic Richard for centuries now.” [CSC Program]

Richard III earliest surviving portrait. [Image courtesy: Wikipedia]

In a timely twist of history archeologists digging up a parking lot in Leicester have found the remains of  the Greyfriars Church that might be those of Richard, the last King of England to die on the battlefield. They have found a skeleton in the choir area (Richard was buried in the choir of Friars Minor at Leicester), that had a skull injury caused by a bladed implement, an arrowhead was found between its vertebrae and upper back, and it had spinal abnormalities.

“the individual would have had severe scoliosis – which is a form of spinal curvature. This would have made his right shoulder appear visibly higher than the left shoulder.” [University of Leicester Press Release : The Leicester Greyfriars Dig]

 

——————————————————————————-

Bonus Material:

Not sure how many of you watch HBO’s Boardwalk Empire… but I couldn’t stop thinking how much Michael Shannon  (who plays messed up Treasury agent turned iron salesman Nelson Van Alden) looks like our boy Richard.  I think they ought to do a new film version of Richard cubed with Shannon in the lead. He certainly has the intensity to play the role.


Romeo and Juliet and Benvolio and Mercutio

 

Apologies, gentle reader, for it taking so long to post a review of something I saw on Sunday! (I’ve been busy doing actual freelance graphic design and writing work, so I’m sure you’ll understand.)

If you haven’t already seen Romeo and Juliet at the Chesapeake Shakespeare Company this Summer you’d better hurry. This nice little production of  the classic Shakespeare tale is something you don’t want to miss. Remaining performances are on Friday, July 27th at 8:00 and Sunday, July 29 at 6:00 at the Patapsco Female Institute in Ellicott City Maryland. The CSC is running R&J in rep with Pride and Prejudice (another excellent production) which concludes its run tonight, Thursday and Saturday. Here’s my review of R&J:

Benvolio as interpreted by artist Hannah Tompkins

I particularly liked the first half.  They had a LOT of fun here and it was nice to see actors who were so hemmed in and corseted by their roles in Pride and Prejudice let loose on the stage and really enjoy themselves. Julian Elijah Martinez (Romeo / Wickham) and Rachael Jacobs (Juliet / Lydia) played much more likable characters here, and it was lovely to see the nuances in the shift of the lovers characters. Jacobs’ bubbly Juliet is all innocence while her Lydia was appropriately bratty. But the actors who played Benvolio / Darcy, Adam Sheaffer, and Mercurio / Lizzy, Blythe Coon, were even more fun to watch. He was SO RESERVED and stately in P&P and is so fun loving in R&J (and then so angst ridden when needed) he stole the show for me. (… Yeah, maybe because I am predisposed to like him because he was also Darcy, I admit it.) And she took all the energy and vitality she had as Elizabeth Bennett and just cut loose  with bawdy humor and physicality for Mercurio. They both were damn fine swordsmen too. I was really impressed.
The staging was really nice too, they did a lot out and about the audience, really addressing the crowd — sometimes eating the food from the picnic tables in the back, or performing small scenes in the pockets of the audience. There was this beautiful moment  when Jamie Jager, (Paris/ Bingley) goes semi “Off stage” as Paris to watch (in character) as Romeo enters the vault. As an audience member we have all been following Paris– he’s just given a heart breaking speech (love him too, btw) and we — especially those of us who can hear him breathing — can’t take our eyes off him. But Jamie — knowing that our attention needs to be with Romeo, who is entering stage left — put his fingers to his eyes and gestured for us to look across the stage. Everyone’s head turned to where it needed to be. It could have been 1595 and we could have been the groundlings. He had just gotten us to happily suspend our disbelief and manipulated us to continue with the story. I loved it.
So kudos to director Jenny Leopold for getting the most out of her fine actors and the minimal set.
The second half of the play (YES, I know there are really 5 acts) is much, much more serious. The body count went up, poison came out. And  they had to get down to business. You know how it ends. I knew how it ends. Actually KNOWING how it ends was kind of  a bummer. Like a lot of Shakespeare (and Austen) there’s a double edged sword in coming to a performance knowing the material ahead of time. You have the inside joke of knowing the inside jokes, but you don’t have the zing of surprise or the intake of breath when some one is unexpectedly run through with a rapier. I, personally, did not weep openly at the end of R& J, but I did hear sniffling around me.
Jaded? Perhaps. But mostly I was thinking that the second half didn’t have enough BENVOLIO!

 


Thought of the Day 7.18.12

Today I’m thinking about Shakespeare. Why? because I got to see Baltimore Shakespeare Factory’s Love’s Labour’s Lost last Friday and I’m going to see Chesapeake Shakespeare Company’s Romeo and Juliet this Sunday. Two very different plays and two very different approaches. How lucky am I to live in a city that offers two ways to experience the Bard?

So instead of the regular birthday tribute (Shakespeare’s birthday is April 23rd for any one who is keeping track) I give you… Shakespearian insults. Because you never know when you might need a really tell some one that they are “a flesh-monger, a fool and a coward.” (Measure for Measure).

An 1870 oil painting by Ford Madox Brown depicting Romeo and Juliet’s famous balcony scene.

Here are a few from Romeo and Juliet:

… He’s a man of wax
You kiss by the book
He heareth not, he stirreth not, he moveth not, the ape is dead
She speaks yet she says nothing
He is not the flower of courtesy
You rat catcher
A dog, a cat, a mouse, a rat to scratch a man to death
A plague on both your houses
Thou detestable maw
Thou womb of death

A scene from Love’s Labour’s Lost as put on by the Acting Co. of New York in 1974. Here the boys try to fool the girls into thinking they are a bunch of visiting Russians.

Here are a few from LLL:

Taffeta phrases, silken terms precise,
Three-piled hyperboles, spruce affectation,
Figures pedantical; these summer flies
Have blown me full of maggot ostentation:
I do forswear them.

They have been at a great feast of languages, and stolen the scraps.

From other Plays:

A most notable coward, an infinite and endless liar, an hourly promise breaker, the owner of no one good quality. (Alls Well That Ends Well.)

Thine face is not worth sunburning. (Henry V)

There’s no more faith in thee than in a stewed prune. (Henry V)

Thou art as loathsome as a toad. (Troilus and Cressida)

Thou art like a toad; ugly and venemous. (As You Like It)

I must tell you friendly in your ear, sell when you can, you are not for all markets.” (As You Like It.)

Thou art a flesh-monger, a fool and a coward. (Measure for Measure)

You secret, black and midnight hags (Macbeth)

Thou subtle, perjur’d, false, disloyal man! (The Two Gentleman of Verona)

“Thou art a base, proud, shallow, beggarly, three-suited, hundred-pound, filthy worsted-stocking knave; a lily-liver’d, action-taking, whoreson, glass-gazing, superserviceable, finical rogue; one-trunk-inheriting slave; one that wouldst be a bawd in way” (King Lear)

“Thou art a boil, a plague sore, an embossed carbuncle in my corrupted blood.” (King Lear)

“I’ll beat thee, but I should infect my hands.” (Timon of Athens)


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