Tag Archives: Shakespeare

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.


Secondary Character(s) Saturday: Ariel and Caliban (The Tempest)

English: Ariel and Caliban

I’m doubling up on Secondary Characters today because I…

  1. JUST got home from seeing the Baltimore Shakespeare Factory’s ensemble version of The Tempest
  2. didn’t manage to get in a post yesterday
  3. can’t decide between Ariel and Caliban
  4. am master of my own island… I mean blog… and can pretty much do as I please.

WHO: Ariel and Caliban

FROM: The Tempest



Ariel– As assistant head mischief maker on the island Ariel shows a can do attitude when it comes to pleasing her* master, Prospero. She’s persistent in asking for her freedom from the magician, and although it’s been 12 years, she’s optimistic enough to think she’ll actually achieve it. She is a creature of the air, a spirit who can disappear and do magic.

Caliban — He’s the island’s true heir apparent. He knows every animal, every cave, every stream. He’s strong.

Ariel (from The Tempest)

Ariel (from The Tempest) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Ariel — She mischievous. Her drive to gain her freedom blinds her to the morality of what she’s instructed to do.

Caliban– He’s different. He’s not as “smart” as his Eurocentric counterparts in the play. He’s ugly. All that makes him a monster, right? He certainly gets called “monster” often enough in the course of the play. Oh, and the powerful white guy wants his land. That’s never good. Sorry, but its hard not to feel compassion for Caliban. 12 years prior to the start of the play Prospero landed on his island and essentially planted a flag on it and started to call himself king. Suddenly Caliban became Prospero’s servant, then slave.  Prospero and Miranda tried to educate Caliban early on, but, beyond learning to speak, it didn’t take.

Ariel — The Most Shining Moment goes to Ariel when she wakes up the Prince and Gonzolo just in time for them evade assassination.

Caliban de "La Tempête" de William S...

Caliban de “La Tempête” de William Shakespeare (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Caliban — The Least Shining Moment goes to Caliban in an offstage moment sometime before the play begins. Back when Prospero and Miranda were still in the “lets educate the monster” stage of their relationship. Caliban misunderstanding the nature of Miranda’s kindness  — he’d only known one other woman, his witch (literally) of a mother — and unable to control his own nascent sexuality tries to rape her. Bad move.

* Although Shakespeare wrote the role of Ariel for male actors, it was played tonight by the lovely and very talented Jenna K. Rossman, a woman. And since every time I’ve seen the show — this is my third time seeing it live — the role has been done with a woman playing Ariel, I’m just going to go ahead and use the feminine pronoun.

Caliban, on the other hand,  is almost always played by a man. This time around he is played by wonderful James Miller.

Rossman and Miller were also in the company’s version of A Mid Summer Night’s Dream this summer.

Prospero is being played by Ian  Blackwell Rogers (He was this summer’s Hamlet), and Miranda is  being played by Kathryn Zoerb (who was Juliet earlier in the season.)

This ensemble production was put together with limited rehearsal time (18 hours) and no director (it is actor driven). To add the Shakespearian experience audience members have the opportunity to rent nerf tomatoes and lob them at the actors should they flub a line (or if they are just really nasty characters.) Given the intimate setting  of the Shakespeare Factory’s home stage at The Great Hall Theatre at St. Mary’s a few flying tomatoes really adds to an already enjoyable show.

The Tempest runs until Nov 24. Click HERE for details on how to get tickets. 

July Creative Challenge, day 12: Words, words, words

hamlet with skull

Dude. What makes you so interesting anyway? Why should I spend four and a half hours of my life watching YOU mope about the stage debating your sanity and your mother’s fidelity? I’ve got problems of my own, you know, buddy. I don’t have time to worry about your to be’s or not to be’s. I mean it was 412 years ago… if you haven’t figured it out by now, let it go. For reals.

Ohh, rude-urban-slang Rita, me thinks you dost protest too much.

Hamlet is one of the greatest literary treasures of the English language and, in reality I am thrilled to be spending several evenings (and Sunday afternoons) with the great Dane over the next few weeks. I don’t have to travel to Elsinore Castle or even The Globe Theatre in London. The Baltimore Shakespeare Factory is putting on Hamlet right here in Charm City as part of the Summer of Magic and Mayhem.

Poster for Hamlet courtesy foxpop communications.

Poster for Hamlet courtesy Baltimore Shakespeare Factory and  VoxPop Communications.

Tom Delise, the Baltimore Shakespeare Factory’s Artistic Director told broadwayworld.com that “HAMLET is not simply the tragedy of the Prince of Denmark — it is also a ghost story, a detective story, a love story, a story of power and ambition, a revenge story, and even at times, a comedy.” [baltimore.broadwayworld.com]

The Factory works the words.

They delve heavily into Shakespeare’s original text to find “unexpected humor and provide clarity for audiences of all ages.” [Ibid] They talk to the audience (and are prepared for the audience to talk back to them.) That engagement between player and patron brings the Shakespeare experience to a whole new level.

Hamlet is playing at three locations (the BSF’s year round home at St. Mary’s in Hampden, at Evergreen, and at Boordy  Vineyards) with the bulk of the performances occurring in the Meadow at Evergreen. When you go bring sun screen, bug spray, a blanket or lawn chair and an umbrella .

A little audience inter action during last year's Taming of the Shrew. [Image courtesy: Baltimore Shakespeare Factory.]

A little audience engagement during last year’s Taming of the Shrew. [Image courtesy: Baltimore Shakespeare Factory.]

The second production  the Factory is mounting this summer is A Midsummer Night’s Dream. It’s another of the Bard’s most popular plays.  It’s a more family friendly option if you’ve got young Shakespeare lovers.  It has less death (corpse count: Midsummer O /  Hamlet’s 8 — plus the Ghost)  and more fairies. There’s love, there’s magic…there’s even a guy who literally gets his head turned into that of an Ass. How fun is that?

Poster for A Midsummer Night's Dream. [Image courtesy: foxpop communications]

Poster for A Midsummer Night’s Dream. [Image courtesy: Baltimore Shakespeare Factory and VoxPop Communications]

I have a special spot in my heart for Midsummer, especially for Puck, that merry wanderer of the night!

Click HERE to see Hamlet’s schedule.

Click HERE to see Midsummer’s Schedule.

BSF 1-6 ad pg 20

Here’s an ad I did for the Factory that ran in Mason-Dixon ARRIVE

Hope to see you under the stars for some swordplay and Shakespeare this summer!

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

Will (and Jane) this Summer in B’more

Frankly, when the wonderful Baltimore Shakespeare Festival closed its doors last year I thought it was curtains for live classical theatre in Baltimore.

Then I discovered the Chesapeake Shakespeare Company. Their  summer venue under the stars at the old Patapsco Female Institute in Ellicott City is a bit of a drive, but this is SHAKESPEARE!

The CSC announced this spring that it has found a new indoor facility in downtown Baltimore. The  Merchantile Trust and Deposit Company building on East Redwood will allow for an eight month production schedule as well as extended educational programs. And they’ll continue with their summer tradition of performing alfresco at the PFI.

This summer the troupe will present two of the greatest love stories ever written. Huzzah!

Mass-produced colour photolithography on paper...

Photolithography on paper for Toy Theatre; Romeo and Juliet  (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Catch the Bard’s star crossed lovers Romeo and Juliet as the CSC open’s its season this weekend (June 8, 9 & 10 is opening weekend). Two R&J has another full weekend then it begins to run in repertory with CSC’s other summer production…


The most famous of Jane Austen’s novel’s Pride and Prejudice takes stage June 22nd. There’s a special REGENCY WEEKEND to launch P&P (June 22, 23 & 24).

There is a strong argument for READING Austen. But when it is performed really well, and really faithfully I love it too. I got to see EMMA performed last winter in PA, and it was delightful. And, of course I’ve seen every Austen film out there from the A&E Pride and Prejudice with Colin Firth to the Bollywood inspired “Bride and Prejudice”. I doubt there will be any wet shirts on stage at the CSC but knowing the caliber of their productions I have very high hopes for this stage version of P&P.

Try and come during Regency Weekend. There will be a costume booth where you can try on period outfits, English Line Dancing, a talk on “Kitty and Lydia” with some  JASNA;MD folks (on Sunday) and Jane Austen trivia with me on Saturday!  (If you can’t make opening weekend the show runs in repertory with Romeo and Juliet until July 29th.

For tickets to the Romeo and Juliet or Pride and Prejudice you can go to http://www.chesapeakeshakespeare.com/tickets.html

English: This diagram, or map, illustrates the...

For anyone who has stumbled upon this post and DOESN’T know the plot of Pride and Prejudice… this might help.  (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

And there’s more good news on the Shakespeare front. The Baltimore Shakespeare Factory, which had been performing in Carroll County has moved to Charm City and taken over the Meadow at Evergreen Museum this summer.

The Baltimore Shakespeare Factory presents the Cannon as it would have been done in Bard’s day, in natural light (so the actors can see the audience as much as the audience can see the actors), minimal sets and contemporary music. We saw their Macbeth this spring and it was nicely done, indeed.

That’s the Doctor up in the tree, btw. He won’t be in the BSF’s performance, but how cool is that?

They will be doing Love’s Labour’s Lost from July 13 – Aug 5, and

the Taming of the Shrew from Aug 2 – Aug 26.

I have yet to see either of these to plays live so I’m very much looking forward to packing a picnic and heading to Charles Street to catch these.

For information on the Baltimore Shakespeare Factory go to  http://theshakespearefactory.com/

So in summary… Your summer should be filled with lots of great Shakespeare and Austen.


Hope to see you under the stars this summer.


BTW here’s my list of must brings to an alfresco theatre production: HAT, Sunscreen & Sunglasses (if its during the day), bug repellant, bottle of cold water, lawn chair or blanket, light sweatshirt/jacket (if its at night)  snack or picnic (optional), wine (optional), chocolate (optional, but always recommended.)

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