Posted in #LaMama, Bard, Keen Company, La Jolla Playhouse, LaMama, Shakespeare, Shakespeare in the Park, The Broadway Posdast Network, Urban Stages, virtual

Remote Access

Theater has always been the live in-person contrast to filmed entertainments. There are actors and script writers (or playwrights) as well as costume and scenic designers for both media. But in theater, the action takes place right in front of you.

Covid-19 changes that. I am reviewing, as it were, a LaMaMa production of Pananadem (Remembering) which had its New York premiere on March 12th. The work is highly stylized and a ritualized demonstration of a traditional way of presentation.

Watching it on my laptop screen is at once fulfilling and distracting. Other things keep me equally occupied while I participate with Kinding Sindaw Melayu Heritage broadcast. It is filmed from all angles by HowlRound TV network and is a very lively experience. The costumes are colorful and the dancing a tribute to the indigenous peoples of the southern Phillipines.

Theaters from all over are offering at home viewing (as are museums) so without boarding a plane, train or automobile, I can see a LaJolla Playhouse production of Jersey Boys or Friday’s presentation of Escape to Margaritaville or a dance session.

Closer to home, Urban Stages is offering a variety of programs to entertain your children, “keep the creative juices flowing” while stuck at home and so forth. The Broadway Podcast Network is also here to help; this one links to Bleeding Love, a post apocalyptic musical play with book by Jason Schafer, music by Arthur Lafrentz Bacon and lyrics by Harris Doran.

Keen Company cleverly calls their playlist QuaranKeen videos. There are 61 mostly solo plays to choose from, some posted before we were isolating. The effort is part of the “What can Keen Company do for you?” initiative.

For those hungering for a little Bard in their streaming, Much Ado About Nothing might help relieve the tensions of the moment. It is available on Amazon in a BBC Television Shakespeare offering and in a video from The Public Theater at the Delacorte in 2019.

Theater artists, like the rest of us, yearn to be active and engaged.

In a way, these virtual theatrical events fulfill more than just this #stay_home moment. It has been increasingly difficult for me to venture out to see live theater. Here it is coming to me!

Posted in comedy, comedy-drama, drama, Shakespeare

Comedy. Tonight?

By George Cruikshank – AwFKhI771c3bow at Google Cultural Institute maximum zoom level, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=22008301

The definition of comedy is that it ends well. The protagonists end up together.

Tragedy is something else altogether. Everything falls apart.

Happy today, happy tomorrow, together for now, together for always.

How often have happy endings ended tragically for the lead characters?


Is it a Shakespearean character who asks us to “lend me your ears?” It is also a Shakespearean trope to “never a borrower or lender be.”

Posted in #dystopia, Baryshnikov Arts Center, Bonobo, Chilean experimental theater group, George Bernard Shaw, GTG Project Shaw, J.M. Barrie, new work, politically inspired, politics, Shakespeare, Theater Resources Unlimited, troubled times, Tu Amaras, turmoil

Theater for troubled times

This is not the first era in history that has found itself in one or another kind of turmoil. Trouble, as often as not, is the friend of art. It provides the inspiration for high drama or low comedy. But… it often takes a perspecive to really examine our own times.

Shakespeare used his history plays to comment about Elizabethan mores, as well as display them in the context of history, power and politics. Not his most famous quote, but one I like for our times, is from Measure for Measure:

“We must not make a scarecrow of the law, setting it up to fear the birds of prey, and let it keep one shape till custom make it their perch and not their terror.”

Or perhaps in the midst of the impeachment dramedy we might look to Julius Caesar‘s Brutus when he mulls Caesar’s rise “Th’ abuse of greatness is when it disjoins remorse from power.” Or, lastly, since our current emperor lives in such delusion, we can quote Kent from King Lear “Think’st thou that duty shall have dread to speak when power to flattery bows? To plainness honor’s bound when majesty falls to folly.”

May our playwrights continue to “speak truth to power” and let the voice of reason prevail for the 21st century. Or at least let that voice ring out clearly against all the “fake-news” conspiratorials that are invoked by those who seek to oppress and conceal truth. Amen.

Project Shaw, the Gingold Theatrical Group’s ongoing one-nighters looks to the works of George Bernard Shaw (and contemporaries) for a “montly guide to reason.” The theme for their 2020 season is “seeing clearly through art.” Next up on the schedule is the February 24th concert reading of J.M. Barrie’s What Every Woman Knows. On May 18th, they turn to Shaw’s Saint Joan for an inspiration of commonsense. For the full 2020 schedule, visit the GTG website.

Playwrights looking to develop their “voices” can turn to Theater Resources Unlimited (TRU) for their 21st Annual TRU Voices New Plays Reading Series . The call for submissions is by January 31, 2020.. TRU is a twenty-seven-year-old 501(c)(3) nonprofit network established for the purpose of helping those involved in the theater understand and navigate the business of the arts

For the 2020 TRU Voices New Plays Reading Series, which will take place in June 2020, TRU will help pay for the developmental reading of new plays, connect finalists with producers, and assist in finding venues.

Please note that all links to shows in this “review” of theater for the disaffected, for the dystopia of our times, for progressives are for past dates except for the GTG schedule of Project Shaw. The dates for and info on TRU New Voices is also current.


By way of postscript: Dystopia takes many forms. The state of depravation and oppression can be answered by the comic as well as the tragic. For the experimental theater troupe from Chile, Bonobo, it takes a sci-fi turn.

In Tú Amarás (You Shall Love), doctors attending a conference on Prejudice in Medicine find the subject of their program disrupted by a group of extraterrestials seeking asylum after a genocide against them.

Bonobo developed the play during its residency at Baryshnikov Arts Center, where it will get the U.S. premiere in Spanish with English supertitles, Thursday, February 13, through Saturday, February 15.

Posted in #Macbeth, based on a film, based on a Shakespeare play, classic, Classic Stage Company, DruidShakespeare, Richard III, Shakespeare

How Many Ways Can You Say Macbeth?

RICHARD III Druid: Aaron Monaghan, Garrett Lombard,John Olohan, Jane Brennan.Photo credit: Robbie Jack

Three versions of the Scottish play are on stages in New York City right now.

One, a more or less straightforward rendering, is at Classic Stages with Corey Stoll in the lead role and his wife, the actress Nadia Bowers as Lady Macbeth. CSC’s Artistic Director, John Boyle directs and is the scenic designer for the production. Opening night was October 27th. For tickets, go to the CSC website.

Using a quote from the Lady**, The Brick Theater presents a gender fluid version of Macbeth. The play, directed by Maggie Cino, is Unsex Me Here: The Tragedy of Macbeth, opening on November 8th. Moira Stone takes the lead, and Mick O’Brien plays the treacherous Lady.

Roundabout Theatre has a reimagined modern day McBeth presented, at the Laura Pels through December 8th, as Scotland, PA, based on the indie film of the same name. Set in a diner in the eponymous town, “Mac” is having a meltdown seeing hippies while our lady schemes at Duncan’s hamburger joint, girding her loins for a power play. Scotland, PA is a musical version of the Shakespearean tragedy, with book by Michael Mitnick and lyrics aind music by Adam Gwon.

Meanwhile over at Lincoln Center’s White Light Festival the focus is on another of the Bard’s tragedies of power gone amok. DruidShakespeare: Richard III , opens November 9th, from Ireland’s Druid theater company and Tony Award-winning director Garry Hynes, starring Aaron Monaghan.

**Act 1, Scene 5, Lady Macbeth speaks, conjuring the spirit of manliness and resolve: “… Come, you spirits
That tend on mortal thoughts, unsex me here,
And fill me from the crown to the toe top-full
Of direst cruelty! make thick my blood;
Stop up the access and passage to remorse,
That no compunctious visitings of nature
Shake my fell purpose, nor keep peace between
The effect and it!  …”

Posted in #Macbeth, Classic Stage Company, dark drama, drama, Shakespeare

The Scottish Play

A portrait of William Shakespeare,

There is a superstition about one of Shakespear’s bloodiest dramas which bans theater folk from uttering its name. Let’s hope that telling you about the Classic Stage Company’s production of the Scottish play (in previews now, opening the evening of October 27th) will have no dire effects. The play is, of course, Macbeth, and in this production Corey Stoll plays the lead and Nadia Bowers his Lady. Some would say it is really her play, and I am inclined to agree that she has the more delicious evil to deliver.

John Doyle, CSC Artistic Director, directs and is responsible for the scenie design. The cast also features , along with Tony Award nominee Mary Beth Peil, Barzin Akhavan, 
Raffi Barsoumian, N’Jameh Camara, Erik Lochtefeld, Antonio Michael Woodard, Jade Wu.

Does the fact that Stoll and Bowers are married contribute to the dynamic between Lady Macbeth and her husband? They play the parts of plotters in a plot filled with machinations and double-dealing.

The intrigues that bind its characters are tinged with a touch of the mystical and more than just a soupçon  of the rough and tumble. Macbeth is about political ambition, revenge, and madness.

Macbeth is a personal favorite from the Bard’s canon, just behind King Lear, which I consider his best.

For tickets for Macbeth, go to the CSC website.

Posted in #newShakespeareanplay, #technology-and-theater, #weARlive, based on a Shakespeare play, Shakespeare, Technodramatists

A.I.=Artfully Intelligent

A portrait of William Shakespeare,

Finally, Shakespeare is playing with the big boys. As a businessman, he probably would have welcomed all the attention he still gets. As an artist, he might have been fascinated by the “strange new world” in which theater can be turned into a CGI experience.

There is a burgeoning technology, called weARlive, developed by Technodramatists, a new company that combines technological innovations with drama.

It uses something described as a “face-sync application” and is being premiered by their Technodramatists Performance  Laboratory ; weARlive allows one actor to take on many roles through animated creations motion-captured in real time.

Their first production using weARlive is Error: A Comedy Of, in which actress Claire Tyers is the live action model for the avatars of all the characters in the play, based on the Bard’s original.

Note that the emphasis here is not on the technical but on the artistry. Artfully intelligent applications of the new are a tradition in the theater, but the new today is much more surprising than it was in, say ancient Greece when cranes were introduced as the “Deus Ex Machina.”

Be prepared to be astounded and awed at TheaterLab where the latest in technological artistry will be presented by Technodramatists beginning June 6th through June 22nd .

Posted in based on a Shakespeare play, DrunkenShakespeare, ShakesBeer, Shakespeare, Shakespeare in the Bar, Shakespeare in the Park

The Bard

NYSX – Photos 2019 ShakesBEER – Photos by Martin Harris

Shakespeare speaks to so many of us on so many levels.

It’s not just that he is required reading in our high schools. Nor is it because the stories he re-animated were already timeless and embedded in human consciousness, and then passed down in our experience of the world.

And it probably is not because his playfulness lends his plays so readily to translate into song. The musical theater is rife with musicals,– Kiss Me Kate, Westside Story, Two Gentlemen of Verona are just a few–, that sprung from the Bard’s tales.

There are Shakespeare bar crawls, a populist version of the classic style of presentation when the audience famously ate and drank and talked during the performance. Free Shakespeare in the Parks (courtesy of the Public Theatre) and numerous iterations of the Shakespearean playbook. One of these is the current crossed-gender King Lear with the great Glenda Jackson in the title role.

NYSX – Photos Freestyle Lab Photos by Cristina Lundy

Celebrating Memorial Day with some of Shakespeare’s soldiers in snippets from his plays, New York Shakespeare Exchange‘s Freestyle Lab presents Armor As Strong: Trans Warriors through a Shakespearean Lens, on Tuesday, May 28, 2019 from 7-9pm (doors open to audience at 6:30pm) at the 53rd Street Library Theater. (This event is free. ) The production features a group of actors from New York’s trans/gender non-conforming community performing speeches and short scenes featuring some of Shakespeare’s best known soldiers.

Inspiring new plays is another way for an old fellow like the Bard to stay current. John Minigan has written a sort of play within a play–and a love story– called Breaking the Shakespeare Code, playing for a two week-run, May 23 – June 2, at The Black Box at 440 Studios. After sold-out runs in Chicago and the New York International Fringe Festival, Breaking the Shakespeare Code  returns directed by Stephen Brotebeck and starring the original cast Miranda Jonte and Tim Weinert .