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Home :: Archive :: 1996 :: February ::
Productions: R3; Ado; Ham.; Oth.; Mac; MND
Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 7, No. 0087.  Thursday, 1 February 1996.

(1)     From:   Christine Mack Gordon <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 30 Jan 96 11:41:19 -0600
        Subj:   Looking for Richard

(2)     From:   Chris Shamburg <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 30 Jan 96 14:24:47 EST
        Subj:   Modern Much Ado

(3)     From:   Mark Fisher <
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        Date:   Thursday, 1 Feb 1996 15:10:13 +0000
        Subj:   Current Hamlets

(4)     From:   Tunis Romein <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 31 Jan 1996 18:16:35 0
        Subj:   Olivier's "Othello"

(5)     From:   W. L. Godshalk <
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        Date:   Thursday, 01 Feb 1996 09:29:05 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   Review of Fahrenheit *Macbeth*

(6)     From:   Scott Crozier <
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        Date:   Thursday, 1 Feb 1996 09:13:19 +1000
        Subj:   RSC *MND*;


(1)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Christine Mack Gordon <
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Date:           Tuesday, 30 Jan 96 11:41:19 -0600
Subject:        Looking for Richard

Yesterday's New York Times included an article by Janet Maslin about the
Sundance Film Festival that mentioned the "meditation on *Richard III*"
directed by Al Pacino. Here's the relevant paragraph:

'Though Mr. Pacino hardly falls under the heading of new talent, his
out-of-competition film proved one of the festival's true revelations. Far from
being a vanity production or dilettantism, "Looking for RIchard" is sharp,
funny and illuminating in its efforts to explicate Shakespeare's text. Mr.
Pacino tries everything: talking to people in the street about "Richard III,"
grilling well-known Shakespearean performers (including John Gielgud, Kenneth
Branagh and Vanessa Redgrave) about the play, dissecting and analyzing his own
prodcution with members of his steller case (Winona Ryder, Alec Baldwin, Kevin
Spacey), clowning freely and even throwing in flashes of "The Tempest" simply
because he felt like it. Mr. Pacino also acts Richard's role with the crackling
intensity of his great film performances instead of the empty histrionics of
"Heat." In ways that finally seem less arbitrary than those of the current film
"Richard III," he makes the play come newly alive.'

Certainly sounds worth seeing!

Chris Gordon

(2)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Chris Shamburg <
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Date:           Tuesday, 30 Jan 96 14:24:47 EST
Subject:        Modern Much Ado

I heard a rumor that there is a modern adaptation of *Much Ado* called *Hot
January.*  Rumor has it that it is touring in Canada and that it is a
musical(Benedick's first song is "Hey, how ya doin'").  Is there anyone on the
list that can confirm this?

Sincerely,
Chris Shamburg

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(3)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Mark Fisher <
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Date:           Thursday, 1 Feb 1996 15:10:13 +0000
Subject:        Current Hamlets

I'm about to write a newspaper article connected to the publication of Michael
Pennington's *Hamlet: A User's Guide* (Nick Hern Books, UK). Does anyone know
of any current or imminent productions of Hamlet that I might be able to
cross-refer to? I'm aware of the Robert Lepage one-man version, and the Peter
Brook reworking.

Thanks.
Mark Fisher (
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 ,uk)

(4)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Tunis Romein <
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Date:           Wednesday, 31 Jan 1996 18:16:35 -0500
Subject:        Olivier's "Othello"

Does anyone know where to purchase an _audio_ (not video) recording of
Olivier's performance of Othello?

Tunis Romein
Charleston, SC  USA

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(5)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           W. L. Godshalk <
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Date:           Thursday, 01 Feb 1996 09:29:05 -0500 (EST)
Subject:        Review of Fahrenheit *Macbeth*

I promised a review of Fahrenheit Theatre Company's *Macbeth* ("Angels and
ministers of grace defend us!") and here it is:

The black and white set has two levels with long stairs to right and=  left and
a round central exit space at stage level. The two levels are effectively used
in this production.  As the initial, symbolic action begins, Duncan stands on
the upper level, presiding over an internecine battle of six thanes, who, on
the lower level, hold a cloth of many tartans as they kill each other and tear
the cloth to pieces.  Don't look for this is Shakespeare"s script, but it is
well-done and leads to the entrance of Macbeth and Banquo in 1.3. In this
production, the battle is still raging in 1.3, and Macbeth and Banquo enter
berserk and fighting, mistake each other for the enemy (nice touch),  and fight
stoutly until mutual recognition and are hailed by the witches who are onstage
as they fight.

The costumes, with hints of tartan and armor,  suggest medieval Scotland. One
local critic complained that the costumes are not made of heavy wool as they
probably would have been in Scotland!  Perhaps the realist critics are still
with us. My apologies to Alan Desson for doubting him!  Nevertheless, Desson
would like the minimalist assumptions of this production.

Khristopher Lewin plays a very genial Macbeth,  a Macbeth who acknowledges his
debt to Richard III.  It was impossible for me to dislike this rollicking,
laughing murderer who is easily devastated with the qualms of conscience. He
does exhibit a growing coarseness, but he hardly loses audience sympathy =96 my
sympathy at any rate. In his final battle, he is apparently carefree because he
has so completely bought the prophecies.  He fights and kills young Siward
(Nicholas Rose) almost in the comic mode, playing with him as a cat plays with
a mouse, finally stabbing him (significantly) in the back. Macbeth is finally
killed by Macduff with the points of his own crown.

Marni Penning's Lady Macbeth emphasizes the youth of this murderous duo. She
smiles happily in 2.5 as she says, "Glamis thou art, and Cawdor, and shalt be /
What thou art promis'd."  She's too young to know what she and her husband are
getting themselves into.   By 3.2, there is a coarsening of their relationship,
and Macbeth treats her with a barely restrained brutality; his geniality is
lost, and she looks out at the "rooky wood" with fear on her face.  Her final
madness recalls very nicely the scene following the murder of Duncan:  in both
the actors =96 stumbling and groping --  pretend that the stage is totally dark
a very fine touch.  (Penning also doubles effectively as Macduff's child in
this case female.)

Lewin and Penning are supported by an excellent cast. Randy Lee Bailey plays
an attractive, full-bodied, jovial Banquo who gives me the impression of a
valiant warrior who has been (at least partially) co-opted by Macbeth.  (I
asked Bailey about my impression, and he bridled a bit. He felt that his
Banquo had not completely sold out to Macbeth.) Some of Bailey's best
moments come as Banquo's ghost: blood covered and silently laughing at
Macbeth.

David Frydrychowski plays a tall, athletic, totally serious Macduff.  In his
interview with Malcolm, played by C. Charles Scheeren,  Macduff seems to be
completely out of his depth: a poor Scottish lad who is duped by a less than
honorable Malcolm. Scheeren"s stories of moral turpitude seem so much more
honest than his claims of virginity.  Scheeren also plays the apparitions in
3.6, linking him to the evil powers. (The doubling in this production is never
disguised, and is usually meaningful.)

Richard Arthur, the oldest member of the company, plays a convincing Duncan,
and doubles as Old Siward. William Sweeney, Richard Kelly, Jim Stump, Nicholas
Rose, and Toni Brotons-Goodney play an assortment of Scottish thanes and
nobles, who are interesting divided into "politicians" and "warriors" according
to their red or brown cloaks.

The Janus-faced (fair and foul) weird sisters are played by Jeanne Gibowicz,
Regina Cerimele, and Lisa Penning.  On the backs of their heads,  they wear
ugly masks with their hair pulled through the masks acting as beards. In front,
they are beautiful, indeed charming, young women. Their body stockings suggest
that they are element: air, water, and fire. (Hecate is the fourth element
"earth" as I recall. I may have the elements incorrectly distributed.)  In any
case, the sisters turn their charming faces to Macbeth and their ugly faces to
Banquo: thus Banquo"s  description of them as withered, wild, and bearded.
(They tend to dance circles around Macbeth!)

One of the most interesting aspects of this production is Jasson Minadakis"s
decision to openly double R. Chris Reeder as the bloody captain (1.2), the
porter, the third murderer, Hecate, and Seyton.  Reeder has shaved his head (as
have several of the other actors) and wears a wig for the porter and as he is
speaking the line "I devil-porter it no longer" (2.3.17), he pulls off his wig
to reveal the bloody captain. Later the audience comes to think that all these
roles are played by an omni-present Hecate, who acts in both a fair and a foul
manner, both saving and killing.  Purists will not be, indeed have not been,
amused.  I thought the doubling worked; if only to increase the audience's
sense of the mystery of evil and the Janus-faced world of this play.

The show is at the Aronoff Center for the Arts in downtown Cincinnati, and
closes on February 11. I have heard on good authority that there are only about
100 seats remaining.  The matinee on February 3 is sold out. So if you are
interested in attending, better act soon. Tickets may be purchase by phone at
(513) 241-SHOW.  By the way, I'm not employed by the Fahrenheit Theatre
Company!  I'm simply interested in keeping Shakespeare alive and well in
Cincinnati.

Yours, Bill Godshalk

(6)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Scott Crozier <
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Date:           Thursday, 1 Feb 1996 09:13:19 +1000
Subject:        RSC *MND*;

In reply to Heather Stephenson's query,

As far as I know only Stella Gonet has had to leave the original cast of the
Dream on tour as she had other commitments. I was the person who suggested that
the actors treated it as a warm up which makes me even more suspicious about
the philosophy of the Stratford powers that be, the worth of academic criticism
of a production when the production proved so popular and why it is that
mediocrity has been allowed to dictate recent productions at Stratford. A
subjective gripe I know but one that has troubled me for some time. When the
humour of the lovers flight through the forest is based on static, shallow
sight gags - what happens to the audience perception of both the production and
the play?

Regards,
Scott Crozier
 

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