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Home :: Archive :: 2001 :: May ::
Re: Alabama Shakespeare Festival
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 12.1196  Wednesday, 23 May 2001

[1]     From:   Paul Swanson <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 23 May 2001 09:52:55 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.1181 Thanks

[2]     From:   Don Bloom <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 23 May 2001 09:07:57 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.1181 Thanks


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Paul Swanson <
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Date:           Wednesday, 23 May 2001 09:52:55 -0500
Subject: 12.1181 Thanks
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.1181 Thanks

Jack Heller wrote:

"Now, I'd like to get listmembers' assessments of the Alabama
Shakespeare Festival, perhaps in comparison with other festivals and
American Shakespearean places."

Shakespeareans who go to the Alabama Festival generally can expect very,
very good work. I would put Alabama on the same page with the Oregon
Shakespeare Festival in terms of quality and better than a place like
the Shakespeare Theatre in Chicago. It is not on the same level as the
Stratford Festival, but there aren't many theatres that are.

Alabama has two theatres: the Festival stage, a fairly large and elegant
space, and the Octagon Theatre, a small black box theatre very similar
to the Tom Patterson theatre in Stratford. A word of advice about the
Octagon: seating is general admission, so get there at least 30 minutes
prior to curtain. They open the doors 30 minutes before curtain and
allow members to choose seats first. Then they allow the general public
in.

I would rate the Alabama Shakespeare Festival as being just as strong as
any other American productions I have seen. Let us know how you like it;
I am going in June and am excited about King John as well.

Nonetheless, Alabama does innovative and exciting work, by and large.
They did a Comedy of Errors that was largely performed like a rap song;
sounds strange but it worked pretty well. Last year's Twelfth Night was
a creative concept in which the play was set in the 1930's and used
music from the period for "Come Away Death" and other musical moments in
the play.

The number of excellent productions I have seen there are too numerous
to mention, and though I distinctly remember seeing a Lear and a
Winter's Tale there that were very disappointing, the overall
performance quality is very high. I would recommend it highly to any
Shakespearean.

Enjoy your trip, Jack.

Paul Swanson

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Don Bloom <
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Date:           Wednesday, 23 May 2001 09:07:57 -0500
Subject: 12.1181 Thanks
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.1181 Thanks

In repsonse to Jack Heller's query about the Alabama Shakespeare
Festival, here is one man's view of ASF:

I have seen a fair number of plays there, considering that Mobile, where
I live, is 175 miles south, and find them generally well worth
attending.  Their series of British drawing room comedies I have found
uniformly excellent. (They are currently doing Coward's "Relative
Values.") Their Shakespeare productions are always technically excellent
but not as invariably successful. I have not seen the production of
"King John" and would be interested in seeing it reviewed. I found (as I
mentioned in another posting) their "Dream" to be absolutely
side-splitting, which is just what I want in that play. By contrast, I
was disappointed in last year's "Twelfth Night," finding the attempt to
modernize the setting simply confusing and the acting spotty in some key
roles. On the other hand, their "Taming" was delightful (even though
modern of setting) and their "LLL" both lyrical and funny. On the other
hand again, I saw "AYLI" there but can remember almost nothing about it,
so it must have been simply bland.

Hope this helps,
don

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