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Home :: Archive :: 2008 :: February ::
Teller, Posner, Macbeth, Red Bank, Folger
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 19.0092  Thursday, 14 February 2008

From: 		Hardy M. Cook <
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Date: 		Thursday, February 14, 2008
Subject: 	Teller, Posner, Macbeth, Red Bank, Folger

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/02/08/AR2008020800216.html

Teller, Casting a Dark Spell
The Silent Partner in Vegas's Famed Magic Act Brings All the Sleight 
Moves -- and a Love of Language! -- to a Washington Staging of 'Macbeth'

By Peter Marks
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, February 10, 2008; R01

RED BANK, N.J. -- For a guy who gets paid plenty not to talk, Teller -- 
the silent half of the magic team Penn & Teller -- puts a lot of stock 
in the importance of words. Or at least that's the impression he gives 
when immersed in the job of directing Shakespeare.

Yes, you heard right. These days, when Teller has not been performing 
with his large, loquacious partner in their standing 46-weeks-a year gig 
at the Rio Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, he's been hanging out on the 
stage and in the rehearsal halls of a little theater company in this old 
business hub close to the Jersey Shore.

The project -- the obsession-- is an illusion- and blood-filled 
production of the Shakespearean tragedy "Macbeth," a production that 
Teller, 59, in a sense has been working on all his life. And now -- in 
directorial collaboration with Aaron Posner, the artistic head of Red 
Bank's Two River Theater Company -- the professional magician is 
applying his sleight-of-hand skills to a play chockablock with ghosts 
and witches and other aspects of the supernatural that seem a natural 
showcase for his peculiar talents.

"People who have come to see it have said to me, 'The show feels exactly 
like you,' " Teller remarks over an impromptu lunch a few days into the 
Red Bank run. The look on his impish features suggests a kind of 
studious pleasure. "They say to me, 'It's like being inside your head.' "

The next stop for this "Macbeth," after concluding its stay in New 
Jersey a week from today, is Washington; and Folger Theatre, which is a 
full partner in the venture, is splitting all the costs with Two River 
down the middle. (No one would say how much, although Folger officials 
assert that the offering is only a bit more expensive than usual.)

A measure of the interest in Teller's participation as co-director is 
that the production is garnering a level of heavyweight attention that 
rarely accrues to Shakespeare at a regional theater. The Wall Street 
Journal and NPR, for instance, have weighed in with feature articles, 
and producers from New York have been spotted in the Two River audience.

Another measure: Folger has extended the play's run on Capitol Hill a 
full week -- it begins performances Feb. 28 and now closes April 13 -- 
even before a single Washingtonian has seen it.

Posner, soon to complete his first season as Two River's artistic 
director, is not a stranger to audiences at Folger, where he's staged a 
number of Shakespeare's plays. Most notably, he directed a moving and 
innovative "Measure for Measure" there in 2006, an adaptation that 
firmly stamped him as a thoughtful interpreter of the Bard. Posner's 
"Measure" standout, Ian Merrill Peakes, signed on as this Macbeth, and 
another Folger stalwart, Kate Eastwood Norris, was cast as his Lady Macbeth.

No matter how much Elizabethan experience these artists bring to the 
enterprise, though, the version has quickly come to be regarded as 
Teller's "Macbeth." And although some ticket holders arrive at Two 
River's handsome headquarters on Bridge Avenue imagining something like 
a magic act in iambic pentameter, the fact is that Teller's wand is 
waved only sparingly over the proceedings.

"There's nothing in the production," Teller explains, "that Shakespeare 
doesn't place before us."

[ . . . ]

"A lot of people are going to come for the magic," says Peakes. "And 
stay for the story."

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