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Globe King Lear at Folger Library and Others

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 25.410  Thursday, 18 September 2014

 

[1] From:        Hardy M. Cook < This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it >

     Date:         September 10, 2014 at 9:16:29 AM EDT

     Subject:    A Well-Played, Compact ‘King Lear’ at Folger Theatre

 

[2] From:        David Richman < This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it >

     Date:         September 11, 2014 at 10:13:52 AM EDT

     Subject:    Re: Joseph Marcell 

 

 

[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------

From:        Hardy M. Cook < This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it >

Date:         September 10, 2014 at 9:16:29 AM EDT

Subject:    A Well-Played, Compact ‘King Lear’ at Folger Theatre

 

From The Washington Post

 

A well-played, compact ‘King Lear’ at Folger Theatre

 

http://www.washingtonpost.com/entertainment/theater_dance/a-well-played-compact-king-lear-at-folger-theatre/2014/09/09/ea120332-3850-11e4-a023-1d61f7f31a05_story.html

 

A well-played, compact ‘King Lear’ at Folger Theatre

By Peter Marks 

September 9

 

The solid “King Lear” at Folger Theatre is so modestly mounted, it could fit in the pockets of other recent productions of Shakespeare’s darkest tragedy.

 

Eight actors play all of the roles in the sprawling tale, compared with 20 who performed alongside John Lithgow for the Public Theater in New York this summer and the 50 who surrounded Simon Russell Beale of late at Britain’s National Theatre.

 

The Folger’s “Lear,” a touring version from Shakespeare’s Globe — the National’s neighbor on London’s South Bank — reveals that as long as textual and technical fundamentals are securely handled, size doesn’t much matter. In some ways, director Bill Buckhurst’s approach reinforces the old maxim about necessity being a reliable parent to ingenuity: There is on this occasion some fortuitous doubling of roles, as in the actress who portrays Cordelia, Bethan Cullinane, also playing Lear’s Fool. (Thereby layering irony onto Lear’s declaration, uttered as he cradles Cordelia’s lifeless body, that “My poor Fool is hanged.”)

 

By such advantageous economizing does this “Lear” benefit. It’s a thoroughly accessible version of the play, one that at the same time resists strumming the strings of the tragedy too solemnly. As a result, it’s a production particularly well-suited to first-time visitors. And though it may not be the most wrenching interpretation of this pillar of Western literature that you’re ever likely to come across, it more than capably gets the job done.

 

Starting with Joseph Marcell’s scrupulous rendering of the vain and shortsighted king, and proceeding to the crisp portrayals of toxic daughters Goneril (Gwendolen Chatfield) and Regan (Shanaya Rafaat) and onto the vile, double-dealing Edmund (Daniel Pirrie), the performances are all commendably vigorous.

 

Jonathan Fensom’s set is, intentionally, nothing to speak of — merely a curtain strung up across the middle of the stage, and his costumes look as if they were bought at a yard sale: The evil sisters wear dowdy robes; the Fool dons the sort of knitted cap that a kid might imagine his mom knitted to make him look, well, like a fool.

 

This unpretentious aesthetic is very much in vogue; it was on view at Folger in 2012 in a sleek “Hamlet” from Shakespeare’s Globe that similarly was assayed by a cast of eight. (Another of the company’s compact “Hamlets” made a short stop at Folger in July). A variation on this minimalist style is practiced by a highly skilled, New York City-based company, Fiasco Theater, which premiered a fine production of “The Two Gentlemen of Verona” at Folger in April and then staged its highly regarded “Cymbeline” there.

 

The house lights remain on for the Globe’s “Lear,” a carryover from its open-air home base on the Thames, but also a gesture that makes us more aware and perhaps more comfortable with the artificial environment of the play.

 

Music is a leavening ingredient here, with actors on trombone, guitar and accordion accompanying others who break into folk songs. The landscape of this “Lear,” then, is less a far-off country than a theater, and that orientation feels as if it’s a comforting choice for a play that wants to lead us so starkly into the shadows of despair.

 

“Lear” is the story of a mighty monarch brought to his knees by his own misguided judgments and forced to confront the terrible truths of life that had been concealed to him in his cocoon of godlike authority. Cast out by the daughters to whom he bequeaths his realm, he now faces existence for what it truly is: a descent toward infirmity, senility and death. In Marcell’s pained countenance, Lear’s grappling with loss and victimhood is persuasive; when he complains that he is “more sinned against than sinning,” you believe that this proud man’s derangement comes about in part because a rejection of his reality is easier than his accepting responsibility for it.

 

As the play’s “other” madman, Edgar — who feigns craziness as a defense against a world sinking into disorder — Alex Mugnaioni is robustly appealing, and John Stahl and Bill Nash are demonstrable assets as Lear’s stalwart allies, Gloucester and Kent.

 

“Lear” is a very long play; this incarnation, which clocks in at a fairly concise three hours, goes by relatively quickly. It seems to want to spare us some degree of the heaviness with which the king’s ordeal freights the evening. This makes it something less than “Lear” at maximum force. And still, with the lightness of inventiveness, more than worthwhile.

 

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------

From:        David Richman < This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it >

Date:         September 11, 2014 at 10:13:52 AM EDT

Subject:    Re: Joseph Marcell

 

Brief response to Joseph Marcell’s very thoughtful and illuminating comments on his Lear.  I too have played the role outdoors, this past summer, in large parks in Connecticut.  The role is absolutely exhausting—also exhilarating.  I must now get used to living once again in workaday prose, having spent the summer uttering glorious verse.

 

The question: “Why Lear why now?” has wider implications. There have been many notable productions of Lear in 2014.  Every Shakespeare play finds its time.  I tentatively suggest two reasons why 2014 is the time for Lear.  The play forces audiences to contemplate the contrast between wealth and poverty. 

 

How shal your houseless heads and unfed sides,

Your loop’d and window’d raggedness defend you

From seasons such as these?

 

The play also explores the contrast between great generosity and great selfishness.  Don’t these two contrasts point to an urgent concern of our times?  I don’t take it to be an accident that so many productions of Lear are being mounted in the same year in which Capital in the Twenty-first Century has become an unlikely bestseller.

 

One final note:  I am blind; in my performance, I hope, physical blindness helped me to tell the story of Lear’s moral blindness.  It gave, I hope, an added poignancy to the Lear-Gloucester scenes. 

 

David Richman 

 
 
Richard III Died in Battle after Losing Helmet

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 25.409  Thursday, 18 September 2014

 

From:        Hardy M. Cook < This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it >

Date:         September 17, 2014 at 7:51:22 AM EDT

Subject:    Richard III Died in Battle after Losing Helmet

 

http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2014/sep/16/richard-iii-died-battle-losing-helmet-new-research

 

Richard III died in battle after losing helmet, new research shows

 

Detailed scans of bones show that he sustained 11 wounds at or near the time of his death, nine of them to the skull

 

Tuesday 16 September 2014 18.35 EDT

 

Richard III died in the thick of battle after losing his helmet and coming under a hail of blows from vicious medieval weapons, new research has shown. Detailed scans of the king's bones show that he sustained 11 wounds at or near the time of his death, nine of them to the skull.

 

The blows to the head were clearly inflicted in battle and suggest that he was not wearing his helmet.

 

There was another potentially fatal injury to the pelvis that may have been inflicted after death.

 

Professor Guy Rutty, from the University of Leicester, said: “The most likely injuries to have caused the king’s death are the two to the inferior aspect of the skull – a large sharp force trauma possibly from a sword or staff weapon, such as a halberd or bill, and a penetrating injury from the tip of an edged weapon.

 

“Richard’s head injuries are consistent with some near-contemporary accounts of the battle, which suggest that Richard abandoned his horse after it became stuck in a mire and was killed while fighting his enemies.”

 

Richard III, the last English monarch to die fighting, perished at the Battle of Bosworth in 1485. It was the last significant battle of the Wars of the Roses, the civil war between the Houses of Lancaster and York, and paved the way for the Tudor dynasty.

 

Scientists and historians have been studying the king’s remains since his skeleton was found under a car park in Leicester.

 

Evidence suggests he was not the hunchbacked, deformed monstrosity depicted by William Shakespeare.

 

Experts now know he had a bent spine with a “well balanced curve” that could easily have been concealed by clothing and would not have affected his prowess in battle. He probably did not walk with a limp.

 

The latest research, published in The Lancet medical journal’s online edition, involved whole body CT (computed tomography) X-ray scans and micro-CT imaging.

 

Marks left on the bones by weapons were also analysed.

 

The serious injury to the pelvis should have been prevented by Richard’s armour, according to the researchers. They speculate that it might have been inflicted after death, with the armour removed.

 

Co-author Professor Sarah Hainsworth, also from the University of Leicester, said: “Richard’s injuries represent a sustained attack or an attack by several assailants with weapons from the later medieval period.

 

“The wounds to the skull suggest that he was not wearing a helmet, and the absence of defensive wounds on his arms and hands indicate that he was otherwise still armoured at the time of his death.”

 

Commenting on the study, Dr Heather Bonney from the Natural History Museum in London said the research provided a “compelling account” of the way Richard III met his death.

 

She added: “Wherever his remains are again laid to rest, I am sure that Richard III will continue to divide opinion fiercely for centuries to come.”

 
 
Stratford Festival to Film Entire Shakespeare Canon

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 25.408  Thursday, 18 September 2014

 

From:        Hardy M. Cook < This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it >

Date:         September 16, 2014 at 12:01:24 PM EDT

Subject:    Stratford Festival to Film Entire Shakespeare Canon 

 

http://www.cbc.ca/news/arts/stratford-festival-to-film-entire-shakespeare-canon-for-canadians-1.2767489

 

Stratford Festival to film ‘entire Shakespeare canon’ for Canadians

 

Ontario’s famed theatre company to film King Lear, King John and Antony and Cleopatra

 

The Canadian Press 

Sep 16, 2014 8:08 AM ET 

 

The Stratford Festival plans to film three of this season’s productions for the big screen.

 

The festival in southwestern Ontario says King Lear, helmed by artistic director Antoni Cimolino and starring Colm Feore, will hit cinemas in February.

 

King John, directed by Tim Carroll and starring Tom McCamus and Seana McKenna, is due out in April.

 

And Antony and Cleopatra, directed by Gary Griffin and starring Geraint Wyn Davies and Yanna McIntosh, opens in May.

 

The festival wants to film three productions each season in an effort “to create a Canadian collection of the entire Shakespeare canon,” Cimolino said in a statement.

 

Its film and digital media project also includes TV and online broadcasts of filmed productions.

 
 
RSC Casts First Black Actor as Iago in Othello

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 25.407  Thursday, 18 September 2014

 

From:        Hardy M. Cook < This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it >

Date:         September 16, 2014 at 10:07:17 AM EDT

Subject:    RSC Casts First Black Actor as Iago in Othello  

 

http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/theatre-dance/news/royal-shakespeare-company-casts-first-black-actor-as-iago-in-othello-9711468.html

 

From The Independent

 

Royal Shakespeare Company casts first black actor as Iago in Othello

 

The Royal Shakespeare Company has cast a black actor in the role of notorious villain Iago for the first time.

 

The British theatre group, based in Shakespeare’s hometown of Stratford-upon-Avon, has given the famous part from tragedy Othello to Game of Thrones' Lucian Msamati, who will star alongside Hugh Quarshie next summer.

 

Never before have both leading roles been taken by black actors, with artistic director Gregory Doran admitting the move will shake up the play’s racial politics.

 

“Really watch this space,” he said at a press conference yesterday. “I know when I was watching it with a really good white Iago opposite Hugh, I was thinking right, yes, I’ve seen this before, terrific.

 

“But with Lucian, every line became freshly minted and it challenged the whole play in a way I found completely revelatory. You just watch two really, really good actors doing it and that is the major issue.”

 

Born in Britain and raised in Zimbabwe by Tanzanian parents, 38-year-old Msamati is “thrilled and honoured” to be playing Iago.

 

“Back at the RCS, playing an iconic character opposite one of the most distinguished actors in the country, under the watchful eye of a passionate, intelligent director? Dreams don’t get better than this,” he told the Evening Standard.

 

Quarshie, 59, will be returning to the RSC for the first time since 1996, having since starred as Ric Griffin in Holby City and Captain Panaka in Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace.

 

Iqbal Khan will direct Othello, which forms part of the RSC’s Venice season also featuring Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice and Ben Jonson’s Volpone.

 

John Ford’s Love’s Sacrifice, better known as ‘Tis Pity She’s a Whore, will also be performed for the first time in almost 400 years.

 

Iago is renowned as one of the more demanding Shakespearean roles, with Rory Kinnear winning an Olivier Award earlier this year for his National Theatre portrayal of the scheming villain.

 

The arts world has come under pressure of late to improve opportunities for talent from diverse backgrounds.

 

Culture Minister Ed Vaizey described the lack of black and ethnic minority faces on UK television as “frankly weird” last month.

 

Idris Elba and Lenny Henry wrote an open letter to TV bosses saying how “dismayed” they feel at the poor numbers of people from ethnic minority backgrounds working in the industry and calling for a “ring-fenced pot of money” for black, Asian and minority ethnic programmes.

 

[ . . . ]

 
 
SMFS 2015 Foremother’s Prize

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 25.406  Thursday, 18 September 2014

 

From:        Hardy M. Cook < This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it >

Date:         September 17, 2014 at 7:58:27 AM EDT

Subject:    SMFS 2015 Foremother’s Prize

 

http://smfsweb.org/smfs-2015-foremothers-prize/

 

SMFS 2015 Foremother’s Prize

By Melissa Ridley Elmes

 

The Society for Medieval Feminist Scholarship is now accepting applications for the 2015 Foremother’s Prize for Graduate Students.

 

Funded through the generous gift of royalties from the editors and authors of the Oxford Handbook of Women and Gender in Medieval Europe (Judith Bennett and Ruth Mazzo Karras, eds.), the grant provides $2,000 for a graduate student to undertake a significant professional development initiative. The winner will be partnered with a senior medieval feminist scholar whose guidance and association can assist her in developing and executing the project.

 

Such projects might include:

  • Travel to a conference relevant to medieval feminist scholarship, for instance, the annual Gender and Medieval Studies Conference in the U.K.
  • Travel to visit archives, research libraries, museums, manuscript collections, or archeological or architectural sites
  • Travel to conduct other forms of on-site research
  • Development of a digital humanities project related to feminist research
  • Organizing of a medieval feminist conference or colloquium
  • Travel to allow sustained work with a mentor

SMFS is especially interested in assisting students whose projects are not otherwise funded. The winner must be willing to write a reflective report describing the outcome of the project that will appear on the SMFS public website.

 

Applicants should provide: a completed application form (to include existing funding sources and advisor signature), a 500-word description of the project including its scope and development, proposed timeline, and a potential budget.

 

Application Deadline: January 1, 2015

 

The winner will be announced by February 15, 2015

 
 
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