Archive for the Performance Category

London’s Globe Theatre Is Bringing Shakespeare To North Korea

Posted in Hamlet, Performance on 2014/03/17 by mattermind


One London theatre may be about to discover whether there’s really something rotten in the state of North Korea.

The Globe Theatre in London confirmed Monday it will perform Shakespeare’s Hamlet in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea next year on a tour through every country of the world, AFP reports.

“We have decided that every country means every country, since we believe that every country is better off for the presence of Hamlet,” the theatre said in a statement.

The “Globe to Globe” tour will mark the 450th anniversary of Shakespeare’s birth, but its plans to perform in secretive North Korea has drawn skepticism from human rights activists.

Amnesty Intentional urged the Globe Theatre to “read up on the reality of the country before they get there,” but stopped short of calling for the theatre to skip North Korea in its tour.

As AFP points out, there’s a…

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Verily, a New Hope

Posted in Performance with tags , , on 2014/03/14 by mattermind

I’ve wanted to post this for awhile but was looking (in vain) for a longer excerpt.

Star Wars and now The Empire Strikes Back have been rendered into Shakespeare-ese. It’s quite hysterical, especially when viewed as performance art.

Because Star Wars has become so ingrained in the modern imagination, we need no footnotes to take enjoyment from the “translated” text. Though Shakespeare, I’m sure, would have been a bit more deft had he done the writing himself, that doesn’t diminish the madcap lunacy of it all.

If anybody knows of longer examples, please let me know and I’ll pass them along. For now, here’s a LINK to more info about the release of The Empire Striketh Back.

Hope you like them. And may the Force be with thee.

The Life and Work of an Audiobook Narrator

Posted in Actors, Performance on 2014/03/09 by mattermind

I am a satisfied member of  Each month I download two books for a paltry sum measured against the wealth I receive in return.

I mention this in full disclosure considering this LINK to a fascinating dialogue in Slate between an author and the man who narrates his books – considered by many to be one of the best in the business.

It’s an up-close-and-personal discussion on the joys and responsibilities of becoming the voice of a novel or work of non-fiction, how that process looks from the inside out.  I found it riveting and relatable, especially considering the number of titles I enjoy each year.

I hope you like it too.  I’ll be back with King John bright and early tomorrow.

Can Shakespeare Rescue Syria’s ‘Lost’ Generation?

Posted in Influence, Performance with tags on 2014/02/26 by mattermind

This blog is not just about Shakespeare and his works, but also about the impact both he and his works have had on the world.

In that spirit, I am most moved by this PIECE in the Christian Science Monitor about one man’s courageous attempt to make a real difference in the lives of others using Shakespeare.

Syria is a hot-button issue these days. Regardless where you or I stand, we probably both agree that too many innocent people get caught up in forces beyond their control or understanding.

It takes compassion and selflessness to step into the void and try to help the most vulnerable. But rather than listen to me, why not click on the LINK and find out for yourself.

You won’t be disappointed.

Oregon Shakespeare Fest to Set Comedy of Errors in Harlem

Posted in Performance, The Comedy of Errors on 2014/02/11 by mattermind

Antipholus and Dromio live in the rural South and travel to the Harlem Renaissance of the 1920s in this season’s Oregon Shakespeare Festival staging of The Comedy of Errors.

Director Kent Gash explains his reasoning for the novel setting in this video:

In what has the makings of a hysterical double bill, the festival will also host a performance of the Marx Brothers’ “Cocoanuts.” I’m tempted to add, “Because sometimes you feel like a nut” except few people will catch the reference and both plays are equally nutty.

I mean that in a good way.

For more on the 2014 Oregon Shakespeare Festival, here’s the SCOOP from the Oregonian.

Richard III: the Devil You Know

Posted in Performance, Richard III with tags , , , , , on 2014/02/06 by mattermind

Maybe it’s the recent discovery of Richard’s decomposed body in a Leicester car park, but performances of Shakespeare’s Richard III seem all the rage these days.

I’d like to mention a notable review which stands out to me for bringing up the growing understanding that Richard may have been the victim of one of the greatest political hit jobs in history.

This raises a crucial and complex issue of whether historical accuracy ought to affect our performance or appreciation of the play – or any fictional work that purports to be lifted from a true story.

Granted, Shakespeare never makes that claim. And the facts in this case are far from definitive. Nevertheless, it occurs to me that we watch fictional cotton candy like Shakespeare in Love or Amadeus and don’t complain. Should it be any different with Richard III?

I think of movies like JFK and Lincoln as well. We post-modernists have mixed up our creative liberties with our historical veracity. Or are we simply more lenient when it comes to dramatizations?

I’m confused by what our expectations ought to be. Novels, plays and screenplays will always demand the condensing of time, space and character within the parameters of the medium. We don’t really expect a film like Gladiator or 300 to portray actual life in Sparta or ancient Rome, do we?

Maybe it matters more to the extent our educational institutions fail us. These days, popular entertainment often provides the only snippets of information we will ever know about certain subjects. Yet, as with most topics, the more you learn about the real Richard, the harder it becomes accepting the cruel character assassination that most people have casually accepted as fact.

I’m not sure how to disentangle this complex riddle. But I am thrilled to see a recent critic kick the hornet’s nest regarding the issue.

The review begins:

In theater’s greatest hit piece, Richard remains the devil we know.

To read it in its entirety, please click HERE.

The Super Bowl, Forsooth

Posted in Performance with tags , , , on 2014/02/02 by mattermind

Illustration Credit: National Public Radio

Right Idea.  Wrong Super Bowl.

It’s practically a national holiday in the United States, when people gather from across the land to witness a clash between sporting titans.  I won’t call it “football,” since we Americans are practically alone in naming our version of that game “soccer.”  But rather American football plays its championship this evening and hundreds of millions of fans will sit down to watch.

For some, the commercials will prove once again more entertaining than the game.  For others, it will be the grand spectacle of America’s greatest stage that draws them in – one of the lone remaining truly communal events left in this scattered, electronic, virtual age that can knit a whole society together.

For diehards, there will be, of course, the game itself, this year pitting the team with the highest-powered offense (Denver Broncos) against the team with the stingiest defense (Seattle Seahawks).  Unstoppable force vs. immovable object.  Modest, future-Hall-of-Fame quarterback (Peyton Manning) vs. braggadocios, cock-sure cornerback (Richard Sherman).  Larger-than-life personalities in a society that values over-the-top displays.

What does this have to do with Shakespeare?  Aside from the fact that nobody will be paying any attention to this blog (for good reason: if not for the Super Bowl, then for the Puppy Bowl or Lingerie Bowl…I mean, c’mon), I may as well wave the white flag and surrender.  Even if I’ll later be posting on the documentary Looking for Richard and the novel, The Daughter of Time as my personal pre-game warmup.

Nevertheless, I present at minimum a loose (aka sketchy) Shakespearean reference.

Awhile back, National Public Radio featured a broadcast on the Super Bowl by the legendary Sports Illustrated columnist Frank Deford.  If nothing else, it proves how difficult it can be trying to write with Shakespeare’s flair in a modern idiom.

Click HERE to listen to the complete broadcast.

Continue reading below for a sample.

And for the rest of you, wherever you are, stay safe, enjoy the game.  May the commercials be funny, the camaraderie heartfelt.  And may the better team win in the end!  Hoo-ray.


The Players: Sideline Wench, a reporter for the Duchy of Fox; Kornheisercranz, herald; Wilbonstern, herald; Brady, a fair-haired boy; Eli, a boy; reporters, bloggers, correspondents, cameramen, soundmen, hangers-on, sycophants, small children throwing rose petals.

Our drama begins as a slovenly mob of sports journalists enters the field at the University of Phoenix Stadium. A fetching reporter, the Sideline Wench of the Duchy of Fox, steps forward.

Sideline Wench: Since none of my sex ’tis allowedWithin the network booth on high,’Twill be my one sweet distaff voiceMidst these growling sports-page lowlifesWhich will, upon my sideline nunnery,Dare confront the pretty Brady.

Two heralds, Kornheisercranz and Wilbonstern, wearing hideous matching ESPN doublets, elbow the Sideline Wench aside.

Click LINK for more.