Aug 25

What If? Racial Diversity in “Romeo and Juliet”

My bounty is as boundless as the sea,
My love as deep; the more I give to thee,
The more I have, for both are infinite.

Romeo and Juliet Act 2 Scene II

Photo Credit: Happy Medium Theatre

Director: Paula Plum
Dance Choreographer: Kiki Samko
Fight Choreographer: Angie Jepson

Happy Medium Theatre Company
Happy Medium Theatre Co. Facebook Page

Exposé by Kitty Drexel

(Boston) Happy Medium Theatre (HMT) took a risk: it cast a black Romeo against a white Juliet (who had excellent chemistry by the by). Bravo HMT for having the chutzpah for casting biracially! Bravo for making your audience ask “what if?” What if Romeo had been a Moore like Othello? What if Juliet had fallen in love with her Romeo and the resulting drama was a result over their family names and not the color of their skin? What if their love was measured against all other loves and found to be equal? What if HMT’s version of Romeo and Juliet was the version that had been performed for centuries rather than the typical all White cast? Topical questions for 2012: What if, indeed.

In a time when the Supreme Court system cannot make up its mind as to whether marriage is a religious or a civil rights issue, HMT’s production forces us to take a look at the history of love. Just 15 years ago one wouldn’t see a biracial couple on daytime TV much less a reproduction of Shakespeare. It is time for all love to be measured by its inherent worth on the streets. It is also time for the shock to be amputated from love that exists outside the norm on the stage. If it has been acceptable for a 13-year-old girl to marry a 17-year-old boy for hundreds of years then it is certainly time for that couple to reflect its audience members.

As artists, we have an obligation to entertain and educate our audience, an obligation to leave our audience in better condition after the show than before it starts. It is our privilege as enthusiasts to create theater with our community. Thank you Happy Medium Theater Company for taking the opportunity to be poignant and to pose difficult questions. Thank you for being brave. Bravi tutti!

Performances ran August 10-25, 2012 at the Plaza Theatre at the Boston Center for the Arts,
537 Tremont Street, Boston, MA 02116

Aug 10

Romeo & Juliet Starts Performances Today

Romeo & Juliet by William Shakespeare, Happy Medium Theatre Company, Plaza Theatre at the Calderwood Pavillion, 8/10/12-8/25/12, http://www.happymediumtheatre.com/?cat=41.

A talented cast and crew pour their heart and souls into the drama of adolescence as only they can.  Get your tickets now!

Jul 23

Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead: Black Comedy in the Park

photo credit: Apollinaire Theatre Company

Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead
by Tom Stoppard

Apollinaire in the Park 2012

Performances run July 11-28 at 7:30,
in English on Wed. Thurs. & Sat. and Spanish on Fri. & Sun.
Mary O’Malley Parkhttp://www.apollinairetheatre.com/productions/productions.html.

Reviewed by Gillian Daniels

(Chelsea, MA) In a twist on Shakespeare in the Park, the Apollinaire Theatre Company has chosen to perform a free production of Tom Stoppard’s Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead during the most gorgeous time of year. Each act is in a different location through out Mary O’Malley Park with the audience following the actors during intermission. The sunset, view of the river, docks, mural, and brilliant staging make a surprisingly fitting backdrop for Stoppard’s clever script. Continue reading

May 10

Keeping the Bard on His Toes: MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING

Much Ado About Nothing…With A Twist adapted by Daniel Morris, Bad Habit Productions, Deane Hall at Boston Center for the Arts, 4/28/12-5/13/12, http://www.badhabitproductions.org/shows/season/MuchAdo.html.

Review by Craig Idlebrook

(Boston, MA) There’s a funny story the actor Charles Grodin shares about famed acting teacher Uta Hagen, where Hagen was dissecting the terribleness of a scene Grodin had just done.  She hated everything except for one moment when Grodin’s scene partner was slow to hand the actor a prop.  Because there was a delay, Grodin looked genuinely concerned, and that, Hagen announced, was true acting.

I’m not a big fan of the Method myself, but I’m starting to see her point, especially when it comes to Shakespeare.  Acting involves a weird combo of memorization and playful improvisation.  But when it comes to the Bard’s work, too many productions are populated with actors who know they are saying weighty words and making weighty gestures; every move is preordained and dripping with importance.  Such a style robs the lyrical and impish qualities of plays that once were performed for bawdy Elizabethans.

Luckily, there are productions like Bad Habit’s staging of Much Ado About Nothing to inject life into scripts that we have too long sanctified.   Continue reading

May 01

Life Lessons in a Lull: TROILUS AND CRESSIDA

photo credit: Stratton McCrady

Troilus and Cressida by William Shakespeare, Actors’ Shakespeare Project, The Modern Theatre, 4/25/12-5/20/12, http://www.actorsshakespeareproject.org/events/troilus-and-cressida-0.

Reviewed by Craig Idlebrook

(Boston, MA) There are two major ways to connect audiences to Shakespeare, despite the tricky language: you can glitz up the production so theatergoers don’t realize their brains are doing heavy-lifting (a la Baz Luhrmann’s seizure-inducing Romeo and Juliet) or make sure you serve up quality and let the script speak for itself.  Tina Packer consistently has chosen the second option in her body of work.   Continue reading

Dec 10

Great Acting While on a Treadmill: The Merry Wives of Windsor

Photo Credit: Stratton McCrady

The Merry Wives of Windsor by William Shakespeare, Actors’ Shakespeare Project, Davis Square Theatre, 12/7/11-1/1/12, http://www.actorsshakespeareproject.org/events/merry-wives-windsor-0.

Reviewed by Craig Idlebrook

(Somerville, MA) It’s one thing for a young theater troupe to be ambitious, but it’s something else to watch the troupe succeed in its ambition.

In its early history, the Actors’ Shakespeare Project has decided to skip the low-hanging fruit of the Bard’s body of work and reach for some of his more obscure works.  (Hands up for anyone who knows a single line from Troilus and Cressida, which the troupe performs in the spring.) Continue reading

Oct 22

Well-Behaved Women Rarely Reach Old Age: WOMEN OF WILL

Nigel Gore and Tina Packer in Women of Will performing October 13 - November 6, 2011 at Central Square Theater, 450 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge, MA. Photo: A.R. Sinclair Photography.

 

Women of Will, by Tina Packer, The Nora Theatre Company, Central Square Theatre, 10/13/11- 11/6/11.  http://www.centralsquaretheater.org/season/11-12/women-of-will.html

Reviewed by Craig Idlebrook

(Cambridge, MA) The female characters of Shakespeare’s plays are badly outnumbered by the males, sometimes fifteen to one, explains veteran thespian Tina Packer in Women of Will at the Central Square Theater.  In the Bard’s works, women often operate as others and also-rans, virgins and whores, rarely receiving the main focus.  But when they appear, their actions and emotions speak volumes, both about Shakespeare and society. Continue reading

Oct 12

Twelfth Night: Foolish Games of Greatness

James Andreassi (Sir Toby), Steven Barkhimer (Feste) & Doug Lockwood (Sir Andrew). Photo by Stratton McCrady

 

Twelfth Night by William Shakespeare, Actors’ Shakespeare Project, Plaza Theatre at the Boston Center for the Arts, 9/27/11-10/22/11,  http://www.actorsshakespeareproject.org/season8/twelfth_night.html.

Reviewed by Becca Kidwell

(Boston, MA) With the help of the magical playground designed by Christina Todesco, Actors’ Shakespeare Project creates an entertaining evening of romance and folly.  The production touches the joy and pain of being.  And a fool shall lead them all…

Upon entering the theatre, the audience immediately encounters an abstract tempest upon a spacious performance area.  Something that seems to be a trademark of Christine Todesco’s designs, there is a ramp that ends up being used as a slide.  In addition, the columns on stage provide reflective surfaces for the characters to get lost in their own self-interest as imagined by the director, Melia Bensussen. Continue reading

Sep 22

Where To Stand When You’re In ‘Mortal Terror’

Will Shakespeare, Ben Jonson and John Marston (Stafford Clark-Price, Jeremiah Kissel and John Kuntz) Photo by Boston Playwrights' Theatre

 

Mortal Terror by Robert Brustein, Suffolk University & Boston Playwrights’ Theatre, The Modern Theatre at Suffolk University, 9/15/11-10/2/11, http://www.bu.edu/bpt/.

Reviewed by Becca Kidwell

(Boston, MA) Each generation lives in fear of war, conflicts, pain, and death.  Each person has to choose how they are going to react to the conflict.  Mortal Terror addresses this puzzlement in Elizabethan garb.  Rowdy writers, absolute rulers, and crazy conspirators throw words back and forth until every character must face his own compass and decide on where he stands.

Will Shakespeare, the toast of Renaissance England’s theatre scene, gets the opportunity to write a play to legitimize King James’ rule. Continue reading