Sunday, April 29, 2012

Love's Cure - Play Reading

I was invited along to a cast reading of Love's Cure, or The Martial Maid by John Fletcher - a gem of a play my friend José A. Pérez Díez has been editing as part of his PhD research at the Shakespeare Institute.  Robert Ball is directing a staged reading of the newly edited script in original practice with an all male cast.  Luckily, despite my womanly figure, a key cast member was missing from the rehearsal and I was afforded the opportunity to read a part.

This was my first encounter with the play.  I enjoyed the gender reversals and utter state of confusion presented in this five act comedy.  There were many laughs to be had, a few awkward moments, and hilarious mispronunciations - all of which resulted in a rather charming evening. I am looking forward to watching the process unfold from the sidelines and the final performance in July.

Read A Bit About the Play and follow The Love's Cure Blog.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Romeo and Juliet in Bagdad

Here in Stratford-upon-Avon an amazing feat is taking place. The World Shakespeare Festival is bringing the diversity of the world theatre to this tiny riverside town.

Now playing at the Royal Shakespeare Company, Romeo and Juliet in Bagdad tells William Shakespeare's classic tragedy as a conflict between the Shiite and Sunni people.  Romeo and Juliet must battle not only their warring families, but also survive against the backdrop of a country in conflict.  An Iraqi theatre company performs the play in Arabic with English subtitles.

The play departs from Shakespeare's story at several points, including the final scene where Romeo and Juliet do not take their own lives, but rather have their lives ripped from them by a terrorist's action. This adaptation is startling, scary, and raw.

While a bit heavy handed in its interpretation, Romeo and Juliet in Bagdad communicates R&J in ways that incite new meanings and will change how its audiences think about the play.

Want to read more? Check out Year of Shakespeare, a website dedicated to documenting the World Shakespeare Festival.

Two great articles are already up:
Year of Shakespeare: Romeo and Juliet in Baghdad
Year of Shakespeare: Richard II

Thursday, April 26, 2012

As You Like It Read Through

Last night we had our first read through for As You Like It.  We have a large energetic cast, ripe with talent. I find the play very challenging both in language and intent. Rosalind is such a multifaceted character that I can scarcely keep up with her. It was a pleasure to sit around last night and have a good laugh with everyone - something that Institute Players have not done up to this point, with so many tragedies in the season thus far. I am looking forward to blocking rehearsals next week. Now to begin the process of memorizing my lines... Yikes!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

First York Cycle Performance!

Yesterday evening we had our first performance of The Spicer’s The Annunciation and Visitation of Mary from the 15th century York cycle plays. Jason invited his supervisor and fellows to the event. We listened to a phenomenal 20 minute seminar on performance modernization of medieval drama, given by our lovely director. We then performed the piece two ways: once in original practice and once in modern practice.

The audience filled out forms to document their experience of the performance. Hopefully Jason received adequate feedback for the performance.

Our final and most important performance will take place on May 18th to finalize Jason's project. I am looking forward to returning to the rehearsal room to make changes based on the feedback that was received. I have been having a great time working on this small piece of medieval drama. If you are here in Stratford, please join us on May 18th in the Shakespeare Institute Hall for the final performance, time TBA.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Shakespeare's 448th Birthday!

Today is Shakespeare's official birthday.  However, the town of Stratford-upon-Avon is quiet today.  I suppose the weekends parades, parties, and other festivities has made us all a little tired. We all returned to our work today. I have spent the last 10 hours working on my essays for my Thursday deadline. They are mostly complete, though I need to proof and edit them.

I am still thinking about Saturday, the most magnificent day I have spent here in Stratford so far. Not only am I living my dream - to live and study Shakespeare in England - but I also have the best friends imaginable. Saturday was a beautiful sunny day and we enjoyed ice-cream and boat races, in addition to participating in Shakespeare's Birthday Celebrations. I will always remember the 44th birthday of William Shakespeare will fondness.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Happy Birthday William Shakespeare!

Tomorrow, 23 April 2012, is William Shakespeare's 448th birthday! Here in Stratford-upon-Avon we have already started the celebration. Yesterday the community pulled together to kick of the festivities with a birthday procession in honor of Shakespeare. I was blessed to have been chosen as a representative of Birmingham University and the Shakespeare Institute.

We started the day in Town Hall where we were introduced to the Mayor of Stratford. We formerly had our names announce and shook hands.

Here we are in Town Hall with the Institute Head, Michael Dobson.

We then walked from Town Hall down to the river, up Bridge Street to our flag posts along Church Street.

Here we are with the Queen :)

We all carried flowers with us to lay on Shakespeare's grave at the end of the procession.

 Yellow and black balloons were released for remembrance.

We then flew our flag!

Here is our group in front of our flag post. From here we continued on to Holy Trinity Church.

At Holy Trinity we patently waited outside until it was our turn to go in.

When we arrived, we were greeted by these ladies who placed our flowers near Shakespeare's grave.

Shakespeare and me.

The flowers at the end of the day.

Celebrating Shakespeare's birthday in his home-town of Stratford-upon-Avon was a dream come true. They really rolled out he red carpet for him. Not to mention, yesterday was the kick-off of the World Shakespeare Festival.

If you have a story about Shakespeare's Birthday, or would just like to say "Happy birthday Shakespeare" please blog about it. Read about the movement at 

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

A day in Kenilworth with Jason

Last Saturday I went on a day trip with my good friend, Jason, to Kenilworth. Our main goal was to visit the castle, but when we arrived we found Abbey Fields, a beautiful park set across the abbey ruins. Here are some of the pictures from our fabulous journey:

The gatehouse ruins at Abbey Fields

St Nicholas' Church - English parish church in Perpendicular style with Tudor alterations, in handsome red sandstone. It sits right beside the Norman and medieval ruins of St Mary's Abbey, over which a large part of its graveyard now lies

Me in front of the castle

 Sculpture in Elizabeth's Garden

Jason and I at the top of the castle

The restored Elizabethan knot gardens, designed to reproduce the appearance of the gardens in 1575.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

As You Like It Casting!

I am pleased to announce that I have been cast as Rosalind in The Shakespeare Institute Player’s summer production of William Shakespeare's As You Like It. The production will take place July 19th-21st in the Institute Gardens. This will be my final show with the players, as I will be returing to California in September of this year. I am blessed to play my dream role in Shakespeare's home town and look forward to begining rehearsals at the end of this month.

I have always admired Rosalind because she is intelligent, witty, and an all-around strong woman. She disguises herself as a man in the play, which liberates her to share her female perspectives with her true love, Orlando. I find her very insightful when she speaks about love. She seems incredibly self-aware, embraces love, but is also able to joke about it. She is also the largest female role in the cannon, which presents an additional challenge. I feel honored to play her in Shakespeare’s home town, and during the time of the World Shakespeare Festival. We have our first read-through on April 25th and I am eager to begin the process.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

RSC Open Stages Photots

Here are the pictures I promised from the Shakespeare Institute Players' production of Shakespeare's King John in the Open Stages Showcase at the Royal Shakespeare Company!

(Left to Right: Richard Nunn as Philip and Will Sharpe as The Bastard)

(Will Sharpe as The Bastard)

(Left to Right: John Curtis as Hubert and José Alberto Pérez Díez as King John)