Tag Archives: Shakespeare

The Power of Theatre

Dear Friends,

One more prior newsletter to share with you before we head back to New York City and the realities of summer coming to an end.

We cannot—CANNOT—stress the importance that the theatre can—and should!—have in the political realm. The tradition started with Shakespeare himself, and who knows, perhaps even before that!

Our friend Arthur Miller once said that it is the job of an artist to remind people of what they have chosen to forget. And in this political climate, nothing could be more true!

Best,
Philip & Marilyn

The Theatre Guild Newsletter

Dear Friends,

Today we wanted to discuss with you an incredible theatre happening that occurred a couple of weeks ago:

It is the conflict between The Theatre, as represented by Hamilton, and the Government-to-be, as represented by Vice-President Elect Mike Pence.

As you all know, Vice President-Elect Pence went to a performance of Hamilton where he was specifically addressed by the cast at the end of the performance (their spokesperson being Brandon Dixon).

Mr. Dixon made a plea to Vice President-Elect Pence–as a representative of our new government starting 20th of January.  The cast requested that Vice President-Elect Pence look out for their interests, aka those of the common people.  While Mr. Pence was walking out of the theatre at the time of the speech, he stopped and listened to what Mr. Harris had to say.

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To us, it is a fascinating happening.  It is The Theatre…

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Flashback Friday

Dear Friends,

We hope this finds you well and if you’re in the Northeast, we hope you survived the latest (4th!) nor’easter!

We thought we’d take a moment today to share with you one of our most popular posts on our Newsletter—that is of a photo we have of Paul Robeson dressed as Othello.

We originally shared this with you in January 2015, so we thought it was a great time to re-share for all of our members, including new members who have subscribed to our Newsletter since then!

Best regards,

Philip & Marilyn

The Theatre Guild Newsletter

This Throwback Thursday features a great photo of Paul Robeson in his garb as the well-known character of Othello, which The Theatre Guild produced on Broadway in 1943-1944.

Robeson’s portrayal of Othello was so masterful and well-performed that John Dover Wilson—one of the premier Shakespeare critics at the time—commented that Robeson’s Othello was the best performance of the century!

When I was about 10 years old, I used to spend wonderful times wrestling and playing with Paul’s son, Paul Jr.!

Paul broke through so many barriers coming from the son of a former slave, and knowing him and his family was indeed an honor!

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The Power of The Bard

Dear Friends,

We received an email today from the Shakespeare Society:

Summer Shakespeare at The Gunn Memorial Library in Washington, Connecticut

A special event with scenes from Shakespeare’s effervescent comedy

As You Like It

This Sunday, August 14 at 3 PM

As you may have realized from the frequency of posts, we love Shakespeare!

It is absolutely incredible that a playwright whose 400th birthday we are celebrating continues to have such an influence on the world of theatre.  If you google “Shakespeare” you will get “about 124,000,000 in 1.02 seconds.”  You can narrow this down to only 647,000 results in 71 seconds if you search for “Shakespeare Theatres.”

We have personally known many great playwrights, but no matter how inspiring, how empowering, how influential—no one even comes close to Shakespeare.  It is not only the plays that are his, that are shown night after night in city after city, but the format of his plays.  Not only can they been seen on the stage and big screen in modern day tales like West Side Story and The Lion King, but they can be seen on the small screen in popular tv shows like House of Cards and Sons of Anarchy.

Proof that his stories transcend time and are still relevant all these years later.

And if you’re now in the mood to see a bit of live Shakespeare, go see As You Like It or whatever Shakespeare is playing near you!

Best regards,

Philip & Marilyn

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The Judging of Shylock

Dear Friends,

We just wanted to share an article we read the other day in the New York Times:

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg Presides Over Shylock’s Appeal

It’s a delightful article about what a Supreme Court Justice does in her free time: go to Venice and not only watch her grandson perform in a mock trial based on The Merchant of Venice, but preside over the trial.  Justice Ginsburg seems to enjoy participating in Shakespeare mock trials, as she has participated in several.

You can read the full article here:

Ginsburg NYT

We just love that Justice Ginsburg spends some of her free time promoting and participating in the Arts!

Best regards,

Philip & Marilyn

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Coriolanus

Dear Friends,

We just wanted to share with you a wonderful opportunity to experience a night of Shakespeare’s most political play, Coriolanus—hosted by the Shakespeare Society and starring Chukwudi Iwuji (whom we mentioned in our post last week about summer acting classes) starring in the leading role.

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According to the Shakespeare Society:

We continue our look at Shakespeare’s most political and controversial play with the brilliant Chukwudi Iwuji in the title role. After a week spent studying, discussing, reading and exploring the play as part of our Shakespeare Works Artist Residency program, actors Peter Francis James, Merritt Janson, Jesse Perez, Jay O. Sanders, Phumzile Sitole, and more will take the stage of the Pearl Theatre Company with director Michael Sexton for an evening of lively conversation and readings from the play.

The performance will be held Tuesday, June 28th at 7:00pm at the Pearl Theatre.  To learn more, visit the Shakespeare Society or to purchase tickets click here.

Best,

Philip & Marilyn

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Summer Acting Classes

Dear Friends,

We wanted to share with you who acting classes that the Redbull Theatre is hosting two series of Shakespeare Acting classes this summer!

The first, Summer Shakespeare Workout, is a 3-day class June 24-26, 2016.

A three-day Shakespeare workout to get your technique toned up. This fast and furious classical acting workshop covers all your bases, including voice, movement, text analysis, and scene work to send you into the warmer months in tip top classical shape.

The second, Summer Shakespeare Bootcamp, is a 6-week class July 13-August 17, 2016 with a great line-up of teachers, including famed Chukwudi Iwuji.

A six-week Boot Camp for a more in-depth exploration of classic Shakespearean roles. This class will offer scene study techniques, voice and speech training, and different acting approaches and perspectives from New York’s best working professionals and classical actors. This class will give you all the tools you need to best approach the Bard’s work.

If you live in or are visiting our fair city of New York during these times and are interested in expanding your acting knowledge, it would definitely be a great way to broaden your skills!

For more information and to sign up for classes, click here.

Happy summer!

Philip & Marilyn

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To The Bard, Part 2!

Dear Friends,

Just a reminder from a post we wrote about a few months ago:

The Chicago Shakespeare Theatre is having a year-long celebration, Shakespeare 400!

Today they are promoting”Talk Like Shakespeare” day and tonight there will be a fireworks display at the Navy Pier!  If you live in or are visiting Chicago, you definitely don’t want to miss out!

To read more, check out the Chicago Shakespeare Theatre’s website.

Best regards,

Philip & Marilyn Langner

shakespeare 400

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To The Bard!

Dear Friends,

As April 23rd approaches, there are many celebrations for the 400th Anniversary of William Shakespeare’s life!  As a tribute, Channel 13 (aka PBS) is honoring his work!  He was such an instrumental and important person, both in terms of literature and theatre…and well, so many other things.

We at the Theatre Guild are so proud of our founder, Lawrence Langner, creating The American Shakespeare Theatre in Stratford, CT.  While it is currently not open, many lovely plays were showcased there—such as The Merchant of Venice and Much Ado About Nothing, both starring Katharine Hepburn.  And my (Philip) mother played in As You Like It at Westport Playhouse—so one could say that Shakespeare runs deep in the family roots!

No writer is more celebrated than The Bard and if you need any reasons why, just check out some of the Shakespeare inspired and/or written shows Channel 13 will be presenting over the next 10 days!

The 400th anniversary of William Shakespeare’s death is being observed throughout the world in April 2016 with celebrations of the great English playwright and poet (April 1564 – April 23, 1616) and his many works. THIRTEEN celebrates with the premiere of Shakespeare’s Tomb, a new documentary about Shakespeare’s final resting place in Stratford-Upon-Avon, and encores of favorite broadcasts. See the six installments of Season Two of Shakespeare Uncovered (Fridays beginning April 8) and three of Shakespeare’s history-based plays in the Great Performances series “The Hollow Crown” – Richard II and Henry IV, Parts 1 and 2 (April 22 & 23).

CHANNEL 13 Lineup:

Friday, April 22

  • 9-10 pm: Shakespeare Uncovered: Antony & Cleopatra with Kim Cattrall
  • 10-11 pm: Shakespeare Uncovered: Romeo & Juliet with Joseph Fiennes
  • 1:30-2 am: Theater Talk: Professor James Shapiro on Shakespeare
  • 2-4:30 am: Great Performances: The Hollow Crown: Henry IV Part 1
  • 4:30-7 am: Great Performances: The Hollow Crown: Henry IV Part 2

Saturday, April 23

  • 1-4 pm: Great Performances: The Hollow Crown: Richard II
  • 4-5 pm: Shakespeare’s Tomb

Sunday, April 24

  • 4-5 am: Shakespeare Uncovered: Antony & Cleopatra with Kim Cattrall
  • 5-6 am: Shakespeare Uncovered: Romeo & Juliet with Joseph Fiennes
  • 11:30-noon: Theater Talk: Professor James Shapiro on Shakespeare

 

Go to their website to learn more!

Best regards,

Philip & Marilyn

PS—for a bit of fun, PBS also has this quiz to see which Shakespeare character you are !

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A Woman’s Place

Dear Friends,

As we alluded to in our last post—and that you undoubtedly know—there were no women actors during Shakespeare’s time, their parts usually played by young boys.  We did a bit of digging to find out exactly why, but there doesn’t seem to be anything exact about it!

We found a great article from Stage Beauty about it: http://stagebeauty.net/th-women.html

The most widely accepted theory was the Church during this time vilified the traveling acting troupe, even blaming the Great Plague on them!  As such, it was thought to be too “unseemly” for a woman to be allowed on stage.

Of course, not everyone thought this way—on mainland Europe things were changing more rapidly than in England.  In fact, during Elizabeth I’s reign, women were established in Italian theatre with France quickly following suit.

It wasn’t until the reign of Charles I (1625-1649) where women in England were allowed to take the stage.  That is to say, not English women—oh no! The very first was a Frenchwoman named Henrietta Maria who came to England with a French company.  However, apparently the novelty of having a woman on stage was still too radical for England and the French troupe soon went back to France having been booed off many stages.

Then all of theatre took a huge backslide, when Oliver Cromwell rose to power during the English Civil War.  Without the protection of the crown, the Puritans were allowed to dictate and not only were women banned from the stage, but the entire performance was banned and “theatre found itself cast into another dark age.”

With the downfall of Cromwell, theatre found itself back in favor with Charles II with a mixed reaction to women on the stage.  It finally happened on December 8, 1660—the first Englishwoman took the stage.  Margaret Hughes played Desdemona in The Moor of Venice, which was thought to be a success.

From that point, the gates opened and slowly women were welcomed to the stage until we finally arrived at the point where the idea of theatre without a woman playing in a woman’s role seemed implausible.

You can read the whole article here: http://stagebeauty.net/th-women.html

And to think now we are at the point (as we told you about in an earlier post) where the Donmar Warehouse produced a version of Henry IV with an all-female cast!

We find this so interesting—that theatre shows this ascent of women from the “dark days” of Shakespeare’s time to now when we are enthusiastically enjoying the glorious tide today.

Best,

Philip Langner and Marilyn Clark Langner

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Give The Gift That Keeps Giving

Dear Friends,

Looking for that perfect gift for the theatre lover in your life?  We have a fantastic idea for this holiday season gift giving: give them a Membership in the Shakespeare Society!

You know, we have spent a lot of time in our lives thinking about Shakespeare. We find it an interesting thought that there have been many famous playwrights throughout the years—like Tennessee Williams—who’s first play we produced—and George Bernard Shaw, Eugene O’Neill, Gilbert and Sullivan and more—but none, despite how good they were and are, are in the same league with Shakespeare.  And it’s now 400 years later!

Plus, we feel this is a noteworthy society of which to be a member:

The Shakespeare Society was founded Adriana Mnuchin and Nancy Becker founded The Shakespeare Society in 1997 for people who share a passion for Shakespeare and an enduring desire to understand and appreciate the greatest playwright of the English language.

MISSION STATEMENT

The Shakespeare Society is a nonprofit organization dedicated to increasing the enjoyment, understanding, and appreciation of William Shakespeare’s works through performance, commentary, and educational activities.

A fundamental belief of the founders of The Shakespeare Society is that enjoying and understanding Shakespeare begins in the classroom; therefore, a portion of the Society’s membership dollars is used to support educational activities in New York City schools.

It’s a fantastic organization and they have numerous levels to fit into any holiday budget—it’s priceless!  Of course, a portion of the membership fee is tax deductible, so it’s a win-win for everyone!

Click here for more information about the various levels and what each provide

Happy Holidays!

Philip & Marilyn

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