Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Quick Bright Things: Shakespeare's "Dream" Is Lush But Loud in Germantown

Posted By on Wed, Oct 14, 2009 at 12:05 PM

Oh for a muse of fire. Or any muse, really. I'm so conflicted about the Tennessee Shakespeare Company's production of A Midsummer Night's Dream that I'm nearly at a loss for words. And I sincerely wonder if the audience that clamored to their feet to give this sweet but sexless Dream a standing ovation carried that palpable excitement all the way home or if the enchantment lifted somewhere along the way, leaving the poor souls to wonder if they'd mistakenly fallen for an ass. Because, for all of the detail and beautifully spoken words, there were several things about this show that, to borrow a phrase, were sent before their time into this breathing world scarce half made up. And I couldn't help but wonder if most members of the attractive and richly costumed cast were accustomed to performing outside or in houses much larger than Germantown's intimate Poplar Pike Playhouse. That at least might explain why so many of the players shouted their lines, pronouncing each word as though Shakespeare's phonics were more important than any attendant meaning.

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Friday, October 9, 2009

Dream a Little Dream

Posted By on Fri, Oct 9, 2009 at 1:07 PM


So what can I possibly say about A Midsummer Night's Dream that anybody with a high school diploma doesn't already know? Here's the crucial information: The Tennessee Shakespeare Company is entering into its second season and the Bard's frothy but dark-edged comedy about love, lust, power, drugs, fairies, fools, mules, goblins and glory holes is on stage now.

Watch for the review which is coming soon.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Three Questions with "Horror" Playwright Stephen Hancock

Posted By on Tue, Oct 6, 2009 at 8:00 PM

Stephen Hancock
  • Stephen Hancock
U of M professor and playwright Stephen Hancock is known for his love of absurd situations and his latest comedy The Horror of the Little Family Farce is yet another example of Hancock's screwball affections. Horror explores the unintentional and unexpected influences that each generation in a family has on its off-spring. It follows a young girl named Tina and her younger brother Sam whose playful imaginations create horrifying and hilarious situations. Here's what Hancock had to say about The Horror of the Little Family Farce.

Intermission Impossible: Your new show puts a lot of emphasis on play and the imagination. How do imaginary circumstances result in real consequences?

Stephen Hancock: The Horror of the Little Family Farce is a play about kids acting like adults who as adults act like kids. It shows how previous generations have unintentionally influenced the succeeding ones. On one level the four scenes depict the retirement years of Mother and Father K; from a retirement party to death. On another level, however, we discover that in reality two grandchildren, Tina and Sam, have been "playing house;" that the action and the imaginary circumstances are the impressions that Tina and Sam have formed about their parents, grandparents and other relatives. This realization is both the "horror" and the "farce" found in the title.

Where do your plays—and this play in particular—come from? Are they inspired by real things or projections of pure imagination?

My inspiration comes both from real events and fictionalized ones. For example, in scene three, the grandparents are fighting over the telephone. They play a tug of war to decide which one will get to tell the person on the other end "the news." This is based on a real situation that my mother had with her parents. Dramatically, I've invented the circumstances which lead to the argument and it's final outcome which finds the two characters wrestling on the floor. Another play I wrote—Revelations—is purely fictional. It's based on the premise of what if God sent another son down to earth and he was gay?

What is it about farce that keeps you coming back to it either as a theme or as a form?

The simple answer is that I like to laugh. The more complex one is that I like the challenge the form presents of putting a play together that relies on situation, conflict, language and physical action. I have, however, written dramas. It's just that none of them have been produced as yet.

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