Friday, October 27, 2017

Free Shakespeare! Julius Caesar visits the Germantown Library

Posted By on Fri, Oct 27, 2017 at 4:47 PM

Michael Khanlarian, Khalil LeSaldo
  • Michael Khanlarian, Khalil LeSaldo
On a cold rainy pre-Halloween weekend the only thing I can think of that might be better than a free indoor production of Julius Caesar might be a free indoor production of Macbeth. But since the latter's not being performed you'll just have to settle for Shakespeare's tragically timeless story of murder and political intrigue in ancient Rome as performed by members of the Tennessee Shakespeare Company. 
The Ides of March come late this year. The original conspiracy theory goes down Saturday, Oct. 28 at 10 a.m.

Did I mention it was free?

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Let GCT's Honky Tonk Angels Sing for You

Posted By on Thu, Oct 19, 2017 at 12:41 PM

"It wasn't God who made Honky Tonk Angels."
— Kitty Wells
"REO Speedwagon can kiss my ass."
— Chris Davis
Far be it from me to suggest that there's no place in country music for "jazz hands," but if you're going for verisimilitude, it's probably a look you want to avoid. Jazz was always a major component of music created by artists like Hank Thompson, Hank Penny, Bob Wills, Ray Price and Willie Nelson, but jazz-hands belong almost exclusively to the Fosse-esque end of the musical theater spectrum. Between the hand choreography, the show-tuney arrangements, and a paper-thin script full of wince-worthy lines, the country jukebox musical Honky Tonk Angels currently on stage at Germantown Community Theatre, belongs on a cruise ship where it can entertain boozy audiences nostalgic for smoky ol' poolrooms they never hung out in in the first place.

Of course there's something intrinsically nostalgic about Honky Tonk, which, has always been city music for country people. It's the electrified steel-guitar-laden sound of rural people chasing economic opportunity in the aftermath of WWII. Cities were booming, and many a country boy and girl picked up stakes and moved to town looking for jobs and a better life. Those who landed on the street with a guitar slung over their shoulder wrote plaintive songs about displacement, temptation, loss and longing for a simpler life. In spite of its contemporary setting Honky Tonk Angels tells the story of two women from hardscrabble rural environments, and one working for a Weinsteinian character in L.A., who've left all that behind to become country stars in Nashville. They meet on a Greyhound Bus pulling out of Memphis, share origin stories, sing some country and gospel classics, and agree to join forces and start a band called Honky Tonk Angels.
What GCT's production has going for it is a strong cast that approaches the material from such an honest, loving place they almost make the pandering material work. Tamara Wright plays Sue Ellen, whose backstory is loosely rooted in the song "9 to 5." She brings the sass and sizzle on tunes like Parton's pink-collar anthem and Pam Tillis' uptempo novelty, "Cleopatra (Queen of Denial)." Songs like Loretta Lynn's "Don't Come Home a Drinkin," and "The Pill," sound awfully authentic tumbling from Ashely Whitten-Kopera's mouth. Her character Angela (get it?) narrates. Her backstory revolves around life in a double-wide with an inattentive husband named Bubba and a bunch of kids. Angela's written from an "outside the trailer park looking in" perspective, but Kopera finds just the right amount of good-ol-gal zest to make it all believable. .

From her simple but effective acoustic guitar accompaniment to her strong voice and wholesome girl-next-door approach, Courtney Church-Tucker is something of a miracle worker in the role of Darlene. Her history is inspired by an odd interpretation of Bobbie Gentry's hit "Ode to Billy Joe," and her backstory's told in strained one-sided dialogue that, to her credit, Church-Tucker very nearly pulls off.

You know what else doesn't really belong in a show about country music? Songs by REO Speedwagon. While the inclusion of Lee Hazelwood's "These Boots Are Made for Walking" might be forgiven because it's at least about boots, I can't be as generous with any selection from You Can Tune a Piano but You Can't Tuna Fish. It's a particularly frustrating inclusion in a show that allegedly celebrates female country artists but omits singers and songwriters like Norma Jean, Jeanne Shepherd, Wanda Jackson, Billie Jo Spears etc.  

Though it may sound cliche, I've got to acknowledge that the premise of Honky Tonk Angels is built on truth. People still arrive in Nashville every day with a guitar on their back, and a sack full of dreams. I've been down that road a time or two myself, and spent one delightful train ride from Chicago to Nashville picking out old country songs with a cowboy hat/boot-wearing former costumer for Actors Theatre Louisville who was on his way to Music City USA to make it big. But for all of its core truth, almost every element of this show rings false. The one element that doesn't is the cast.  As a huge fan of old country songs, this trio could sing me to sleep every night with zero complaint.

It's also worth noting that GCT and director Leigh Ann Evans seem to have anticipated the challenges this show presents and confronted them head on. During a time of economic difficulty for the theater, someone wisely decided to forego finished sets and extravagant costuming in favor of hiring a full complement of musicians including a fiddle player, a steel player, bass player, piano, drums, electric and acoustic guitar — all the things you need for a proper hoedown throw-down. Unless you're Miss Drag USA, there's no way to make lines like, "Without further hairdo," work, but Evans and company make an honest go of of a show that may not be worthy of their collective time and talents. Still, if you love the genre, the rest may be endured. Yes, even the jazz hands.

Even REO Speedwagon.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Lipstick Smear: Let Theatre Memphis' "Stage Kiss" slip you some tongue

Posted By on Wed, Oct 18, 2017 at 3:04 PM

I've got to admit, I don't  enjoy watching long sex scenes in any medium unless the coitus reveals something crucial about the characters and their relationship. I'm not opposed to skin or sin, mind you. It's the narrative interruption. We all understand the ins and outs of the ins and outs and, absent some real surprises, we know how this particular act ends. Outside the realm of pure titillation (and sometimes in it!) it's a greater gift to be economical with the touchin and the squeezin' and let vivid imaginations do the dirty work for you. Or fast-forward through the sloppy parts and, in the words of the poet, show us the money. I mention all of this because, even though the topic's smooching not sex, it was fun (for me) to hear my feelings on this subject debated so clearly inside Stage Kiss, a nifty little treasure-box of a play that depends on a lot of physical contact. Because, while I do enjoy the resolution a kiss might bring — or the chaos it can presage or set loose — there's nothing more redundant than watching other people mug down. On the other hand, redundancy is the kind of quality Playwright Sarah Ruhl knows how to weaponize, and transform into an epic, existential gag.

Stage Kiss at Theatre Memphis is a rare and special thing — A RomCom that's smart, disarmingly hilarious, and not just a saggy, cliche bag of warmed over kissy-boo-hoo. It's got a solid cast and fun design all around. Still, I've got to imagine this  play's probably a tough sell, even to friendly audiences who own Sleepless in Seattle on VHS, laser disc, DVD, Blu Ray and iTunes. The "backstage comedy" element was played out back when songwriters were innocently rhyming June and moon. All one sentence social media-friendly summaries make Stage Kiss sound like the most dreadful thing ever (or something you might accidentally hate-watch on the Hallmark channel) —  "Two contemporary actors who are also former lovers fall in love when they are cast opposite one another in a failed romantic melodrama from the 1930's."

Seriously, who would elect to go see that? You should. 
Ruhl's a deserving MacArthur Genius grant winner who's gone surreal with Dead Man's Cell Phone, and gotten down & dirty with the scandalous vibrator play In the Next Room. On the surface Stage Kiss might look like a departure from edgier work, but it's a classic Ruhl, and a gem for a number of reasons that I can't fully articulate for fear of spoiling the fun. Instead I'll suggest that folks who liked the interplay of stage life, real life, and the life of the mind in the movie Birdman will also enjoy Stage Kiss, which has a similar, if slightly less hallucinatory sensibility. Fans of tight character and ensemble acting will also enjoy the work being done here by Tracie Hansom and John Moore as the former lovers, Stuart Turner as their excitable director and Chase Ring as the understudy with Gordon Ginsburg, Lena Wallace Black, and Laurel Galaty in a variety of supporting roles.

Stage Kiss uses the lost-love-regained trope to explore different kinds of loving, trusting relationships attendant incompetency, psychopathy etc. Hansom, as the unnamed She, is married with a precocious, deeply betrayed teenage daughter right out of central casting. Moore's He is in a "serious" relationship with a woman he doesn't seem to know very well. He's not Peter Pan incarnate but, having never settled down, his loft might pass for an upscale dorm room. An organic, but highly artificial rekindling of He and She's relationship opens up like a farce, and the plays within the play afford ample opportunities for calculated overacting and singing that's supposed to be terrible whether the audience knows it or not.

Ruhl's  got a Stoppardian knack for changing her stories — and the meaning of her stories — midstream by altering audience perspective. Stage Kiss begins with a round of auditions in the empty theater. Sets accumulate like a lifetime's worth of baggage and are summarily disposed of or repurposed. What appears to be from one perspective changes with the scenery — when the (not very) hot new stage couple move on from romantic melodrama to ridiculous hardscrabble grit.

Even wise, loving platitudes from the play's closing chapter look like part of an epic gas-lighting when the applause fades, and you emerge from the theater into a less augmented reality.

Tony Isbell's been on a roll as a director. Quark Theatre's under-attended production of Years to the Day was an unfussy, superbly acted look at connectivity without community. Isbell's given Stage Kiss the gift of trust and not messing it up by messing with it. He simply lets it all be the sincere romantic comedy it needs to be in order to be a whole lot more.

Seeing Stage Kiss on Theatre Memphis' main stage was nice, but it made me miss the days when the Evergreen theatre was Circuit Playhouse. Although there should be plenty of room for non-musicals on our main stages, I wanted to see this  kiss-intimate comedy in a kiss-intimate house of just about that size and shape. It's not that the laughs don't land or that play loses something because it's being performed in a big room —  it's never as snuggly, or as prickly as it might be in somewhat tighter quarters.

That's really all I have to say about that, though I feel the need to offer some counterintuitive advice to producing bodies: If audiences are leaving your show at intermission because (you think) they think the play is over, let them go on in happy ignorance. Maybe they'll find out and come back. Or perhaps, instead of explaining how some people misunderstand the show, the person delivering the curtain speech could stress the ability to buy season tickets at INTERMISSION, before THE SECOND ACT. Setting your audience up for confusion places it outside the world of the play before the play has a chance to pull folks in. It changes how chunks of your audience will experience the story, turning whatever script you're producing  into a meta-mystery — a whodunnit of sorts. Who got fooled? Were they stupid? Was the show not clear? Maybe they just didn't like it? And so on.

I'm not theorizing here having experienced this before. Last week a decidedly unimpressed couple behind me spoke their theories about act one aloud creating a gravely comic, almost Beckett-like play within the play within the play. Don't misunderstand, as a critic I probably love Statler & Waldorf more than the average fan, but this intrusion was unwelcome — and unfair to a couple who, through only some fault of their own, were clearly watching a completely different play. 

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Monday, October 16, 2017

Ballet Memphis' "Take Shape" takes off; Juilliard String Quartet lands perfectly

Posted By on Mon, Oct 16, 2017 at 2:48 PM

I particularly look forward to Ballet Memphis’ contemporary programming, as in the season’s first offering, “Take Shape,” that runs through Oct. 22. Not that the classics aren’t spellbinding in their way (the perennial “Nutcracker” during the holidays and “Peter Pan” in April), but the new works tend to provide a higher yield of choreography that is fresh, provocative, and sometimes surprising.

There are three works in the “Take Shape” production, the first of which is George Balanchine’s 60-year-old “Square Dance,” inspired by American folk dance that the choreographer wanted to combine with classical movement. (And with six decades under its belt, it's actually older than Steven McMahon's upcoming "Peter Pan"). As in traditional square dancing, there is plenty of symmetry with ladies and gents lining up, spinning around, and pairing off.

Square dancing may be physical, but nothing like Balanchine’s vigorous demands on his performers. The rhythms of the folk dance are there, but the music is that of Vivaldi and Corelli, tunes you don’t normally imagine with do-si-do action, but entirely agreeable. The piece was absorbing, with technical demands well met and all somewhat antiseptic.

One of Ballet Memphis’ go-to choreographers is Julia Adam, and with good reason. Her “Fingers of Your Thoughts,” first performed in 2010, ambitiously depicts the passage of a life, from birth to demise, but in a way so expressive and touching that it remains entirely personal. The five dancers are a community of souls, moving as a group, as individuals, all part of the fabric of a life. Simply beautiful.

The final piece is a thrilling work by another Ballet Memphis favorite, Trey McIntire. “The Reassuring Effects (of Form and Poetry)” is a series of delights and surprises with electrifying chemistry between Crystal Brothers and Rafael Ferreras, and other superb performances by Julie Marie Niekrasz and Jared Brunson. (The cast varies depending on the date).

Also notable was lighting by Dani Deutschmann and sublime costumes by Bruce Bui and Ballet Memphis Costume Shop. “Take Shape” is a thoroughly engaging program and shows again the masterful work by Ballet Memphis’ dancers.

Juilliard String Quartet - STEVE J. SHERMAN
  • Steve J. Sherman
  • Juilliard String Quartet

Sunday afternoon, the Juilliard String Quartet came to the Clark Opera Center and performed works with such precision and control that you might have been forgiven if you forgot to breathe. There were no apparent instances of listeners slumping in their chairs, but the beautiful attention to detail in the midst of works by Beethoven and Haydn demanded careful listening.

The presentation, a collaboration between the Memphis Chamber Music Society and Concerts International, sounded flawless in the acoustically fine Clark Center, with the quartet in the center of the auditorium and the audience arrayed around it.

Expectations are high, of course, when you have four of the world’s finest musicians sawing away at great music (Beethoven’s Quartet in A Major, Op. 18, No. 5; Haydn’s Quartet in D Major, Op. 76, No. 5; and Beethoven’s String Quartet in E flat Major, Op. 127). Those expectations were met with warm interpretations of the works, precise attacks of the notes, and terrific dynamic control from fortissimos to pin-drop quiet. In all, a virtuoso performance.

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Saturday, October 14, 2017

How Very: "Heathers" is Halloween Candy that Won't Make Your Tummy Hurt

Posted By on Sat, Oct 14, 2017 at 4:02 PM

"The teen films of the time, the John Hughes film, were fun. But there’s a whole other wing of the high school they weren’t going into — the dark, Stephen King wing that nobody wanted to look at. And I think Heathers was refreshing. It was the first time a lot of people lost their dark humor virginity. It’s hard to even remember now that going back then, there were so many television shows and documentaries about the horror of teen suicide that just made it so attractive to commit suicide because you got all this love and adulation. Who can resist! It seemed like I was the only one noticing the humor in it."
Heathers screenwriter Daniel Waters.
So maybe not every note is pitch perfect. Perhaps it's never quite as surreal or shocking as it could and probably should be. The musical adaptation of Daniel Waters' dark teen comedy Heathers is a fun Halloween-season ride with too much heart for its own good. It's served up like a top-shelf ice cream sundae from some boutique parlor , topped with fruits, and nuts, and pink sprinkles. Only that's not strawberry syrup on top — It's BLOOD! TEENAGE BLOOD!

Arch, attitudinal performances by the three original Heathers, Chandler (Gia Welch), Duke, (Claire Clauson), and McNamara (Lizzy Hinton) frame the story of Veronica (Brooke Papritz), a basic Bettie whose sweet forgery skills earn her a place at the popular kids table. But life at the top's kind of ugly, bringing the mean girl dominance games into a crisp focus. Enter JD, (Connor Finnerty-Esmonde) the thrift store clad new kid who captures Veronica's teenage fancy and fills her head with ideas about taking revenge on all the high school's exclusive cliques and bullies. Next thing you know, her teen angst bullshit has a bodycount.  And because the popular kid murders are all framed as suicides, killing yourself turns into the big teen craze.

Veronica's mounting guilt kicks into overdrive when she plays a key role in humiliating her chubby, unpopular lifelong friend "Martha Dumptruck."

Papritz, who recently played a mumblecore misfit in The Flick at Circuit Playhouse is an awfully upbeat Veronica, but she sings the part beautifully, and in her role as storyteller, keeps the show moving like a freight train. As JD Finnerty-Esmonde struggles with pitch, both in his songs and in his character's tone. He's a charmer, just never quite as dangerous as JD needs to be.

Though set in some alternative version of the American 80's were teen fashion and slang is a sharp, knowing satire of the real thing, Heathers doesn't truck much in nostalgia. The music's all original, and the most effective songs — "Lifeboat," and "Kindergarten Boyfriend" don't go to the leads. As with the film, all these carefully considered pieces combine to make for some pretty substantial teen splatter.

Choreographed production numbers courtesy of director Courtney Oliver and co-choreographer Kim Sanders, stand in nicely for the source material's hard to translate visual surrealism

If you wanted to make a really good 1980's-era movie soundtrack musical you couldn't do better than Pretty in Pink. "Don't You Forget About Me," was the only good song in The Breakfast Club, and don't even get me started on the awfulness of St. Elmo's Fire. But if Pretty in Pink wasn't already a soundtrack it would make a pretty good era-defining mix-tape with terrific cuts by Psychedelic Furs, Suzanne Vega, The Smith's, OMD, New Order, Jesse Johnson, Echo & the Bunnymen and more I can't remember. I mention all this because musical film adaptations are soup of the day, and the nostalgia appeal only goes up when, as with Priscilla Queen of the Desert, the soundtrack includes a healthy dose of vintage top-40. While John Hughes musicals might seem to make more sense to investors, when it comes to teen movie adaptations, Heathers makes more sense on stage. The scary Reagan-era is well represented by this edgy box office flop, that found its misfit audience on cable and hanging out at the video store.

Fallen Woman: Opera Memphis' La Traviata is Simply Splendid

Posted By on Sat, Oct 14, 2017 at 10:57 AM

Vernon Di Carlo and Laquita Mitchell. - ZIGGY MACK
  • Ziggy Mack
  • Vernon Di Carlo and Laquita Mitchell.
With only the sparest set and subtle, effective lighting that fits and frames the scenes like a ball gown, Opera Memphis'  lean, mean La Traviata lets Verdi's familiar, unfailingly hooky score  do all the heavy lifting.

La Traviata's the story of Violetta is an upscale courtesan, and the life of any party. But the very things that make her so popular in certain segments of society also insure she can never really be a part of it. By the time young Alfredo — who's been watching her for a year — confesses love and sweeps her away, she's coughing up blood and dying of tuberculosis. Any subsequent happiness is undercut by economic hardship and cut short when Alfredo's father convinces the dying woman that her relationship with his son will prevent his daughter from ever attaining a proper husband.

So, leading Alfredo to believe that she'd followed her free spirit into another's arms, Violetta sacrifices her chance for love — or, at least, the comforts of companionship. Her nobility's rewarded with humiliation.

The simplicity of stage director Benjamin Wayne Smith's approach to the material highlights and heightens the deft plotting of Verdi's Our Lady of the Camellias redux. What's more, since scripts and scores move dynamically through history, even Smith's relatively conservative approach to this tragic "hooker with a heart of gold" melodrama, is now so much more evidently a story about sickness, the male gaze, unhealthy obsession, and a corrosive patriarchy.

Don't misunderstand, Opera Memphis can stage some pretty wild interpretations of the classics, but this production isn't quirky at all. It's frank, and humane, and the contemporary themes are right there in the meat and potatoes of the often revived masterpiece.

Even from the back row of GPAC Laquita Mitchell's warm, fluid soprano voice has an intimate quality, modestly cloaking some serious vocal pyrotechnics. She's paired with Joseph Dennis, whose sweet voiced tenor is edged with insecurity and obsession. Conductor Douglas Kinney Frost leads players from the Memphis Symphony Orchestra through a crisply-paced supporting performance that, like Mitchell's vocal work, becomes more impressive after the last notes fade, and the full effect is on you.  

Thursday, October 5, 2017

What's Your Damage? "Heathers," "Stage Kiss" Open this Weekend!

Also onstage: "Hamlet," "Romeo & Juliet," "Shakespeare in Love" and "Fetch Clay, Make Man"

Posted By on Thu, Oct 5, 2017 at 6:49 PM

“If you were happy every day of your life, you wouldn’t be a human, You’d be a game show host.” — Heathers.

I'm pretty sure Brooke Papritz has been on a collision course with Heathers the musical since she embodied brutal, ambition-free entitlement in Carrie. She played the telekinetic title character's teenage antagonist Chris, and sang the hell out of a muddled show's best song. Papritz moves into the protagonist position this time, albeit one whose teen angst bullshit has a body count. She'll play Veronica — the non-Heather-Heather made famous by a 16-year-old Wynona Ryder. She'll be joined by a deliciously terrible threesome: Gia Welsh (Side Show) as Heather Chandler (in power red), Heather Duke (in envy green) and Heather McNamara (in cowardly yellow) as her school-ruling mean-girl compatriots.

High school is a foreign land — perhaps even another, needlessly cruel dimension where every choice a teenager makes, from scrunchie color and sneaker brand to pants-or-be-pantsed, is a matter of life and death. Heathers' twisted romance/revenge plot took that idea literally turning Ryder and co-star Christian Slater into a Bonnie & Clyde for the Clearasil set.

The original film version of Heathers was 1989's antidote to everything John Hughes ever shot (that didn't include Harry Dean Stanton) and in retrospect film critic Roger Ebert's uncommonly cautious review makes an instructive frame for a film that threw caution to the wind.

"I approach Heathers as a traveler in an unknown country," Ebert wrote, admitting it made him feel like a foreigner. "One who does not speak the language or know the customs and can judge the natives only by taking them at their word."


Heathers' screenwriter Daniel Waters fully understood that teenagers don't speak in slang or jargon but in code. Shocking as a comedy about murder and teen suicide may have been for some in 1989, Heathers was always more classical than edgy, especially in terms of complexity,  idiomatic color and meaning. It set an appropriately dark and literary tone tone for Gen-Xers heading off to college and kicked open the door for savvy adaptations like 1995's Jane Austen-inspired Clueless. Wisely the adaptors Kevin Murphy (Reefer Madness) and Laurence O’Keefe (Legally Blonde) held on to all the best lines (and most of the important tropes) while transforming Heathers into an unlikely musical, but they've also built it to function more of an extension of the original than a perfect carbon copy.

Memphis' favorite Tracy Turnblad, Courtney Oliver, is no stranger to adapted films about teen angst and budding sexuality. Past directing credits include Carrie the Musical, Debbie Does Dallas.


Also opening this week at Theatre Memphis: Stage Kiss by Sarah Ruhl starring John Moore and Tracy Hansom with Stuart Turner, Chase Ring, Lena Wallace Black, Laurel Galaty, and Gordon Ginsburg.

Stage Kiss is a play you can almost judge from the title. What happens when two old are cast opposite one another in an old romantic melodrama? What does it mean when two actors find themselves really kissing? These are the obvious questions but when Ruhl's writing nothing's ever that obvious or exactly what it seems to be.

Directed by Tony Isbell who recently staged the terrific if under-attended Years to the Day for Quark.
ONGOING: Fetch Clay, Make Man: Muhammad Ali enlists Stepin Fetchit to teach him Jack Johnson's anchor punch. Solid acting, intriguing relationships. To read more about the background, click here. For the review click here.
Shakespeare, Love, etc. - CARLA THE MAGNIFICENT.
  • Carla the magnificent.
  • Shakespeare, Love, etc.
CLOSING: Shakespeare in Love is the fictional story of how Shakespeare wrote Romeo & Juliet set in London's complicated theater world during the reign of Elizabeth I. Read the review here.

And speaking of Romeo & Juliet (and brutal social environments/teen suicide, to harken back to Heathers).Tennessee Shakespeare's bringing a free performance of R&J to the town Square in Collierville. Catch them both!
CLOSING: What a Piece of Work...
Our Own Voice Theatre turns its attention to another Shakespeare play — sort of. With What a Piece of Work is this relentlessly (but not indefatigably) experimental company aims to interpret Hamlet and criticize America's current president and all things that lead to complacency.

Our Own Voice has a long history of developing topical, political work but there's more at work here than mere resistance.  Maybe it's easier to share a director's note from Bill Baker.

"So, why an hour own voice production of Hamlet? Have I lost my mind? Perhaps the second question answers the first. Our Own Voice has been having a bit of an identity crisis. Reaching our 25th anniversary has involved a lot of soul searching for this company, considering if and how we should continue on our theatrical mission. It seems time for a bold move. I know it is an insane decision, to undertake one of Shakespeare's most difficult plays with a troupe of actors characterized by their lack of conventional theatrical training, a company more at home with making up plays then with serving the text of a great playwright. And, yes, I am aware that TheaterWorks has very recently been the home to a very fine production of Hamlet. New Moon Theater did an excellent production this past February. I was in the audience and I enjoyed every minute of it. In fact, I was inspired. I should say it is more because of that production than in spite of it that we have undertaken this one. Watching New Moon’s talented ensemble playing Shakespeare's glorious language in this space set me to thinking about how to OOV might go about telling the story, interpreting these words. The juxtaposition of the two ensembles telling the same tale should highlight what, for me, is the true glory of theater, the unique human encounter that happens every time an actor performs for a spectator. The potential of that encounter is what our own voice has always devoted to exploring and expanding. Our patron saint Antonin Artaud said, “No more masterpieces!” And recognized that the true language of the theater is what human bodies do in the space. So we have not yet undertaken the classic dramatic texts. The time has come. Hamlet is perhaps the greatest play ever written, and it is in the public domain! This great story, these beautiful words are no one's intellectual property. They belong to all of us. They are ours!"
So just what is Hamlet? A play about ham?
  • So just what is Hamlet? A play about ham?


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