shakespeareances.com

       A website for anybody* with a passion for Shakespeare

 

 

Last Update:
October 19, 2020


Shakespeare Plays
Popularity Index


What's new on Shakespeareances.com
Sarah's Chronicles

May 24, 2020—Rings True

May 21, 2020—The Ambush

May 14, 2020—Temptation

May 11, 2020—Sonnet 77

May 6, 2020—A Blue Birthday

May 1, 2020—Better with Age

April 25, 2020—Crimini of the Heart

April 20, 2020—A Grinding Grief

Bard on the Boards

Bard on the Boards is being overhauled to include theaters' online and virtual programming as well as plans for the tenure of the Covid-19 pandemic. This will take time, so please check back daily. Recent updates:
Next Stop Theatre Company
New York Classical Theatre
New Victory Theater
New Orleans Shakespeare Festival
National Theatre
Montford Park Players
Millbrook Playhouse
Bedlam
Idaho Shakespeare Festival
Brave Spirits
Actors' Theatre of Columbus
Michigan Shakespeare Festival
Merced Shakespearefest
The Media Theatre
Long Beach Shakespeare Company
Lincoln Center Theater
Lifeline Theatre
Lake Tahoe Shakespeare Festival
Laboratory Theater of Florida
Kentucky Shakespeare
Stratford Festival
Hudson Warehouse
American Shakespeare Center
Babes with Blades
Ithaca Shakespeare Company


NEW FEATURE
Sarah, gorgeous as ever, stands in the middle of the Folger's Great Hall. Her "brain" is a red Washington Nationals purse hanging over her shoulder down to her waist.
The Tide of Truth:
Sarah's Chronicles

An ongoing account of our lives as we navigate Sarah's dementia, a Shakespearean-inspired, front-row view into humanity's duality of strength and frailty.


Commentary

Time's Passages: My Love's Labor Now My Winter's Tale

The Worst is Never the Worst until the Worst: Finding Comfort in Edgar in Times of Woes

Shakespeare's Hot 40: Ranking The Bard's Plays by Stage Popularity

Another Happy Anniversary: Passion Play

Martin Luther King Jr. Day: The Birth of a Man

Locker Room Talk and Sexual Assault: To Whom Should I Complain?

A Ghost Story: The Real-Life Drama of The Executor

Opening Day: The All-Shakespeare Baseball Team

In Memoriam: Dean L. Minton Sr.—Methinks I See My Father

A Happy Birthday: Enduring Wind and Weather

On Stage

The Comedy of Errors: A Play to Take Your Breath Away

Love's Labour's Lost: Building a History

The Two Noble Kinsmen: It's a Mad, Man's Mad World

Hamlet: Deacon Blues

The Tempest: Insubstantial Pageant? Hardly

Arden of Faversham: The Crime, The Comedy, The Burning Passion

Cymbeline: Shakespeare Establishes the Genre Farce

Vanity Fair: Blinded By the Dark

A Two Woman Hamlet: What's My Clothesline?

Henry IV, Part One: Royalty and Loyalty in the DNA

On Screen

Shakespeare Uncovered 2: Second Set of Mini-Documentaries Reveals Bard's Brilliance with Filmmaking to Match

Still Dreaming: Past the Wit of Man to Say What Dream it Was

Twelfth Night: What Achieved Greatness Was Born Great

Romeo and Juliet: Too Dumb for Tweens

The Hollow Crown—Henry V: The Crown Comes Full Circle

The Hollow Crown: Henry IV, Part Two: Falstaff Diminished, This Play Is Built on Irons

The Hollow Crown—Henry IV, Part One: Irons' Henry IV Reigns O'er His Own Play

The Hollow Crown—Richard II: This Crown Jewel Is a Hollow Richard

Romeo and Juliet: Rudolph & Margot Trump Romeo & Juliet

Much Ado About Nothing: Innate Understanding of Shakespeare's Ways Underlies Whedon's Masterful Much Ado

On Air

Much Ado About Nothing: The Couple in Love, With Their Own Selves

The Tempest: A 1612 Space Oddity

Hamlet: Good Radio vs. Good Shakespeare: With This Hamlet It's a Drawl

Midsummer Night's Dream: To See a Voice and Hear a Face With Fairy Magic and Bottom's Roar

Romeo and Juliet: The Tone Is Out of Joint

In Print

The Year of Lear: His Life in His Time

The Book of William: Book a Journey through First Folios

Shakespeare Beyond Doubt: Beyond Even Unreasonable Doubt Book Establishes Shakespeare's Authorship

Hobson Woodwards' A Brave Vessel: The True Tale of the Castaways Who Rescued Jamestown and Inspired Shakespeare's The Tempest

Stephen Landrigan and Qais Akbar Omar's Shakespeare in Kabul

Interviews

Fiasco Theater: How Downsizing Leads To Supersizing Shakespeare

Olivia and Maria: From Mourning to Light, Tonya Beckman Plays through Two Twelfth Nights

Richard III and Queen Margaret: Four Years, Two Immortal Enemies

A Day with The Brooklyn Tech Students: Shakespeare at the Dawn of a New Generation

A Shakespeare Impresario—Playing the Whole Shakespeare Canon: Great Works and Good Work, Too

Bardroom
Racial Casting and Theatrical Sacrilege

Gender Politics in Staging Shakespeare

Shakespearecure

Cymbeline: A Wing and a Pear

A Midsummer Night's Dream: Bottom's Up

The Tempest: A Concoction Strange and Wondrous

Henry VI, Part One: A Great Stake

Macbeth: Fowl with Red Pepper Sauce, Lady Macbeth's Curse, Porter Rhubarb, and a Witches' Stew

And Also

2018 In Review and Top 25 + 5 Shakespeareances

Top 40 Shakespeareances

Plays seen: The Numbers

Find additional Shakespeareances
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* A Message for Snobs Only

 

Shakespeare Canon Project link Caricature of Shakespeare with suitcase, iPad and iPod A message for snobs only: click here

Special Announcement

Pressed Pause

Shakespeareances.com is on a hiatus through the end of 2020. Everybody here is physically healthy, though Covid struck the cubicle next to my office. Sarah, meanwhile, continues her mental decline as she passes into (it's never "through") one Alzheimer's phase after another. That combined with other professional and financial circumstances has overfilled my plate with responsibilities. Shakespeareances.com is a not-for-profit venture—actually, it's currently a not-for-income endeavor—so, Sarah and my other public service duties must take priority.

While I've had to push Shakespeareances.com off to the side, it's still on my plate. I have long considered features for the website that now could especially serve the Shakespeare and theater community in this new epoch we've entered. When I return, my goal is to unveil a new, more resonant Shakespeareances.com. I'll be launching a new On Line section, expanding the scope of On Stage, reviving Shakespeareances commentary, catching you up on Sarah's Chronicles, and resuming work on Where There's a Will and Shakespearecure.

Everybody keep safe (don't be stupid: wear a mask), stay well (socially distance: I'm Exhibit A), and keep Shakespeareancing.

Eric Minton

Shakespeare News: Stratford Festival

Stratford Festival Puts Season On Hold,
Shutters New Tom Patterson Theater

After weeks of consultation and deliberation, Stratford Festival Artistic Director Antoni Cimolino, Executive Director Anita Gaffney, and Board Chair Carol Stephenson have concluded that the Stratford Festival's entire 2020 season must be put on hold, with a plan to revisit programming as soon as it is safe to gather in theaters. While they anticipate that theaters will not be able to reopen until next year, they have not ruled out the possibility of mounting specially scheduled fall or holiday programming should public health conditions allow.Click here for the complete story.

New Feature: Sarah's Chronicles

The Tide of Truth

Sarah, gorgeous as ever, stands in the middle of the Folger's Great Hall. Her "brain" is a red Washington Nationals purse hanging over her shoulder down to her waist.A significant element of my chronicling the Shakespeare Canon Project in 2018 was the onset of Sarah's seizure disorder and a worsening of her cognitive capaiblities. Loyal readers and the theater people Sarah and I encountered during that year began sharing their concern and prayers and taking inspiration in our determination. I continued posting updates on Sarah as her seizures were finally diagnosed as epilepsy, and then, subsequently, she was confirmed to have dementia. The latter has impacted every aspect of our lives, including my efforts to keep Shakespeareances.com going. Meanwhile, Sarah had become a hero in the Shakespeareances.com community, and my accounts, always grounded in some Shakespearean allegorical strand, were appreciated as life lessons. One reader even described it as a "Beautiful script in the process." "Sarah's Chronicles" will be an ongoing account of our journeys' benchmark moments, charting how dementia takes further hold of her and messes with me. It's a Shakespearean-inspired, front-row view in real time into humanity's duality of strength and frailty. For the full introduction and first entries, click here.


Shakespeare News: A Plague Upon Our Houses

Coronavirus Threatens
Shakespeare Theaters

Shakespeareances.com is on the mailing lists of 239 North American, European, and Australian theaters on our Theater Links page, and I've received a large number of emails the past couple of weeks related to coronavirus and COVID-19. They've pretty much said the same things: how the theater is still open for business, is monitoring the status of the virus’s spread, is following the guidance of local public health service, is taking extra sanitation procedures, and asks patrons to do the same when attending plays. The tune and tone changed today in an avalanche of messages announcing cancellations and postponements. But one message, hearkening to how Shakespeare himself handled theater-closing pandemics, offers hope and guidance. Click here for the full story.

Blackfriars Cancels Season, Other Pandemic Updates (March 17)
More Shakespeare Theaters Announce Closings Due to Coronavirus and Decrees
(March 14)

On Stage: A King and No King

Shakespeare Meets
Arrested Development

Promo photo by Lauren Parker of Benjamin Reed and Zoe Speas in regalia standing in the balcony of the chandaleir-lit Blackfriars Playhouse.Call this the reluctant review. Sarah and I are sitting in the lounge of the Stonewall Jackson Hotel in Staunton, Virginia. We’ve just come from a show at the American Shakespeare Center's Blackfriars Playhouse, A King and No King, a 1611 play written by Francis Beaumont and John Fletcher. Per our normal routine, we settled into the hotel’s lounge for a glass of wine and to relax, reflect, and converse about the show. For myriad reasons I wasn’t intending to review this production. Yet here I am, hot wife opposite me, bedtime beckoning, and I've got my iPad set up on the marble tabletop writing this review. Some productions and performances simply are worth scaling a mountaintop to proclaim their merits to the world. The brilliance we’ve just experienced is in the play itself, in the actors’ individual and ensemble interpretation of the material, and in the performances, especially as this was a first outing for the cast, demonstrating how talented and tight an ensemble this is. For the complete review, click here.

Lindsey Walters production photo of Arbaces on a pedestal being counseled by GobriasLindsey Walters production photo of Spaconia holding Tigranes' head close to her waistProduction photos added to the review of A King and No King at the Blackfriars Playhouse.

  

 

 

On Stage: Hamlet

Hark! How These Angels Sing

Production photo by Kenneth Garrett of Hamlet standing on the balcony with fog rising around him. My parents and I shared similar cultural tastes, including Shakespeare, though I came to the Bard independently of their lifelong appreciation for his works. They influenced my love for classical music, and my brothers and I turned them on to rock ‘n’ ┬ároll. They especially loved opera, but that was the one genre I couldn’t cotton to. I tried over the years, and when I was a professional music critic I at least came to appreciate the skills if not the art form itself. Finally, my father got through to me. After Mom died, I, being the good son, accompanied Dad to a Met Live production of Giacomo Puccini’s Madam Butterfly and had the transformative moment that great art can lay on a man. All of which comes into play every time I attend a Shakespeare Opera Theatre performance, the company's current production of William Shakespeare’s and Ambroise Thomas’s Hamlet being my fourth. Shakespeare Opera Theatre productions can expand your Shakespearean dimensions (sometimes to a frustrating extent, as with Hamlet) while exposing you to opera’s prevailing glory, especially those pieces, well known or not, inspired by Shakespeare. And, as always happens with Shakespeare Opera Theater, this production has some glorious moments. For the complete review, click here.

Commentary: The Tragicomedy of Errors

Sarah in t-shirt saying "Though she be but little, she is fierce" holding a glass ornament of a tiger to put on the Shakespeare-History Christmas tree in our library.A Passion Play

Of all the existential questions I’ve pondered in my sixty-one-and-a-half-year journey through life, this is the most difficult I’ve yet addressed: How’s Sarah? The query comes once or twice a week. How’s Sarah? I am never sure how to answer because “She has dementia” sounds so stark, though honest. The intent behind the question dictates my answer, and now I'm ready and able to tackle one intended purpose of the question How's Sarah?—when it is used to mask the question, How's Eric? For all the answers in this commentary marking my return to Shakespeareances.com after a three-month absence, click here.


Review and Interview

On Stage: Richard III

Crowning Chutzpah with Crutches

Production photo of Richard, in black unbuttoned Renaissance jacket and bround pants, leaning on his two crutches, standing by the shrouded body of Henry VI. The floor is dirt, a barrel is in the background, and a skull is suspended in a glass box hanging from the ceiling.The stage, hemmed in on three sides by blackish metallic walls, is bare except for a steel barrel at the back and a shovel off to the side. A skull inside a glass box hangs from the center ceiling. A woman wearing a white shroud, bent under the wearying weight of a tragic life but fiercely determined to not yet die, shuffles across the stage. This ghostly figure finishes her passage, and the theater lights go out. When the stage lights come back up, a grave has opened up near the front of the dirt-covered floor. We wait. Richard pops out of the grave like a delighted Dick-in-the-box.“There’s a different Richard every night,” says Aaron Monaghan, who plays the title character in DruidShakespeare’s production of William Shakespeare’s Richard III at John Jay College’s Gerald W. Lynch Theater as part of the Lincoln Center’s White Light Festival. With a glorious command of Shakespeare’s verse that he sometimes plays like a jazz musician’s approach to a Mozart score, Monaghan presents a Richard living in the moment: his moment, the character's moment, and the real Richard III's moment. “Literally, when I pop my head up, I don’t really know what way it’s going to come out.” For the complete review, click here.

Interview: An "Endlessly Fascinating" Richard III

DruidShakespeare's Aaron Monaghan
Channels a Memory and the Real Richard

In an exlusive interview with Shakespeareances.com, Aaron Monaghan describes how the ghosts of Antony Sher and the historical King Richard factor into his performance of Shakespeare's iconic, monarchal villain. We discuss the Ireland-based DruidShakespeare's approach to Shakespeare, the actor's night-to-night approach to Richard, and Richard III's haunting approach to politics on both sides of the Atlantic. For the complete interview, click here.


Teddy bear in Nationals uniform sits on a hotel bed watching the baseball game on a TV perched on a dresser across the room.Commentary

As Flies to Wanton Boys Are We to the Gods

Attending a World Series has been high on our bucket list for decades. When our Washington Nationals evolved into contenders, we became annual season ticket holders expressly to get priority seating and discounts for postseason games. We were in the stands for the team’s tragic meltdowns in the division series of 2012, 2014, 2016, and 2017. Tonight, finally, the World Series comes to Washington, D.C. And this morning, as I write this, Sarah and I are on an airplane heading for Honolulu, Hawaii. We’ll be on O'ahu through next week. This is not a trade-off of one paradise for another, I assure you. Instead, we’re at the mercy of, and paying devotion to, the baseball gods. And so are the Washington Nationals, I dare say. For the complete commentary, click here.

Edgar in only a loin cloth around his waist and hand up, kneels with Lear, in simple burlap-like rope, one hand on the groound,the other around Edgar's shoulderThe Bardroom

King Lear's Sad Time:
What Must We Obey?

A reader, after watching the Anthony Hopkins portrayal of King Lear on Netflix, puzzles over the play's last quatrain, which happens to be the only passage in William Shakespeare's entire canon that I've memorized. To read our discussion in The Bardroom, click here. And join in!

Sarah, gorgeous as ever, stands in the middle of the Folger's Great Hall. Her "brain" is a red Washington Nationals purse hanging over her shoulder down to her waist.Commentary: The Comeback

A Tragedy Overtakes a Blissful Comedy

Now to answer several pressing questions. How is my wife, Sarah, doing? Why has Shakespeareances.com lay fallow for more than three months? What’s next? And, perhaps the primary question for readers of Shakespeareances.com, what was William Shakespeare’s most popular play the past year? These questions all are interrelated because Shakespeareances.com resides at the intersection of all things Shakespeare and all things life. Not all the answers are within my grasp, but as Shakespeare does, we can present life’s pressing questions, and do so by starting with a stupid joke.To continue reading this update, click here.

Photograph of the outdoor Fairbanks Shakespeare Theatre stage, with the wood facade Merry Wives set, ramps into the audience in chairs on the ground and platforms. Trees in the backgroundOn Stage: The Merry Wives of Windsor

Digging Up Shakespeare Gold in Alaska

William Shakespeare coined so many famous phrases that at least one or two popped into your head as you read this sentence, maybe four and then a fifth. Some readers might already have left off this review altogether to recite dozens more. I bet, though, that one particular 2 1/2-word phrase hasn’t yet entered any readers' minds as a famous Shakespeare quote, even though it can be one of the funniest three words in Western literature. “A buck-basket?” Granted, conditions have to be just right for this phrase to attain immortality, and in this Fairbanks Shakespeare Theatre production of Shakespeare’s The Merry Wives of Windsor, conditions create a perfect storm of laughter. On an outdoor stage in a stockade-like, 200-seat theater surrounded by skyscraping pines on the University of Alaska–Fairbanks campus, a hardy company of actors performs in the universal light of the almost-midnight sun, presenting a slap-happy but serious-edged Merry Wives, audacious in presentation but textually pure in execution. For the complete review, click here.

Production photo of Falstaff weilding a bent, hacked swoard as Poins and Hal sit at a table watching.On Stage: Henry IV

Tom Hanks as Falstaff; And Vice Versa

When I mention seeing the Shakespeare Center of Los Angeles production of William Shakespeare's Henry IV, the first question that comes my way is “How was Tom Hanks as Falstaff?” The query generally carries an attitude mingling hope with suspicion. Movie stars, even the most decorated (as Hanks is with two Oscars and three other nominations), seldom make good Shakespearean actors or good stage actors or, even more seldom, good Shakespearean stage actors. This being Hanks, who seems such a good guy and is unquestionably a pro, you hope he proves the exception. I’ll answer that here right off. Hanks is a good Falstaff, a performance that reminds us he got his professional start with Shakespeare roles at the Great Lakes Theater Festival in Cleveland, Ohio. Nevertheless, I learned many Henry IVs ago that a good or even a great Falstaff does not a good Henry IV make without an equally strong or stronger Prince Hal or Henry IV. As larger than life a character as Falstaff may be, his part does not make up the sum of the rest of the play. For the complete review, click here.


A Weekend at the Blackfriars Playhouse

Production photo by Lindsey Walters of The Bear with silver claw talking to the audienceOn Stage: 16 Winters, or The Bear's Tale

Reflecting on Shakespeare
In a House of Mirrors

Mary Elizabeth Hamilton's new play has two titles, 16 Winters, or The Bear's Tale. Note that the latter is not a subtitle relegated to parenthesis. This play features two distinct but intertwined tracks, a story about 16 winters and a tale told by a bear. Its most engaging relationship, though, is with another play, William Shakespeare's The Winter's Tale. This is the second offering in the American Shakespeare Center's ambitious Shakespeare's New Contemporaries initiative to solicit new plays that pair with each of the 38 plays in the traditional Shakespeare canon. 16 Winters, or The Bear's Tale sets an exemplary standard while the production offers three paths to satisfaction: Hamilton's clever script and its perceptive themes, the play's carnival house-of-mirrors reflection on The Winter's Tale, and one heckuva cast.For the complete review, click here.

Production photo by Marek K. Photography of the bear sniffing at the blanketed baby with Antigonus on the right side waving his arms.On Stage: The Winter's Tale

Watching the Cat's Cradle Unravel

Antigonus has just exited with the newborn daughter of Leontes and Hermione, king and queen of Sicily in William Shakespeare's The Winter's Tale. Leontes believes with zero evidence that his best friend, Polixenes, King of Bohemia, is the baby's father and has imprisoned his wife and intended to outright kill the kid. When court counselor Antigonus intervenes, Leontes orders him to abandon the baby in some wilderness. “Blessing against this cruelty fight on thy side, poor thing, condemn'd to loss!” Antigonus says to the baby. Leontes softens in Ronald Román-Meléndez's interpretation of the role in the American Shakespeare Center's production at the Blackfriars Playhouse. He appears to be reconsidering his edict and, perhaps, all of his actions that have brought him to this point. He glances around the theater's audience, pausing on faces and steeling his resolve as he does so. “No, I'll not rear another's issue,” he says, a conviction he seems to draw from us. We have become complicit in the still unfolding tragedy. This production has three things going for it: The way it converses with its companion new play, 16 Winters, or The Bear's Tale, the way Director Kevin Rich uses the Blackfriars playing conditions to get us inside Leontes (and on his side), and one heckuva cast. For the complete review, click here.