Ross Williams & Kim Krane of ShakesBEER 2018

New York Shakespeare Exchange presents SHAKESBEER, New York City's Original Shakesperean Pub CrawlListen in as New York Shakespeare Exchange‘s Artistic Director Ross Williams and Kim Krane, both of whom direct in this edition of the company’s ShakesBEER pub crawl (Kim also acts!), discuss how they create their unique experience of Shakespeare erupting in a bar, how to get the locals interested (and attract curious folks from the street), custom beer koozies, picking thematic scenes, rehearsing for audience interaction, the magic of language, and how the company works to “create community through Shakespeare.”

“…who do we need to talk to, and warn them that we’re about to stand on their table and do iambic pentameter…?”

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Joy Marr, Nancy Nichols, Joel Leffert, & Kurt Kingsley of “All’s Well That Ends Well” and “King Lear”

Hip to Hip Theatre Company presents William Shakespeare's ALL'S WELL THAT ENDS WELL, directed by Owen Thompson, and KING LEAR, directed by Jason MarrListen in as actors from Hip to Hip Theatre Company‘s productions of All’s Well That Ends Well and King LearJoy Marr, Nancy Nichols, Joel Leffert, & Kurt Kingsley—discuss grabbing the audience from the start, weathering the storm (“rain-pace!”), the esprit de corps of their hard-working company, children’s birthday parties at the theater, designing and preparing for a traveling show, what they love about working with Hip to Hip, and sending your audience away smiling, even after getting rained on.

“…it’s Shakespeare. There’s so much to listen to, there’s so much wonderful stuff…but it’s the basic emotions, it’s love, and hate, and jealousy, and I want that…”

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Jonathan Hopkins & Beth Ann Hopkins of Smith Street Stage’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”

Smith Street Stage presents A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM, directed by Jonathan HopkinsListen in as Smith Street Stage‘s Executive Director (and director of this show) Jonathan Hopkins, and Beth Ann Hopkins, Artistic Director (& “Titania”), discuss their new production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream in Carroll Park, why this was the right year for the company to produce this comedy, playing to a large & diverse audience, going beyond actor voice for the outdoor stage, the overlap of personal/professional partnerships, making original music & sound, advice for producing in public places, and why it’s important to be an active part of the community you’d like to perform in.

“…I think last year, we tried to afflict the comfortable, and this year we’re trying to comfort the afflicted…”
“…although this is not a ‘Midsummer’ of just clowns and fools, there’s a lot of deeper ground that we’re digging…”
“…it’s a play about the power of art to change people, and bring people outside of the normal boundaries, and it’s a play about how people change themselves, and the circumstances in which people are changed…”

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Lynnea Benson, Marcus Watson, Amy Frances Quint, Erick Gonzalez, Kyle Primack, and Kevin Hauver of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”

Frog and Peach Theatre Company presents William Shakespeare's A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM, directed by Lynnea BensonListen in as director Lynnea Benson and performers Marcus Watson, Amy Frances Quint, Erick Gonzalez, Kyle Primack, and Kevin Hauver of Frog & Peach Theatre Company‘s new production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, discuss why the company returned to the forest outside of Athens, bucket-list roles, the politics of Midsummer, playing different roles in the same play after six years, trusting collaborators to push you in new and exciting directions, and how to not only give the audience what they want, but what you think they might need.

“…we wanted something that could also reach out to families with children, and younger people, people who think they know Midsummer but maybe don’t know it the Frog & Peach way. Also, we never miss an opportunity with the present company to do a comedy…”

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Stacy A. Donovan, Tali Custer, Julia Hansen, & Ellen Jenders of “That Which Remains”

Improbable Stage presents THAT WHICH REMAINS, adapted from Titus Andronicus, directed by Stacy A. DonovanListen in as Improbable Stage Artistic Director Stacy A. Donovan, who also directs the company’s current production of That Which Remains (adapted from Shakespeare’s Titus Andronicus), joined by performers Tali Custer, Julia Hansen, and Ellen Jenders, discuss the company’s unique approach to casting, meeting your new collaborators through free workshops, finding contemporary music for your mid-show dances, being open to changes, and how to get bloody without actually getting bloody (hint: the answer to everything is “collaboration”).

“…I was like, ‘how can I get my hands on Tarantino?’ And I thought, the best way would be Shakespeare’s bloodiest: Titus…”

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Ross Williams of NYSX’s “Much Ado About Nothing,” plus talkback with Shane Breaux and Dr. Jaime Wright

New York Shakespeare Exchange presents MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHINGListen in as New York Shakespeare Exchange Artistic Director and director of Much Ado About Nothing, Ross Williams, discusses finding resonance with the “fake news” of today in Shakespeare, getting rid of unnecessary jokes, blending characters (and why you might want to), achieving a sense of inclusion with your audience, and getting around having all those pesky messengers in Much Ado.

…and, after the brief interview with Ross, stay tuned for a recording of the post-show talkback between him, Dr. Jaime Wright, Associate Professor at St. Johns University, and the show’s dramaturg Shane Breaux.

“…Shakespeare was all about the exchange between the audience and the players, and I think all too often, Shakespeare done contemporarily is done with our contemporary understanding of the fourth wall…what I really like to encourage is a sense of exchange between the audience and the actors…”

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Yuriy Pavlish and Mitch McCoy of “Coriolanus: From Man to Dragon”

Coriolanus: From Man to Dragon, adapted from William Shakespeare by Omri Kadim, presented by Combative Theatre Company and Shakespeare in the SquareThere’s some pretty intense fighting in many of Shakespeare’s works—intense fighting that, in most productions, gets pared down to a couple of sword-clinks in the absence of a skilled fight choreographer, actors prepared to follow said choreography, and the budget and space to make that choreography come to life. Sadly, this is especially true in the independent theatre…

In the case of Combative Theatre, and their partners in Shakespeare in the Square, however, the fight is put front and center. For their show Coriolanus: From Man to Dragon, Omri Kadim adapts the tragedy to really get to its combative core. And as you’ll hear from the background noise in this interview, there’s more than just a few sword-and-shield hits to be seen…

Listen in as director Yuriy Pavlish and fight director Mitch McCoy discuss how they fill in what’s missing from most productions of Coriolanus, finding the right actors for your fight-heavy show, bringing together theatre companies, resonance with current events, and when you should hold on to a production.

“…my belief is that if you just tell the story that Shakespeare put down, and not try to twist it to an agenda, and really ask yourself, ‘what was Shakespeare trying to say?’ and just do it, you will find all of the connections you need to current events, and a thousand years ago, and a thousand years from now…”

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Jason Marr and David Mold of Hip to Hip’s “As You Like It”

Hip to Hip Theatre Company presents As You Like It and Julius CaesarFor the 10th year running, Hip to Hip Theatre Company brings free Shakespeare to Queens (and Harlem, and Brooklyn, and the Bronx, and Jersey City…check out the full schedule!).

In honor of the anniversary, they’re returning to the first show they ever produced, taking you to the Forest of Arden with As You Like It, before heading to Rome to bring the pain with the ever-so-appropriate-in-an-election-year Julius Caesar.

I won’t retread all the info about what they’re up to—instead, you should listen to last year’s episode with the fine gentlemen Jason Marr, Artistic Director and actor in the company, and David Mold, Associate Artistic Director and director of one of this year’s shows—then, come back and listen to this episode, where they expand on those ideas, and talk about this year’s productions.

Take a listen as Jason and David discuss the celebratory nature and notions of identity in As You Like It, why you should pay attention in your technical theatre classes, layers of performance, why actors are eager to work in random parks around the city, and what it takes to do what they do.

“Do it. That’s what we did…our first season we produced for $2,500. It was me with a big trunk full of the props, and I would wheel it on a little dolly into the park. If you’re heart’s in it, you’ll find a way.” Continue reading

Jake Lipman, Molly Ballerstein, and Jennifer Teska of “Women Playing Hamlet”

Tongue in Cheek Theater Productions presents Women Playing Hamlet, written by William Missouri Downs and directed by Molly BallersteinTheatre in the United States is in the midst of a deep, important and ground-breaking conversation about gender and racial equality on stage. Can actors play historical figures of a different race? (Answer: YES.) Can women play roles originally written for men (Answer: YES.) And while this evolution in the theatre is a positive step, it’s curious to think about how an individual actor might process being cast in a non-traditional way.

In Women Playing Hamlet, a young female actor, Jessica, is cast as Hamlet. The rehearsal process leads to a breakdown of sorts with a brutal and and hysterically funny examination of Jessica’s life as Midwestern Millennial woman who shed her accent during her MFA training and now survives in New York as a barista and occasional soap-opera star. Jessica, with the help of a rotating cast of outrageous characters from her life, try to figure out if the iconic Shakespearean role can be played by a young woman, and, if indeed, Hamlet might actually be female.

Literature scholars will appreciate the sharp debate in the script, but you really don’t have to know anything about the Bard to laugh out loud at this Mel Brooks-esque comedy, presented by Tongue in Cheek Theatre Productions.

Go See a Show! correspondent Tara Gadomski sat down with TIC Artistic Director & actor Jake Lipman, the show’d director Molly Ballerstein, and actor Jen Teska—listen in as they discuss the progression of their own thinking on Shakespeare, where to source six prop skulls, why Tongue in Cheek has thrived for the past eleven years, and the central question of the play: can a woman play Hamlet?

“Hamlet is one of those iconic roles. I’ve heard—usually ac-TORS—say that there is ‘before Hamlet’ and ‘after Hamlet’ in their career…When I was younger I struggled with the idea of a female Hamlet because I was trying to figure out how it would work in the context of the rest of the play. Gender politics are such a part of the play that when I was younger I couldn’t wrap my head around how it would work. But the more I’ve studied the play, and looked at the role, the more interested I am in seeing a female Hamlet…Hamlet as a woman. I think with the right director and right actress, I would love to see that.”

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The Cast and Playwright/Director of “Shakespeare’s Presidential Primary”

Pulse Ensemble Theatre presents Harlem Summer, Shakespeare's Presidential Primary, written and directed by Alexa KellyNo robo-calls.

No obnoxious, omnipresent ads.

No idealistic young campaign workers knocking at your door, interrupting dinner.

Just a good, ol’ fashioned, wholesome (and of course, often antagonistic) debate between some of your favorite Shakespearean characters—Phoebe, Bottom, Malvolio, and Lady Macbeth—as they try to win your vote as candidates in Shakespeare’s Presidential Primary.

On this episode, listen in as the show’s writer/director Alexa Kelly, along with co-conceptualist Brian Richardson (who plays Malvolio), and the rest of the cast of Karim Sekou, Marcia A. Berry, Denise Marie Whalen, Samantha Osborne, Celine Havard, Colleen McGloin, Camille Mazurek, and Michael Gilpin, discuss writing your free summer Shakespeare piece to your convention-hall-like setting, how the audience affects their participatory show, the friendly competition between the candidates/actors, and Chris Christie as an actual ass.

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