Much Ado About Nothing launches the sixth season of Shakespeare at Cupids, one hour outside of St. John’s (Newfoundland and Labrador). Rebranded Perchance Theatre in 2014 after three years as the New World Theatre Project, the company maintains a certain amount of continuity between this season and those gone by. The company’s Indeavour Theatre—meant to evoke both an early modern playhouse and the ship belonging to Cupid’s first governor, John Guy—is pretty much the same as it was in 2010, though its planks have weathered to a handsome silvery grey. As usual, the company offers both a comedy and a tragedy (Macbeth), in addition to a series of story-telling and musical events.
However, this is the first overtly modern-dress Shakespeare I can recall at Cupids; in the past, productions were either costumed for Rome (a truncated version of Caesar in its opening season) or for some version of the early modern era. Much Ado’s director, Jeanette Lambermont-Morey, even set the company’s 2012 Tempest in early seventeenth-century Newfoundland as a kind of commemoration of John Guy’s historical encounter with members of the Beothuk First Nation. Read more…
Perchance Theatre and predecessor New World Theatre Project have often tried to suggest in their work links between Shakespeare’s early modern world and contemporary and historical Newfoundland and Labrador, all the while embracing a relaxed outdoor festival style of production. Performers have occasionally adopted pronounced Newfoundland accents and have seemed most comfortable shifting in and out of the plays’ fictitious worlds, enjoying some of the company’s strongest effects when playing with and to the audience.
The current run of Macbeth rather changes the mix: no one appears to be making overt connections to Newfoundland; the actors aim at deeply serious psychological realism throughout; and the relatively infrequent direct addresses are not playful but means of amplifying the pathos. Unlike the modern-dress Much Ado running as Perchance’s easygoing companion piece to this tragedy, Macbeth is set in a version of the Scottish past. Director Danielle Irvine (also the company’s artistic director) has the men decked out in dark trousers, some fur, and great plaids wrapped around them and over their shoulders; the women wear long dresses, some edged in fur. Read more…
The New World Theatre Project, now rebranded as Perchance Theatre, has undergone some important changes for its fifth season of Shakespeare in Cupids (NL). Obviously the name is new, the company has been doing some major fundraising, and it has made some improvements to the seating in its theatre (the backs on the benches are a big help). Most significantly, Perchance has hired a new Artistic Director, Danielle Irvine. Read more…
Colm Feore as King Lear and Sara Farb as Cordelia in King Lear. (Background: Victor Ertmanis) Photo by David Hou.
The Stratford Festival’s King Lear takes a timeworn kick at the emotional-realist / Shakespeare-plus relevance can. Director Antoni Cimolino presses his actors to convey every last one of their emotions as plainly as possible and encourages us to see the purportedly timeless significance of the play’s social critiques by adding a clutch of homeless characters who occasionally interact silently with those in the named roles. This latter device is less overtly topical than the numerous tricks Chris Abraham plays in A Midsummer Night’s Dream on the same stage and with many of the same actors, and the overall results of Cimolino’s choices are less theatrically inventive than those in Dream. [READ MORE at BLOGGINGSHAKESPEARE]
From left: Stephen Ouimette (left) as Bottom, Evan Buliung as Titania and Jonathan Goad as Oberon in A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Photo by Erin Samuell.
Celebration, festivity and inclusiveness are the dominant tones in the Chris Abraham-directed A Midsummer Night’s Dream at Stratford Ontario’s Festival Theatre. He signals this festive spirit of community before the show begins by sending many cast members in semi-casual summer dress out to mingle and chat on the theatre’s thrust stage, some of them joking with and taking pictures of the audience. Accompanied by easy-listening jazz tunes, they move about a set that does not change when the action shifts from Athens to the woods. Designer Julie Fox has covered the platform in artificial turf, clumps of scrub, and trees that rise up, partially covering the second level of the stage structure. What look like enclosed candles are placed amongst the greenery and fairy lights are strung about, as are several long strands of larger bare bulbs hanging between the theatre’s upper balcony seating and the trees onstage. Upstage left stands a barbecue, while musical instruments fill the niche upstage right. [READ MORE at BLOGGINGSHAKESPEARE]