Monkeys are smart. Though they haven't created cars or trains or weapon, they are educated through simplicity. They flourish on what they have, and if something doesn't work, they don't give up, but they evolve to overcome it. Like monkeys, Shakespeare had no thesaurus, no dictionary, no laptop and no editor. But when he came to a spot where he was at loss for words, he made up his own words. Through practice, perseverance and certainly trial and error, he created works that will last forever.

I am a 13 year old kid who is trying to read and attend live performances of all 37 Shakespeare plays (plus 3 possible collaborations) in 2 years. This is a record of my experiences.

I am now a 19 year old college freshmen at Northwestern University, pursuing a degree in Theatre. The spark of love for Shakespeare that began this blog has grown into a roaring fire. That fire burns a little bit brighter each day. This is where it all began.


Friday, April 30, 2010



Rick Miller did something hilarious… he combined two un-combinable things; Macbeth and The Simpsons. HE did a one man show where he adapted Macbeth into a Simpsons rippoff! Is saw it tonight at McCarter Theatre. It was 1 hour 15 minutes with no intermission.  It worked very well for him, being a total nutcase. He imitated just a bout all the characters, and danced around the stage while doing it. He also added a hilarious skit at the end, impersonating ‘the 25 most annoying voices in music.’ It was outrageous, offensive, and downright risible. It was very cool to be there and watch him do his thing in his environment. D'OH!



Friday, April 23, 2010

Happy Birthday Shakespeare!!

To celebrate William Shakespeare's 446th birthday, the entire city of Chicago is having Lets Talk Like Shakespeare day! HAPPY BIRTHDAY!

see link

In recognition of Shakespeare’s 446th birthday, Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley announced that today, Friday, April 23, is Talk Like Shakespeare Day—an occasion for citizens to bring the spoken words of Shakespeare into their daily lives. Get in on the act by visiting, the virtual home base for revelers around the world—share your stories, photos, videos and favorite "Shakespeariences."

Thursday, April 22, 2010

The Scottish Play Lite


21 April 2010

The Philadelphia Shakespeare Theatre’s Macbeth was done by the same cast and crew as A Midsummer Nights Dream. They took on an ambitous version of the play and it was pretty stable. The actors did were very stable, because for what they were going for, they did exeptionally well. It was HEAVILY cut. I mean 30-40% of the play. The play lost a lot of its meaning along with the words. Macbeth is a play about two intertwining things; murder and ambition. Together, they create an evil, twisted thing that is Macbeth. But if the stump of the tree is cut, the top falls. So if ambition is lost, murder loses its potential. That is what this play lacked. It was like a coin with both sides being tails. The play, unlike plays like Titus Andronicus, isn’t about blood. It’s about two ways to get where you want to be. Kill or work to your goals. People tend to take the easy way out. But this play didn’t really show why Macbeth decided to kill. He just did.

Director (Carmen Khan)
 Her vision of the play was to have all only the portions of text related to murder. This would've turned it into a very dark and creepy play. But it didn't work like she wanted to. Most of it was heavily lit and alot of it wasn't that effective. She split everyone of the stage, one by one over the course of the play until just Macbeth stood, and then after his death they all reappeared, showing the restoration of society But she was trying to make it look like more people came back on stage as the Macbeths left, and she forgot to set up the beginning with everyone on, so they showed what they were building back up to. She had to make a base line to make it effective. It was like the last half of a book.

Macbeth (Ron Henegan)
He started out like a plank of wood. Almost like a robot, but he pulled it together. If I had a Macbeth, he would start as a good strait plank of wood, and as the play progressed, he would be carved, slowly, into what Lady Macbeth thinks he should be. Slowly, but surely, she would turn him into a fiend, wreaking murder and destruction. And when she dies, he would become an animal, half-crazed, half-bloodthirsty. And then there would be nothing.

Lady Macbeth (Christie Parker)
She is the character of ambition, and having that cut, she had not much of a role. She wasn’t bad, she was just useless. The director forgot how important she was when he cut the play. She did every thing well, but she had not much to say. Aced both her long speeches though!

Banquo (John Zak)
Banquo is supposed to be a hearty, young, trusting man. He should not expect Macbeth until he becomes king. But throughout the opening lines Banquo seemed to mistrust Macbeth from the start. He was almost like a daemon. He had a very small part as well.

Macduff (John Greenbaum)
Very small part. But he a very moving scene where he picked up his bloody children (baby dolls) and cursed Macbeth. He screamed and cursed at everything and everyone in the theater. His pain was real. So real it was scary.

Director (Carmen Khan)
She split everyone of the stage, one by one over the course of the play until just Macbeth stood, and then after his death they all reappeared, showing the restoration of society But she was trying to make it look like more people came back on stage as the Macbeths left, and she forgot to set up the beginning with everyone on, so they showed what they were building back up to. She had to make a base line to make it effective. It was like the last half of a book. 

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Midsummer Night's Dream at Philadelphia Shakespeare Theatre, 14 April 2010


The Philadelphia Shakespeare Theatre’s production of A Midsummer Nights Dream was, to say the least, a very acrobatic performance. According to the program, Mrs. Puck actually attended circus school for the performance. She provided some much needed comic relief. In a small theatre, the air was very professional. The play as a whole was a success. 

Puck was not the only star in that midsummer sky.

Oberon/Theseus – Titania/Hippolita        
       He and Titania made some very impressive rings around the stage, fighting with fairy magic. There were two circus curtains in the back of the stage. Titania at one point curled up in one of them as if it was a cocoon. The two were very effective together because they seemed to fight playfully, then look lovingly. There was real chemistry. But they had faults like projection at times, and often turning away from the audience so not to get as much out of their lines (that may be the director’s fault though).

       They made the transaction from love-hate to hate-love smoothly. Over the course of the play, they grew closer and more into-role. They didn’t grow so much physically closer, as they did facial expressions, even from across the stage. Though the duo was not as strong-fundamentally (as in the basics: projection, enunciation) as their counter-parts, together they were an emblem of love because they were human.

       By far the most fundamentally sure actors there. Not like robots, but like manikins. Built and taught to be like someone, but not really filling their slot. I did not believe they were who they said they were. Not as passionate. Less monotonic in voice as in spirit. They relied deeply upon basic fundamentals (enunciation, projection, e.g.).

        They were the funny side. Literally. If one of them wasn’t making the audience role with laughter, the other one was. But Puck wasn’t Puck. Puck is known for causing mischief. This Puck was more taunting, not causing it. She spent all her time gloating. But she had a very cool thing with balloons. If someone was supposed to fall asleep or go into another state of mind, the little fairy would creep up and tap him or her on the head, and there it would go, straight off into a magical coma. But while she under-did it, Bottom overdid it. He was like Barney! A huge, funny half animal. He made too much of the comedy and too little of the actual character; a wannabe actor.


Sunday, April 4, 2010

Henry VI, Part 2 at the Blackfriars Playhouse


On April 3rd I saw Henry VI part 2 at the Blackfriars Playhouse, home of the American Shakespeare Center in Staunton, VA. It's a model of Shakespeare's wintertime theater, when the Globe was too cold. The evaluation of the players will come later, but now I would like to talk about the play house. The chandeliers were cool, kind of like hanging wheels with candles on them. The benches were very quaint (I was actually one of the lucky few to be able to sit on a stool on stage) and had cushions. There was a balcony in the back of the stage, and two very nice rows of balcony seats all around the house-one higher and one lower.

It was an incredible experience because every one in the cast was dressed like they would have been in Shakespeare's day, and there was no director so the players directed themselves. There was a big window in the back that had sunlight streaming in. It made the stage glow and the when the players looked into the light, there desires became apparent. The medieval air made the play really come to its own.

Here is Allison Glenzer as the scheming Duchess Eleanor of Gloucester. Photo by Tommy Thompson.

Stage_empty.jpg (2000×1312)This family tree of English kings is useful for understanding the history plays. (Click to enlarge.)
A Special Thanks To Sarah Enloe Of The ASC (Blackfriars Playhouse), Who Was A Great Help With The Photos

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Romeo and Juliet at the Arden Theater, Philadelphia


During the famous farewell when Juliet is at her balcony, Romeo ran up to the balcony and did a pull-up to kiss her. This was typical of the straightforward, active, and uncomplicated direction Brian Sydney Bembridge provided for the Arden Romeo and Juliet at its best, showing a beautifully choreographed scene and powerful moves. Unfortunately, the play is as much romance as action, and sometimes a flying pull-up is not what makes Shakespeare great.

Romeo and Juliet is both a romance and an action thriller. Both need to be displayed, but one has to prevail to characterize the particular direction. It can go successfully either way, and in this production, the action took the drivers seat. The director did a very good job getting an action aspect out of the play. But it fell a little short on the romantic side. Another example is the scene where Juliet fakes her death, everyone stands off to the side instead of all coming close around her and mourning. It was very awkward, and not what a funeral should be like. It lacked some much needed romance to complete the performance.

Evan Jongkeit was set to play Romeo in the Arden Theatre's production of Romeo and Juliet. Instead, Sean Lally, originally cast as Tybalt, played Romeo and Jesse Mcllvaine played Tybalt.

Sean Lally (Romeo): Good at all the physical aspects of his performance, as well as his facial expressions. Very out going body language. But he didn’t have he didn’t have Romeo’s swagger. He had swagger, but not Romeo’s classic ‘I’m dating a goddess that you cant compare to.’ He played the role more like a Mercutio.

Mahira Kakkar (Juliet): She showed up, knew all her lines, projected and enunciated, and knew all her cues. But she still did a very unstable job, because she acted like a swooning dove. Juliet should be a strong young woman. She seemed awkward on stage. She really just wasn’t cut out for the role.

Shawn Fagan (Mercutio): He was the brightest star of the evening. He beautifully and skillfully combined the nonsense speeches with the pain and seriousness of death. It is a short and difficult morph from careless to painstakingly realistic. Many people can't pull this off, but Shawn could. He had open, unruly posture perfectly suited for Mercutio like a tailor made suit. Almost messing up, taking risks, and exploding on stage made it all the more intriguing.

Suzanne O’Donnel (Nurse): She pranced on stage in a cute little skirt with a proud grin and twinkling eyes. Then she spoke in a heavy but endearing Texan accent. All in all she showed love treating Juliet like her own daughter as well as she showed remorse for her death. Her comforting words were as true as she was.

Acknowledgment to Arden Theater website for photos and video.