A Midsummer Night’s Dream Production @actonecardiff

February 8, 2016


10-13 Feb, 2016

Llanover Hall

Act One Society

A Midsummer Night’s Dream is one of Shakespeare’s most famous comedies. Revolving around three love stories there is plenty of room for farcical drama and of course Shakespeare’s favourite – weddings. However this production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream will look at some of the darker elements hinted in the script – the stark class boundaries and the domination of the wealthy. Set in a dystopian future, it is only within the nature of the forest that the love and laughter can be found.

Director: Bex Landale
Production Manager: Undine Kalcenaua
Choreographer: Lucy Spain

For Cardiff Students: http://www.cardiffstudents.com/activities/society/actone/
For General Public:





‘O woman’s heart wrapped in a player’s hide!’ A review of Henry VI, by Omidaze Productions, Wales Millennium Centre, 1-20 February 2016.

February 4, 2016



I was sitting at the bar in the Wales Millennium Centre, waiting to see Omidaze Productions’ all-female version of Shakespeare’s Henry VI, when two ladies accosted me and asked if I knew the play.

‘Well, it’s actually three plays’, I responded. ‘And it’s rather tricky in terms of authorship and chronology. I think that Shakespeare wrote Henry VI Part Two and Three as a two-part play for Pembroke’s Men in 1591, and that the Lord Strange’s Men put on the pretended first part the following year to take advantage of Shakespeare’s success with Elizabethan audiences. That script came into the possession of Shakespeare’s company, the Chamberlain’s Men, in 1594, and Shakespeare added a few scenes to fully integrate a play about Talbot with his plays on the Wars of the Roses, thus turning these previously unconnected texts into a serial, in the First Folio.’

Okay, so I didn’t explain it quite like that…but one of the reasons I was so excited to see this production was because I’ve been examining the authorship of the first part for years, and now assign the opening act to Thomas Nashe and the rest of the play to Thomas Kyd, with the exception of a few scenes added by Shakespeare, including the famous rose plucking scene. I was slightly disappointed to learn that the director had conflated all three plays, and that there would be no Talbot, Joan, or Cade. However, it was nice to hear Nashe’s thunderous opening line, ‘Hung be the heavens with black’, even if this scene was marred by some tautologies, and to witness Kyd’s rapid-fire stichomythic dialogue when Suffolk woos Margaret by proxy, although Kyd did write a few clunkers, such as ‘Tush, that’s a wooden thing’.

When I told one of the ladies that I was an attributionist she said, ‘Ooh, I didn’t know people actually did that’. And there we have it. The fact that Shakespeare was not sole-author of the play does not change the ways in which it is directed, or the ways in which audiences perceive it, and though I was disappointed that the production followed the standard protocol of conflating all three texts, there was nothing else to be disappointed by. This was an innovative production with a kick-ass female cast, superbly directed by Yvonne Murphy.

This was also a promenade performance, which could be exhausting at times, but the dark and dingy set, and the battalion of noises and harsh lighting assaulting one’s senses, made this a play like no other as the audience perambulated the precipice of the Millennium Centre. This was not conventional Shakespeare. This was fresh and audacious theatre, and perhaps the finest Shakespeare production I’ve seen performed in Wales. I was rather expecting a bloodbath, given that there are more deaths in these plays than your average Tarantino movie, but the use of colour symbolism, and the ways in which characters were reincarnated following their demises, was quite beautiful. I also enjoyed the history lessons scrawled on the walls as the audience filed in. Such little details converged to create a thoughtful adaptation.

The crown changes hands so many times (I shall resist providing a synopsis, which can be found, most helpfully, in this production’s program), and there are so many characters, that it is sometimes hard to keep up with these plays, but the abridged script was well done, and the focus on Henry showed that this character, who, on the page, can seem rather vacuous in comparison to the likes of York (played by the charismatic Sioned Jones) and Richard, is actually a great one to play. Hannah O’ Leary gave a tremendous performance as the young King, her delivery pitch perfect even as she did circus tricks (wonderfully choreographed by Paul Evans), which emphasized the characters’ child-like nature, but also, as the play progressed, his precarious position as monarch. Suzanne Packer made for an absorbing Margaret, and managed to keep the character consistent, despite the fact that she is, like Cordella in Kyd’s version of the Lear myth, characterized as a chaste maiden in the first part, but a ‘she-wolf’ in Shakespeare’s second and third parts. Such incongruences were successfully fixed by the script edit and direction.


There were no weak links in the cast at all, and these ladies showed that even though casts were male only in Shakespeare’s day, an all-female cast can also work perfectly. Lizzie Winkler stole the show, playing one of Shakespeare’s most deliciously villainous characters, misshapen Dick. The scene in which Richard learns his father has been slain in battle was truly powerful, and the raw emotion that Winkler conveyed, as tears streamed down her cheeks, provided the most poignant moment of the play.

I urge people to see this five star performance, which will delight Shakespeare lovers and non-lovers alike. These plays are, of course, very political, which helped to complement the director’s message that there is inequality in the theatre industry, and that this needs to be addressed. The director and her cast have made quite a statement here, and like Henry Tudor on the eve of the Battle of Bosworth, have taken huge steps towards restoring some balance. I very much look forward to seeing future productions by this excellent company.




Free Talk | The Prison of Marriage: Separation, Divorce and Married Women’s Property, 1500-1857 @LearnCardiff

January 31, 2016

This Leverhulme Public Lecture is part of the Exploring the Past free lecture series hosted by Continuing & Professional Education. The School of History, Archaeology and Religion and Continuing & Professional Education have teamed up with the Leverhulme Trust to bring you this exciting lecture as art of the Exploring the Past series of FREE talks delivered by local postgraduates, academics, and renowned scholars from universities across the UK.


These monthly talks present an exciting window into research undertaken in areas like history, archaeology, literature, and religion. They are intended to provide adult learners with a fresh and up to the minute taster of the kinds of research undertaken within the humanities at Cardiff University and beyond and to give you a taste for university study and research.






Shameful Start to Shakespeare 400: Dr Paul Hamilton Arrested and Held by UK Immigration

January 25, 2016

Kingston Shakespeare Seminar

Paul Hamilton profile Dr Paul Hamilton

My friend and frequent Kingston Shakespeare collaborator, Dr Paul Hamilton (a US citizen), was arrested on the afternoon of January 17, 2016 at his home in Stratford-upon-Avon by the West Midlands immigration team from Sanford House in Solihull. He was eventually taken to the Morton Hall Immigration Removal Centre near Lincoln, where he is still being held.

Two reasons were given for Dr Hamilton’s arrest: firstly, removal from the UK was imminent (he was later notified that he needs to leave the country by February 1, 2016); secondly, he does not have enough close ties (‘family or friends’; the arresting officer underlined ‘family’) to make it likely that he will stay in one place.

There are many things wrong with this situation but let us focus on three central issues.

First, Dr Hamilton was not illegally in the country. He had applied to the Home Office for…

View original post 1,272 more words


Othello by Rogue’z Theatre Company – 19th to 23rd January 2016 at Chapter Arts Centre: “Review by a Green-Eyed Monster.”

January 21, 2016


Not too long ago, I saw a production of Othello in London that was very much influenced by the film noir genre. While this directorial decision certainly took nothing away from that fine production, it didn’t really add an awful lot either, in my view. It was therefore refreshing to see that director Geraldine Watson went for a ‘traditional’, gimmick-less approach for the version I saw last night, focussing primarily on character and dramatic language, although I must say that the set and costumes (colourful robes, gowns etc.), though not extravagant, were very impressive.

othello 0

Othello exhibits Shakespeare at the height of his capabilities; it is a very impressive play in terms of the dramatist’s care in plotting, his use of intrigue and elaborate staging (such as eavesdropping schemes, adopted from his tragic predecessors, like Thomas Kyd), and the psychological penetration of his tragic eponymous figure.

Andreas Constantinou played the Moor and, as always, gave an excellent performance. His delivery was clear and never declamatory. Indeed, the whole cast did very well in that Shakespeare’s pentameter lines were delivered with the pace of conversational speech, and yet the audience seldom lost a word. Constantinou evinced great chemistry with Charlotte Rees, who did a lovely job as Desdemona, evoking considerable pity. The play’s conclusion, in which Othello, wrought with jealousy, having been manipulated by the villainous Iago (Dan Burrows), smothers his wife, was truly powerful and capped off a very entertaining couple of hours.

othello 2

As for Iago himself, Dan Burrows did a fine job. The audience could see why other characters were so taken in by the lies of this smiling, damned villain. Indeed, when he wasn’t telling the audience about his evil schemes, he seemed exceedingly honest, spinning a viscous and vicious web for the likes of Cassio (Owain Miller) and Roderigo (Jack Muir). The temptation, of course, would be to play him as a pantomime villain, but Burrows’ interpretation was far more believable and added credibility to Othello’s downfall.

My only gripe was that some of us found the incremental repetition of words such as ‘lust’ and ‘betrayal’, played over Iago’s speeches, a wee bit distracting. It is important that as an audience we are absorbed by Iago’s soliloquies, and that, as in Richard III, we feel a connection with this scoundrel, which provokes our admiration (his duplicity would take in most of us, I dare say) and, paradoxically, our revulsion. While the repetition of these words, emitted from speakers, was very effective in scenes where we witnessed Othello’s disintegration, I do not feel that this effect was necessary during Iago’s speeches. Burrows did such a superb job, and is such a captivating actor, that we didn’t require any sound effects to realize how pernicious his character was.

Finally, Rebecca Price gave a stunning performance as Emilia. In most of the productions I have seen, Emilia is a feisty character who can elicit audience laughter. Conversely, Price played her as a psychologically abused wife who looks like she’s at the end of her tether. The moment that Emilia finally stands up to her husband, and reprimands him for his evil machinations, was all the more powerful as a result and showed just how wonderful some of Shakespeare’s female characters could be.

I have worked with Rogue’z Theatre Company for some of their early productions, such as One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest and The Homecoming. They are a fabulous company who always put together the loveliest and most professional casts and crews. I was gutted that I could not audition for this production, and was very much a green-eyed monster sitting there last night, taking a welcome break from correcting my PhD thesis (albeit much ado about Shakespeare). But it was an absolute pleasure to watch them pull off yet another exemplary production. I urge people to go and see a version of Shakespeare’s tragedy that does the Bard, and Welsh performing arts, proud.



Othello in Cardiff, starts Tue 19th @Chaptertweets

January 18, 2016

Tuesday 19 JanuarySaturday 23 January

Book Tickets

Duration: 2 hr 30 mins (including interval)

Rogue’z Theatre presents: Othello

By William Shakespeare

Jealousy and vengeance brings utter destruction of two people in love and all those around them wrought by Iago, the personification of pure evil and Othello’s most trusted Ancient.

Intense and emotionally charged, we witness the tragic and inevitable destruction of Othello, Desdemona and of all those around them.

A true Jacobean tragedy, Othello has remained Shakespeare’s most loved tragedy.

£12/£9 (concessions on Tuesday and Saturday matinee only)

Rogue’z Theatre, as part of their Celebrating 400 years of Shakespeare 1616 – 2016 programme, are offering workshops and free school visits, promoting and exploring the fun of Shakespeare, throwing away the text books and ‘Physicalising Shakespeare’. Having worked with RSC practitioners, we would like to offer you the opportunity of exploring the RSC world of making Shakespeare fun!

For further information contact: Rogue’z Theatre roguetheatre@hotmail.co.uk

Find out more




Playing Fluellen: An Auckland Actor Blogs for @CardiffShakes

January 11, 2016



An Auckland actor blogs about her experience playing Fluellen in Auckland New Zealand’s all-female Henry V, which is to be performed at Pop-up Globe in February, 2016.

1. Discovery
Reading Henry V in preparation for the audition I was transported back to my seventh form year twenty five years ago when I first read the play and was introduced to the character of Captain Fluellen. Our English teacher was a passionate Shakespearean tutor who, when reading aloud, showcased Fluellen’s wonderful depth of character and unintended comedy and relished the mispronunciation of bs as ps that Shakespeare uses to caricature Fluellen’s Welshness.

When I heard that a Pop-up Globe was going to be built in Auckland, I was desperate to be a part of it. Director Grae Burton approached Dr Miles Gregory with a proposition to stage an all-female Henry V in conjunction with the predominantly male shows already planned. The proposal was accepted and there are now a total of 8 Shakespearean plays to be staged at the venue by various companies over the summer period. Our production of Henry V will play at three or four venues in total, with four of those nights scheduled at Pop-up Globe.

Our rehearsal period is incredibly tight for such an epic play and lines have had to be learnt in the Christmas break in preparation for our first read-through this coming weekend. It’s been an absolute pleasure to study Fluellen and fall deeper in love with him. His lectorial nature belies an incredibly loyal heart. He is scrupulously honest and prepared to think the best of people unless proven otherwise. His initial perception of the unsavoury Ancient Pistol as being ‘as valiant a man as Mark Antony’, despite being a man of ‘no estimation in the world’ conveys his lack of snobbery and judgement, one of his most endearing qualities. Moreover, he is unafraid of confrontation and quite prepared to tackle issues with people head-on, relishing debate and argument. I personally love the way Shakespeare has drawn the relationship between Fluellen and Gower. The latter is somewhat subjugated, patiently enduring Fluellen’s patronising lectures in the disciplines of war. This initially tricks the audience into believing Fluellen thinks little of his fellow captain when in fact the opposite is true; he can’t speak highly enough of him to others but nor can he censor his own preachiness in his colleague’s company.

Thanks to an audio file of Fluellen’s lines from Cardiff actor and early modern researcher Darren Freebury-Jones, I have an authentic Welsh accent to strive towards and look forward to getting stuck into rehearsals. More on those later!

Kate Watson




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