Posts Tagged ‘Theatre’

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Interview on Shakespeare with Yvonne Murphy, Omidaze Director

April 23, 2017

Romeo and Juliet OmidazeTo celebrate Shakespeare’s official birthday, director and producer Yvonne Murphy has shared with us some thoughts on Shakespeare and the latest Omidaze (Oh My Days!) production of Romeo and Juliet, coming to Cardiff later this month. In 2008 Yvonne founded Omidaze Productions, which now has a reputation for exciting Shakespeare theatre and generally shaking things up a bit.

What is special about the Romeo and Juliet production this year?

When the referendum happened last year I watched and listened to our country fracture. British society is at a crucial point in its history and I believe we need space and time to have a proper conversation about what kind of society we want to live in. We are a generation away from the Second World War after which we reshaped our society for the better. I would like to think we are enlightened enough that we can make the necessary fundamental steps, which are now needed without conflict as a catalyst.

I struggled post the referendum to know what I should do next. I felt silenced and fearful. I questioned the role and direction of theatre and the arts generally and what Shakespeare had to do with anything anymore. I went a long way away to come back round to Romeo and Juliet. A story of society. A morality tale of how a broken and dysfunctional society puts at risk the futures and lives of our young people. If Romeo and Juliet had felt empowered, felt able to influence those in power and listened to, then they may have made better and more informed choices. We ignore our young people at our peril. It is all of our responsibility to ensure there is no conflict on our streets and our society is a place which values equality, knowledge, tolerance and understanding. And above all it must be a society in which no one feels fear for themselves and those they love.

What is distinctive about putting on productions of Shakespeare in Wales?

Shakespeare takes time to do well. I have fought for that time. Unless the actors understand the verse structure and every syllable of what they are saying how can they hope to communicate it to an audience? Especially a non-traditional theatre audience who are not used to hearing the language? A four-week rehearsal period is not an artistic decision, it is an economic one and one which needs to change if we are to produce classics of quality. I feel very privileged that the Arts Council of Wales and all our partners felt able to invest in Omidaze to do this work in this way.

Wales is a small nation and one which I think would benefit from less catergorisation of art forms and more breaking of boundaries – I am interested in melding artforms. I am interested in what entices audiences across class, ability, race, gender and age into a circus tent and what creates barriers to the same people for theatre. In all my shows I attempt to blend and break boundaries of different artforms, (circus, stand-up comedy, dance, visual art) to allow as many people as possible a route into the work.

I also made a conscious decision to cast as diverse a cast as possible. If I want to reach a non-traditional audience for Shakespeare then the people on stage must reflect the people on the streets of Wales and Britain. Much work is needed to increase and diversify our casting pool in Wales and then create enough strong quality work and development opportunities to keep talented actors and creatives here.

Omidaze is not just about putting on a show: you are also involved in educational projects. Do Shakespeare’s plays offer room for ‘inspiring change’ or are you always reacting against them?

I am never reacting against the text. The text is my absolute starting point and what I begin and end with. It is a story which needs to be told. I do not come with a concept which I want to squeeze the play inside. I read and read a text and let it resonate within me and find the story which I feel strongly needs to be told right now.

I am however reacting against how Shakespeare is often done. My starting point for the trilogy was to ask who is Shakespeare for and where and how can it be staged, by who and for who and why?

Shakespeare is a gateway art. It opens doors, raises expectation and ambition levels and it belongs to all of us. It is a gift which we must share because to close that door is to shut off a light to people.

I was deeply concerned by the lack of gender equality in the theatre industry and I knew Shakespeare was a good starting point to raise awareness around that discussion. However, conversation of equality cannot and should not be confined to gender. Equality is all about power sharing. There are no villains. Just years and years of doing things a certain way and years of lists being created of people to use whether that is a lighting designer, production manager, voice coach or actor. It takes time, energy and conscious effort to change those lists and so that is what I decided to do. In my own small way.

The educational aspect of Omidaze is at our very core. It is not an add on. We rehearse live in schools in front of young people to break open the process. We create workshops to accompany the work and invite young people from disadvantaged areas into our dress rehearsals. We open the doors to young people looking for work experience and we hold Q&As whenever we can. Theatre and the arts in general are in a state of emergency. If we only see arts subjects in schools as vocational and then see a career in the arts as too precarious for anyone not from a stable financial background the voices and work will not represent modern Britain. The arts and culture belong to everyone. We must value them and their impact and create a strong society with them at its core. Whoever heard someone tell a child to only study Maths or Science if they want to be a Mathematician or a Scientist?

As Churchill so famously supposedly said (or is it an urban myth?) when asked if the money ring-fenced for art and culture should be put into the war effort – ‘Then what are we fighting for?’

Yvonne blogs at omidaze.wordpress.com

Read the Cardiff Shakespeare review of last year’s Omidaze Shakespeare production.

Visit the Omidaze website

@Omidaze

Wales Millennium Centre, Cardiff

27 April – 14 May, 2017

Find out about tickets.

If you would like to contribute Shakespeare-related news or reflections, please get in touch with me (Johann Gregory).

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A Midsummer Night’s Dream @NewbridgeMemo – March, 1st-4th

February 20, 2017

a-midsummer-nights-dream

Marvellous Pretenders are a newly formed professional theatre company, based in the Newbridge Memo.

The group, who are fronted by director and actor Suzie Rees, are the only professional producing company in the area and will be bringing classic plays to Newbridge over the next few years…the first installment being the Shakespearian classic: A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

Wednesday, March 1st – Saturday, March 4th

Tickets on sale now: £8 standard | £6 concession.

Ballroom Bar Open: 6.30pm | Theatre Doors: 7.00pm | Event Start: 7.30pm.

Find out more

 

If you would like to review this production for Cardiff Shakespeare, please get in touch with Johann Gregory.

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So why come and see the show?
It’s going to be great fun as the company have approached it as a Shakespearean farce so it’s quite fast and furious. Also, it’s the first opportunity to see classic theatre by the Memo’s own professional theatre company.

Is the show accessible and up to date? What can people expect?
The actors have spent a long time working on understanding the language so that the audience will be able to understand it too.  Our version is a long way from the stuffy, static performances many people associate with Shakespeare.

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RSC Live The Tempest – Encore Screenings 7 Feb @theRSC

February 3, 2017

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If, like me, you’ve yet to see the RSC Tempest, there is a chance to catch it in Cardiff next Tuesday. I was lucky enough to hear the co-producer Sarah Ellis talk yesterday in Cardiff at an event on digital and the arts, where she discussed the RSC’s collaboration with Intel and Imaginarium Studios. Last semester I was teaching the play on a Late Plays module at Cardiff University and in seminars we discussed what the masque in the play would look like in the twenty-first century, so I’ll be interested to see how this scene is staged especially.

Johann Gregory

Find the nearest cinema screening to you.

BBC NEWS: Shakespeare’s Tempest gets mixed reality makeover

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The Moot Virginity of Catherine of Aragon @ShermanTheatre

January 24, 2017

This production is currently showing at the Sherman, Cardiff:

Europe divides in two. An act of teenage love could be the cause. Catherine of Aragon’s first wedding night with Henry VIII’s brother, Arthur comes into question in this no-nonsense music-theatre first. Did they? Didn’t they?

With live on-stage musicians and an award-winning team, this immersive show is a must as we reconsider one of history’s misremembered women.

Performed by Abigail McGibbon (winner Best Supporting Actress, Irish Times Theatre Awards, 2016)

Directed by Conor Mitchell

This is an immersive piece where audiences can choose to stand or sit.

 

More information

Running time: 50 minutes

Contains strong language and themes of an adult nature and a short scene which includes the use of a real deceased pig’s head

Performed by Abigail McGibbon
Directed, Written and Composed by Conor Mitchell

An immersive piece where audiences can choose to stand or sit

Date Time
Tuesday 24 January 8.00pm
Wednesday 25 January 8.00pm
Thursday 26 January 8.00pm
Friday 27 January 8.00pm
Satuday 28 January 3.00pm
Saturday 28 January 8.00pm

Find out more

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Romeo and Juliet @New_Theatre 9 & 10 September @nyaw_ccic

August 31, 2016

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To celebrate its 40th anniversary year, National Youth Theatre of Wales 2016 presents Shakespeare’s most famous love story about star-crossed lovers destined to end in tragedy. This is a dynamic, modern version of Shakespeare’s classic with movement from renowned physical theatre company, Frantic Assembly, plus live music and vibrant storytelling.
Showing:

Friday 9 September, 19.30pm
Saturday 10 September, 14.00pm and 19.30pm

 

Find out more.

 

 

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Open Air Theatre Festival in Cardiff: Shakespeare, 21-30, July

July 18, 2016

 

 

Everyman Theatre is back in Cardiff for the Open Air Festival.

Their Shakespeare productions include:

Richard II, 24th, July, 2016

Everyman Youth Theatre are delighted to return to the Open Air Theatre Festival this summer to perform Shakespeare’s historical play, Richard II. Running time is approximately 90 minutes including an interval.

Romeo and Juliet, 21-30th, July, 2016

Everyman Theatre are delighted to welcome directors Mark Modzelewski and Jack Paterson to our Open Air Theatre Festival and the depiction of Shakespeare’s classic tale of “star-cross’d lovers”, forbidden love and blind passion is a tale of firsts.  Swept away in their first love, teenagers Romeo and Juliet irresistibly drawn to each other, fall in love and marry in secret as their families’ long standing feud comes to a head.  When you are passionately in love, nothing else matters – not even life itself.  Defying the hatred and violence surrounding them, they dare to believe they can, and must, be together.

In modern Verona, violence erupts between the Montagues and Capulets with tragic consequences.  With the death of their children, the citizens come together and through song, movements and story examine how they came to such tragedy.

Find out more.

 

 

 

 

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Shakespeare’s Henry V: An Auckland actor blogs about her experience

March 7, 2016

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

Introducing_Pop_up_Globe

Auckland’s first all-female production of Henry V has opened with four performances under our belt. It has been quite a ride getting to where we are now. As mentioned in my earlier blog, we are performing in three very different venues so the show must be adapted to each, bearing in mind the different acoustics, spaces and audience numbers.
We were fortunate enough to be able to conduct most of our rehearsals at our first venue, Pah Homestead, a stunning historic building located in the beautiful Monte Cecilia Park which is currently run as an Art Gallery, function centre and cafe. Exhibitions are showcased in the building itself and quirky sculptures outside meld beautifully with the natural surrounds. We use the large outdoor space directly in front of the balcony as our ‘stage’ with the audience seated on the covered balcony or, if fine, the grass directly below.

With a cast of twenty nine women, many of whom double up roles, it was always going to be tricky to coordinate rehearsals, especially bearing in mind that these took place during the summer months when many of us had planned holidays. We probably had less than five rehearsals where every cast member was present. This challenged the already tight timeframe considerably, particularly in the battle scenes, which are impossible to properly rehearse without your corresponding French or English antagonist! These scenes were ably directed by Fight Choreographer Alexander Holloway, using thick pieces of cloth to represent swords; blue for the French army and grey for the English. Our Non nobis Domine requiem, led with the haunting voice of Delaney O’Hara (Boy) with support from the soldiers at the conclusion of the Battle of Agincourt was composed and directed by Callum Blackmore and is a highlight of the production.

Fluellen (Katherine Watson) and Pistol (Genevieve McLean) at Pop-up Globe

Fluellen (Katherine Watson) and Pistol (Geneview McLean) at Pop-up Globe

We opened at Pah Homestead on Friday 26 February to a full house on a clear and balmy summer’s evening. It was a joy to finally perform to an audience, many of whom enjoyed pre-show dinners on the balcony and wine throughout the show. The following night it rained. The audience were sheltered under the balcony and the lords of Henry’s court bore large umbrellas with we soldiers clad in see-through ponchos over our costumes. It was great fun and Henry’s lines: “The winter coming on and sickness growing upon our soldiers” and “Our gayness and our gilt are all besmirched with rainy marching in the painful field” got a chuckle from the very responsive audience.

On Sunday 29th we packed into the Pop-up Globe. The venue has been constructed in a mere two months and it is awe-inspiring. For many of the cast, this was the first time we had been inside. Looking up at the Lords and Gentlemen’s rooms, complete with chandeliers and artefacts such as antique chairs, carpets and wall-mounted deer heads donated by local business sponsors, I confess to being somewhat overcome with emotion. Artistic Director Miles Gregory has put his heart and soul into this venture and given Auckland something truly special; not only is it commemorating the 400 year anniversary of Shakespeare’s death but the venue itself is drawing new people to Shakespeare that perhaps wouldn’t otherwise have come. In terms of bookings, all shows in the venue are doing incredibly well; our final two shows are close to selling out, which is a huge confidence boost for all involved.

The challenge for the participating companies, particularly those of us that aren’t part of the Pop-up Globe Company is the paucity of rehearsal time in the space itself, bearing in mind that eight separate productions are being staged there and therefore the building is in constant use. Our Henry V cast packed in at 12pm on Sunday for a performance at 7pm that night which afforded barely enough time for a rough technical rehearsal. Nevertheless, going from a hundred people in a relaxed outdoor setting to about seven hundred people three tiers high was a challenge we met head-on, relishing the new opportunities afforded by the space. The audience themselves are in plain view which provides ample scope for interaction, especially with the Groundlings standing directly in front of the stage. Henry’s ‘Once more unto the breach, dear friends’ speech, and my first scene as Fluellen, opens with a dramatic burst of soldiers from a trapdoor beneath the stage, a hugely exciting way to enter the space.

Tomorrow we move to the Pumphouse Amphitheatre, our smallest space yet, which will afford opportunity for a more intimate experience, after which we return to the Pah and Pop-up Globe for our final three shows.

Kate Watson

 

 

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