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Entries in Shakespeare (34)

Monday
Oct292018

Stage Door: Bernhardt/Hamlet

by Dancin' Dan

It's a tall enough order to write a play about one of the greatest actresses the world has ever known. It's quite another to write a play about that same actress taking on one of the most famous plays ever written. But Theresa Rebeck has never been one to back away from a challenge. Her delightful new play Bernhardt/Hamlet imagines what it must have been like for the great Sarah Bernhardt to assay the role of none other than Hamlet, all the way back in 1897. To say the least, it was difficult.

Bernhardt (Janet McTeer), in her fifties, was past the point where she could believably play the dying ingénues that made her famous (and also far past the point where she wanted to). Out of money but full of ambition, she decides that Shakespeare's melancholy Dane will be her vehicle for a comeback after her last play, written by Edmond Rostand (Jason Butler Harner), flopped with audiences despite love from critics. But she is having difficulty "finding" the Prince, frustrated by his ease with flowery verse and his inability to take action.

Can a powerful woman play a powerful man? Bernhardt is absolutely sure of it. She says...

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Monday
Jul162018

Stage Door: "Teenage Dick" and "Boylesque Bullfight"

Stage Door is our intermittent theater column because there is more to live than cinema and also because cinema and the stage frequently interact...

Teenage Dick (Public Theater)
This very cheekily titled show -- so embarrassing to say or type! -- is actually Shakespearean. (What isn't when it comes to theater? We'd love playwrights and directors to leave Shakespeare behind for a few years and discover vast untapped realms, but they're all Bard addicts who perpetually need a fix.) If you're going to riff on the Bard, please have as much fun with it as Teenage Dick does! This comic interpretation of Richard III recast the disabled king as a teenager in hate with his boring high school and the jock star and Christian activist classmates he aims to take down via an upcoming student election...

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Sunday
Nov262017

Stage Door: The Hilarious Cast of "Desperate Measures"

by Nathaniel R

Before we plunge into the deep end of movie awards season, which tends to consume our every waking moment from right now through Oscar night each year, a wee theater break.

Though we love movies with all our hearts, the one thing live-action movies don't really have an equivalent of is the grand theatrical tradition of the musical comedy. I'm talking inspired silliness as goddamn raison d'etre. I recently fell hard for Desperate Measures, a hilarious wild west riff on Shakespeare's Measure for Measure. The show has now been extended three times at the York Theatre in Manhattan and will close on New Year's Eve so get to it! (The York specializes in helping develop new musicals and I'm happy to call attention to this noble cause as a bonafide fanatic of the genre.)

I sat down recently to talk to with two of the musical's stars, strapping Peter Saide and rockstar feisty Lauren Molina, who both really "outta be in pictures" as they say though we're happy they're killing it on stage, don't misunderstand! The interviews are after the jump... 

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Monday
Mar062017

The Furniture: A Scenery Buffet for the Battling Burtons

Editor's Note: "The Furniture" is our weekly series on Production Design. We strongly suggest going forward that you click on the images to see them in their more detailed large glory. Many older films were of course designed for giant screens, not thinking of their eventual home as phones or small TV set. 

by Daniel Walber

 Franco Zeffirelli is not a man of subtle tastes. When he’s lucky, his opulent excesses achieve camp status. But when he’s not, it rolls over the audience like an 18-wheeler full of circus elephants. This has generally been the rule for his theatrical productions, some of which have nonetheless become war horse mainstays at major opera companies.

And so it may come as something of a surprise that the director’s overzealous artistic passion actually works quite brilliantly in his film version of The Taming of the Shrew, which opened 50 years ago this week. It turns out that his style is perfect for the frenetic madness of William Shakespeare’s screamiest comedy, heightened to a fever pitch by the deafening roars of Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton.

The setting is Renaissance Padua, introduced by way of a delightfully pastoral matte painting. Not content simply with a city in the rain, Zeffirelli showcases a rainbow. Two-dimensional sheep mingle with their three-dimensional, breathing brethren...

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Tuesday
Apr262016

Throne of Blood's Best Shots - A Visual Index

After realizing that we'd never featured an Akira Kurosawa on Hit Me With Your Best Shot, we obviously had to. Ran (1985) was tempting but it gets a lot of attention already. So we opted to watch his other Shakespeare inspired masterpiece, Throne of Blood (1957) which is still the best Macbeth movie even if its more Macbeth-inspired than traditionally adapted.

If you've never seen it, give it a shot. It's gorgeous and haunting and unlike most Shakespeare films grippingly compact at only 110 minutes.

Hit Me With Your Best Shot(s)
Throne of Blood (1957)

Director: Akira Kurosawa; Cinematographer: Asakazu Nakai 
Click on any of the 11 images to be taken to its accompanying article

Throne of Blood teaches us how to watch it. 
-Antagony & Ecstasy


The minute we see Isuzu Yamada as Lady Asaji in this cold spare room, we know exactly where things will go...
-Scopophiliac at the Cinema 

One of my favorite ideas in these Japanese stories is that the living and dead (or the supernatural) could live together, without a hereafter.
-Cal Roth

What Shakespeare does with language, Kurosawa and Noh do with movement.
-Dancin Dan on Film 


Kurosawa injects into the tragedy of Macbeth an incredible sensorial expressiveness of poetic dimensions by placing it in mystic version of feudal japan.
-Magnificent Obsession 


Fujimaki's own splatter-painting.
-The Film Experience

The staging of the two actors is just brilliant...
-Zev Burrows 


The camera becomes like a piece of stagecraft
-Film Mix Tape

the vast space and the wealth that implies, as well as the ample room for Washizu and his wife to contemplate their guilt
-Film Actually


The movie builds with precision, early shots foreshadowing what is to come
-I/fpw 

My favorite scene in Macbeth and they do it very well here
-Rachel Wagner

 

The End.

NEXT TUESDAY NIGHT WARNING: "NOW a warning?" It's Death Becomes Her (1992), rereleased in a collectors edition. Please join us for what will surely be a fun group of screengrabs

Tuesday
Apr262016

Silent Chambers and Spider Webs in "Throne of Blood"

The first time I saw a Jackson Pollock in the flesh, I had to sit down, dumbfounded, in my attempt to take it in. I was staring at just one painting (and there were several) for a good 15-20 minutes before I had to force myself to move on. While the artist's famous splatter paintings seem random there's such an intricate hypnotic depth to them once you're in their presence, like it's possible to slip right inside them and get lost. Each flick of paint, every solid drop, on top of another streak and another spill gives the impression that the painting goes on for years underneath no matter which detail pulls your eye in.

bronze

I kept thinking of that Pollock painting - bear with me through this unexpected reference point - while watching Throne of Blood (1957)...

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