Shakespeare Hub

Tom Sandoval Performs Shirtless Shakespeare: VIDEO


Tom Sandoval from Bravo's Vanderpump Rules performs a classic soliloquy from Hamlet with his shirt off, just because.


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All-Male Productions Of ‘Richard III’ and ‘Twelfth Night’ Open On Broadway: REVIEW

Shax 1


Performed in repertory by an exquisitely skilled company of actors, including two-time Tony Winner Mark Rylance, Richard III and Twelfth Night opened on Broadway November 10th at the Belasco Theatre. Transferring from London’s West End and marking the debut of Shakespeare’s Globe on Broadway, the productions make careful efforts toward material authenticity—including meticulous period costumes, candlelight, and of course, male actors in the female roles.

Shax 2Director Tim Carroll, previously an associate director of Shakespeare’s Globe, brings a fantastic vitality and freshness to these productions, making them into popular entertainment—the most authentic achievement of all. Whether modernized with movie stars or presented with Elizabethan trappings, good Shakespeare should feel both insightful about the human condition and as engaging as a Netflix marathon of your favorite nighttime soap—as these productions do much more often than not.

A frequently celebrated actor on Broadway in recent years and a renowned Shakespearean, Rylance is a pleasure to watch as the title character in Richard III, a deformed Duke determined to take down every obstacle between himself and the throne. Where actors with less experience tend to get lost in Shakespeare’s language or count on it to do most of the heavy lifting, Rylance is bold, specific, and grounded in a way that reveals the inner lives of his characters. On top of being well studied, his interpretations also happen to be wildly entertaining.

Shax 5Rylance's Richard is far from the monstrous villain with bloodthirsty ambition played often by many actors—including Kevin Spacey in Sam Mendes’ production at BAM last season. In this production the Duke of Gloucester is still a sociopath (there’s no getting around that), but one of a different sort—he is by turns wildly insecure, cloying, flippant, and more than a bit silly.

While his treachery out of weakness is both compelling and often funny to watch, by the time heads start rolling (off stage for the most part, to be fair), this Richard doesn’t seem quite ambitious enough to be the one behind the guillotine—nor do the weight of his actions seem to fully register with him. Rather, the tragic stakes of this production rest on superb performances by Joseph Timms as Lady Anne (whose husband and father Richard murders before wooing her to be his wife) and Samuel Barnett as Queen Elizabeth (most of whose family is also murdered on Richard’s orders).

Anne and Elizabeth are the play’s emotional registers by design, and Timms and Barnett are masterful in their carefully stylized portrayals. With faces painted pale white and smooth gaits by which they seem to float across the stage, their every move and expression is deliberate and captivating.

Shax 6The same actors play twins in the comedy of Twelfth Night, with Barnett as Viola (again in a female role) and Timms as her brother Sebastian. When the play opens, the twins are separated in a shipwreck far from home, each believing the other drowned. Viola disguises herself as a young man named ‘Cesario’ for her own protection and goes to serve the Count Orsino (Liam Brennan). Cesario is sent to woo Olivia (Mark Rylance) on Orsino’s behalf, a lady in mourning for the death of her father and brother. Olivia balks at Orsino's advances, but finds herself immediately smitten with Cesario (aka Viola, who is herself in love with Orsino). We’ve all been there.

Rylance reprises his role as Olivia from Carroll’s 2002 Globe production, employing the same smooth gait and deliberate physicality as the ladies of Richard’s court, though with a bit of exaggerated flair. Like his Richard, Rylance’s Olivia is a pleasure to experience on stage—his skill and prowess unmistakable. She is emotional, unpredictable, and very much alive. It is perhaps a testament to Rylance that his Olivia is more desperate in love than she might be were she not quite so much older than Cesario.

Shax 4But, it’s Barnett as Viola and Paul Chahidi as Maria (Olivia’s gentlewoman, and a member of the troublemakers who assemble the comedy’s secondary plot) who are this production’s MVPs. Barnett navigates his portrayal of a female character disguised as a man with extraordinary precision and a magical sort of grace that’s nearly impossible to look away from. Chahidi’s Maria has the impeccable comic timing of a classic old-school comedienne.

The cast of Twelfth Night also includes a charming Stephen Fry as Malvolio, Olivia’s steward and victim of a humiliating plot hatched by her cousin Toby, Maria and other members of the household. That Malvolio, so often a clear bad guy, deserves our sympathy in Frye's hands drives home a clear point made by both productions: everybody's human—especially in Shakespeare.

Recent theatre features...

Towleroad Guide to the Tube #1323

DIRTY GIRLS: "Shot in 1996 and edited in 2000, this is a short documentary about a group of 13-year-old riot grrrls who were socially ostracized at school by their peers and upperclassmen. Everyone in the schoolyard held strong opinions about these so-called 'dirty girls,' and meanwhile the 'dirty girls' themselves aimed to get their message across by distributing their zine across campus."

PHOENIX: "Entertainment".

MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING: Joss Whedon's take on Shakespeare's classic.

BONNIE TYLER: The UK's entry for this year's Eurovision song contest.

For recent Guides to the Tube, click HERE.

The Ins And Outs William Shakespeare's Sexual Culture: VIDEO


Countless scholars have debated whether William Shakespeare dabbled in same-sex love during his 16th Century life.

In this BigThink video found at Good As You, scholar Stephen Greenblatt examines not Shakespeare's actions, but the society in which he lived, a society in which there were no sexual categories and a society in which laws against sodomy were rarely enforced.

He also recalls an experience in China in which he was invited to shower with another man. It's that kind of mentality, he explains in this video, that allowed men like Shakespeare to share beds with other men.

Find out what that means AFTER THE JUMP.

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Movies: Interview With Out 'Anonymous' Director Roland Emmerich

 Jamie Campbell Bower as the Young Earl of Oxford in "Anonymous" 

...would live in the movie theater but for the poor internet reception. He blogs daily at the Film Experience. Follow him on Twitter @nathanielr.

German born filmmaker Roland Emmerich makes movies that only come in one size: XXL. Same goes for their box office grosses (Independence Day). Sometimes it's the title characters that are super-sized (Godzilla), but usually it's the setting. Take the disaster movie genre, for example, which usually involves one city, one building, one ship; that's not enough for an Emmerich picture. He'll destroy the whole world (The Day After Tomorrow, 2012). Initially it comes as a shock to realize that he's directed a period piece and political thriller called ANONYMOUS... until you realize that it's William Shakespeare (the world's most famous writer) and Queen Elizabeth I (easily one of the most storied royals) at the center of all the intrigue. I sat down with him recently to discuss his movies (will he ever make a gay film?) and "Anonymous" in particular, which wonders loudly whether it wasn't the Earl of Oxford (Rhys Ifans) who really wrote the Bard's immortal plays.

Shakespeare-actorThis is such a departure for you. I bet you're hearing that a lot.

A lot. [Laughter] It's a passion project. It was great to reconnect, in a way, with the art of filmmaking. And I went back to my homeland to do the film which was also cool for me. It was nice to not be responsible for tons of money, to have a really small budget but still do a very opulent kind of film. 

Did you miss the green screens a lot? Your movies generally have so many effects shots.

Well, there were a lot of green screens. Yeah, there were more than I'd ever used in a film. The theater was built but most of the street scenes and the wide shots and the courtyard [where a bloody confrontation takes place] did not exist. It was built in the computer. They've been saying for ten to twenty years that one day visual effects will make movies cheaper. For me this was the first time visual effects helped make the movie cheaper… and even possible at all!

I mean, you could have found this courtyard in England. You would have had to go there, change things (they wouldn't have had the green lawn. Then you have to put up the crew in a hotel. It's very expensive! We just had the same green screen and the same floor for different scenes.

But how do you do that with the actors? It must be hard for them with no environment to act in.

That's my job and they're good actors. You just tell them what will be behind them and they trust you. It doesn't affect acting at all. It's actually really good for sound, the stage. No waiting for airplanes. 

[On Shakespeare theories and his "gayest movie" AFTER THE JUMP...]

Roland with his Queen (Vanessa Redgrave and her daughter Joely Richardson share the role)

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NOM Board Member Pens Homophobic 'Hamlet' Rewrite

A publishing house is getting a lot of attention for a new printing of a homophobic Hamlet rewrite called Hamlet's Father by science fiction author and NOM board member Orson Scott Card.

Card The Guardian notes:

The book is not a new release, having been published twice before, for the first time in 2008, but an explosive review at the Rain Taxi Review of Books has unleashed a wave of criticism.

William Alexander at Rain Taxi book review writes:

Here's the punch line: Old King Hamlet was an inadequate king because he was gay, an evil person because he was gay, and, ultimately, a demonic and ghostly father of lies who convinces young Hamlet to exact imaginary revenge on innocent people. The old king was actually murdered by Horatio, in revenge for molesting him as a young boy—along with Laertes, and Rosencrantz, and Guildenstern, thereby turning all of them gay. We learn that Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are now "as fusty and peculiar as an old married couple. I pity the woman who tries to wed her way into that house."

Hamlet is damned for all the needless death he inflicts, and Dead Gay Dad will now do gay things to him for the rest of eternity: "Welcome to Hell, my beautiful son. At last we'll be together as I always longed for us to be."

All of this is as horrifying as it is ridiculous. It is not, however, surprising that Orson Scott Card's primary purpose is to slander ten percent of the human race. He recently joined the board of the National Organization for Marriage, an institution which exists solely to crush gay civil rights wherever they emerge.

Check out a sample of Card's prior writings on gay people here.

Adds Jeremy Hooper: "How long before NOM has him rewriting The Merchant of Venice so that said merchant is cast out of business for refusing to photograph a lesbian wedding? Or maybe Romeo & Juliet 2, where the lovers are tragically fated not because of family strife, but rather because of the committed gay couple in the castle down the road?  Or perhaps The Merry Wives of Windsor rebranded as a warning sign about same-sex marriage leading to polygamy?  So many options!"


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