The Globe Theatre, London

It was an ordinary meeting of the production committee when Ed, chairman, looked at me and said, "I think Rosendale should have a Shakespeare festival of sorts this summer. Mary Lois, will you take this on?"

I was surprised. I thought about it a full three seconds.

"Yes."

Ed agreed to be on the planning committee of the event, and Howie, who had taught theatre at a high school in Queens, volunteered too. Howie came up with a script for a sketch based on "the original manuscript for William Shakespeare's Julius Caesar, as told by old Jews telling jokes." I thought we should have a short scene from A Midsummer Night's Dream and another from Henry IV, Part 1, featuring Falstaff. Ed believes in non-traditional casting, and urged me to play Falstaff. Talking it over we thought of a great married couple for The Taming of the Shrew. They want to do it, and would like their 8-year-old daughter to be considered for Puck.

Ed got the news release out about the auditions, which will be Saturday. I am the contact person and the production manager. I will not be playing Falstaff. But I shall direct all the scenes except Julius Caesar--Howie is on his own--and will organize the backstage detail as well as coordinate what happens onstage. As it turns out we have at least three candidates for Puck--two little girls, and an 82-year-old lady who played the role when she was in high school.

We're calling it a Shakespeare Slam. It will not be a competition--but the three Pucks will all get their chance to show their stuff, and anybody who wants to read a sonnet or perform a soliloquy, within reason, will get a spot on the program.

It feels good to be back in show biz, to have actors calling me telling me how excited they are to do this. It feels good to communicate with Shakespeare again--he loves it when I do this--and to have the stimulation of great theatre, good companions, and wonderful words to put in people's mouths. I feel inspired. I hope we're as good as we think we're going to be.

Views: 178

Comment by JMac1949 Memories on June 3, 2015 at 3:25pm

R&L, I'd love to see the Old Jews spritzing on Julius Caesar and the 82 year-old's performance of Puck... Shakespeare  must be telepathically contagious, I just posted Flashback: 1973 Romeo & Juliet. Check it out, you might be inspired with an idea or two.  ;-D

Comment by koshersalaami on June 3, 2015 at 4:04pm

Sounds like fun

Comment by Gerald Andersen on June 3, 2015 at 5:04pm
What took you a whole three seconds! Let us know when it is.
Comment by Mary Lois Adshead on June 3, 2015 at 6:40pm

August 8 is the date, Jerry. I hope that means you're thinking about coming...can't wait to see who shows up Saturday.

Comment by Mary Lois Adshead on June 4, 2015 at 4:21am

We are doing something like that in our show. We plan to kick off with "The Complete Wks. of Shakespeare, Abridged" which is an accelerated romp through the highlights of the plays. Five minutes tops! There are three professional actors locally who have performed this one together from time to time--we're hoping they're available. Otherwise, some of our scenes will be serious, but none will be weighty. Anybody who has a favorite soliloquy or sonnet is welcome to declaim it from our stage. The plan was to get the community excited about Shakespeare, and it's beginning to happen.

Comment by Julie Johnson on June 4, 2015 at 4:26am

Applause !  Applause !  ...and break a leg !   :-D

Comment by Mary Lois Adshead on June 5, 2015 at 11:13am

Thanks to all for your comments and words of encouragement. I'm just about ready for the auditions, hoping I'll sleep well tonight. Will probably write a report.

Comment by burton schlosberg on June 5, 2015 at 6:58pm

Ods bodkins. Methinks thou hast hoisted a stupendous undertaking, hopefully not on thine own petard. This above all, to thine own self be true and beware of puckish pranks. 

I hope you get an SRO audience.

Comment by Mary Lois Adshead on June 11, 2015 at 5:38am

We had a good turnout at the auditions--about 20 people, most of whom had prepared pieces. An earnest 11-year-old read the sleepwalking scene from Macbeth, and there were so many little girls--plus the old lady, who is a pistol--reading for Puck I decided to use them all. I'll coach them in a Puck workshop and let them slam it out on the day. I'm organizing the components of the event. Luckily I have five more weeks to pull it together, and luckily Rosendale is just the kind of town to support this show. The town is buzzing with forsooths and hey nonny nonnies.

Comment by burton schlosberg on June 11, 2015 at 2:15pm

Yesterday, a bridge player who is a retired judge, told me that his granddaughter, a high school junior, had to memorize a famous Shakespearean soliloquy, and chose the one from Macbeth that starts, "Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow," and ends, "It is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing." After reciting the whole thing himself, he added, "Just like John Kerry." I looked him in the eye and replied, "Actually, Shakespeare was referring to Ted Cruz." That shut him up.

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