(Un)Dead Week

It’s Dead Week on UA’s campus, but that doesn’t mean that there’s nothing going on.  It just means that there could be an Elizabethan Zombiepocalypse going on and you wouldn’t know it because you’re hiding out on the fourth floor of Amelia Gayle Gorgas Library.  Which might be a good place to hide during the Zombiepocalypse.  Zombies don’t need books.

Then again, the library will be packed this week.  Prime zombie real estate.  You should go outside occasionally, just to make sure that the end isn’t nigh and that your papers are still due.

Here are a few events you may want to step outside for:

Milton’s Paradise Regain’d
The Green Bar
Monday @ 7:00pm, free and open to all ages
Tuesday @ 7:00pm, 21 and up

Professor David Ainsworth’s EN 335 class will be reading Milton’s dramatic poem at the little stage formerly known as Little Willy’s, next door to Wilhagen’s.  This event may be your only chance to drink good canned beer while listening to religious poetry.  Ever.  Or at least before the Zombiepocalypse.

Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream
Shelton State Community College
The Courtyard (of Shelton’s campus)
Tuesday through Thursday, 7:30pm
Free admission.

Outdoor Shakespeare.  A good (and entertaining) way to see the zombies coming from a distance.  And the tornadoes (show canceled on Wednesday night).  Be sure to check out the review at Vanishing Sights.

David Bolus’ blackout.
The Allen Bales, UA Campus
Wednesday and Thursday, 7:30pm
$5 admission, proceeds benefit The National Foundation for Cancer Research as part of “Play for a Purpose”, as well as West Alabama AIDS Outreach.

David Bolus recently played Hamlet for Improbable Fictions.  While I don’t think we can expect sword fights or skulls from blackout, I think that there will be more than enough soul-searching dialogue to go around.  A good thing, soul-searching, right before the Zombiepocalypse.

And last (and certainly least)

Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Undead
301 Morgan Hall
Sunday, May 1st, 7:00pm
Free and open.

I’ve heard that this film is horrible.  Just bad.  I’m hoping for mystery-science-theatre-bad.  If I have any brain cells left after this week, I hope to burn them on this film.

 

Hamlet: Pics and Programs

Horatio (Amber Gibson) and Hamlet (David Bolus)

Thanks to cast, crew, and audience for making last night’s staged reading of Hamlet a thrilling evening.  I’m posting the program notes below.  As you can see in these pics (more pics here), the cast took advantage of the whiteboard in 214 Farrah Hall to write lines, maxims, and jokes, a cloud of words and ideas that formed both a humorous and a haunting backdrop for the performance.

“To be or not to be.” It’s perhaps Shakespeare’s best-known line. Yet

it’s so often read simply as “To live or to die.” As if death was a

simple way out. As if we could so easily escape our regrets.

Hamlet is a young university student who leaves home with his life in complete order: his parents love him, his girlfriend adores him, and the world makes sense. He is a prince, and his only limit is the stretch of his imagination. Then the news arrives. “Come home, Hamlet. Your father is dead.” Hamlet rushes back to Elsinore, but he’s too late for the funeral. His father lies in the cold ground, and no one seems to mourn his passing. His mother remarries soon after. Even his girlfriend Ophelia seems distant: how can he talk to her? How can she understand?

He has regrets: If he hadn’t left home, could he have seen his father before he died? Could he have stopped his death? Did he make his father proud? Hamlet is living in the past. When his father dies, his world stops. He can’t move on. All he can do is remember. And regret lost opportunities. And then he hears his father’s voice: “Mark me. Revenge my foul and most unnatural murder. Remember me.” Here is Hamlet’s second chance: to prove his love to his father; to set things right; to change the past and erase his regrets. But living for the past has a high cost.

For tonight’s performance, the actors have written their own regrets and remembrances on the whiteboard. I encourage you to do the same. Before the show or at intermission, pick up a dry erase marker and make your own declaration.

To remember. To regret no more. To be.

~nrhelms~

Guildenstern (Jen Drouin), Hamlet (David Bolus), and Rosencrantz (Jonathan Hinnen)

Hamlet: April 21st, Farrah Hall 214

Improbable Fictions presents a staged reading of Shakespeare’s Hamlet, a play that needs no preamble: the play’s the thing.  The rest is silence.

April 21st, 2011, 7:30 pm.  Pre-show music at 7:00.

Farrah Hall 214, just southeast of the Quad.  There’s plenty of parking behind Farrah Hall after 6:00.

Free and open to the public.  Be sure to check us out on Facebook: the event and the page.

~Cast List~

Hamlet…………………………….David Bolus
Horatio………………………..Amber Gibson
King Claudius…………….David Ainsworth
Queen Gertrude…………Deborah Parker
Polonius……………………..Charles Prosser
Laertes………………………….Michael Vine
Ophelia……………………..Jess Richardson
Ghost…………………………….Steve Burch
Rosencrantz…………….Jonathan Hinnen
Guildenstern…………………….Jen Drouin
Player King……………Mark Hughes Cobb
Player Queen………………..April Dobbins
1st Clown…………………Cooper Kennard
2nd Clown/Lucianus……….Joey Gamble
Ensemble………………………Alex Franklin
Director…………………………….Nic Helms
Music……………………Mark Hughes Cobb
Sound Design………………Jerrell Bowden

As always, many thanks to the Rude Mechanicals and the Hudson Strode Program in Renaissance Studies for their support.

Shakesfilm: Chimes at Midnight

Join us this Sunday at 7:00 in Morgan 301 for Orson Welles’ 1965 masterpiece Chimes at Midnight, an adaptation of Shakespeare’s Henry IV.1, Henry IV.2, and Merry Wives of Windsor. Welles’ film catches all the best bits of Falstaff and gives the knight a tragic tale fit for his stature.

As always, free and open to the public.

*Love’s Labour’s Lost,* a recap.

To the cast and crew of Love’s Labour’s Lost: bravo!  It’s amazing just how well 400-year-old comedy ages.  I don’t think I’ve laughed so hard watching Shakespeare since…okay, maybe never.  And the show also received some major publicity: it showed up in the Crimson White (here), on the front page of UA’s website last week, and as the “picture of the week” on mybama.ua.edu.  Shakespeare’s cultural capital?

Be sure to check out Joey Gamble’s review of the show on Vanishing Sights.

Shakespeare’s *Love’s Labour’s Lost*

Improbable Fictions presents a staged reading of Shakespeare’s Love’s Labour’s Lost, Thursday March 10th, 7:30 pm, in Farrah Hall Room 214 on UA’s campus.  Pre-show music begins at 7:00 pm.  Free and open to the public.

~ Cast ~

Ferdinand…….…………………Charles Prosser
Princess….……………….Sara-Margaret Cates
Biron………….……………………….David Bolus
Rosalind…….………………..Jean Fuller-Scott
Longaville….………………………Russell Frost
Maria….….………..…………………Abby Jones
Dumian…..……………….Lawson Hangartner
Katharine…….……………..Meredith Wiggins
Costard ………………………………Steve Burch
Boyet ……..…………………….Deborah Parker
Messenger……………………David Ainsworth
Pre-Show Music………..Mark Hughes Cobb
…………………………………………….Nic Helms
Director/Dramaturg…….…..…….Scott Free

Program notes included below.  Scott’s words here are a great overview of Improbable Fictions’ aesthetic.

***********

Love’s Labour’s Lost and Found

(or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bard)

When I was in 8th grade English, we had to read two Shakespeare plays each year. That year, they were Romeo and Juliet and Macbeth. For Romero and Juliet, we read it to ourselves and I promptly got nothing out of it. It just lay there on the page and I slogged my way through it. But for Macbeth, we read the play aloud in class. Suddenly, I got one of the jokes (yes…there are jokes in Macbeth) and I started to laugh out loud. Needless to say, I was a bit embarrassed but I had made a discovery: Shakespeare is much easier to understand when you hear it as opposed to reading it. A little bit later, I made a quantum leap forward when I saw a fully-dramatized version of Hamlet on PBS. “Wow…ok……THAT is what this is all about……neat!”

The plays of Shakespeare are not novels or even short stories. They are studied as literature (and rightfully so as it is some of the finest writing in the English language) but they were never intended to be read; they were meant to be PERFORMED. As a dear friend of mine so rightly explained it,

“It (Shakespeare’s work) is daring and passionate and scary and dirty and mean and poetic and dangerous and romantic…it’s supposed to live and breathe and weep and bleed and sigh….the text is just the blueprint of the building not the building itself…it’s a guideline for how it’s supposed to be done…it doesn’t tell you what color things are, what materials it’s made of, what kind of furniture and lighting is going in there, how warm or cool the temperature is..it’s nowhere near the final, finished product…it was never meant to simply be read…it was intended to be seen and heard…the full production IS the finished product!”

So consider what we have for you here tonight as a trip to the building site. It is a bit better than just looking at the blueprints, but it is not the finished building. A staged reading is a strange animal. It is a performance but not a complete one. You are visitors at what can only be described as an early rehearsal for the play. We will do our best to give you a sense of performance but our scripts are still in our hands…we’re still reading. I feel that this particular play, Love’s Labour’s Lost, is uniquely suited for this form. There are no big battle scenes; no sword fights. It is charming witty people saying charming witty things. I promise you will find something to amuse you. You will be entertained and you will have a better idea of what Shakespeare is like than reading it off a dry and dusty page.

But it is not the last word; not the finished product. If you like our efforts, I implore you to seek out full productions. They can be found ranging from elaborately produced extravaganzas with sumptuous costumes and massive sets to bare bones efforts with a couple actors and a stool representing a castle. All are worthy of your attention.  Only then can you see the full majesty of the Bard. The play IS the thing. Go and see as many as you can.

~Scott Free~