IF presents Timon of Athens

@ The Greensboro Room of Bama Theatre

Pre-show music at 7:10pm

Staged reading at 7:30pm

Free Admission ($1 donations to the Bama Theatre Restoration Fund appreciated)

Come see IF’s staged reading of Shakespeare’s unfinished work *Timon of Athens*, a parable of generosity, greed, and the ancient Greek economy. More importantly, it also has some of the greatest insults found in Shakespeare, and performances by:

Timon (Russ Frost)

Apemantus (Steve Burch)

Alcibiades (Mark Hughes Cobb)

Flavius (Chris Malone)

Flaminius/Phrynia (Meredith Wiggins)

Servilius/Timandra (Hannah Bigham)

First Senator (David Ainsworth)

Caphis (Bryce Fry)

Lucullus (Susie Johnson)

Lucilius/Isidore’s Servant/Soldier (Joey Gamble)

Sempronius/Varro’s Servant (Benjamin Smith)

Special Thanks to:

UA’s College of Arts and Sciences, Dept. of English, Dept. of Theatre, and the Hudson Strode Program in Renaissance Studies
https://www.facebook.com/events/307235855961351/

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~

Infinite Monkeys

It might be possible for an infinite number of monkeys, given an infinite amount of time and bananas, to peck out Shakespeare’s Hamlet on a few well-maintained typewriters.  Fortunately, Improbable Fictions does not require an infinite number of actors to stage a reading of Shakespeare’s most produced play.  In point of fact, we need only fourteen actors to complete this probability-defying feat.  If you’re interested in participating in a staged reading of Hamlet in late April (most likely Thursday, April 21), send an email to <nrhelms@crimson.ua.edu>.  Please briefly note your theatre experience (though none is required), your interest in particular roles, and any other skills Improbable Fictions should know about (singing, stage combat, ownership of a black box theatre, etc.).  The subject line of the email should read “Hamlet casting.”

A few good actors really are hard to find (and pin down), especially mid-semester, and thus Improbable Fiction’s shows tend to be cast not by audition but by directorial choice.  If we can find more actors than typewriters…I mean, more actors than roles, then there may be auditions.

Upcoming Events

This semester Improbable Fictions will present two staged readings and an informal film series.  Save those dates!  All events are free and open to the public.

Love’s Labour’s Lost
Thursday, March 10th, 7:30pm
Farrah Hall 214
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Hamlet
April, date and location TBA
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ShakesFilm Series
Sunday nights, Morgan 301, 7:00-10:00pm
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Jan 23: Tom Stoppard’s Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead
Jan 30: Kenneth Branagh’s Love’s Labour’s Lost
Feb 6: Trevor Nunn’s Twelfth Night
Feb 13: Kenneth Branagh’s Much Ado About Nothing
Feb 20: Pasonlini’s Oedipus the King
Feb 27: Kenneth Branagh’s As You Like It
March 6: Cacoyannis’ Elektra
March 20: Delbert Mann’s 1958 Desire Under the Elms
March 27: Pasonlini’s Medea
April 3: Orson Welles’ Chimes at Midnight
April 10: Robert Wise’s 1949 The Set-Up
April 17: Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Undead

King Lear: November 17 at the Ferguson Theatre

In 1810, critic Charles Lamb claimed that “Lear is essentially impossible to be represented on a stage” (‘On the Tragedies of Shakespeare’).

We’re taking Lamb’s statement as a challenge.

Shakespeare’s King Lear is about the inexpressible. What can a child say to an unruly parent? What can a king say once he’s given away his crown? What can we say once we’ve seen “unaccommodated man” (KL 3.4.105)? King Lear is an apocalypse of language, the final revelation of the parent who holds the speechless body of his dead child: “Look there! Look there!” (KL 5.3.309). Come. See.

Wednesday, November 17th, 2010
The Ferguson Theatre
7:30 pm (pre-show music at 7:00 pm)

Free admission

(Despite the Georgia State game on Nov 18th, parking on campus will not be an issue.)

Lear…………………………..Steve Burch

Goneril……………………….Deborah Parker

Regan…………………………Amy Handra

Cordelia/Fool……………….Regan Stevens

Albany…………………………David Ainsworth

Cornwall………………………Mark Hughes Cobb

Gloucester……………………Charles Prosser

Edmund……………………….Derrick Williams

Edgar…………………………..Peyton Conley

Kent…………………………….Matt Lewis

Oswald…………………………Wescott Youngson

France/Ensemble…………..Cooper Kennard

Burgundy/Ensemble……….Jerrell Bowden

Drums…………………………..Laurie Arizumi

Director………………………..Nic Helms

Assistant Director…………..Whitney Graham

Oct 7th, 7:30pm: Much Ado About Nothing

The next Improbable Fictions staged reading will be Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing, a comedy-sandwich with a tragic condiment.  Beatrice and Benedick are in love with life, and there are only two things that they cannot stand: marriage, and each other.  Which will prove stronger, wooing or wit?  And will the melancholy Don John spoil everyone’s fun?

The showdown begins on Thursday October 7th, 7:30 pm, at the Bama Theatre.  Pre-show music begins at 7:00.

Free admission.  $1 donations for the Bama Theatre Restoration Fund are appreciated.

~ Cast ~

Beatrice……………………………….Stephanie Fitts

Benedick………………………………Mark Hughes Cobb

Hero……………………………………Jean Fuller-Scott

Claudio………………………………..Jerrell Bowden

Leonato……………………………….Steve Burch

Antoni(a)……………………………..Deborah Burch

Don Pedro…………………………….Elliot Moon

Don John………………………………Alex Perkins

Borachio……………………………….Whitney Graham

Conrade………………………………..Keri Epps

Margaret……………………………….Sara-Margaret Cates

Dogberry……………………………….Wescott Youngson

Verges/Friar Francis………………..David Ainsworth

Seacole/Sexton……………………….Dusty McLaughlin

Ursula……………………………………Meredith Wiggins

First Watchman……………………….Paul Burgess

Second Watchman/Messenger……Rachel Adams

Director………………………………….Nicholas Helms

Dramaturg………………………………Alaina Jobe

Stage Manager………………………….Scott Free

The first reading: Twelfth Night

On March 25th, 2010, we held our first staged reading: Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night.  You’ll find the cast list and program notes below.  We should have offered special thanks to Lady Gaga, but we didn’t know that her music would save the show.  Laughter was scarce for the first two acts: a death knell for this comedy.  It seemed that Shakespeare was a bit inaccessible for our largely undergraduate audience.  They were uncomfortable.  And dangerously silent.  Shakespeare was “high” culture, something you watch silently and respectfully: something you endure.  So when Mark Hughes Cobb (playing Feste) prepared to walk onstage for act three, he was a bit desperate to finally force a laugh from the crowd.  “How does that Lady Gaga song go?” he asked before leaving the wings.

So it was that Feste began act 3 by humming “Bad Romance.”  The Bama Theatre seemed to crack open with laughter, and the rest of the show went beautifully.  I’m sure that good old Bill was dancing along in his grave.  Laughter.  Spectacle.  Engagement.  That’s culture.

Thanks, Lady Gaga, for inaugurating Improbable Fictions.

The Players

ORSINO, Duke of Illyria…………………………………………….. Nic Helms

VIOLA, in love with the Duke……………………………… Jean Fuller-Scott

OLIVIA, a rich Countess of Illyria…………………………….. Aubrey Dean

SIR TOBY BELCH, Uncle to Olivia………………………. Charles Prosser

SIR ANDREW AGUECHEEK, a Knight…………………. Regan Stevens

MARIA, Olivia’s Woman…………………………………. Marian Mantovani

MALVOLIO, Steward to Olivia………………………………… Nick Shabel

FESTE, a Clown, Servant to Olivia………………….. Mark Hughes Cobb

SEBASTIAN, Brother to Viola……………………………… Coston Perkins

ANTONIO, a Sea Captain………………………………. Wescott Youngson

FABIAN, Servant to Olivia……………………………………….. Steve Burch

A Gentleman, A Sea Captain, An Officer………………… Deborah Parker

Reading Directed and Produced by…………. Nic Helms and Alaina Jobe

Stage Manager………………………………………………………….. Scott Free

If this were played upon on a stage now, I could condemn it as an improbable fiction.

Shakespearean comedies rely on certain conventions: disguises, jokes, romance, and a plot that involves a great deal of confusion, misunderstandings that must be unraveled and set right by the end of the play. Twelfth Night is no exception, a comedy that is dependent on mistaken identity. Nearly every thread of the play can be traced back to Viola’s decision to disguise herself as the young man, Cesario. As Cesario, she becomes Orsino’s confidante, which leads to her falling in love with him. As Cesario, she woos Olivia on behalf of Orsino, causing Olivia to fall in love with her. Her disguise is the root of Antonio’s confusion, Sir Andrew’s challenge, and Feste’s frustration. The alternate title of the play, What You Will, invites the audience to interpret the events, the characters, and the situations in Twelfth Night as they see fit, either as straight comedy, with a few gags and a madcap plot, or as something deeper, a story of love and loss.

And the play is, of course, both at once, a genuinely funny romp onstage and yet a means of considering the depth and feeling of love. Viola and Sebastian are touchingly reunited, both certain the other was dead. New relationships have blossomed by the end of the play: Olivia and Viola get their men and Sir Toby marries Maria. And yet we cannot help but question the authenticity of the loves that we see, as they are, in some respects, too convenient or perhaps even counterfeit, as untrue as Viola’s disguise. Is this really happily ever after? And what of Malvolio, threatening revenge after the cruel trick that Sir Toby and the others have played on him? Is this a happy ending for Antonio, who is cast off by Sebastian? Taking the play as we will is the challenge of Twelfth Night, which invites us to consider the nature of love in a more critical light, to take note of its many forms and disguises, and ultimately, to decide if what we see onstage is genuine or an improbable fiction.

~ Alaina Jobe ~