Category Archives: Shakespeare

TNT’s ‘Will’ debuts tonight, but will millennials check out Bard’s plays

 

Laurie Davidson, left, as William Shakespeare, with Mattias Inwood as the actor Richard Burbage and Olivia DeJonge as Alice Burbage in TNT's "Will." (PHOTO: Alex Bailey/TNT)
Laurie Davidson, left, as William Shakespeare, with Mattias Inwood as the actor Richard Burbage and Olivia DeJonge as Alice Burbage in TNT’s “Will.” (PHOTO: Alex Bailey/TNT)

TNT’s eagerly awaited (by some) rock-and-roll version of Shakespeare’s “lost years” debuts beginning at 9 tonight with two episodes of “Will.”

The lost years … the seven-year period between 1585 (when his twins were born) to 1592 (when Robert Greene called him an “upstart crow” when mentioned as part of the London theater scene. There are no historical traces that survive to show exactly where he was or why he left Stratford for London.

Although the greatest poet in the English language died 401 years ago, we are still staging his plays, talking about his impact on the world, quoting famous lines, watching new work with new interpretations of his life, including this summer’s controversy over The Public Theater’s Shakespeare in the Park production of “Julius Caesar” with a title character that resembled President Trump.

Newcomer Laurie Davidson in the title role of “Will” on TNT, part of a 10-episode first season, the producers say.  (PHOTO: Alex Bailey/TNT)

Craig Pearce, who wrote the screenplay for Baz  Lurhmann’s  “Romeo + Juliet.” wrote the pilot and is the executive producer the the 10-episode first season, which indicates a future if the ratings are good. But will the funky approach draw millennials to live theater, or even PBS, the TV station where Shakespeare shows up most often? Don’t hold your breath. But at least they may learn a few things about Shakespeare and the Elizabethan era to make the effort worthwhile.

Read more about punk-rock Shakespeare and a look at the official trailer.

Here’s how the L.A. Times describes “Will”

“It’s 1589. Young Will Shakespeare (Laurie Davidson), provincial actor and aspiring scribe, attractively lean and hungry for fame, heads off to the bawdy big city of London, leaving wife and children behind, as the Clash’s “London Calling” plays on the soundtrack.”

The Guardian of London

Some parts of the show are thoroughly enjoyable, including a battle of pentametric wits between Shakespeare, slow to earn the respect of his thespian cohorts, and Christopher Marlowe. Here, Marlowe is reimagined as not only Shakespeare’s worthy poetic rival but an admirer, too.

But Will would be more successful had it been crafted like another vaguely biographical series, Netflix’s The Crown, with characterization, patience and restraint rather than ribaldry and maximalism.

Entertainment website

“Will” is truly the breakfast cereal commercial of Shakespeare — it’s sugary and colorful and very, very bad for you, but irresistible, especially if you’ve tasted something like this before. For anyone with even a nugget of leftover Shakespeare knowledge from high school, Will can be wicked summer fun. Really. Lines like “Seems like your play is quite the thing!” are so heinous, they’re genius.

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Bedlam director delivers darker ‘Merry Wives’ at Two River Theater

Zuzanna Szadkowski, Jason O'Connell and Nicole Lewis in "The Merry Wives of Windsor" at the Two River Theater in Red Bank. (PHOTO: T. Charles Erickson)
Zuzanna Szadkowski, Jason O’Connell and Nicole Lewis in “The Merry Wives of Windsor” at the Two River Theater in Red Bank. (PHOTO: T. Charles Erickson)

The second the lights come up on the set of the Two River Theater’s  “The Merry Wives of Windsor” you know this production is not your grandmother’s Shakespeare.

Sir John Falstaff (Jason O’Connell) is handcuffed to a bed with a ball gag in his mouth and wearing very little else. Mistress Ford (Nicole Lewis), in black baby-doll lingerie, stands next to the bed holding a gun.

The location is a seedy motel room strewn with clothes, liquor bottles, and garbage. It’s decorated with bulls’ horns, paint-by-number art, and a multi-colored carpet that hides all stains. Projected on the wall are the words “Right Now.”

Continue reading Bedlam director delivers darker ‘Merry Wives’ at Two River Theater

TNT’s ‘Will’ looks at punk-rock theater scene in Elizabethan London

We  don’t know much about the personal life of William Shakespeare, but TNT is taking a fictionalized stab at it with a bare bodkin in a new series called “Will,”

The first 10 episodes “reveal” 16th century London as a seductive, violent world where Shakespeare’s raw talent faced rioting audiences, religious fanatics and raucous side-shows. The “wild life” of the most famous playwright in history, according to a Deadline.com post. It’s described as a “contemporary version of Shakespeare’s life played to a modern soundtrack that exposes all his recklessness, lustful temptations and brilliance.”

Continue reading TNT’s ‘Will’ looks at punk-rock theater scene in Elizabethan London

Shakespeare’s ‘Lost Years’ revealed in ‘Bill’ movie

If Monty Python’s Flying Circus collaborated with William  Shakespeare the result would be “Bill,” a movie showing one-night only on April 11 in selected theaters around the country and sponsored by Fathom Events.

 Expect a lot of Shakespeare stuff to pop up this year with the 400th anniversary of his death on April 23. This film takes place during the so-called “Lost Years.” The second block of lost years, that is.

Continue reading Shakespeare’s ‘Lost Years’ revealed in ‘Bill’ movie

Shakespeare in the Park to offer all-female ‘Shrew,’ plus ‘Troilus and Cressida’

Same-sex casts are nothing new. As we know, it was the norm during Elizabethan times. But do I spy a contemporary trend?

Two River Theater in Red Bank, NJ, staged a superb all-male “Something Funny Happened on the Way to the Forum” earlier this season and plans to end it with an all-female “I Remember Mama.”

Image of Shakespeare in the Park performance.
Shakespeare in the Park performances have been an annual event since 1962.

And speaking of Shakespeare, The Public Theater just announced its Central Park summer plans include an all-female “The Taming of the Shrew” featuring Cush Jumbo (don’t you just love that name!) and Janet McTeer, as  Katherina and  Petruchio, respectively (but you knew that, right?)

Continue reading Shakespeare in the Park to offer all-female ‘Shrew,’ plus ‘Troilus and Cressida’

Cell phones causing trouble during Cumberbatch’s ‘Hamlet’

Benedict Cumberbatch has begun performances in "Hamlet" at the National Theatre in London's West End. (PHOTO: National Theatre)
Benedict Cumberbatch has begun performances in “Hamlet” at the Barbican Centre in London’s West End. (PHOTO: Barbican Centre )

Patti LuPone has a vocal ally in Benedict Cumberbatch, currently starring in the title role in the West End production of “Hamlet,” who pleaded with fans to turn off their cell phones during performances of Shakespeare’s drama at the Barbican Centre.

“I can see cameras, I can see red lights in the auditorium. And it may not be any of you here that did that but it’s blindingly obvious, like that one there, that little red light,” the NYTimes reported  Cumberbatch said to theatergoers who crowded around the stage door during the first days of a limited engagement in London. Its  12-week run ends Oct. 31 and tickets sold out in about seven hours.

Earlier that night he stopped then resumed the famous “To be or not to be” soliloquy because saw a “little red light” near the third row during the performance.

Continue reading Cell phones causing trouble during Cumberbatch’s ‘Hamlet’

Just how many new words, phrases did Shakespeare create?

Poster of phrases introduced into the English language by Shakespeare.
Yes, we know it’s bated, not baited.

 

April 23rd is also UN English Language Day, according to the email I got from the British Council Malaysia Language School. It was chosen because it is Shakespeare’s birthday, it stated.
The impact that Shakespeare had on the English language was huge and the above phrases were used for the first time by the Bard from Stratford-upon-Avon.

Continue reading Just how many new words, phrases did Shakespeare create?

‘Shakespeare Uncovered’ explores Petruchios, Othello in blackface

When my husband said he would pass on going with me to see Ralph Fiennes in “Hamlet” on Broadway (1995) because “I’ve already seen ‘Hamlet,’ ” I had to re-evaluate my marriage. Really? You’ve seen one “Hamlet” so you think you’ve seen them all!?

Image of the Chandos portrait, artist and authenticity unconfirmed. National Portrait Gallery, London./Wikipedia
The Chandos portrait of Shakespeare, artist and authenticity unconfirmed. (National Portrait Gallery, London./Wikipedia)

Continue reading ‘Shakespeare Uncovered’ explores Petruchios, Othello in blackface

Shakespeare TV alert for tonight, includes ‘Downton Abbey’ hook

Image of the The modern, reconstructed Globe Theatre. (Courtesy of Wikipedia)
The modern, reconstructed Globe Theatre. (Courtesy of Wikipedia)

Why wasn’t this in my many Channel 13 emails that always include reminders to donate money but not a word that Lord Grantham was going to talk about being Ralph Fiennes understudy.

Continue reading Shakespeare TV alert for tonight, includes ‘Downton Abbey’ hook