Will wonders never cease! Or ‘caese’, as the case may be. As Alexis Soloski notes, ‘Is there a play more macho than Shakespeare’s “Julius Caesar?”‘ This all-female production helmed by esteemed UK director Phyllida Lloyd, had (as might be expected) a number of detractors during its recent London run:
‘But female-to-male cross-casting remains a comparative rarity. When it does occur, it can trigger audience skepticism and critical discontent. Compare the praise lavished on the Mark Rylance-led Globe shows with some of the reviews greeting Ms. Lloyd’s “Julius Caesar,” which originated at the Donmar Warehouse in London.
One daily paper, The Telegraph, ran three separate negative assessments, appalled that any director would dare assign these parts to actresses. “Shakespeare never, after all, believed that a single word he wrote would ever be uttered upon a stage by a woman,” one critic harrumphed. But if spectators are so ready to accept middle-aged men in women’s roles (a notion Shakespeare also never imagined, as he wrote them for boys), why should such suspicion greet the reverse?’
Interestingly, this production, which has recently begun a New York run at St. Anne’s Warehouse, has fared better critically in American media. The NY Post writes: It’s respectful of the text and gives us Shakespeare at his most accessible and clear-eyed.”
Amy Clare Tasker (WWSF’s official London correspondent!) shares a link to this 45-minute audio-recording of a conversation about gender and theater that was held recently at the National Theatre in London. The conversation involved Gemma Bodinetz (Artistic Director, Liverpool Everyman), Dominic Cooke (Artistic Director, Royal Court Theatre 2007-2013), Mel Kenyon (Literary Manager) and Bryony Lavery (playwright) and explored the development of opportunities for women in UK theater over the past 50 years.
The heart of the Women’s Project Theater, the Women’s Project Lab, is looking for exceptional playwrights, directors and producers. This two-year residency program offers 15 artists “with a vital professional network, entrepreneurial and leadership training, free rehearsal space and, most significantly, tangible opportunities for the development and production of bold new work for the stage. Since 2006, 75% of plays on WP’s main stage have been written or directed by Lab artists.”
Application deadline is Nov 4, 2013. Hurry up!
WWSF deeply regrets the passing of Ruth Maleczech, celebrated theater personality and visionary, also one of the co-founders of Mabou Mines, well-known experimental theater group in New York’s East Village. Maleczech was particularly renowned for her avant-garde vision and considered herself more a theater-maker than an actor. Her performance as a matriarchal Lear in Mabou Mines’ female “King Lear“ has been hailed as “a cultural landmark”.
Shows to See:
Z Below and Golden Thread Productions proudly present the world premiere of 444 Days, written by founding director Torange Yeghiazarian. This ‘tangled web of love, betrayal and espionage’ marks Yeghiazarian’s return to her playwriting roots and is the first production of a full-length play after a span of 15 years.
From Golden Thread: “444 Days is the first play about the Iran Hostage crisis from an Iranian artist’s perspective. Blending historical events with fictional characters, this world premiere play follows the inexplicable bond between a former hostage and a former hostage-taker.”
Don’t miss it! Runs Oct 17-Nov 3.
Director Ellery Schaar writes in to us about the play:
“Drowning Ophelia is written by a female, directed by a female, produced by a female run theatre company, features two strong female leads and tackles the subject matter of abuse and incest to woman and what it takes to heal and regain power after such abuse. I am so proud to be producing and directing this work and introducing it the world. I feel it is the most important work I have ever done.”
Add it to your must-see list! Runs Oct 17-Nov 2nd.
“Two eight-year-olds’ lives collides in the school nurse’s office: accident-prone Doug rode his bike off the roof and Kayleen can’t stop throwing up. In a series of non-linear vignettes set over three decades of a relationship, the accident prone daredevil and corrosive masochist navigate friendship, love and the squishy parts that lie in between, building a complex connection over a lifetime of injuries, both physical and emotional. A truly different type of love story, Gruesome Playground Injuries will leave you smarting from its sharp humor and sharper insights. How far can one person go to heal another’s wounds?”
Runs Oct 10-Nov 9.
As if our account of the wild, wild ride that was THE TAMING meetup wasn’t enough, here’s some feedback from the community about this absolute zinger of a play. Don’t miss it!
“Laughing so hard at THE TAMING my face hurts. Make your way to the Thick House to see Marilee Talkington, Kathryn Zdan, and Marilet Martinez throw down some of the best lines around.” — Susan McGuire Shay
“This show is like a comedy minefield. I laughed so hard and often, I think I pulled something.” — Reggie D. White
“So you know how some sexist comic every few years comes out and says women aren’t funny… THE TAMING is the most awesome F.U. to those a-holes!” — Evren Odcikin
“These women absolutely rock!” – Lily Tung Crystal
If you haven’t seen this already, DON’T MISS IT – runs through Oct 26th.
Image from Drowning Ophelia, courtesy Ellery Schaar