April 30, 2015
ISSUE | ENGLISH STUDIES Be the Bard I couldn't disagree more with my good friend professor Nora Johnson at Swarthmore about not requiring college English majors to take a course devoted to Shakespeare and his works ("A lack of Will: Bard rarely required on campus," April 24). As chair of La Salle University's English department, and as someone trained as a medievalist but who writes on television and film, I am hardly a hidebound defender of the canon. Begrudgingly, at La Salle, we do not require courses in Chaucer, Milton, and others, but we do in Shakespeare - because there is no match in terms of historical and global importance and influence.
April 25, 2015 |
'Tis high time the nation's top colleges require their English majors to take a course on William Shakespeare. So says the American Council of Trustees and Alumni, a nonprofit founded in 1995 by Lynne Cheney, wife of former Vice President Dick Cheney. Of 52 colleges and universities reviewed, only four - Harvard; the University of California, Berkeley; the U.S. Naval Academy; and Wellesley - require a Shakespeare course, according to the study, released Thursday on the playwright's 451st birthday.
March 27, 2015 |
The concept, one imagines, inspired not a few raised eyebrows: Shakespeare plus tango. Intriguing, no? Or merely perplexing? So was born the Lantern Theater Company's current production of The Taming of the Shrew , which runs through May 3. The romantic comedy, written between 1590 and 1592, is a sometimes heartwarming, sometimes caustic take on the battle of the sexes, set in the Italian city state of Padua, and here updated to the 1930s....
February 22, 2015 |
In 1882, a young Oscar Wilde took a one-day break from his lecture tour of North America to visit the Camden home of Walt Whitman. Thematically, Michael Whistler's Mickle Street, now at the Walnut Theatre's Independence Studio on 3, depicts this event as a gay apologia and examination of the difficulties one faced living as a homosexual in 1880s England and America (which Wilde would find out for himself a few decades later). Dramatically and in content, Mickle Street is so contrived that Whistler might just as well have invented their historic meeting.
February 16, 2015 |
IN 2011, JOE CALTAGIRONE, a bartender/actor from Port Richmond, was watching TV coverage of angry "Arab Spring" crowds toppling leaders in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya, when he suddenly flashed back 30 years. Caltagirone remembered being in a thrift store on Kensington Avenue in the 1980s, browsing through the "All Books 10 Cents" shelves, when he came upon an old Kensington High School for Girls library copy of Shakespeare's "Julius Caesar. " Caltagirone, 61, remembers thinking, "When a book's down to 10 cents, it's two feet from the trash can. Caesar and Shakespeare for a dime!
December 18, 2014
NOW THAT "The Lord of the Rings" and "The Hobbit" movies are finally wrapped, the filmmakers involved seem more exhausted than elated. At least their post-"Hobbit" interviews make it seem that way. So I asked the opinion of Martin Freeman, who plays the title character in director Peter Jackson's "Hobbit" trilogy. (Jackson also did the "Rings" trilogy.) "I'm probably not as exhausted as Peter is, who has spent every day and every night on it for many, many years," the actor said.
October 8, 2014 |
There's much to enjoy in Alexander Burns' fun, frolicsome production of As You Like It . Burns' Quintessence Theatre Group starts its fifth season of contemporary stagings of classic works with a pair from the Bard in rotating rep ( Richard II opens Oct. 18), with an all-male cast tackling both plays. More on that anon. In Shakespeare's comedy, Duke Frederick (Paul Hebron) usurps the throne of his brother, Duke Senior, and banishes him to the Forest of Arden. Senior's daughter Rosalind (Alexander Harvey)
September 10, 2014 |
Steve Jobs said that the "i" in all the Apple products' names stood for "Internet, individual, instruct, inform, inspire. " And although the products are patented, the use of "i" is not, and Philly Shakes' solo show, iHamlet , an adaptation by Robin Malan, seems to mean the "i" literally as "I" since the show is made up of Hamlet's lines extracted from the play and strung together. Hamlet as narcissist. And a female narcissist to boot. The set is a chair and gigantic mirror into which Melissa Dunphy gazes.
August 2, 2014 |
Go big or go home. This line of thinking dominates Henry IV: Your Prince and Mine , this summer's free outdoor production by Shakespeare in Clark Park and Team Sunshine Performance Corporation. For starters, Henry IV: YPM boasts several of Philly's top professionals in a standout cast of 12, with little doubling of roles. Local musical virtuoso Alex Bechtel leads a choir of eight and composed sterling thematic music that emotionally underscores many of the intrigue- and familial-driven scenes.
July 27, 2014 |
When Bonnie Paul asked her daughter, Ilena, if she wanted to join the army in a production of Shakespeare's Henry IV at Clark Park, the preteen hesitated. Their conversation went something like this: "Would I get to kill you?" asked Ilena, 12. "Maybe," replied Bonnie, 41. That sold the girl on the idea, although she and her mother did end up being cast on the same side, fighting rebels rather than each other. The thespian combatants are two of 88 volunteers from around Philadelphia appearing in the epic Battle of Shrewsbury scene of H enry IV , this year's production of Shakespeare in Clark Park, which debuts Wednesday.