Director Henry Godinez talks about his powerful Chicago Shakespeare Theater production of Measure For Measure, how he loves Shakespeare’s famously problem play, and how his background informed his approach to it. Set amidst the glamour, music, and sensuality of 1950s Cuba, where Shakespeare’s Vienna becomes Havana just before Fidel Castro seizes power, Henry also discusses how this setting enriched his understanding of the play; how differing strands of self-righteous fanaticism and hypocrisy come into conflict; his own crazy childhood dreams; how this production manages to (amazingly!) end on a mildly positive and hopeful note; and how Shakespeare’s problem play is better the more nuanced and complicated it is. (Length 17:40) (PICTURED: The company of Chicago Shakespeare Theater’s production of Shakespeare’s Measure for Measure, directed by Henry Godinez, in the Courtyard Theater, October 21–November 27, 2022. Photo by Liz Lauren.)
Shana Cooper discusses her direction of one of Shakespeare’s infamous “problem plays,” All’s Well That Ends Well, which ran (quite well!) at Chicago Shakespeare Theater in the spring of 2022. Shana reveals how the project came to her; how the options of possible plays narrows considerably when you’re completing the canon; how a play about deeply flawed people at transitional points in their lives matches our historical moment; the vital importance of casting a sympathetic center in your leading role; how her next production is that light-hearted romp Metamorphoses at Seattle Rep; how Bertram typifies the annoying number of fraught men and boys in Shakespeare; and ultimately the importance of finding allies in transitional moments and identifying your next version of Home. (Length 21:40) (PICTURED: Diana (Emma Ladji) and Helen (Alejandra Escalante) in the Chicago Shakespeare Theater production of All’s Well That Ends Well, directed by Shana Cooper. Photo by Liz Lauren.)
Adam Wesley Brown (left) and Ron E. Rains (right) played Stephano and Trinculo in the 2015 Chicago Shakespeare Theater production of The Tempest directed by Aaron Posner and Teller, and for no reason other than we’re huge fans, they discuss the rewards of playing Shakespearean clowns (these two in particular). Featuring the wonder of immediate connections at the auditions; the occasional difficulty of calling it ‘work’; shout-out to Zach Eisenstat and Manelich Minniefee from Pilobolus Dance Company, who played an eight-limbed, two-headed Caliban; the beauty of being a bit factory; the dramaturgical importance of clowns, and realizing that if the most memorable character in Hamlet is the Gravedigger you’ve done something wrong; how it behooves young actors to get some musical skills, and how a knowledge of music helps particularly with speaking Shakespeare; how you must always fight for the biggest flask; how we didn’t even discuss Ron also being The Onion’s Film Critic, Peter K. Rosenthal; and the importance of learning that, when in doubt about a joke, make it sexual. (Length 23:05)
Chicago actor Joe Dempsey plays William Shakespeare’s most autobiographical character, Peter Quince, in the Chicago Shakespeare Theater production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Joe talks about playing this prototypical actor-manager, the rehearsal process for this gloriously funny production, the importance of listening to director Joe Dowling, the joy of rehearsal invention, the freedom of actor ownership, the balance of hustling for auditions, the delight of working with T.R. Knight (TV’s Grey’s Anatomy) as Bottom, the incorporation of many Shakespearean deaths, memories of working with the late great John Mahoney (Frasier), and the fundamental difference between being interpretive and creative artists. (Length 18:33) Peter Quince (Joe Dempsey, with bullhorn) directs Francis Flute (Alec Silver), and helps Nick Bottom (T.R. Knight), assisted by Tom Snout (Jonathan Butler-Duplessis) and watched by Snug the Joiner (William Dick) in Chicago Shakespeare Theater’s production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, directed by Joe Dowling, December 6, 2018 – February 3, 2019. Photos by Liz Lauren.
Happy New Year! We kick off 2019 with excerpts of the Top Ten Most Downloaded Episodes of the RSC Podcast from 2018. Featuring novel excerpts from novelist Christopher Moore; testimonials regarding the efficacy of prison theatre programs; reviews of our favorite Broadway shows; the challenges of working on a new play about Mikhail Gorbachev; love for and from retired National Public Radio broadcaster Robert Siegel; actors from the Prague Shakespeare Festival; affection for Slings and Arrows; new plays inspired by Shakespeare’s plays and practices; confessions from an actual Lady Macbeth; and — finally! — an answer to the question, “What is Shakespeare’s greatest play?” Listen to the excerpts then click through to hear the entire episodes! (Length 23:03)
Christopher Luscombe, who’s directed in London’s West End, at Shakespeare’s Globe, and for the ‘other RSC’ (the Royal Shakespeare Company), now directs Nell Gwynn, a charming new comedy with music about the famous (or infamous) 17th Century actress now having its world premiere at the Chicago Shakespeare Theatre. Also an alumnus of the Cambridge Footlights, Chris discusses Nell the play, Nell the actress, and Nell the production. Featuring a wonderful tribute to Chicago actors, the value of being authentically English, the absolute treat of continuing to work on a play over several years, the advantage of embracing contradictions, the great thing about not being afraid of comedy, and the importance of starting from scratch every time. (Length 18:21)
Chaon Cross plays Lady Macbeth in the exciting and literally magical production of the Scottish play directed by Aaron Posner and Teller in the current production at the Chicago Shakespeare Theatre, and discusses the challenges of finding the balance between the textual and theatrical and between character and razzmatazz; the difficulties of acting while performing magic; the art of creating a useful backstory; the pitfalls of human desires: the glory of creating a world; the relative usefulness of politics; and the surprising delight of speaking with Lady She-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named. (Length 21:16)
Ron West, whose adaptation of The Comedy of Errors won a Jeff Award for best adaptation when Chicago Shakespeare Theatre produced it in 2008, is back at Chicago Shakes with a new framing device for Barbara Gaines’ all female production of The Taming of the Shrew. Ron discusses what goes into Read more…