Expanding The Canon

Emily Lyon and Shannon Corinthen are the artistic and producing directors of the Hedgepig Ensemble in Brooklyn, NY, and two of the hosts of “This is a Classic: The Expand The Canon Theatre Podcast,” an outgrowth of Hedgepig’s mission to uplift the legacy of women and non-binary writers. Shannon and Emily talk about the plethora of plays out there by underrepresented writers; how they curate their annual “Expand The Canon” lists; how many plays they read each other to create their suggestions; how Hedgepig is committed to expanding the canon by commissioning new works and new translations; the surprising timelessness of so many of these plays; and how so many of them would fit into a theater’s season so much better than some of the overdone and less-worthy plays that get done now. (Length 20:35)

Hamlet’s Prequel Adventure!

Dramaturg Kate Pitt joins us for a deep dive into the creation of the script for Hamlet’s Big Adventure! (a prequel), on which she cast her dramaturgical magic (and which we’ll finally get to tour once this stupid pandemic is over). Kate discusses HBA’s intertextual conversation with Shakespeare’s classic tragedy, and its biofictional elements, and reveals the identity of the most confusing Hamlet ever; how a prequel can (and should) reveal insights into Shakespeare’s play; how old Hamlet is; the importance of double confirmation; how both Ophelia and Hamlet have All. The. Feels; the value of deploying random skills; the question of how old Hamlet is, anyway; how the gravedigger is an unreliable narrator; the struggle of theater as a career and what to say about it to your kids about it; and finally, possible spoilers (especially if you know anything at all about the career of UK comedian Tommy Cooper). Plus: jokes for everyone! Poster Art by Lar DeSouza. (Length 32:01)

Playing Historical Characters

Three members of the fantastic ensemble gathered together for the Goodman Theatre production of Theresa Rebeck’s Bernhardt/Hamlet – William Dick, Gregory Linington, and Larry Yando – gather to discuss the particular obligations that must be considered when playing real historical figures. Featuring extensive dramaturgical research, actual archival video, the wild imaginative leaps required to be able to portray a 19th-century critic as if he were human, tributes (or ripoffs?) from Trader Joe’s, the invention of merch, arguments about Hamlet’s age, similar pressures playing the famous historical figure Ebenzeer Scrooge, the ultimate dedication to the playwright’s text, and a play ostensibly about a diva that’s actually about an ensemble. (Length 22:43) (Pictured (l to r): William Dick, Larry Yando, and Gregory Linington in the Goodman Theatre production of Theresa Rebeck’s Bernhardt/Hamlet, directed by Donna Feore. Photos by Liz Lauren.)

The Winter’s Tale

Dramaturg Neena Arndt and actor Nathan Hosner (Polixenes) discuss The Winter’s Tale, currently running at the Goodman Theatre until June 9, 2019 in a production directed by Robert Falls. Featuring the importance of leaning into the tonal shifts; how the play plays in our current historical moment; the dangers of a record-scratch; eliminating thee’s and thou’s; acknowledging aspects of the play that may be either bugs or features; changing the first-person from plural to singular; identifying the hinge of the play; shout-outs to actors Dan Donohue (Leontes), Christiana Clark (Paulina), Gregory Linington (Antigonus), and Philip Earl Johnson (Autolycus); casting clowns; some notes for Will Shakespeare; possibly changing one’s mind about the quality of the play; different treatments of Time; and the very first question one must address when you decide to do The Winter’s Tale — how do you handle the Bear? (Length 24:20) (Pictured (l-r): Dan Donohue (Leontes) and Nathan Hosner (Polixenes) in the Goodman Theatre production of The Winter’s Tale, directed by Robert Falls. Photo by Liz Lauren.)

Hamlet’s Big Adventure!

It’s the comedy of the prince of Denmark! Hamlet’s Big Adventure (a prequel) will be the eleventh stage show performed by the Reduced Shakespeare Company and the tenth RSC script by Reed Martin and Austin Tichenor, who discuss the origins of the script; where it’s being workshopped as part of Napa Valley College’s Emergence Festival; how the transitive property applies to ranking plays; the incredible insight given to us by our dramaturg Kate Pitt; echoes of Hamlet as well as Henry IV Part 1; the feeling of being both Queen Elizabeth demanding a new play about Sir John Falstaff and the Shakespeare who gets to write it; the hesitation of getting rid of our usual framing device; the challenge of creating a comedy that’s funny to people who don’t know the original; the balancing act of finding the right ratio of highbrow to lowbrow; and the fun of answering questions inspired by Shakespeare’s original tragedy. Poster art by the incomparable Lar DeSouza. (Length 20:45)

Episode 621. Processing The Process

Oregon Shakespeare Festival Director of Literary Development and Dramaturgy Amrita Ramanan talks about the role of the dramaturg at a theatre dedicated to a playwright who’s been dead for 402 years, and discusses the planning and programs OSF has put in place to create a canon of new Histories, Comedies, Tragedies, and Romances. Our highly caffeinated conversation features distinctions between institutional dramaturgy and production dramaturgy, studying the intent of the text, carrying a sense of engagement, determining what a 400 year old play means today, identifying the ethos and identify of Shakespeare’s work, how a dramaturg’s job is very similar to a director’s, the value of gadflies, thematic connectivity, harnessing the all-important dramaturgy of the actor, and how producing new work and new playwrights, in addition to producing his 400 year old plays, actually does the greatest honor to Master Shakespeare himself. (Length 17:51

Episode 579. Shakespeare’s New Contemporaries

Anne Morgan is the literary manager of the American Shakespeare Center in Staunton, VA, which has created the “Shakespeare’s New Contemporaries” project, a ground-breaking undertaking to discover, develop, and produce a new canon of 38 plays inspired by and in conversation with Shakespeare’s originals. Anne sat down at this year’s Shakespeare Theatre Association conference, hosted by Cincinnati Shakespeare Company, to discuss the origins of this very exciting project, its ultimate scope, and what’s involved with administrating this wide-ranging, blind-reading, open-application process. Featuring outstanding opportunities for emerging or unrepresented playwrights, the power of embracing Shakespeare’s original staging practices, the importance and value of learning from your actors and learning from your audience, the removal of unconscious bias, and the important difference between dramaturgs and dramaturds. Recorded LIVE at the 2018 Shakespeare Theatre Association Conference. (Length 17:45)

Episode 341. Development Of Comedy

” Austin Tichenor and Reed Martin take time out from their writing to talk about how the creation of their eighth collaboration, The Complete History of Comedy (abridged), is going. Featuring off-color terms of art, new (but self-imposed and good) pressures, the advantages of finding a structure, the challenges of narrowing Read more…

Episode 312. Autobiography of Iago

Novelist and former theatre dramaturg Nicole Galland has written I, Iago, a novel which tells the story of Shakespeare’s famous villain and the events of the play Othello, but from Iago’s point of view. Nicole talks about her tragic, comic, and crazily compelling riff on both the familiar story and Shakespeare’s famous villain, and Read more…

Episode 201. Endings Are Important

”We’ve discussed our writing process before, but this week we talk about designing effective openings and killer endings. Featuring stumbles and fumbles, happy accidents, show construction, meticulous planning, adherence to form, template deviation, and impertinent comparisons to both Shakespeare and the Beatles. (MP3. Length 22:15)