John Vickery (above, as Antonio in The Tempest at the Stratford Festival in 2010 and Orak the Klingon on Star Trek: Enterprise in 2003) starred as Hamlet in Richard E.T. White’s production at the California Shakespeare Theater (then the Berkeley Shakespeare Festival) in 1982, and it remains, almost 40 years later, Austin’s favorite performance of that role he’s ever seen live. Richard discusses how that production came to be; how returning to Shakespeare allows such powerful explorations of class, wealth, and power; what favorite scenes we share; the danger (and rewards) of rewriting copyrighted material; the frustrations of college drama departments everywhere; how the streets of New York City became Telegraph Avenue in Berkeley; interesting collaborations and treasures discovered in the second quarto; how Shakespeare is open and available to any culture and any society; and who Hamlet’s final climactic sword should really be with. (Length 21:27)
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)
RSC company manager Alli Bostedt has just discovered (through the genealogical detective work of her husband, RSC web dude Davey Naylor), that she’s the 30th great granddaughter of Scottish King Duncan I, the one slain by Macbeth in both real-life and Shakespeare’s tragedy. Alli and Davey share how they made this very cool discovery and it how it will radically change their lives (SPOILER ALERT: It probably won’t); some minor confusions with Hamlet; how Shakespeare changed history like the Tarantino of his day; a reminder of Davey’s great love for British Kings and Queens; and how royal etiquette demands some pretty goddamn more respectful behavior backstage from now on or heads will roll. (Length 19:50) (Pictured: King Duncan I’s 30th great-granddaughter Alli and 31st great-grandson Arthur.)
Robert Falls is the Tony-winning artistic director of the Goodman Theatre in Chicago, and after talking with several actors from his productions of Death of a Salesman (left), The Iceman Cometh, The Winter’s Tale, and Enemy of the People, we finally get to talk to the man himself. Bob discusses how he approaches his work, and how ultimately passion decides everything, but along the way gives shout-outs to Mark Larson and his invaluable book Ensemble; talks about how he finds his way into the work; shares guest appearances by Winston Churchill; reveals one or two trials by fire; enthuses about amazing introductions to Shakespeare; and tells a great story about working with Vanessa Redgrave (though probably not the story you’re thinking of). (Length 24:55)
Get your first taste of the RSC’s 11th stage show Hamlet’s Big Adventure (a prequel) in this new video (shot and edited by the great folks at Lumos Films). Hamlet’s Big Adventure (a prequel) will have its first Reduced Shakespeare Company performances at the Spreckels Performing Arts Center, followed by its International Premiere at the Tel Aviv Festival in Israel!
Chicago is lousy with Hamlets this spring/summer of 2019! Friend of the pod Samuel Taylor was involved with two of them – at Chicago Shakespeare Theatre and with the Back Room Shakespeare Project, the latter of which Sam co-founded – and he discusses how all this activity supports and complements both companies and the Chicago theatre community. Featuring the beauty of electricity, fruitful studies in contrasts, asserting control over the laughs, being invested in turtle races, celebrating America’s Mike Nussbaum as the First Gravedigger, hearing about Hamlet being put on trial and Quicksilver Shakespeare actors pulling Hamlet’s characters out of a hat, continuing work on Hamlet’s Big Adventure (a prequel), the best possible scheduling of Titus Andronicus, the fascination of watching somebody doing something very difficult, and the wonder of understanding both the history of Shakespeare in Chicago and of Chicago Shakespeare. (Length 24:24) (Pictured: Mike Nussbaum as the First Gravedigger, in the Chicago Shakespeare Theatre production of Hamlet, directed by Barbara Gaines. Photo by Liz Lauren. Old Style Hamlet logo courtesy of the Back Room Shakespeare Project.)
Friend of the podcast Tom Schall talks about how he’s become Broadway’s Fight Guy (or, truthfully, one of them), the go-to person to design fight choreography and tell a story using actors’ physical language. Featuring how to develop and agree on physical vocabulary; how work leads to work; switching between the past and present tense; nuts and bolts; torn rotator cuffs; working with directors; a great description of working at the Folger Theatre; tales of working on Hamlet with Oscar Isaac and Keegan-Michael Key; and the joys and dangers of teaching James Bond and Martin Luther King, Jr. how to fight. (Length 20:17) Photograph of David Oyelowo as Othello and Daniel Craig as Iago by Charlie Gray for Vanity Fair.
”Scott Parkinson is one of those great stage actors you’ve probably never heard of, and he’s playing the title role in an amazing production of Hamlet at the wonderfully intimate Writers Theatre in the Chicago suburb of Glencoe. Austin Tichenor sits down with Scott (you know, one Hamlet to another) and Read more…