Protest Too Much

Stephanie Crugnola is the creator and host of Protest Too Much, a Shakespeare Showdown podcast that pits Stephanie against performers, educators, and scholars in a weekly battle of Shakespearean comparisons, challenges, and ‘best ofs’. Recently, Stephanie debated with Austin Tichenor the question of what is “Shakespeare’s Funniest Non-Comedy,” a conversation that lasted 45 minutes, and a 15-minute abridgment of which you can hear below. Featuring: Shakespearean pet peeves; the danger of sleeping on the Histories; how Shakespeare is all about contrasts; backup from Samuel Johnson in 1765; the comedy of ‘sad-off’s; comparisons to Monty Python and The Death of Stalin; and how Shakespeare is the king of tentpole media! (Length 20:38) 

Shakespeare And Plague

Dr. Katy Reedy, a Visiting Assistant Professor of English at Lake Forest College who’s working on a book-length study of contagion and performance in the early modern era, discusses her research and what we can learn (and take small hope) from the plagues that forced the theaters to close in Shakespeare’s day. Featuring the importance of recognizing that this is a marathon, not a sprint; how her examination of early modern revenge plays led to research into plague and pestilence; spatial lexicons; scant evidence; scholarly suppositions; shout-outs to James Shapiro’s The Year of Lear, Stephen Greenblatt’s Will In The World, and Folger Shakespeare Library director Michael Witmore; temporal changes and the elastic nature of time; how playwrights became pamphleteers; the invention of social-distancing; and the dangers of calling attention to the pestilential potential of a communal art. (Length 22:10) 

692. J. Nicole Brooks

Actor, director, and playwright J. Nicole Brooks is the author and director of Her Honor Jane Byrne, which looks at the moment in Chicago history when its first woman mayor moved into the Cabrini-Green housing projects. Just three nights after it had its official world premiere opening at Chicago’s Lookingglass Theatre, the rest of the run was cancelled due to the restrictions being imposed around the world in the midst of this global pandemic. Brooks discusses how the play came together and how love letters to Chicago can be complicated; the value of Shakespearean echoes and wise fools; a fascination with corruption; shining light on haunted communities; getting laughs when you least expect them; decolonizing the space; losing revenue streams; surprising shout-outs to Shelley Winters in The Poseidon Adventure; and the brilliance of writing a dark comedy about kings and queens and guillotines. (Length 22:03)

John Sutton’s Will

Terry Franklin is an estate and trust lawyer who in his spare time is chronicling the story of his antebellum ancestors, John and Lucy Sutton, and the discovery of the actual document that emancipated his fourth-great-grandmother and freed her from slavery. Terry discusses his journey and the story of his family, and talks about the dangers of destructive fires; contested wills; the luck of finding thoughtful paralegals; family connections to the Tuskegee Airmen; the thrill of the (paper) chase; how fact met fiction; a fateful fascination with red sealing wax; encouraging words from Amelia Boynton Robinson; the power of prayers for the ancestors; how Lucy and her children were able “to enjoy their full and perfect freedom;” and emerging understanding of what history actually is. (Length 24:30) (Recorded Friday, January 24th 2020, the 173rd anniversary of the day John Sutton’s will was written.)

Appreciating Viola Spolin

Aretha Sills discusses her grandmother, the legendary Viola Spolin, who invented an entire discipline and whose book Improvisation for the Theater is a fundamental text for generations of theatre artists. Viola’s son (and Aretha’s father) Paul Sills took Viola’s teachings “to the world,” where they became the foundation for more than sixty years of American acting and comedy. Aretha discusses Viola’s early training with Neva Boyd at the Jane Addams Hull-House in Chicago and with the Group Theatre in New York; early exposure to opera from her policeman father; how Viola’s work inspired the Playwright’s Theatre, the Compass Players, and Second City; the value of Spolin’s theatre games in de-colonizing authoritarian teaching methods; and the importance of understanding and honoring the origins of this work (play). (Length 22:47) (Photo courtesy of the Estate of Viola Spolin, www.violaspolin.org.)

Personifying The Muse

New York Times best-selling author Christopher Moore talks about his best-selling novel Sacre Bleu: A Comedy d’Art, and how he weaved together the history of the color ultramarine blue, the rise of the impressionists, and the death of Vincent Van Gogh to create a wildly entertaining novel about the sometimes-comic sometimes-poignant dangers of invoking the Muse. Featuring tips from Famous Genius School; ideas begun from simple notions; misappropriating (and mispronouncing) French terms; secrets of surviving book tours; inventing more Earthly Delights; the truth of the arrival of the muse; and the joy of discovering — and then filling in — holes in history. (Length 22:38)

Glory Of ‘Ensemble’

Mark Larson discusses his wonderful new book Ensemble: An Oral History of Chicago Theater, a magnificent (and massive!) collection of first-person narratives from such theatre legends as Alan Arkin, Brian Dennehy, Andre DeShields, Laurie Metcalf, Mary Zimmerman, Michael Shannon, Regina Taylor, RSC alum David Razowsky, David Schwimmer, and literally hundreds more, all explaining both the history and the unique nature of Chicago theatre as they lived and created it. Featuring gratitude to those who came before us; the concept of the Chicago theatre community itself as a massive ensemble; theatre as a civic point of pride; eliminating unnecessary characters (like the author); answering the question of why the concept of ensemble developed such strong roots in this particular city; the biggest surprises from this four-and-a-half year process (and how it relates to podcasting); similarities to Studs Terkel and Tom Wolfe; tales of enormous will and enormous generosity; great white whales who got away; the benefits of being an outsider at the edge of the story; making the reader feel part of the Chicago theatre community; how individuals and institutions assist and mentor others; and ultimately the freedom — the ability, the need — to take risks. (Length 21:45)

Episode 637. History Of Blackface

Director and teaching artist Jerrell L. Henderson discusses the history of Blackface, the troubling and racist practice of white people “blacking up” to portray demeaning African-American stereotypes (which was, incredibly, the most popular form of entertainment in America for over 100 years). Jerrell discusses its roots in minstrelsy, almost-Shakespearean levels of layers and multiple identities; shout-outs to great performers like Daddy Rice, J. Rosamund Johnson, Bob Cole, Ernest Hogan, George Walker, Bert Williams (above); genuine love being the butt of the joke; how some entertainers are responding to issues of yellow- and brown face better than others; a legacy of trauma and historical objections; and how greater onstage and onscreen representation in entertainment matters. (Length 21:45)

Episode 310. Kings And Queens

[vc_row full_width=”stretch_row” content_placement=”top” equal_height=”yes” parallax=”content-moving-fade” slider_images=”12004″ slider_animation=”fadeZoom” overlay_color=”rgba(0,0,0,0.2)” css=”.vc_custom_1512315432253{background-position: center;background-repeat: no-repeat;background-size: contain !important;}” anchor_link=”top”][vc_column width=”2/3″ offset=”vc_col-lg-offset-2″][rowshape type=”rowshape_4″ position=”bottom” height=”30″ color=”#2b272c”][rowshape type=”rowshape_4″ position=”bottom” height=”50″ color=”rgba(166,115,81,0.6)”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row full_width=”stretch_row” anchor_link=”intro” css=”.vc_custom_1451644722488{padding-top: 60px !important;padding-bottom: 100px !important;}”][vc_column][vc_empty_space height=”15px”][vc_column_text]No, not the Kevin James sitcom, nor the reality competition featuring RuPaul: Ginger UK production manager Davey Naylor recounts Read more…

Episode 297. Adam Long Returns

[vc_row full_width=”stretch_row” content_placement=”top” equal_height=”yes” parallax=”content-moving-fade” slider_images=”12004″ slider_animation=”fadeZoom” overlay_color=”rgba(0,0,0,0.2)” css=”.vc_custom_1512315432253{background-position: center;background-repeat: no-repeat;background-size: contain !important;}” anchor_link=”top”][vc_column width=”2/3″ offset=”vc_col-lg-offset-2″][rowshape type=”rowshape_4″ position=”bottom” height=”30″ color=”#2b272c”][rowshape type=”rowshape_4″ position=”bottom” height=”50″ color=”rgba(166,115,81,0.6)”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row full_width=”stretch_row” anchor_link=”intro” css=”.vc_custom_1451644722488{padding-top: 60px !important;padding-bottom: 100px !important;}”][vc_column][vc_empty_space height=”15px”][vc_column_text]”Founding RSC member Adam Long returns (for the length of this podcast, anyway) to tell us what he’s up Read more…

Episode 296. Davey’s Thameside Walk

[vc_row full_width=”stretch_row” content_placement=”top” equal_height=”yes” parallax=”content-moving-fade” slider_images=”12004″ slider_animation=”fadeZoom” overlay_color=”rgba(0,0,0,0.2)” css=”.vc_custom_1512315432253{background-position: center;background-repeat: no-repeat;background-size: contain !important;}” anchor_link=”top”][vc_column width=”2/3″ offset=”vc_col-lg-offset-2″][rowshape type=”rowshape_4″ position=”bottom” height=”30″ color=”#2b272c”][rowshape type=”rowshape_4″ position=”bottom” height=”50″ color=”rgba(166,115,81,0.6)”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row full_width=”stretch_row” anchor_link=”intro” css=”.vc_custom_1451644722488{padding-top: 60px !important;padding-bottom: 100px !important;}”][vc_column][vc_empty_space height=”15px”][vc_column_text]”UK Production Manager Davey Naylor gives us on an epic tour of the Thames Embankment from Vauxhall Bridge to Read more…