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Sept. 7th Reading CANCELLED

American Shakespeare Repertory will NOT be performing their scheduled reading on September 7th. Please subscribe to our RSS feed or Facebook fanpage to receive an automatic notice when we announce the new date for King John.

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Complete Reading #20 – King John

UPDATE: Due to schedule conflicts with some of the cast, our reading of King John has been postponed. American Shakespeare Repertory will not be performing anything on the evening of September 7th.

King JohnFresh off our success at the 2011 Minnesota Fringe Festival, the American Shakespeare Repertory is returning to our critically acclaimed Complete Readings of William Shakespeare with the under-appreciated and rarely-produced King John.

King John‘s star once shone far brighter than it does today. In fact, a silent film version of the play filmed in 1899 is the earliest surviving film adaptation of a Shakespearean play.

Like many of Shakespeare’s history plays, King John is about far more than the title character: Here the stage is ruled by the titanic, generational struggle of wills between the cunning craft of old Queen Elinor, the fiery passion of young Constance, the sheer force of the Bastard of Faulconbridge, and the guilty conflict of Hubert de Burgh.

KING JOHN

SEPTEMBER 7th, 2011
7:30 PM
Tickets: Pay What You Can!

Lowry Lab Theater
350 St. Peter Street
St. Paul, MN
Directions to the Theater

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Rape of Lucrece – CLOSES TONIGHT

William Shakespeare's Rape of Lucrece

William Shakespeare’s Rape of Lucrece closes TONIGHT at 7pm a the Theatre in the Round.

This is your last chance to see the “tour de force” (TC Theater Connection) of its “oppressive intimacy” (TC Metro) “recalling ancient storytelling techniques that have lost none of their emotional potency.” (examiner.com).

Sunday 8/14 – 7:00 pm

Theatre in the Round Players
245 Cedar Ave.

Minnesota Fringe Festival 2011

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Rape of Lucrece – Lucrece’s Ordeal

William Shakespeare's Rape of LucreceIn February 2009, a woman named Samira Jassim in the Diyala province of Iraq confessed to organizing the rape of 80 women. The “shame” these women felt at being raped allowed Jassim to recruit them as suicide bombers to “redeem” their honor.

No less shocking are the thousands of “honor killings” that take place every year in various Asian and Middle Eastern cultures as men kill their sisters and their daughters for “dishonoring” the family. Even in countries where authorities have attempted to outlaw the practice, cultural imperatives often continue to create needless tragedies. For example, Turkey’s efforts to severely punish “honor” killings (by applying life sentences not only for the perpetrator but for all family members involved in the decision-making) have given rise to the increased practice of “honor suicides” among Kurdish girls.

The story of Lucrece reminds us that these practices are not some peculiarity of the East. These beliefs and practices are part of the cultural tradition of the West, as well. And, in fact, it was consideration of the Lucrece story itself which played a large part in the philosophical revolution in Europe that overturned the beliefs that led to Lucrece’s tragedy. (For example, Thomas Aquinas’ refutation of Lucrece’s ethical justification for her suicide had, and continues to have, a major impact on the Catholic perception of the issue.)

Shakespeare’s Lucrece captures and recapitulates the entirety of this ethical and moral debate, while simultaneously personalizing it into a moving and dramatic portrayal of Lucrece’s inner and outer struggles in coping with unimaginable trauma.

William Shakespeare’s Rape of Lucrece has only one performance left. Come see it this Sunday at the Theatre in the Round:

Sunday 8/14 – 7:00 pm

Theatre in the Round Players
245 Cedar Ave.

Minnesota Fringe Festival 2011

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Rape of Lucrece – Only Two Performances Left!

William Shakespeare's Rape of Lucrece

Examiner.Com (Fringe Dispatch by Brad Richason): “Shakespeare, of course, can match wits with anyone, but the emotional authority of his dramatic verse wields an unsurpassable emotional charge. Few of his works demonstrate this evocative power as bracingly as his epic poem, The Rape of Lucrece… Rather than offering a dry recital of the text, the American Shakespeare Company’s Justin Alexander and Cara Kluver fiercely possess their roles, voicing Shakespeare’s rhythmic text with a sublime knack not only for the cadence, but for the underlying emotions. A minimalist production, Alexander and Kluver are afforded no option but to depict the appalling events through performance alone. Such audacity could have proven dire in less skilled hands, but these two remarkable performers transform the stage into an inescapable crime scene, depicting the horrific deed and subsequent anguish with unflinching commitment. As Lucrece, Kluver is especially moving, projecting horror, rage, and shame with a heartrending realism. Courageously committed, this is acting at its most primal and profound, recalling ancient storytelling techniques that have lost none of their emotional potency.” (read more)

Audience Review (by Katlin Malm): “I found the show to be very powerful and moving. I have not stopped thinking about it since I saw it. It made me cry, in a good way…”

Audience Review (by Phyllis Kahn): “With all the take offs and parodies of Shakespeare in the festival, it was great to have this dramatic reading of a poem as Will wrote it. Both actors were terrific and it was an emotional experience.”

Audience Review (by Jesse Field): “Are you thrilled to the core? Horrified by war? Then go see this.”

Audience Review (by John Heimbuch): “Fans of Shakespeare’s text, imagery and allegory will find much enjoyment from this production of a rarely-seen work.”

Only two performances left! Come check us out:

Thursday 8/11 – 5:30 pm
Sunday 8/14 – 7:00 pm

Theatre in the Round Players
245 Cedar Ave.

Minnesota Fringe Festival 2011

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Rape of Lucrece – Shakespeare’s Lucrece

William Shakespeare's Rape of LucreceIn 1592 a massive outbreak of the plague hit London (over the next two years 15,000 people would die). As was common during times of plague, the theaters were closed in an effort to slow the spread of the disease. Acting companies were forced to leave the city on tour and the demand for new plays became virtually nonexistent.

During this time, Shakespeare wrote his two epic poems: Venus & Adonis and Lucrece (now more commonly known as The Rape of Lucrece). These poems were dedicated to the Earl of Southhampton, and the popular hypothesis is that the young Shakespeare – faced with destitution in the face of the plague – sought out a patron for his poetic arts. Even more hypothetically, it may have been Southhampton’s patronage which made it possible for Shakespeare to purchase a share in the Lord Chamberlain’s Men in 1594 when the plague came to an end.

Shakespeare never wrote another epic poem, but, perhaps unsurprisingly, the tale of Lucrece continued to influence his work: Macbeth goes “with Tarquin’s ravishing strides” to murder Duncan; in Coriolanus the downfall of the Tarquin kings (as a direct result of the events depicted in Lucrece) serves as a backdrop for the political drama; Hamlet, like Lucrece, dwells on the death of Priam and the weeping of Hecuba as an analog for his own grief; in both Romeo & Juliet and A Midsummer Night’s Dream the imagery of raped Philomel transformed into the singing nightingale is evoked (as it is in Lucrece); in Twelfth Night Shakespeare even gives us a little personal product placement for Lucrece (by using it as Olivia’s signet ring).

Thursday 8/11 – 5:30 pm
Sunday 8/14 – 7:00 pm

Theatre in the Round Players
245 Cedar Ave.

Minnesota Fringe Festival 2011

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Rape of Lucrece – Returns TONIGHT

William Shakespeare's Rape of Lucrece

Just three performances left for William Shakespeare’s Rape of Lucrece and one of them is TONIGHT:

Tuesday 8/9 – 10:00 pm
Thursday 8/11 – 5:30 pm
Sunday 8/14 – 7:00 pm

Theatre in the Round Players
245 Cedar Ave.

Minnesota Fringe Festival 2011

Facebook Event

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Rape of Lucrece – Scripts

Lucrece - William ShakespeareFor those of you being introduced to the American Shakespeare Repertory for the first time with our production of William Shakespeare’s Rape of Lucrece in the 2011 Minnesota Fringe Festival, one of the distinguishing traits of the company is our “foundational” approach to Shakespeare.

As part of the Complete Readings of William Shakespeare, we go back to the original scripts as they were published during (and shortly after) Shakespeare’s lifetime. We then build up our performance scripts by re-exploring and re-establishing the scholastic traditions of the last 400 years while following a principle of least interference. The process has not only given us a deeper appreciation of the texts themselves, but also — in our opinion — resulted in more accurate and useful scripts for the purposes of rehearsal and performance.

We first performed the epic poem Lucrece as part of the Complete Readings in February 2010 with Emma J. Mayer in the title role. For that performance we used a complete version of the poem based on the original 1594 Quarto:

LUCRECE – FULL TEXT

Unlike many of Shakespeare’s works, there is not much to say about this text: It is remarkably clean and free from errors. One point of potential interest is that the poem was originally published as Lucrece and only later became popularly known as The Rape of Lucrece.

CUTTING SHAKESPEARE

When it came time to revisit the show for the Fringe Festival, it was necessary to cut the text so that it could be performed within the festival’s 60 minute time limit.

Cutting Shakespeare is a difficult and daunting task at the best of time. Before you can even begin, you must first have a deep understanding of the work: Otherwise you’ll have no idea what valuable dramatic beats and textual clues you may inadvertently and ignorantly discard.

Fortunately, having edited the text and previously performed the piece, I was intimately familiar with it. But, of course, there were still mysteries. (For example, I’m still not entirely sure why Shakespeare so frequently emphasizes the image of a honey bee over the course of the poem. Each individual piece of imagery makes sense; but I haven’t fully grasped its pervasive totality. Since I was uncertain what Shakespeare was trying to accomplish, I erred on the side of caution and left every honey bee allusion intact.)

Once the process of cutting actually begins, I find it most effective to perform multiple passes through the text. This allows one to gently massage the text instead of feeling the need to cut huge chunks out of it. I can identify the extraneous while also preserving the essential. And it generally makes me more successful in maintaining as much of the text’s original structure and content.

In the case of Lucrece, for example, I performed six passes through the text — each refining the result. (And later a seventh when we were still running a couple minutes too long.) I am very pleased with the result: The only element of the original poem which is entirely missing from this cut is the character of Lucrece’s maid (who fetches her pen and paper to write). And the success of the cut seems testified by those who have seen the show and, having read the poem, feel nothing in its absence.

Here’s the final version of our script as it is being performed:

RAPE OF LUCRECE (MINNESOTA FRINGE FESTIVAL – DRAFT 7)

This script also shows how the lines have been assigned to the two actors for the purposes of performance.

TEXTUAL PRACTICES

Source Text: First Quarto (1594)

1. Original emendations in [square brackets].
2. Spelling has been modernized.
3. Punctuations has been silently emended (in minimalist fashion).
4. In the Fringe 2011 script, lines have been assigned to the two actors for the purpose of performance.

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Rape Lucrece – Reviews from Opening Weekend

William Shakespeare's Rape of Lucrece

Twin Cities Metro (Review by Will Wlizlo): “American Shakespeare Repertory’s minimal dramatization of Lucrece [is] oppressively intimate in the moment; leaves you feeling exposed and morally grasping. (…) Lucrece, played by Cara Kluver, dashed between emotional extremes—from simpering fear to murderous fury, rational lucidity to bottomless grief—with endurance and skill.” (read more)

Audience Review (by Aseem Kaul): “A superb performance that brings Shakespeare’s epic poem powerfully to life. Cara Kluver is haunting as Lucrece, and Justin Alexander gives a stormy performance as Tarquin… More than anything else, Rape of Lucrece breathes fresh life into a somewhat neglected work, showcasing the lyrical force of Shakespeare’s poetry, the vividness of his imagery, and the depth of his sympathy for his characters.”

Audience Review (by Adric Turlough): “This was a well-done staging of Shakespeare’s poem, with impressive performances by the two-person cast. Lines of the poem are exchanged between the Storyteller and Lucrece, intensifying the story, and each of the multiple characters portrayed by Justin Alexander’s Storyteller are compelling. (…) I found myself absorbed in the world that the poem created. The staging and use of light, and lack of light, skillfully accentuated the tense atmosphere of the poem. The Theatre in the Round is a perfect space for this, bringing the audience up-close to, and surrounding, the characters and their emotions.”

We’ve got three performances left. Come check us out:

Tuesday 8/9 – 10:00 pm
Thursday 8/11 – 5:30 pm
Sunday 8/14 – 7:00 pm

Theatre in the Round Players
245 Cedar Ave.

Minnesota Fringe Festival 2011

Facebook Event

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Fringe Mini – The Rape of Lucrece

William Shakespeare's Rape of LucreceThe “opening weekend” of William Shakespeare’s Rape of Lucrece has been a rousing success. We’ve got three shows left:

Tuesday 8/9 – 10:00 pm
Thursday 8/11 – 5:30 pm
Sunday 8/14 – 7:00 pm

Joshua Humphrey of the Twin Cities Theater Connection podcast caught up with me at the Rarig Center on Thursday evening. He’s got our Fringe Mini interview up on his site. Check it out. And then come and join us for this intimate, erotic, and savage evening of intense blank verse later this week.

Theatre in the Round Players
245 Cedar Ave.

Minnesota Fringe Festival 2011

Facebook Event