Post WWII Trinidad Visits UK
Feb. 25-Apr. 12; various: Talawa Theatre Company and London’s National Theatre tour the UK, performing Errol John’s Moon on a Rainbow Shawl. Set in Trinidad, the post-World War II drama features ambitious Ephraim, who's determined to build a better life, despite opportunities and obstacles that seem to stand his way. For more details, click here.
Allende’s Spirits at Ohio State U
Feb. 26-Mar. 6; Columbus, OH: See Caridad Svich’s adaptation of Isabel Allende’s House of the Spirits, about four generations of an upper-class Latin American family caught up in twentieth-century events. The Allende-endorsed show captures the essence of the novel without following its plot. Click for details.
Shakespeare’s Caesar at FIU
Feb. 28-Mar. 9; Miamia, FL:
Florida International University stages Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, about the general’s assassination and its aftermath. Including "gender changes," the production also introduces multimedia effects. Click here for performance details.
Hamlet Duo Tours US
Mar. 1-May 4; various: The Acting Company performs Shakespeare’s Hamlet, about the Prince of Denmark’s preoccupation with vengeance for the murder of his father. The company alternates its performance of the Renaissance tragedy with Tom Stoppard’s twentieth-century tragicomedy Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, about Hamlet’s ill-fated school chums. For tour details, click here.
Hofstra U Has Bard’s Twins
Mar. 6-16; Hempstead, NY: Hofstra University stages Shakespeare’s The Comedy of Errors, about two sets of twins who’ve been separated at birth. Hilarity ensues when the paths (and lives) of both sets of twins cross in adulthood, without their being aware of it. Click here for more details.
Mar. 8-30; San Francisco, CA: The African-American Shakespeare Company performs Euripides Medea, about an abandoned wife who exacts savage revenge on her husband by way of their children. For performance details, click here.
D. Washington in Raisin Revival
Mar. 8-June 15; NY, NY: Denzel Washington stars as Walter Lee Younger in Lorraine Hansberry’s A Raisin in the Sun at the Ethel Barrymore Theater. A working-class African American family in late 1940s Chicago wrestles over how to spend father Younger's life-insurance money. For more details, click here.
Shrew at Alabama Bard Fest
Mar. 14-30; Montgomery, AL: Alabama Shakespeare Festival stages The Taming of the Shrew, in which surly Katharina meets her match in cunning Petruchio. Bent on wooing, marrying, and taming her, Petruchio wagers at the end that indeed he has done so. Click here for more details.
Ripoff of Much Ado at Yale
Mar. 14-Apr. 5; New Haven, CT: Yale Repertory Theatre transforms Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing into These Paper Bullets! featuring Ben, Claude, Balth, and Pedro Quarto. From Liverpool, the foursome sets out for London to find true love and cut an album in seven nights. For more details, click here.
Of Mice and Men on Broadway
Mar. 19; Apr. 16-July 27; NY, NY:
Longacre Theater (an appropriately named venue) stages John Steinbeck’s own adaptation of his novella about two migrant ranch hands in Depression-era California. The ranch hands, friends George and Lennie, drift from one job to the next until circumstances threaten their dream to own their own plot of land. Click here
for performance details.
CONTESTS Four in One at George State U
Mar. 24 deadline; Milledgeville, GA: Georgia College & State University welcomes national and international writers to its Arts & Letters contest. Enter to win publication and $1,000 in four separate categories: Fiction (Short Story), Poetry, Drama (One-Act Play), and Creative Nonfiction (Essay). Click here for more details.
New Sappho Poetry Discovered at Oxford U
It’s exciting to learn that a favorite author has new work coming out, but impossible, one would think, if she lived in Ancient Greece. Until last month, the belief was that just a single poem of Sappho's (c. 630-c. 570 BCE) has survived intact. But a discovery appears to have changed this state of affairs. Oxford University lecturer Dirk Obbink, a papyrologist (studies ancient manuscripts written on papyrus paper), has authored a forthcoming article in the journal Zeitschrift für Papyrologie und Epigraphik, verifying that two unknown fragments from a private London collector are in fact the work of Sappho. One bit of evidence is a reference to her brother, Charaxus (whose existence was recorded in the 400s BCE by the historian Herodotus). Also the work fits with poetry already attributed to Sappho—meter and dialect are directly in her style.
Sappho was born into an aristocratic family on the Greek island of Lesbos and appears at some point to have been exiled to Sicily for political reasons. In antiquity, she was considered one of the great poets. Plato called Sappho "the tenth Muse." Her poems are most famous for their themes of love and eroticism; generally, her lyrics did much to establish the conventional poetic images of lovesickness (uncertainty, bondage and slavery, sleeplessness). See below for the first three stanzas of one of the newly attributed poems. Its speaker appears to be chastising someone for taking for granted the return home of Charaxus (i.e., Sappho’s brother).
But you always chatter that Charaxus is coming,
His ship laden with cargo. That much, I reckon, only Zeus
Knows, and all the gods; but you, you should not
Think these thoughts,
Just send me along, and command me
To offer many prayers to Queen Hera
That Charaxus should arrive here, with
His ship intact,
And find us safe. For the rest,
Let us turn it all over to higher powers;
For periods of calm quickly follow after
L to R: Sappho (50 CE; 400s BCE).
Landmark Holocaust Memoir Wins Prestigious Prize
Feb. 26 Professor Otto Dov Kulka won the Jewish Quarterly-Wingate Prize for Landscapes of the Metropolis of Death. A poetic memoir (episodes, images, impressions, dreams) of his childhood at Theresienstadt and Auschwitz, the work has been called the “most powerful since Primo Levi.”
Hiddleston in Coriolanus from National Theatre Live
Expression via graffiti is as old as Rome, and as new as Donmar Warehouse’s live performance of Shakespeare’s Coriolanus, broadcast last month and this in theatres worldwide. Set in fifth century BCE Rome, before the rise of the ancient empire, "it's a play," says director Josie Rourke, "about the bloody birth of democracy. When is that not timely?... particularly right now” (Telegraph, 22 Nov 2013). What she’s given us is a stark, quick-paced rendition, driven by a stellar cast on a spare, clever set: chairs, ladders, and descending fireballs are used to conjure a battlefield, and there’s a back wall. Half blood-red and graffiti-sprayed, its writings express popular discontent ("Grain at our own price"). The wall also serves as a screen for projected images: scrawled battle cries, warriors’ names, the gates of an enemy city. A torrent of shower water appears onstage too (see why below).
Rome suffers internally from class warfare; externally, from intercity strife. In almost single-handed triumph, arrogant, aristocratic Caius Martius (played by Tom Hiddleston) defeats the Volscians of the city Corioles. He’s a fierce, impetuous, unbending, honorable, brave, stoic, soldierly man. And a private glimpse of him reveals more; showering off the blood after battle, he gasps from the pain of it, with defiant grit. Rome awards him a third name for his service, Caius Martius Coriolanus. And his ambitious, domineering, militaristic mother, Volumnia (Deborah Findlay), persuades the politically naïve war hero to run for consul in the Senate, where two tribunes engineer his downfall. Inciting the citizenry against him, the schemers succeed. An enraged Coriolanus erupts into a tirade of contempt for commoners (and the evils of democracy), whereupon Rome banishes him. In disgust, Coriolanus seeks out longtime Volscian foe Aufidius (Hadley Fraser), prepared to be killed by him, but instead they form an alliance to wreak vengeance on Rome. Together the two constitute a fearsome threat. Old friends (i.e., funny, fatherly Menenius [Mark Gatiss]) hope in vain to persuade Coriolanus to desist. But nothing moves him until the appearance of a fateful threesome: his mother; his wife, Virgilia (Brigitte Hjort Sorensen); and their young son, Martius. Tragedy ensues. Is the production perfect? No, say critics, who object to its portrayal of the Volscians as such blunt-spoken types, of Aufidius as so homoerotic, and of one of the tribunes as a female. But, for most, such quibbles pale in light of the production’s strengths, its ability to bring out nuances, its powerful images: Young Martius traces an ominous, blood-red acting area onstage while the plebs spraypaint their graffiti on the back wall. Coriolanus kneels in respect before his manipulative mother, who echoes the movement later, kneeling in supplication to him; and Hiddleston delivers up a richly textured, more-complex-than-usual Coriolanus. Click below for a quick peek.