I’ve been crunching hard on Macbeth (I delivered the line work last week), so I’ve got a backlog of things to post. But here’s one I wanted to get up right away. The Folger Shakespeare Library was kind enough to invite me to their very powerful new production of Romeo & Juliet. I drew a bunch, but the house was very dark, so I was drawing completely blind — hence the rather dada-esque nature of most of these sketches.
The show is directed by Aaron Posner, and stars Michael Goldsmith as Romeo and Erin Weaver as Juliet, plus Aaron Bliden, Rex Daugherty, Brian Dykstra, Sherri Edelen, Eric Hissom, Brad Koed, Shannon Koob, Joe Mallon, Allen McCullough, Matthew McGee, and Michele Osherow.
Later in the season they are doing Richard III and Two Gentlemen of Verona.
As I mentioned in my last post, I’m enjoying a lovely, serendipitous cross-promotion with Actors’ Shakespeare Project and their new production of Romeo & Juliet, which opens this week. The timing didn’t work out for me to see the whole show, but I caught a couple of hours of their tech rehearsal on Sunday night. I only got to see the last few scenes, but it looks really good! Here are a few sketches I did. They ran through each bit a couple of times, so in some cases I got multiple drawings of the same thing.
A big thank-you to Adele and Allyn for arranging logistics, and Maurice for giving me a ride back to Cambridge. The show is directed by Allyn Burrows and Bobbie Steinbach, and stars Jason Bowen and Julie Ann Earls as R&J. Also shown are Ben Rosenblatt (Paris), Ken Baltin (Capulet), Miranda Craigwell (Lady Capulet), and Maurice Emmanuel Parent (Mercutio/Apothecary).
My book launch events this weekend went really well, I think. Of special note was the event at Porter Square Books, where I did a slideshow illustrating the development of the concepts and designs for my R&J, and showed pages from the book, highlighting a few of my favorite passages. When I got the balcony scene, two teenagers who were “planted” among the audience popped up and surprised everyone (else) with a really beautiful live performance of the scene. They were Frank and Natasha, two talented young actors who recently starred in Actor’s Shakespeare Project’s Youth Program production of R&J. I want to thank them again for doing such a fantastic job — and also ASP resident actor Mara Sidmore, for working with them, helping to figure out the cuing and blocking, playing Mercutio and the Nurse, and generally helping make it all work really smoothly. Thanks also to David and Carol at Porter Square Books, and Adele and Allyn at ASP, who all helped to arrange the whole thing.
Readers of this blog will already be familiar with ASP from the sketches I’ve been doing at their dress rehearsals for several years. I love this group! I am thrilled to report that, by happy coincidence, they are staging Romeo & Juliet starting this week at the Strand theater in Dorchester, and besides participating in my launch party they are also going to be selling my book at their concession stand. I got to sit on the end of a tech rehearsal Sunday night, and it looks excellent. (I’ll be posting a couple of sketches from that in the next day or two.)
Kirkus makes me very happy today with a lovely starred review — unfortunately it’s subscription-only until 8/27, but among other things they called it a “spellbinding graphic-novel production. As thrilling and riveting as any staging,” and said I “expertly abridged the original text while embellishing it with modern sensibilities.”
I have updated the main Romeo & Juliet page with sample images and a link to pre-order signed copies, so please check that out. Plus I will soon be announcing several launch events in DC, NY, Boston, and online.
At one point I was thinking about setting Romeo & Juliet in the Harlem Renaissance, and I watched some fun documentaries about it. I had a lot of fun sketching some of the great lindy routines they were doing in the dance scenes.
11-22-63 (Stephen King) – good, but WAY too long. A Wizard of Earthsea (Ursula LeGuin) – still great, but too short. Out of the Silent Planet (C.S. Lewis) – still fun, but WAY too short. Apprentice Adept (Piers Anthony) – I’ve long since outgrown his writing, but this series is still fun and I think it’s high time we made “The Game” in real life. Who’s with me? SEAL team Six (Howard Wasdin) – I don’t quite know what possessed me to read this. It’s not bad, but pretty much just what you’d expect. Steve Jobs (Walter Isaacson) – good, but repetitive. Needed better editing. The ubiquitous cover photo has caused numerous people to tell me I look like Steve Jobs. Ready Player One (Ernest Cline, read by Will Wheaton) – fantastic! The perfect audiobook, at least for a child of the ’80s. Divergent (Veronica Roth) – at times I enjoyed this, but found it ultimately unconvincing, and I have a pretty strong feeling “the intellectuals are the bad guys” is not just a convenient plot device, it’s something she believes. David Copperfield (Dickens) – couldn’t finish. It was bad enough when the protagonist was a non-character, but when he turned into a debauched twerp I couldn’t take it any more. Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (Stieg Larsson) – holy exposition Batman! Couldn’t finish. Tried the film, and still don’t understand why so many people like it. I found it to be a weak mystery with weak writing and chockablock with horrible gratuitous unpleasantness. Winter’s Tale (Mark Helprin) – pretty interesting, but I couldn’t finish. I think the reader killed it for me. The Bluest Eye (Tony Morrison) – brilliant, and oh so unpleasant. The Old Man and the Sea (Hemingway) – ditto, but in a different way. A Farewell to Arms (Hemingway) – even more depressing. Snuff (Terry Pratchett) – not his best, but quite good. The Scarlet Letter (Hawthorn) – I enjoyed this way more than I was expecting based on my very vague memories of it. Soon I Will Be Invincible (Austin Grossman) – I enjoyed this more in print, I think. The readers are mediocre. The Ring of Solomon(Jonathan Stroud) – Awesome, awesome, awesome. The Wake of the Lorelei Lee (L.A. Meyer) – as with the rest of the series, highly enjoyable, thanks mostly to the fabulous reading of Katherine Kellgren. Three Cups of Tea (Greg Mortenson) – good. Better (Atul Gawande) – Complications was better than Better. I was hoping for more insight on how surgeons stay on the top of their game, especially with the long hours that seem to come with that job.
and of course my favorite audio series, which I constantly revisit, Sherlock Holmes.
I thought it would be interesting to see if sculpting a few of my main characters in 3D would improve my ability to draw their likeness easily and consistently. I built a low-poly 3D base head and used Mudbox to sculpt the details. Obviously I didn’t take it to a fully-finished level, especially the hair, but this is more or less what Romeo looks like.
The jury’s still out on whether this was useful or not, but it was kind of fun anyway, and makes me feel just a little less out of the loop as far as 3D graphics.