Archive for the 'shakespeare' Category

May 16 2016

STC’s Taming of the Shrew

Last night I saw Shakespeare Theatre Company’s new production, The Taming of the Shrew. It features an all-male cast, a craft market in the lobby, a lot of music, and a bunch of other cool immersive touches. As with every Shrew production I’ve seen, it struggles to rise above the misogynist speech in the final scene, but in other respects I thought it was quite marvelous. The actors were all superb, and extremely consistent. The musicality was impressive. You could almost say they turned the play into a musical — which is a kind of an odd choice, and it didn’t work 100% of the time, but there were points later in the story where it really elevated what was going on. It did, however, make for a long show. It ran almost 3 and a half hours. During the intermission they had drinks and snacks in the theater, and allowed the audience onto the stage while the actors continued to do… well, a lot of things that aren’t in the actual play. That might sound odd or gimmicky, but actually I found the result was unique and powerful. In fact I’d say the treatment of the intermission, and some of the threads that emerged from that, might have been the coolest part of the show.

Of course I drew. Some of these I drew on paper, and others on a new iPad Pro I’m testing out. I turned the brightness all the way down and worked on a grey background so I wouldn’t distract my neighbors. You can probably tell which drawings are digital and which are traditional (especially since there are some glaring clues besides the line quality) but I’m pretty impressed with some of the tools, especially ProCreate’s pencil simulation, which uses the Apple Pencil’s tilt sensor quite effectively.

 

The show runs through June. Definitely recommended.

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Mar 04 2016

STC’s Othello

Published by under shakespeare,sketchbook

Last night I went to Shakespeare Theatre Company’s production of Othello. It’s a powerful performance of a powerful play. Without further commentary, here are my sketches…

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Feb 11 2016

Midsummer at the Folger in midwinter

Published by under shakespeare,sketchbook

Last week I went to see the Folger’s excellent production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. It’s a fairly modern interpretation, with strong performances by the whole cast, including very physical performances by Puck and Oberon, a demurely scene-stealing Snug (Lion), and several lovely and comical musical interludes. Definitely recommended. It’s up until March 13. Here are my sketches.

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Nov 19 2015

Pericles at the Folger

Published by under reviews,shakespeare,sketchbook

Last night I went to see Pericles, Prince of Tyre at the Folger. Pericles is an unusual play, and most scholars think it was only partly written by Shakespeare (Wikipedia link). The first half of the play is colorful but rather choppy, as the narrator tugs us along quickly through an epic series of journeys, not really getting into much depth in terms of character or drama. However, the events themselves are quite interesting, with cool mythological overtones, and eventually the narrative builds up a compelling reality. Working with this source material, the small company of actors/musicians paints a beautiful and vivid tapestry. It’s visually lush and musically ambitious, and I recommend it quite highly. Here are the sketches I did during the performance.

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Aug 11 2015

Published by under Macbeth,odyssey,Poe,process

Today TeachingBooks.net is featuring an article I wrote about my process (in general, with specific focus on Macbeth). They also have a short audio clip I recorded about my approach to The Odyssey.

Poe status update: 1 month to go! Also, listening to The Iliad again in preparation for jumping into that.

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Feb 27 2015

Launch event recap

Published by under appearances,Macbeth

Presenting Macbeth at the TKPL, photo by Bruce Guthrie

I’ve had three Macbeth launch events so far, and all have gone swimmingly. First I was in Boston, dealing with snowbanks up to my chinny-chin-chin, but lots of folks came out to join me, for which I’m very thankful! Wellesley Books and Porter Square Books have been super-supportive of my work for years, so I was very happy to have the first launch events there.

The first event was at Wellesley Books, Alison’ former employer and a fabulous group of folks who are really family to us at this point. Lots of teachers came to this one, as well as friends and fans old and new.

Next up was Porter Square Books, with a great turnout including lots of good friends, and two fabulous actors from ASP doing a scene from Macbeth as part of the presentation. Mara and Jesse were great. If you’re in the Boston are you should really check out ASP, they stage wonderful productions.

The second round of events is here in the DC area. Monday night I was at the Takoma Park Library. Great turnout, including some of my fellow aikido students. The talented Dave Burbank turned the tables on me by doing this great drawing while I was presenting — and pulled in some imagery from my Macbeth reference photos as well!

Portrait of me presenting at TKPL, by Dave Burbank

Portrait of me presenting at TKPL, by Dave Burbank

Also Bruce Guthrie took all these great photos. This is the best-documented event I’ve done by far!

Me with Dave Burbank and Karen McPherson (two of my favorite librarians!)

 

Presenting at TKPL, photo by Bruce Guthrie

Tonight I’ll be at Hooray For Books in Alexandria, VA. No projector, so I’ll be drawing oldschool, on an easel. Next week I’m doing an event for local schools at Politics & Prose, and then my local events are done for a while. (To keep up with all my events and major news, sign up for my e-newsletter here.)

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Feb 07 2015

For Les

Published by under Macbeth

Macbeth comes out this week. Here is the dedication page…

 

Macbeth dedication page

 

Les Kanturek died almost 2 years ago, on Feb 25 2013, after a long battle with cancer. Of the many excellent art teachers I was lucky enough to learn from during my education at RIT and Parsons, Les was one of my favorites, and one of the few who became a close personal friend in the years after I graduated. He had an incredibly generous heart and a great sense of humor, and he made even dry subjects like how to do self-employed taxes fun to learn. He helped countless young illustration students find their artistic voice, and he will always be missed by those who had the good fortune to know him.

Here is a short video profile of Les created by Ray Zablocki: http://www.rayzablocki.com/179648/1870225/work/parsons-les-kanturek

You can see some of Les’ quirkier projects on his blog. There is a Facebook group called “For the Love of Les” featuring lots more stories and photos of Les.

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Feb 06 2015

Dunsinane

I went to see David Greig’s play Dunsinane, a production of the National Theatre of Scotland and Royal Shakespeare Company, playing at Shakespeare Theater Co. through 2/21 — More info here. I thought it was quite brilliant. It starts more or less where Macbeth ends, with Siward attempting to stabilize the country whose monarch he’s just unseated. It quickly asserts a more accurate version of the history than Shakespeare’s – Lady Macbeth is still alive, is known by her actual name, Gruach, and has a living son, Lulach. Macbeth has ruled for 17 years (relatively peacefully by Gruach’s account). A finer point, and I’m not sure if this is historically supported, but by clan heredity she embodies the crown of Scotland, her husband(s) being king only by marriage. The story is basically told from the point of view of the English soldiers, who find themselves in hostile territory, trying to stabilize a country whose culture they don’t understand — a deliberate parallel to the Iraq and Afghanistan situation.

The play is powerful, the acting is superb, and the themes are satisfyingly complex. Highly recommended.

Here are my sketches from the performance, with the usual caveat about a dark theater, blind contour, unflattering likenesses, etc.

I’m on a panel with several of these folks on Sunday. It should be very cool.

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Feb 03 2015

Mary Stuart at the Folger

Published by under reviews,shakespeare,sketchbook

The Folger Shakespeare Theater’s Mary Stuart just opened, and per my usual modus operandi, I went and did sketches. The house tends to be quite dark there, so most of these are “blind contour” drawings, with the bizarre proportions and overlaps that result from that.

The story is quite engaging, and the acting is excellent. The play has, as its title might suggest, a sympathetic view toward Mary Stuart, but also conveys the complex and dangerous situation in which Elizabeth I found herself with little choice but to treat Mary as an enemy. The sets and costumes are extremely well done, though I found the lack-of-color palette combined with a lack of action in the play made the performance a bit less interesting visually. Still, the personalities and various twists of the story kept me engaged, and I recommend the show to anyone who is (at least somewhat) interested in the Elizabethan period of history.

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Jan 30 2015

The Tempest part Deux, and more upcoming Shakespeare-related theatre

Published by under reviews,shakespeare,sketchbook

STC was kind enough to invite me to attend their magnificent production of The Tempest a second time. Sketches below!

Next up for STC are The Metromaniacs, a “rediscovered French comedy masterpiece” from 1738, translated/adapted by David Ives, and David Greig’s Dunsinane, a sequel to Macbeth, produced the National Theatre of Scotland and Royal Shakespeare Company.

Also the Folger is doing Mary Stuart, about the power struggle between Elizabeth I and Mary Queen of Scots.

Tempest sketches part two (part one here) —

Prospero’s final monologue is especially powerful in this production. Here it is in its entirety:

Now my charms are all o’erthrown,
And what strength I have’s mine own,
Which is most faint. Now, ’tis true,
I must be here confined by you,
Or sent to Naples. Let me not,
Since I have my dukedom got
And pardoned the deceiver, dwell
In this bare island by your spell,
But release me from my bands
With the help of your good hands.
Gentle breath of yours my sails
Must fill, or else my project fails,
Which was to please. Now I want
Spirits to enforce, art to enchant,
And my ending is despair,
Unless I be relieved by prayer,
Which pierces so that it assaults
Mercy itself and frees all faults.
As you from crimes would pardoned be,
Let your indulgence set me free.

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