Cymbeline – a rare jewel

5 – 15 October, Marrickville.

Cymbeline, one of Shakespeare’s last plays, is almost never performed in this country, so this is a very special chance to see a rare and curious jewel.

Staged by Secret House at the Depot Theatre (formerly the site of Sidetrack), directed by Sean O’Riordan, this is a play full to the brim with exquisite imagery and strong characters. You will see many of the elements that made Shakespeare’s name – a wrongly accused woman, lost children, mistaken identities, families torn asunder and reconciled – built into a folktale that is almost gothic in style.

Full details and bookings here.

Poster showing blonde woman holding knife in dark forest.
Cymbeline Final SRGB WEB

Much Dell’Arte About Nothing

17 & 18 October, Parramatta.

Much dell’Arte About Nothing

From Matriark Theatre, for three shows only, comes this lively, clever mash-up designed for school audiences. Get all the fun of the Italian Commedia dell’Arte, plus all the fun of Shakespeare’s best known and loved bits, rolled up together and rolled about a bit.

“Utilising slapstick, masks, stage combat, dance and stock characters, watch familiar Shakespearean references be transformed and invigorated.” – Read about the show here.

Full details of the performance schedule and bookings at Parramatta Riverside Theatre here.

Plus one show at the Casula Powerhouse 21 October.

Woman and man in Commedia masks and Elizabethan ruffs.

An STC Dream

16 September – 22 October, Sydney

A Midsummer Night’s Dream Directed by Kip Williams, staged by Sydney Theatre Company, will be running at the Sydney Opera House Drama Theatre for the remainder of September and most of October.

The cast includes Rob Collins, Honey Debelle, Brandon McClelland and Rose Riley as the four young lovers. Josh McConville, who only recently was Hamlet, has diminished (or is it blossomed?) into Bottom. Paula Arundell as Titania should be a treat, and I’m sure Bruce Spence has had a Mechanical in him looking for an outlet for his whole career.

The publicity leans heavily on a darker take on this play being some kind of innovation. Dark has been the default on this piece for several decades now, and I don’t think we’ve seen a gauze fairy wing since Vivian Leigh, but I guess they need an angle.

Teaching this play last year gave me my first reason to dig down into it properly, and what I discovered is that it is primarily about transformation. Turning Bottom into an ass is only the most literal embodiment of all the many transformations we experience, each of which is shown here to be as glorious as it is terrifying: magic is transformation, but so is acting, and so, above all, is love.

Full details and tickets here.

Young man and woman struggle with each other.
Honey Debelle and Rob Collins in rehearsal

Shakespeare’s #QandA moment has arrived

5 September, Sydney.

Earlier in the year we posted a clip from the ABC’s current affairs talk show Q&A, in which host Tony Jones coaxed a commitment from Germaine Greer to return for more Shakespeare talk.

Greer and Q&A have followed through with a special edition of the program, arranged in conjunction with the Festival of Dangerous Ideas and filmed at the Sydney Opera House. They have assembled an exceptional panel to converse and comment, and I hope we will see some stimulating questions.

Join Q&A for a Shakespeare special on Monday 5th September from 8.30pm at the Sydney Opera House.

Answering your questions is this stellar panel:

The founder of the Bell Shakespeare company John Bell
Shakespeare scholar Germaine Greer
Actor and writer Kate Mulvany
Indigenous performer Kylie Farmer, who is translating the Bard into the Nyungar language
Philosopher A.C. Grayling

Would you like to join the debate? If you would like to be part of the audience, you can register here.

The show is broadcast live on the ABC at 9.35pm on Monday.

How dangerous is mercy?

4 September, Sydney.

This event is already close to selling out, so move with a bridegroom’s fresh alacrity if you want tickets.

The Sydney Opera House Festival of Dangerous Ideas this year will include a cross-disciplinary session inspired by The Merchant of Venice which is sure to be fascinating.

In an innovative format, a performance of the trial scene from The Merchant of Venice will accompany a panel discussion with experts offering literary, philosophical and legal perspectives on the issues raised by this passage.

From the SOH website:

“The quality of mercy is not strained: It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven. / Upon the place beneath. It is twice blessed: It blessed him that gives, and him that takes.” – Portia, The Merchant of Venice

Have we lost the quality of mercy? If we aim only for what is fair, or for justice, do we narrow the scope for something better? Is there still room for mercy in a secular state?

Sydney Opera House and Bell Shakespeare collaborate to bring the courtroom session from The Merchant of Venice to life and focus on contemporary dilemmas of mercy, justice and the law.

Speakers: Deng Adut, A.C. Grayling, Germaine Greer and Michael Kirby, Chaired by Jane Caro

Cast: John Bell (Duke), Brian Lipson (Shylock), Andrea Demetriades (Portia), James Evans (Antonio), Damien Strouthos (Bassanio), Jacob Warner (Gratiano), Directed by Peter Evans

Full details here.

The Pop-Up Globe Lives On

New Zealand actors, here is your opportunity to become part of the next phase of the life of this magical appearing-disappearing-reappearing theatre.

Interior of open-air Globe with actors in period costume.
Twelfth Night

Auckland’s Pop-Up Globe is auditioning for actors to join their 2017 season. Auditions are by invitation, and the work is paid (whoo-hoo!). Auditions take place in September and October.

Details for what is needed to secure an audition are here.

Logo with block drawing of Globe theatre. Text: Pop-up Globe the 2016 Auckland season.

Congratulations Mark Leonard Winter

This was the week of the Helpmann Awards, Australia’s annual awards for live performance.

The award for Best Male Actor in a Supporting Role in a Play went to Mark Leonard Winter for his performance as Edgar in the Sydney Theatre Company’s production of King Lear.

B&W headshot of young, white man.

Edgar is always a demanding, virtuoso role, that allows a younger actor to show his mettle. The review of King Lear in the Guardian said, “Mark Leonard Winter as Edgar debased into the madman Poor Tom is also wonderful. His nakedness draped only by a tendril of tinsel, Winter is so persuasive in his lunacy that when Lear drops his own pants too, and he and Tom stumble around the storm together – real rain beating down on their uncovered skulls – chaos and comedy perfectly collide.”

Congratulations to Mark, and to the production.


Twelfth Night at Belvoir Street

From 23 July, Sydney.

One of the highlights of Shakespeare performance in Sydney this year will surely be Belvoir’s production of Twelfth Night.

Twelfth Night manages to be a joyous festival of inversions – “Girls are boys, boys are girls, puritans are lusting suitors, drunkards are moralists, and fools, of course, are wise” – while also revealing just how destabilised these changes to the expected order of things can make us feel. It identifies love absolutely with this feeling that the earth is tipping beneath our feet. “Even so quickly may one catch the plague.” It also shows love as the search for the right matched self – order is restored when we finally see clearly what is in front of us. It is for these things that this play has remained so adored, and so often performed.

Director Eamon Flack has leant heavily towards a cast of veteran actors who know and love their Shakespeare. This will be a chance to see a much loved text spoken by actors who understand fully the rhythms and nuances that create Shakespeare’s characters. It will be interesting to see what is brought to the story by an Orsino who really should know better, or a Malvolio who really, REALLY should know better by now.

This play’s seeming foolery forces us to ask the question: how can we know for sure who it is we love?

Mixed group of actors in a rehearsal room, dancing.
Image by Brett Boardman

23 July – 4 September 2016
8pm Saturday 23 July
6.30pm Sunday 24 July
8pm Tuesday 26 July
Opening Night
8pm Wednesday 27 July
Unwaged Performance
2pm Thursday 1 September
Sunday Forum
3pm 4 September
Tuesday & Wednesday 6.30pm, Thursday & Friday 8pm,
Saturday 2pm & 8pm, Sunday 5pm
Box Office 02 9699 3444