Radical: Tennessee Shakespeare Gets Active, Playhouse Gets Orwell + More

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Twelfth Night
  • Twelfth Night

"Nation-wide, it is a period of radical absolutism: unapologetic racism, anti-Semitism, and sexism among a population and leadership struggling with the pervasiveness of one religion (over science) and fighting to prevent immigrants from entering its borders. The government is widely suspected of collusion with foreign adversaries while its own citizens’ rights are drained of protection," so begins the synopsis to the Tennessee Shakespeare Company's regional premier of Speak What We Feel, a  compiled script subtitled, Shakespeare's radical response to a radical time.

While the setup may sound familiar, the place that's being described is Elizabethan England. TSC founding director Dan McCleary will be joined onstage by Stephanie Shine, Darius Wallace, Merit Koch, Blake Currie, Nic Picou, Carmen-maria Mandley, and Shaleen Cholera. Together they will explore Shakespeare's "radical response," to all these things and more.

Speak What We Feel employs scenes from Richard III, Measure for Measure, Julius Caesar, As You Like It, Coriolanus, The Tempest, Merchant of Venice and Othello.

Here's a video of McLeary talking about Speak What We Feel:
2+2=5
  • 2+2=5
While we're on the topic of radical things, 1984 continues at The Circuit Playhouse this weekend. From the review: 
"Adaptations give us a chance to explore specific narrative threads and shine new light through old windows. In this case, exposing the audience to low grade torture techniques by way of flickering or flashing light, grating inescapable sound, triggering imagery and making us all hold our pee through the intermission-free show, drowns out a more interesting theme struggling to escape a relentlessly bleak event's sadistic gravity: Are our heroes, villains, allies and enemies all fictional constructs? Have they always been? By the time this idea expresses itself in dialogue, we're, once again, too agitated to see the elusive bigger picture. Maybe that's also the point." [MORE]
And while on the subject of Shakespeare, Twelfth Night continues at Theatreworks.
From the review: 
"If you want some measure of just how good William Shakespeare was on his best days, look no further than the New Moon Theatre Company's gag-packed production of Twelfth Night, a romantic comedy teetering at the edge of farce. Jokes can be fragile things, losing their punch with time, as sensibilities evolve. But 418 years after he wrote it down, Twelfth Night's jokes still land on their feet, and stumble hilariously into pratfall. This latest revival is curiously uneven but still bursts with life and laughter at TheatreWorks." [MORE]
Those in the mood for something a little less radical and/or Shakespeare related may want to drop in on a completely different kind of classic. Theatre Memphis is staging George S. Kaufman and Moss Hart's comedy The Man Who Came to Dinner.

Via Theatre Memphis
"Sheridan Whiteside’s fall while dining at the home of prominent socialites makes him an unexpected guest for six weeks of recovery. The hosts, however, are most in need of recovery as Whiteside invites in the glamorous and famous as a three-ring circus of comic chaos grows to include a luncheon for homicidal convicts and a complete children's choir."
Whiteside is a critic, naturally, and based on Alexander Woollcott, the ostensible leader of New York's Algonquin Round Table. Whiteside's played by Memphis actor and director, Jason Spitzer. 
Spitzer v Woollcott
  • Spitzer v Woollcott


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