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Location: Lincoln, Nebraska

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Alec Guinness on Modern Dress Shakespeare

Alec Guinness articulated his very sensible approach for the first Stratford Festival Program, 1953. The photo shows him performing as the King of France, with Irene Worth as Helena. 

There is nothing new about presenting Shakespeare in modern dress. In fact the plays were always performed in contemporary costume until about one hundred and twenty years ago, when the actors Charles Kean and Macready startled theatrical London with their elaborate productions, the results of painstaking historical research.

Perhaps the ideal way of presenting the plays is to dress them in Elizabethan or early Jacobean costume, as Shakespeare did; but he was notoriously indifferent to historical accuracy and was quite content to make ancient Romans refer to clocks and rapiers, buttons on their togas and a dozen other anachronisms. On the other hand, the English historical plays cover a comparatively short span of years and are not too far removed from Tudor times for Shakespeare's carelessness to be noticeable, and I think it right that productions of these should at least suggest their own periods. When it comes, however, to some of the plays of no particular period, I believe that modern dress will often pay rich dividends in presentation. In a difficult play like All's Well That Ends Well many points can be elucidated by dress. If an actor appears in a dressing gown audiences will be immediately aware that he has come from his bed; if he is in evening dress they will know he is at a social function; if in military uniform, that he is a soldier; if he is extravagantly overdressed they will come to conclusions about his character, and if, for instance, the heroine appears in academic robes, they will credit her with scholarship, and so on. Our lack of knowledge of ancient costumes would let these often important points of character and situation pass unnoticed.

If people object to archaic language (sometimes quite as startlingly alive and modern as the latest phrases from New York) being spoken by people in contemporary clothes, I would suggest that it is really no more odd than Elizabethans speaking in iambic pentametres, which of course they never did. Modern dress will often breathe fresh air on an old play and give it a fair chance of revaluation, firmly pointing out how little the human heart changes through the centuries, and how remarkably alike we are to our forebears. We hope that this may be the case with a moving and strange play as All's Well, which is so seldom performed.

The actor's style of playing naturally changes with his clothes. An over life-size flamboyance and largeness of gesture which may fit happily with tights, velvet, long sleeves and fur trimmings are obviously unsuitable with a tuxedo. The actor has to think in terms of realism - or at any rate with real emotion - without forgetting that the play is written in lyrical verse and formal prose. This, at its best, will mean that he cannot resort to "staginess" or vocal tricks, but must treat his part carefully and seriously as if it was written by Shaw, Maugham, Eliot, or Fry, and I think few would deny that Shakespeare is worthy of such treatment, or that it is an excellent approach to strive for.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

*The Tempest* June 7 Through June 24 -- at The Swan and On Tour!

The Flatwater Shakespeare Company's The Tempest, directed by Ryan Kathman, offers an enchanting experience for the entire family. The production opens at the Swan Theatre at Wyuka Stables for two weekends, June 7-10 and 14-17. The show then tours across Lincoln with a weekend of free performances, June 21-24. Performances will start at 7 p.m. and conclude by 8:30 p.m.

Kathman and FSC Executive Director Summer Lukasiewicz have fashioned a brisk, thoroughly engaging version of William Shakespeare's timeless classic that blends comedy, drama, music, magic, and romance. The show will appeal to audiences of all ages.

After being stranded on an island for years, the powerful wizard Prospero – previously the Duke of Milan – finds an opportunity to reverse the wrongs visited upon him. With the help of the spirit Ariel, he conjures up a storm to shipwreck, but leave unharmed, the enemies who deposed him. Along with his mastery over the elements of wind, water, fire, and earth, Prospero is able secretly to direct a courtship between Miranda, his daughter, and Ferdinand, son of Alonso, King of Naples. Ariel interrupts two different assassination plots and confronts Prospero's enemies with their past crimes. Caliban, a native of the island, seeks freedom from being Prospero's servant and places his trust in two members of Alonso's court, the steward Stephania and the jester Trincula. Ariel also longs for an end to her service to Prospero. As all his grand designs are fulfilled, Prospero must decide between revenge and compassion.

Prospero is played by Richard Nielsen, in his 26th production with Flatwater Shakespeare. Anna Hahn and Joe Hansen are the island's main inhabitants, Ariel and Caliban. Kacey Rose and Justin Minchow appear as the new couple Miranda and Ferdinand, while Mary Chambers and Samantha Hannigan play the Shakespearean clowns Stephania and Trincula. Other performers include Katie Hoppe and James Allen as the villainously witty Antonia and Sebastian, Jeremy Blomstedt as the penitent Alonso, and Chet Kincaid as the kind courtier Gonzala. Cat Pestinger provides musical commentary as the show's Troubadour, performing original songs and familiar favorites. The entire cast brings the island's elemental spirits to life.

Production design is by the director, Ryan Kathman. Costumes are by Kat Cover, with set construction and scenic painting by Jerry Peterson, Matthew Lukasiewicz, Marie Kisling, and Anthony Slattery. Sound design and musical arrangements are by Mary Chambers, Cat Pestinger, and Ryan Kathman. Stephen Buhler is the dramaturg. Michelle Zinke is the stage and tour manager, with Katie Hoppe the assistant stage and tour manager. Linda Zinke is the box office manager.

As in previous years, Ivanna Cone will create a new ice cream flavor, which will be served free of charge during the final weekend's tour of Lincoln parks. The 2018 Flatwater FREE Shakespeare tour has been made possible by a grant from the Cooper Foundation.
Shakespeare is for everyone! For tickets at the Swan Theatre and for more information about Flatwater Shakespeare, visit www.flatwatershakespearecompany.org.

LIST OF LOCATIONS (all performances start at 7 p.m.):

Thursday–Sunday,June 7–12, Swan Theatre at Wyuka Stables, 3600 O Street
($20 adult, $18 senior, $15 student)

Thursday–Sunday,June 14-19, Swan Theatre at Wyuka Stables, 3600 O Street
($20 adult, $18 senior, $15 student)

Thursday, June 21 Belmont Park, N. 12th and Judson (Free)

Friday, June 22 Cooper Park, S. 6th and D (Free)

Saturday, June 23 Trago Park, N. 22nd and U (Free)

Sunday, June 24 Havelock Park, N. 63rd and Ballard (Free)

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Give to Lincoln Day 2018!

Magical experiences are in the works with Flatwater Shakespeare this summer: performances of The Tempest, our K-6 Little But Fierce program, our Grades 7-12 Sonnets and Songs program. 

Please support our productions and educational initiatives through Give to Lincoln Day 2018 -- you can donate now online!


Tuesday, May 01, 2018

FSC Education Programs Coming This Summer!

Registration is open now for both Little But Fierce, our sonnet-based Grades K-6 program, and Sonnets and Songs for Grades 7-12.  Participation is free of charge and on a first-come, first-served basis. Follow the link to sign up soon!