“Total f**king insanity!” It was with these three words that I embraced director Josh T. Ryan last night following his production of Othello at Zombie Joe’s Underground. The hour-long adaption (and the word “adaption” is one you really should bear in mind before seeing this show) by Ryan and the legendary Zombie Joe himself displays the kind of majestic anarchy and unrivaled theatrical madness that sets it apart from the regular diet of staid retellings usually on offer. The production is witty, engaging, and constantly on the move: Iambic pentameter by the scruff of the neck, Shakespeare by the horns, everything ravaged by a cracking pace of delivery and devilry.
The course is steered by a truly ensemble cast. Vincent Cusimano’s fearless Iago is very, very funny complete with full-throttle theatricality and naked flesh. Vanessa Cate’s Othello is brooding and paranoid, and the entirely invented role of the Photographer, played by Sebastian Muñoz is as wicked as it is depraved. The rest of the cast including Kirsten Benjamin as Desdemona, Anna Gion as Emilia, Quinn Knox as Cassio, Hedy Beinert as Bianca, Tyler Koster as Montano, Hannah Mosqueda as Roderigo, and R. Benjamin Warren as Fineas all sparkle in their own unique way and make a sensuous dance of this adaptation.
The high-octane humour is tempered by moments of genuine poignancy…but lest the production take itself too serious it’s not long before the Moor of Venice is breaking into song. I want to repeat again my first impression: Total F**king Insanity! Go and see this show. It is Othello as you have never seen him before, diva of the fashion industry, Iago the prince of the catwalk accompanied by rock ballads, Lycra, Glam Rock and New Romantics styling.
Running until June 27. Check out ZJU website for more details: www.zombiejoes.com
Another superb RAZE THE SPACE event at Samuel French:
Only just getting round to posting this blog about last month's festival of shorts at Samuel French - a great success thanks in no small part to the sterling work of all those who took part - an international array of directors, writers, and actors who came together to put these readings on. Visit www.razethespace.com for photos of the day. The festival will be back next year and we remain tight lipped for now but hope to post some good news in the near future regarding the next stage in the life of this play festival X
15 actors, 5 directors and 4 writers took part in today's Staged Reading at Samuel French in Hollywood. The event, Raze The Space's Global Theatre Project explored global drama with a series of globally relevant plays, scenes and excerpts. The event was well-attended and very well received! We look forward to the next one. You can see a slideshow of the reading at:
Directors Lab West fosters an intensive laboratory environment where a community of directors and choreographers inspire each other to dream and create the future of American Theatre.
I am very proud to have taken part in the 15th Lab hosted by Pasadena Playhouse, SDC and various other institutes and partners.
It was a transforming experience and one that will live long in the memory.
I have a diverse, intelligent and wonderful new artist family, my fellow Labbies!
The Malibu Playhouse, formerly the Malibu Stage Company is heading in a new direction under the stewardship of its Artistic Director Gene Franklin-Smith.
Alongside its exciting season of plays, the Playhouse is introducing a conservatory program with a host of creative artists and I'm delighted to be a part of it.
John Farrell has just reviews my current production of Hamlet at San Pedro Rep., and here's a link to a praise-filled, and glowing response to the work!
It is exciting to be working with Smith and Kraus again. Not only are they the largest seller of theatre trade books anywhere, their books are beautifully bound and crafted so naturally I am delighted to be a part of the Smith and Kraus family once again.
My second S&K book is out NOW so dash to your nearest bookstore (or computer) and snap up a few copies of my latest title, ESL SHAKESPEARE: 101 EVERYDAY PHRASES. It is a lighthearted little tome and not just for ESL students but for anyone interested in idioms. Click on the pic below to take you to Amazon.
Having recently written and published a book on acting Shakespeare and with another on the way, it is now time to put my money where my mouth is with the fall production of Hamlet at San Pedro Rep.
You can audit rehearsals for free in the weeks and months leading up to opening night, gain an insight into the director's working methods and get a taste of the production to come.
The open-door rehearsal policy is a fantastic opportunity to catch a glimpse of the inner workings of a theatrical production. We only ask that you respect the rehearsal space and make every effort not to disturb the process.
There is a strict NO CELL PHONE policy and anyone in breach of this policy or those causing a disturbance will be asked to leave.
For details on specific open-door rehearsals contact the company's Managing Director, Chris Lang via email: firstname.lastname@example.org
The company is located at 311 West 7th Street, San Pedro, CA 90731
Okay, there is no such thing an ordinary year for an artist but 2012 has been personally remarkable: turning 40, publishing my first book, sealing the deal on the second, sailing the high seas, directing three Vaclav Havel plays for Theatrum Elysium, collaborating with the Wende Museum, reading my own adaptation of A Christmas Carol at French's in Hollywood, making new friends, launching a new website: www.project154.com, and here, on the last day of the year I celebrate 15 years on marriage to a woman in my life who has seen in all and helped me steer the course of our lives through choppy waters and calmer ones. A Happy New Year to you all. 2013, you have a lot to live up to and that's a fact.
Cold-War artifacts from The Wende Museum
The Vanek Trilogy, a production of three one-act plays at Theatrum Elysium is currently previewing. The performances run from 31 Oct - Nov 18, 2012 at Theatrum Elysium's home in La Crescenta.
It's a joy working with LA's foremost teaching theatre, and directing these wonderful plays has been a thrill. Havel's mastery is in his mix of comic Absurdism and astute political observations as relevant today as when they were written.
One of the most exciting aspects of this production has been in our collaboration with The Wende Museum, a collections-based research and education institute of Cold War artifacts and history.
My first visit to the Wende Museum was in April 2012 to watch a staged reading of the first English language translation of conversations between Brecht collaborator, composer Hanns Eisler and journalist, Hans Bunge.
Following the readings we enjoyed a behind-the-scenes tour with Museum director, Justinian Jampol. One of the highlights of that tour was seeing an exhibit of Cold-War state surveillance equipment.
Several months later I found myself directing The Vanek Trilogy, plays of a dissent writer who lived under the scrutinizing gaze of the communist government of 1970s Czechoslovakia. I knew at once that if we could bring some of those Wende artifacts to the Theatrum Elysium space, we could be able to connect them to the human world of our plays and add a dynamic layer of texture and meaning both to the Havel stories and the artifacts themselves.