Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Shakespeare Purists Beware

An interesting blog popped up today in my *Arts Journal daily email. Clicking on "Shakespeare's Words Made Poorer - The Guardian (UK) 04/29/08" took me to an article called "Lose the language and you lose Shakespeare", a rant in response to a recent book release called "To Be or Not To Be, Innit?" Satirist Martin Baum has rewritten 15 of Shakespeare's plays, described as "yoof speak". (To be honest, I'm not sure what this is or how to describe it but if you go to the website, that should give you a pretty good idea). Hamlet becomes 'amlet, The Two Gentlemen of Verona becomes Two Geezas of Verona, you get the idea.

This is nothing new. Movies through time have taken their own cultural spin on the classics (i.e. Baz Luhrmann's Romeo and Juliet). And on a personal note, my brother, at age 11, rewrote A Midsummer Night's Dream (did you see the production at the Englert?)

Another Riverside tie-in. Remember Jackson Doran? He's in a production at Chicago Shakespeare Theater called "Funk It Up About Nothin'". This "ad-rap-tation" is created and directed by GQ and JQ. In anticipation of "The Comedy of Errors", check out this YouTube video of their production of "The Bomb-itty of Errors".

Whether you're a total Shakespeare purist or love the humor in it all, there's no doubt about the relevance of Shakespeare in modern culture.

* is a website dedicated to the "daily digest of arts, culture and ideas". It's a fantastic website, one I get a lot of inspiration from.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Shakespeare's Influence

Bet you weren't aware we borrowed Shakespeare's words...

If you've ever been footloose and fancy free

If you've ever thanked someone from the bottom of your heart

If you've ever been left high and dry

If you ever took a test that you thought was a piece of cake

If you've ever refused to budge an inch

If you've ever been tongue-tied, a tower of strength, hood winked, or

If you've ever knitted your brow, made a virtue of necessity, insisted on fair play, slept not one wink, stood on ceremony, laughed yourself into stitches, or had short shrift, cold comfort, or too much of a good thing

If you've ever cleared out bag and baggage because you thought it was high time and that is the long and short of it

If you've ever believed the game is up, even if it involves your own flesh and blood

If you ever lie low, till the crack of dawn, through thick and thin, because you suspect foul play

If you've ever had your teeth set on edge, with one fell swoop, without rhyme or reason

And finally, if you now bid me good riddance and send me packing

If you wish I were as dead as a doornail

If you think I am an eyesore, a laughingstock, a stony-hearted villain, bloody-minded, or a blithering idiot, well then, by Jove, O lord, tut tut, for goodness' sake, and what the dickens!

It is all one to me, even if it's Greek to you, for you are quoting Shakespeare!

We got this from a former RT board member and lover of the bard...

Use the following site to discover where these words and phrases (and more!) came from:

cold-blooded ("King John", Act III, scene i)
hobnob ("Twelfth Night", Act III, scene iv)
puking ("As You Like It", Act II, scene vii)

Here's more than you'll ever need to know! Enjoy!

Monday, April 28, 2008


I spent a large majority of this morning working on "RiverMail": our monthly email newsletter. I love the process of the writing these emails, which begins with compiling information from the staff about upcoming events, needs, stories, whatever! These emails draw to my attention the number of things going on at the theatre at all times. At any given time, the staff is booking host homes, making sponsorship calls, scheduling interviews, selling tickets....

But you'll read all about this in the May "RiverMail". If you're not on the mailing list, it's easy to sign up. (We promise we won't bombard you with junk!)

1) Hop on our website,
2) Type in your email address in the lower left hand box titled "Join our Email List"
3) Follow instructions from there

(See, I told you it was easy...)

Friday, April 25, 2008

Our Passionate (and Long Winded) Shakespeare Actors

I've just returned from delving into the mind of actors - it was a scary thing! No, I'm just kidding. Actually, I was sorting through the answers to some publicity questionnaires that I sent to the actors. They were asked basic questions about their favorites plays, roles, first acting experience etc. I wasn't expecting to get back such fascinating stories and anecdotes although some of the actors are quite long winded - no, I won't name names! You can read whole deal at

A few things I noticed:

1) These actors have modest beginnings. Cristina Panfilio's first acting experience was a musical called When the Hippos Crashed the Dance! Aaron Graham's was a Fourth of July variety show called "American Pie" where he danced a number from Fiddler on the Roof.

2) Looking for a good read? Favorites plays that came up more than once: Hamlet. Macbeth. August: Osage County. Arcadia. And many of the actors listed Richard III as a role they're dying to play.

3) My favorite responses, however, were to the question "Why does performing Shakespeare interest you?" These actors have a way with words! (I think that's a good thing for their chosen profession...) Love for the language, the depth of its character and the challenge it presents to the actor were highest on the list. Aaron compares it to learning a unique form of music. Martin Andrews talks about the intimiate relationship with the work, a "one night stand" just won't cut it.

What's clear from these responses is passion for the craft. These actors love what they do and I think you'll see that on stage.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Major Brownie Points

Usher at the Riverside Theatre Shakespeare Festival!
A note from Nan in the box office...

Riverside Theatre is seeking volunteer ushers for the upcoming Shakespeare Festival performances of The Comedy of Errors and The Winter’s Tale, June 13 – July 13. Get together with a group of friends, co-workers or family members and enjoy a FREE evening of theatre at the Riverside Festival Stage in Lower City Park, Iowa City. In exchange for a four hour time commitment, each volunteer is guaranteed a seat on the show date of your choice, even if it’s a sell-out. You pay nothing for the seats and get oodles of brownie points for helping Riverside Theatre. Feel free to wear matching t-shirt to advertise your business or group – over 400 theatre patrons will know what a swell person/group/business you are!

Interested? Call Nan Martin at the Riverside Theatre box office at (319) 338-7672, Monday through Friday from noon to 4 pm to find out what nights are still available.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

From Iowa and Beyond

You've heard us time and time again. The Shakespeare Festival brings together local artists as well as artists from across the country. Ever wonder exactly where these actors are coming from?

Check this out.

Go to the map