What happens during the winter at our Shakespeare Festival? A lot!
Currently we are in the middle of auditions for our summer season. For the past 2 weekends, we have watched many of northern Vermont’s wonderful acting talent do Shakespeare monologues and tackle scenes from Julius Caesar, the play we will be doing this summer. Casting is both exhilirating and exhausting. Who is right for which role? Every small choice affecting the whole. Chemistry is a big part of what we investigate when we cast. The chemistry between 2 actors can make or break a show.
Winter is the time when we start to shape our vision for the play we will be doing in the summer. Much time is spent on research and digging into the play. With Shakespeare this means lots of reading and lots of analysis. The sheer amount of material available on each play he wrote is astounding. Whether it’s historial research, critical analysis or archives, or articles on artistic portrayals of the past, it is a vortex that can be at once inspiring and paralyzing. And, there is a bit of joy to be had as you dwell in possibility without needing to make concrete decisions (yet!).
In 2 weeks our company will perform as part of the First Folio Festival at Middlebury College. We will present exerpts of the play WILL, by Vermont-based writer Jon Glascoe. This project, on which we have been collaborating with Jon since 2013, is very near and dear to our hearts.
A bit about WILL: Shakespeare’s Richard the Second is a play about the deposition of a monarch. Imagine the fury of Queen Elizabeth 1 when she discovered that this very play was performed for an audience of traitorous soldiers the night before the Essex Rebellion — the famed Earl’s failed attempt, in 1601, to depose his Queen.
In Middlebury alum Jon Glascoe’s new play “Will”, Shakespeare stands chained in the Tower of London, questioned by Robert Cecil and eventually the Queen herself, to determine his role in the treason. In the course of these examinations, Will’s whole life is revealed, from his humble beginnings in Stratford, to the glory of “Hamlet”, first acted for Elizabeth on the afternoon of Essex’s eventual execution.
We will have one week of rehearsals in which to bring this story to life. We will have only 2 days in the Dance Theatre at The Mahaney Arts Center in which to find the chemistry of the actors embodying the play as well as how it works in the space. We have a fantastic group of actors working on this project- come check it out! February 28 at 5pm at Middlebury College.
Winter months give us time to plan, schedule, fund raise, strategize, and organize how it will all work for the summer season. Marketing initiaves are designed, sponsors are confirmed, travel and housing for artists is booked. Production meetings with our design team happen. The chemistry of the group of artists creating the perspective- the colors, textures, objects and sounds the audience will experience, begins now. This part of the collaborative process is one of my favorites. And we are lucky to work with some fiercely talented and innovative designers.
Stay tuned for a Shakespeare Salon in March and a Vermont Shakespeare Festival Pub Crawl in April to celebrate Shakespeare’s birth/death day!
Winter is busy here…
-Jena Necrason, Artistic Director. February 18, 2016