A midsummer night of wine and fairies in Kelowna

Seating was not great, but the play within the play stole the show at Shakespeare Kelowna’s Midsummer Night’s Dream that wraps Saturday. (Kathleen Rowe, The Bard Brawl)

Kathleen Rowe

This play is a delight and full of spirited dialogue and physical comedy.

Set against the beautiful Spierhead Winery (Spearhead? Which is it?) in Southeast Kelowna A Midsummer Night’s Dream was enjoyed by a full house of appreciative Shakespeare fans (and probably a couple, who got dragged along by said fans).

Shakespeare Kelowna is celebrating 25 years of bringing the bard to life for Kelowna audiences and the reaction of the audience proved that they are doing a splendid job of it.

Continue reading “A midsummer night of wine and fairies in Kelowna”

BB Podcast, chatting with Romeo and Capulet

 

Shauna Thompson (Romeo) and Nadia Verrucci (Capulet) join Bard Brawl co-creators Eric Jean and Daniel J. Rowe in a noisy cafe moments after France won the World Cup to chat about Repercussion Theatre’s production of Romeo & Juliet: Love is Love.

Please excuse the background noise particularly the horn celebrating France’s win.

 

Check the list of shows to find a park nearest you to check out this fine production.


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BB, The Comedy of Errors, Act IV

Stephanie E.M. Coleman, The Bard Brawl
The feature logo for The Comedy of Errors is brought to you by Mezari designer Stephanie E.M. Coleman. We think it’s pretty rad. Check out her event this Thursday in Montreal.

Bard Brawl co-creators Eric Jean and Daniel J. Rowe welcome you all to Act IV of  The Comedy of Errors

Listen to the Bard Brawl podcast.

 

Reading this week is Gage K. Diabo who is joined in the brawl by Brooke W. Deer, “The Golden Nugget.”

Let’s talk cash money..

The setting for the Comedy of Error – the city of Ephesus – was an ancient trading city whose power rested on the power of its merchant ships. In this way it’s pretty similar to England in the 17th century. It’s also very similar to some other Mediterranean settings like Venice where a certain merchant ends up indebted to Shylock for a pound of flesh.

Some of these mercantile themes crop up even in a early play like Comedy of Errors.

What’s the setup?

Egeon, father of Antipholus of Ephesus and Syracuse, was found trespassing in the city while searching for his lost son(s). The punishment for that crime is death. Egeon’s story moves the duke but he states that he cannot change the law. However, if Egeon can somehow find his son and come up with bail money then he can go free.

Antonio mentions basically the same thing  in Merchant of Venice but explains that the reason the duke cannot overrule the law when confronted by a sad story is that mercantile societies rely on the supposed impartiality of the rule of law:

The duke cannot deny the course of law.
For the commodity that strangers have
With us in Venice, if it be denied,
Will much impeach the justice of his state,
Since that the trade and profit of the city
Consisteth of all nations. (Merchant of Venice, III, iii, 26-30)

Money keeps changing hands in other way during the play. There’s the whole plot around a gold chain. The merchant keeps asking the wrong Antipholus for cash, the chain is given to the wrong one. The goldsmith needs the payment because he owes money to the merchant who is about to set off for Persia. Seeing as Antipholus doesn’t seem willing to pay, the goldsmith tries to have him arrested for not paying his debts.

The idea of bonds is paramount. It<s not just a matter of keeping one’s word and being honest. It’s also a matter of being good for it, of paying up when the time comes.

Here’s what  we chose to read for you this week.

Act IV, scene i (lines 1-84):You know since Pentecost the sum is due

Act IV, scene iii (lines 1-67): “There’s not a man I meet but doth salute me

Let us know how we did!

Here’s a link to the CBC article discussed in the pod about Indigenous authors trumping the bard in one teacher’s classroom.

And here’s a link to the Wikipedia article for Aimé Césaire’s re-write of The Tempest. (There’s a link on the Wikipedia page to an English translation of the play.)

See you next time!

Brooke Deer (and sister Jessica), brawling Comedy of Errors.

 

 


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BB, The Comedy of Errors, Act III

The feature logo for The Comedy of Errors is brought to you by Mezari designer Stephanie E.M. Coleman. We think it’s pretty rad.

Welcome back Brawlers to Act III of  The Comedy of Errors

Listen to or download the bard brawl podcast of act III. New Soundcloud page here.

This week we talk proto-feminists, servitude and abuse. And yes, this is somehow still a comedy and this is all very funny, right?

First, we take a look at our twinned servants as they face off in a battle of words to gain access to Antipholus of Ephesus’ house. Dromio of Syracuse and his master are inside Antipholus of Ephesus’ house, but the rightful master has been locked outside while his wife thinks the wrong Antipholus is her husband.

Hilarious.

While this is happening, Antipholus of Syracuse is inside the house macking on ‘his’ wife’s sister, Luciana. She’s freaked out that he brother-in-law is creeping on her and keeps trying to get Antipholus of Syracuse to act like a proper husband. (In this case, like Antipholus of Ephesus.)

I guess it’s kind of reassuring to think that Antipholus of E. might be a pretty decent husband because Adriana deserves it. She and her sister certainly put up with a lot of crap throughout the play for the sake of these two Antipholuses. (Antipholii? Whatever.)

After being brushed off by Luciana, and being forced to play husband to Adriana, Antipholus of Syracuse again describes the city of Ephesus as some sort of dangerous magical place filled with witches and mermaids.

That’s some pretty strongly gendered language for a play in which two sets of men spend all of their time confusing the hell out of all the women around them.

So feel free to follow along!

Act III, i (31-85): “Maud, Bridget, Marian, Cicel, Gillian, Ginn!”

Act III, ii (1-69): “And may it be that you have quite forgot”

Act III, ii (116-124): “There’s none but witches do inhabit here”

Have a listen and tell us what you think of our twinned twins! Tune in next week for Act IV!

 

 


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BB, The Comedy of Errors, Act II

The feature logo for The Comedy of Errors is brought to you by Mezari designer Stephanie E.M. Coleman. We think it’s pretty rad.

Bard Brawl co-creators Eric Jean and Daniel J. Rowe welcome you all to Act II of  The Comedy of Errors

Listen to the Bard Brawl Podcast here! or Here!

 

Hey, why doesn’t this play work in film? Something to do with sweat spray from slapping the Dromios?

I have no idea. But our very own Gage posits an answer to that question. You’ll need to listen to get the skinny.

If you want to read about a stage version that managed to really make this play work, check out this review.

This week, we read the following parts from act II:

Act II, i (14-43): “There’s none but asses will be bridled so.”

Act II, i (52-80): “Why, mistress, sure my master is horn-mad.

Act II, ii (82-123): “Ay, ay, Antipholus, look strange and frown”

Feel free to follow along and delicately correct our pronunciation while giving us slightly patronising smiles from behind your Complete Works.

Oh, and just look who showed up to read with us.

Joining the Bard Brawl as a reader today is Sabrina Daley.

Also along for the ride again is Gage K. Diabo.

Because we know you’re just too shy to ask but are dying to know, here’s a famous line from this act to memorize:

“How many fond fools serve mad jealousy” – Luciana.

You’re welcome. There may be a quiz in a few weeks. Just saying.

Here’s a link to Shakespeare Kelowna,  a company that will be putting on Comedy of Errors May 17-28. If you’re in the area, you should go check it out. If you know of any other companies staging Comedy of Errors, let us know. We’d love to get the work out!

Catch us next week as we continue to get lost in the side-streets of Ephesus with our Dromios and Antopholi! (Antipholuses? Whatever.)

Stephanie E.M. Coleman, The Bard Brawl

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BB, The Comedy of Errors, Act I

The feature logo for The Comedy of Errors is brought to you by Mezari designer Stephanie E.M. Coleman. We think it’s pretty rad.
Stephanie E.M. Coleman, The Bard Brawl

Welcome to Act I of  The Comedy of Errors brought to you by the Bard Brawl. And happy birthday, Will!

We think it’s your birthday, anyway. Although Google may disagree or else feels that you’re not important enough for a doodle this year. I mean, you were baptised on the 26th of April so April 23rd seems like good enough of a guess, right? It also happens to be the day you died on. Weird.

Well, we promised it, and at last we’ve delivered.

Nope, once again it’s not act V of Titus Andronicus, even though you promised you wouldn’t bring it up again.

It’s a brand new play with a brand new Bard Brawl format. Instead of reading out each act of the play in its entirety, we’ve picked out some of our favourite bits. Kind of like a sports highlight reel but unlike this shameful display, or this one, there are no losers and the commentators don’t speak in those awful sports jock radio voices.

In between these speeches, which will be read by a revolving cast of Brawlers, our Bardic talking heads will try to point out what we think is interesting, noteworthy or just plan awesome about each act.

So grab a listen, subscribe and tell us what you think as we go pound for pound with the birthday boy!

Download or listen to the podcast here or subscribe on iTunes.

 

Welcome reader Gage K. Diabo for the Comedy of Errors.

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Welcome to The Comedy of Errors

The feature logo for The Comedy of Errors is brought to you by Mezari designer Stephanie E.M. Coleman. We think it’s pretty rad.

Welcome Bard Brawlers. We are back and will release the first volume of our podcast next week. The play? The Comedy of Errors, Shakespeare’s first comedy and in the running for least plausible plot of all time.

Before you join us in our new format podcast, which will be released next week, feel free to watch the BBC version of the play staring Who frontman Roger Daltrey. It’s pretty good. Here’s part one, with the others all on the site.

Actually, there’s not too much in terms of adaptations of this play especially in film. It is a decent play to see live however. I’ve seen it once at Bard on the Beach, as has A.D. Rowe, who caught the steam punk version, which he liked. It’s pretty funny.

Here’s Ms. Lane’s six-minute take on the plot.

That should give you a taste of the play, and we’ll be back in to rip out the first act with dramatic readings and all.

Talk to you then.

DJR.


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Repercussion Theatre’s Julius Caesar, Directed by Amanda Kelloc

Repercussion Theatre's Julius Caesar

On Tuesday August 2nd, Brawlers Daniel J. Rowe, “Mr.” Nicholas MacMahon and Eric Jean convened on the beautifully manicured grounds of the Canadian Centre for Architecture in Montreal to assist to Repercussion Theatre’s 2016 edition of Shakespeare in the Park. Which overplayed comedy or star-crossed tragedy was waiting for us?

Oh, snap! Julius f’n Caesar! Yes! A Bard Brawl co-captain favourite!

We were really psyched about that. And Nick was excited that he’d finally get to see the last two acts of the play after walking out of the last production he saw to protest the death of Caesar. Indeed Nick,

[Caesar] hath left you all his walks,
His private arbours and new-planted orchards,
On this side Tiber; he hath left them you,
And to your heirs for ever, common pleasures,
To walk abroad, and recreate yourselves.
Here was a Caesar! when comes such another?

Unkind cut doesn’t begin to describe it.

As tradition dictates, we arrived just early enough to lay out the blanket and then have assholes set up with chairs in front of us. Then, resigned to not being able to see the very bottom of the stage for the next few hours, I reach for a cold beer to to slake our thirst only to have a petty caesar stop us with an injunction: “No beer here!”

What?!? Shakespeare in the Park, Bard Brawlers, pretzels, but no beer? Well, there was nothing for it. We had our programmes, we’d stretched out blanket, the play was about to begin.

It had to be endured. But be warned: no picnic beers at the CCA.

The setting for this Julius Caesar is a sort of post-apocalyptic pseudo Rome. The set for the first three acts of the play features columns of corroded metal and what looks like a rusted fountain. Peeling posters of Caesar are pasted to the columns and walls. Across the top of the set is a platform with drums and various percussion instruments which would be manned throughout the play by percussionist and composer, Catherine Varvaro.

IMG_9870
Deena Aziz delivers an energetic and powerful Marcus Brutus, though her performance is sometimes undermined by a tendency to race through her lines a little too quickly. Photo – Daniel J. Rowe

Scaffolding and ladders also made it easy for the actresses to ascend, descend or perch in-between the two levels. The space was used to great effect, particularly in the scenes where Brutus and Marc Antony address the people of Rome, and the set itself evoked the public spaces of Rome and the Capitol nicely.

The near-constant percussion score really helped animate the play, particularly in the final two action-heavy acts of the play. However, there were times where the music itself was too loud and it became difficult to hear the lines being spoken by the actresses. In the last two acts of the play in particular, the music really set the frantic pace of the action, despite the lengthy slow-motion Capoeira-esque stage fighting which did not add much to the drama.

Kellock also chose to open and close with a song which I feel did not particularly work well with this play. For the last scene in particular, the addition of a song at the end of the play took all of the power away from Mark Antony’s final speech in which he identifies Brutus as the only conspirator who did not kill Caesar out of jealousy but because he believed in the principles of the Roman Republic. It’s a central concern of the play – the conspirators’ reason for killing Caesar are should seem suspect – and moving to a song to close deflates what is a powerful moment in the play.

Repercussion Theatre’s production of Julius Caesar features an all-female cast. To be clear, the characters themselves are not re-gendered (Julius Caesar didn’t become Juliet Caesar, for instance) but rather the roles are played by female actresses. While this may seem to indicate that the artistic director had a specific point to make about the relationship between power and gender in the play, it seems that there was no such vision guiding this choice. The programme just describes it as “an idea whose time has come,” something one should have the freedom to do in order to spark conversation.

For the most part, I didn’t find that an all-female cast changed much of anything to the play, possibly because much of the play involves fights and discussions between characters of the same gender. The casting choice becomes much more interesting when the scene features characters of different genders played by actresses of the same gender.

The scene where Portia asks Brutus to confide in her is perhaps the best examples. Portia’s speech is full of references to her gender and expresses a strong desire to be thought of possessing masculine qualities. When delivered to a female Brutus the speech seems much more poignant and underscores the relationship of gender to power in the play.

This year again, Repercussion Theatre’s production was hindered by unevenness in the acting.

For the most part, the leads of the play were quite good. Deena Aziz delivers an energetic and powerful Marcus Brutus, though her performance is sometimes undermined by a tendency to race through her lines a little too quickly.

Gitanjali Jain was also excellent in the role of Marc Antony, a role made thankless by Marlon Brando’s iconic performance of the role in Mankiewicz’ 1953 production of Julius Caesar. Jain’s Marc Antony’s vengeance seems somewhat more calculated and less impassioned than Brando’s but still well acted.

The titular role of Julius Caesar was ably acted by Leni Parker, who continued to range around the set of the play either as a ghost, or as one of Saruman’s Uruk-Hai. Your pick. (She had a white hand painted on her face,)

Uruk-Hai

A nice way to tie back to Marc Antony’s curse, spoken over Caesar’s corpse. You know, this one:

The performances of the supporting actresses varied greatly. While many were excellent – such as Holly Gauthier-Frankel‘s Portia, or Warona Steshwaelo‘s Casca – others felt forced and over-acted and really detracted from the performance.

In the end, this year’s production of Julius Caesar feels like a better and more interesting effort than last year’s Twelfth Night though it does suffer from some of the same problems. A lack of focus in the direction of the play seems to be one, though Julius Caesar itself can feel like two plays in one, making it hard to bridge the two halves in a way that makes them feel connected.

Still, I am extremely encouraged be the choice of plays which Repercussion Theatre has chosen to tackle in the past few years and look forward to finding out what they have planned for next year!

(It’s too late to check out the production, but you can scope out some pictures and meet the ladies here!)


Act I, scene iii; Mad King.

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