Archive for July, 2006

time flies

July 30, 2006

I’m not done with this blog, despite my failure to write a new post for the last two weeks. I’ve been in the Bay Area, directing a group of teenagers in a script-in-hand performance of Brecht’s Galileo at ACT while finding an apartment in Berkeley.  That’s all done now.

Tomorrow, my wife and I head back to LA.  I’ll see the last couple performances of Hamlet and then move up to Berkeley for good.

I have a lot more to say about Hamlet.  Bear with me.  Check back once a week or so.  That’s how often I was posting originally, and I should be able to get back to that rate now.  Thanks for reading.


Going away party

July 15, 2006

I saw the show again last night for the first time since opening. It’s looking good. Afterwards, the actors threw me a going-away party at the local dive bar. It was very sweet — several actors from previous shows I directed in LA and Anaheim over the last couple of years showed up, along with a couple of friends from out of town. Lots of drinking and talking and reminiscing.

I moved to LA three years ago with my wife, who was starting grad school (for Epidemiology) at UCLA. I had just finished my MFA in Directing in Seattle, and had no theatre connections in LA. The first year here was almost completely dry for me career-wise, which was incredibly dispiriting after just having completed an intense three years of training. I was trying to find directing work the hard way: sending out resumes to theaters where I didn’t know anyone. Eventually, I did get a couple of gigs that way, and both those gigs led to more gigs, and then people I met doing those first gigs set me up with other gigs, and I ended up working nonstop for the last two years.

Now my wife is done with school, and we’re moving back up to Berkeley (where we’re both from). I have more connections there, but I’m still expecting a delay before the directing gigs start coming.

Ultimately, I’ve been very lucky in southern California. I’ve worked with amazing, kind, generous, talented, intelligent people, and I’m proud of the theatre that we’ve made. Seeing so many of these people all together last night was humbling and inspiring and wonderful. Here’s hoping my luck continues up north.

manga Shakespeare

July 10, 2006

This was forwarded to me the other day. A blog about creating manga-style graphic novel Shakespeare adaptations. A strange idea, but as a big fan of both Shakespeare and comic books I can’t deny I’m intrigued. And turning Shakespeare into a graphic novel means making all the same big decisions that have to be made in turning a script into a play.

Long Beach Press-Telegram review

July 7, 2006


Timeless tragedy in a beautiful setting
By Shirle Gottlieb, Correspondent

THOUGH IT’S certainly open to debate, “Hamlet” is probably the most beloved of Shakespeare’s tragic heroes.

Since 1602 when it was written, “Tragedy of Hamlet” has been translated, updated, adapted and performed all over the world. In addition, the demanding part of the Prince of Denmark has become a challenge for actors everywhere to test their dramatic skills.

Though I’ve seen myriad interpretations of “Hamlet” over the years, I was anxious to see how Shakespeare by the Sea handled this immortal drama – which is playing in repertory with “The Comedy of Errors” through Aug. 12.

I wasn’t alone. Hundreds of people flocked to beautiful Point Fermin to bask in Shakespeare’s words, the park’s natural surroundings and the sunset over the ocean. And it’s free, courtesy of Shakespeare by the Sea, a company whose mission is to make The Bard come alive for young and old in the South Bay area.

Just because it’s free doesn’t mean it’s amateurish. Quite the contrary. This is a first-rate production of working professionals who demonstrate their talents under the informed, high-spirited direction of Josh Costello.

The success or failure of this classic tale of murder, mayhem, madness and incest rests on the shoulders of the actor portraying Hamlet, and Mark Joseph is simply sensational. A member of California Repertory Company in Long Beach, Joseph commands the stage from his opening scene on the ramparts (the one with the ghost of his father) through his dying words at the end of the play.

Almost everyone reading this review knows the story: Something is definitely rotten in the state of Denmark! Out of blind ambition and lust, Uncle Claudius (Don Formaneck) kills his brother, theking, Hamlet’s father. Then in less than two months, he connivingly seizes his brother’s throne and marries Hamlet’s mother Gertrude (Jill Cary Martin), the king’s widow.

When the ghost of Hamlet’s father demands revenge, Hamlet – feeling completely helpless – delivers his world famous monologue (“To be or not to be”) and feigns madness. From this point on, tragedy is heaped upon tragedy until the bloody, awful end.

In spite of its dark, inevitable plot, there’s a lot of humor in “Hamlet,” as there is in all of Shakespeare’s writing. In this case, Chris Roberts is terrific in his portrayal of the dithering old Polonius. Also enjoyable is the good-natured give-and-take banter between Laertes (Aaron Sherry) and Hamlet before their relationship gets thwarted and the three parts played by John E. Farrell (the Ghost, Player King and wise old gravedigger).

As for Ophelia, Rebecca Lincoln is a vision of virginal beauty as the tragic love of Hamlet’s life. Barbara Suiter and Jim Van Over play off of each other well as manipulated students Rosencrantz and Guildenstern. And Crystal Sershen portrays Horatio, Hamlet’s loyal steadfast friend.

Although Valerie Wright’s lovely costumes suggest that this version of “Hamlet” is set in the 19th century, Aaron Jackson’s functional set is completely timeless. Kudos to Martin Noyes for his bang-up job as fight director. Everyone knows the deadly outcome of the duel between Hamlet and Horatio, but the gripping scene is so realistic, the audience is completely captivated.

Take my advice and don’t miss “Hamlet.” Grab a warm sweatshirt and blanket, pack a picnic and head for San Pedro.

Shirle Gottlieb is a Long Beach freelance writer

missing shows

July 5, 2006

It’s a strange feeling to be somewhere else while a performance you’ve directed is going on.  After opening night, I went out of town for a few days and missed the next two performances.  Apparently Saturday night was a great show, with an audience of over 500 and a performance that really clicked.  I wish I had been there.

Now I’m leaving town again, and will miss this weekend’s performances as well.  I won’t see the show again until next week.  I talked to my Hamlet today on the phone; after six weeks of constant contact in rehearsal, suddenly the show opens and we don’t see each other for two weeks.  I’ve also been in email contact with other cast members.

This is how it goes, but it still feels strange.