Archive for the 'about' Category

new job, new blog

March 15, 2007

I’ve moved from Marin Shakespeare to Marin Theatre Company, where I am now the Artistic Director of Expanded Programs (which means I’m running Education, Outreach, and Theatre for Young Audiences, for starters). I’ll be directing there this Fall.

Here’s the link for the MTC Blog. I’ll be posting probably twice a week; other contributers include MTC’s Artistic Director and one representative from each production as they happen. This link is an archive of just my posts. Here’s the feed for subscribing.


Hamlet on Trial

February 9, 2007

A real Supreme Court Justice will preside over a trial; real lawyers will argue whether Hamlet was insane when he murdered Polonius.


I love this. But there’s really no question. Hamlet has to have been sane — conscious of and responsible for what he did — or nothing is at stake dramatically.

I’m not reviving this blog. Just couldn’t resist posting this. But I may soon start a new blog for my new job… I’ll post details here within a few weeks…

This Dane is Blogged

September 30, 2006

I’m loving my new job as Education Director of the Marin Shakespeare Company, but it’s quickly becoming clear that I’m not going to be able to continue regular posts about Hamlet. Which, considering the show closed a month and a half ago, is probably appropriate anyway. I’ll leave this blog up, and I’ll continue to post erratically — when I can’t sleep, or when something occurs to me, or when the official archive photos finally come in, or when I finish editing more of the video. But no more trying to post something every week.

I’ve had a great time writing Blogging the Dane, and the process of articulating all my thoughts about the play here had a definite positive impact on the production — a huge percentage of directing is simply articulating ideas (to actors and designers, and through them to the audience), and anything directors can do to improve their ability to articulate themselves will make a difference. If, in addition, this was entertaining or enlightening to anyone who happened to read it, so much the better.

Eventually, I hope to create an index for this blog that I can show to prospective employers. For now, this archive is a good place to start.

I love Shakespeare. I want more people to love Shakespeare, and that means making better and better productions of his plays. This is how I’ve tried to do it — this time. Onwards.

The play’s the thing.

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.

Comment Spam

June 14, 2006

Starting to get a little bit of comment spam, so I have turned on an approval setting for comments. Please keep commenting — I’ll check and approve all non-spam comments on a daily basis.

Comment Starter

May 20, 2006

This blog is getting plenty of hits, but not a lot of comments.  So I'm calling you out.  People from the Directors Lab.  Actors in the show.  Friends across the country.  Essay-needing Google-Searchers.  Other members of the Internet Theatrosphere.  Mom.  Everybody: take a second and post a comment.  If this works, I'll do it again every now and then with a different topic.

What's your favorite experience with Shakespeare?

It could be just your favorite play.  Or your favorite production, whether you were in the audience or a part of it.  If you want to take an extra minute to write about what makes this your favorite experience, so much the better.

(My favorite experience is probably seeing the RSC production of Romeo and Juliet at Stratford several years ago, though helping a young actor have a big breakthrough with the language and verse is also way up there.)


May 12, 2006

I have some kind of cold. Bleagh. I feel like I've been fighting it off for the last few weeks. Yesterday was the end of the semester at Cal State Long Beach, and I think my body just got me through that and then gave it up. Hopefully I'll feel better by Monday's first rehearsal. Actually, hopefully I'll feel better before then so I can get a bunch of work done.

So no new Hamlet analysis today. I did manage to make a new page on this blog on which I've collected links to a few of the most interesting previous posts. Okay. Back to the couch.

Open Letter to the Essay-Needing Google-Searchers Who Have Found My Blog

May 3, 2006

So I have noticed a recent spike in the readership of this blog — closing in on 100 hits a day. Pretty small potatoes in the grand scheme of things, but for weeks it was holding steady at about 30. I'm pretty sure, however, that this has very little to do with increased interest in Shakespeare direction in 21st-century Los Angeles and a whole lot to do with Google's special sauce moving me up half a notch in its page rankings for whatever reason.

WordPress gives me access to the search terms that led people to my blog. My first guess was that the actors who auditioned googled my name. And I do get a few hits from people who searched for "Josh Costello," plus a few hits from people who followed the link from But the overwhelming majority of my hits come from people searching for things like "plot summary of Hamlet," "why does Hamlet delay," "hamlet loyalty," "what impact did shakespeare have on english," and so on and so forth. (Though one person searched for — I kid you not — "wife fucking Great Dane" and ended up at this blog. …I have no idea what to say about that.)

I teach acting and theatre history, and I don't assign my students a lot of essays. But I do assign research presentations. It's always very obvious to me when my students plagiarize from the web — the information is bad, it's written in a style clearly not their own, and it's exactly the same as a different student's presentation from the previous year's class.

So here's what I have to say to the essay-needing google-searchers who have found my blog:

A) Your teacher knows you are cheating. You are going to get caught. Unless your teacher is completely senile or drunk, your only hope is that she doesn't care any more than you do about your education.

B) The internet is a really bad place to find quality information. I stand by what I've written on this blog, but it's intended for the very specific purpose of directing this particular production and I doubt it could fit whatever question you've been assigned. The web is great, it's incredibly useful — but you can't just trust whatever you read.

C) Here's the real point: Shakespeare is worth learning about. I know Shakespeare seems really boring at first, especially if you have a bad teacher. But there's a reason you've been given this assignment. There's a reason that Shakespeare is still taught in schools 400 years later. There's a reason we keep putting Shakespeare's plays on stage. I'm sure you're busy with school and work and friends and partying and sports and MySpace and everything else, and taking the time to actually wrap your head around a play like Hamlet seems insurmountable. All I can think to tell you is this: it's worth it. Shakespeare is worth the effort. The more time you spend reading Shakespeare and watching and listening to actors performing Shakespeare — if not rehearsing and performing those words yourself — the easier it gets. And eventually you'll have a moment where the words and the sounds of the words and the meaning of those words all come together to form some completely obvious but nevertheless mind-blowing truth, and the whole world will seem different and more meaningful, and you'll realize that Shakespeare did something truly special and you'll feel lucky that Shakespeare did what he did and that you got the chance to witness it.

Or maybe not. That's what happened for me. And that's why I'm spending my life looking for opportunities to work with those amazing words, despite the almost complete lack of financial compensation, job security, and health insurance. I wouldn't recommend following in my footsteps — but the least you can do for yourself is take advantage of being in school and get to know Shakespeare a little bit.

And it wouldn't hurt to buy a ticket and go see some Shakespeare performed live every now and then. If you live in LA, I know a pretty exciting production of Hamlet you can see this summer in a park near you for free.


April 29, 2006

No post last night, just this tonight.  Busy.  And I have a bunch of papers to grade before Tuesday, so Blogging the Dane might be a little light for the next few days.

In the meantime, Lucas Krech linked to me in a blog post yesterday, comparing BTD to another director's blog — Lucas says I focus on blunt realism as opposed to Isaac's "abstracted metaphorical perspective".   Lucas has a great abstracted metaphorical perspective as well. 

And he's right; this is a blog about the nuts-and-bolts process of directing, and specifically about directing Shakespeare.  I like a good manifesto as much as the next passionate young visionary, but I also really enjoy talking about practicalities and process.  And doing our best work is at least as important as anything else in fixing whatever problems we see with theatre in the 21st century.

The Plan

January 30, 2006

Regular posts will start in March, after my production of Julius Caesar opens at UC Riverside. My plan is to write at least three or four posts per week as I am reading the script, breaking it down, and planning the production. Once design meetings start, and especially once rehearsals start, I’ll try to post once per day.