The Complete works of Shakespeare ‘abridged’

The Complete works of Shakespeare, abridged –Β watched on Friday 17th June at the Barn Theatre in Welwyn Garden City

You guys have read so much about my latest theatrical adventures lately, and the huge celebrations that have been happening throughout the world. Shakespeare’s 400th anniversary of his death has been a great year of thespian commemorations, and has seen the revival of many shows and many young touring companies taking on challenging works to pay ode to the prolific playwright.

Adam Long, Daniel Singer and Jess Winfield under the direction of Darren Barsby, beautifully presented the Bard’s 37 plays in 97 minutes, talking those versed on Shakespeare and those who need a bit more help to understand through his majestic romances, his incredibly painful tragedies and his brilliant comedies.

They weave the high-paced, wickedly funny stories together in one nonsensical explanation and collage of Shakespeare’s works, which strangely might feel as though they stop and start a lot, however to me it felt as if it all made perfect sense and was exactly set out to be played as such.

Shakespeare known for writing on various topics, was broken down into segments, and it was almost like peering into the phases of his life. His romances, tragedies, comedies and histories, all came at distinct times, and this play lead me to understand that division and how similar it is to stages of life. Shakespeare, a true author of life and life’s adventures.

I loved the play, I loved being able to experience all of Shakespeare in just 97 minutes, and I love the sketch type performance that we saw which broke the Bard’s works up into sections. I think that this satirical, sarcastic, analytical and even slap-stick mix of comedy brings out the best in audience participation and engagement.

It was a complete pleasure to watch it and take my darling mother to accompany me. If it comes back around I would definitely recommend you watch it, and it was definitely the cherry on top of the cake for me as the final play I will see this year in celebration of the Bard’s 400th death anniversary.

Happy reading and theatrical visits.

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Shakespeare Live

Seen on Saturday 23rd of April

This is a late one but a goodie! Does everyone know that it is the anniversary of Shakespeare’s death in April? More specifically 450 years? Shakespeare is all the talk of the theatre world this year in England and I love it. A true icon of British Theatre and a worldclass playwright, his works are being celebrated all over the world.

So it was a great pleasure to watch Shakespeare live. The performance actually took place in Stratford Upon Avon, the home town of our glorious playwright himself, and was being live streamed to cinemas all over the country. My friends and I gathered at an Odeon in Covent Garden to watch the show and it was truly mesmerising.

From Prince Charles to Sir Ian McKellan, Dame Helen Miren and Dame Judy Dench, the Royal Shakespeare company, ballet companies and several interpretations of his texts were performed and left the audience in true wonderment. I loved all the extracts used, and was deeply moved by some of them. I think Bill Murray and Dame Judy Dench stole the show with their Midsummer Night’s Dream extract. The entire company were there just due to their love for the theatre and the show could not have paid a better ode to the world’s most famous playwright.

I was completely taken. The nearly 3 hours we spent inside the cinema room flew by and it was truly worth it. I have another two shows that I am watching in dedication to Shakespeare’s 450 years anniversary celebration and am truly excited to share my experiences with you.

Are any of you doing anything special to celebrate the occasion?

Chess: in concert #TheatreReview

Thursday 14th of April 2016, I had the pleasure of watching Chess, in concert, a production by my favourite – I am very biased! – Amateur Dramatics Group, The Hitchin Thespians

ChessΒ is a musical with music by Benny Andersson and Bjorn Ulvaeus from Abba and lyrics by Tim Rice, which is set in the cold war era and comments on the political status of USA and Russia during that time through the parallel of a chess tournament. Historically the musical was a huge success in the West End where it played for 3 years, opening on 1986. No major attempts at reviving the musical have been made, but it continues to be one of the most relevant musical placing 7th in BBC Radio 2’s “Number One Essential Musicals” list, demonstrating its strength as a piece.

The Thespians, an operatic amateur dramatics society that has been around for over 100 years and decided to tackle this incredible piece but in a concert version. I loved every second but have to be analytical of a few things that theatrically did not work.

The space at Woodside hall where the thespians perform is rectangular, usually the stage is located at one of the narrower ends of the stage but this time they decided to go for a long stage and long seating. This allowed them to add the members of choir either side of the central stage. However, this caused a huge unbalance in the sound where audiences on either side could only really hear the choir directly infront of them. Audience members sat in the central area were welcomed with a fantastic wall of sound however.

Performances were excellent from the main cast, as usual the pool of talent in the society oozes and they never cease to impress. The band again was incredible, giving the sound of a full orchestra and musical band with just two pianos and a drum set. Overall for an amateur production, with limited space and flexibility they tackled their issues head on and tried to make it work as best as possible. Still a completely enjoyable performance and I think that for any growing theatre producer, actor, practitioner, director etc it is important to see as many productions that can show you the type of challenges that you can encounter. However, it is s much fun to come up with alternatives to make it work. So if you don’t come and watch the Hitchin Thespians, go watch your own local theatre group, to watch some incredible untapped talent and to learn more about the basics of the beautiful thing that is theatre and live performance.

Woman in Black – #ThrowbackThursday

So November 14th 2015, I had the opportunity and pleasure of watching the Woman in Black live in the theatre, and today I am throwing it back to this theatrical experience.

Let me make it explicitly clear that I am awful with anything horror. I sat through the movie Woman in Black with a scarf wrapped around my head with just a gap for my nostrils where I could breathe and the tiniest slit in my eyes so I could barely see it. The sound of it alone is just agonising let alone the visual impetus. I felt that in the theatre it was made ten times worse, seeing as I could also smell everything and the performers are at arms reach.

The play itself is actually really different from the movie, in that is it all a recollection of a story and uses metatheatre as the story telling device. For those who do not know, metatheatre is when you are watching a play about a play, so theatre within theatre. This is how the piece is originally written and it works so well, with two primary actors taking on all the roles and making it a very intimate setting, which only adds to the creepiness of the whole affair.

Now I am painfully aware that OBVIOUSLY there is a third performer who plays the woman in black HOWEVER, theatrical license is everything and the performer who plays the woman in black is not mentioned AT ALL in the programme nor do they appear at the curtain call. This only adds further to the creepiness of it all. I did some extra research into this and found out that in the actual script she is not written in either. This is far too much for me to deal with, it is too creepy.

The production was amazing and they were all fantastic and really delivered the spooky story successfully. I for one will leave this behind as one of those things I have done and watched that I do not have to do again. That is how much of a wimp I am. That being said, I have to say that in the end – SPOILER ALERT! – for those who have watched it – she comes out, for the scariest bit after all the build up, the sound team are pressing those buttons with all their might, there is a fog machine going, you do not see her coming from anywhere but she appears in all her might, scary as hell, and she accidentally – or I am hoping it was accidentally – revealed her face and got lit up with a weird green light and no word of a lie, the woman in black looked like Elphaba the Wicked witch of the west. That really did help me go home less paranoid so I am so grateful, and I hope no one else saw that and it was just me.

You can watch Woman in Black at the Fortune Theatre in London. Tickets are available on www.thewomaninblack.com

It started with goodbye…

2016 has already brought people such joy and anguish. We are 21 days in as I sit here and write this piece. I only just returned from my trip 10 days ago, and have been so bogged down with work that there has been no time to be here. Aside from being occupied I have been consumed by grief for the icons that have left us behind this year.

Already, in such a short space of time, 2016 has brought us tears and the realisation that the lives of those that seem so phenomenal and amazing beyond comparison, are also lives that are frail and taken away from us at any time. I feel that it has been a bit of a shock as in 20 days we have all said goodbye to huge influences in all our lives, but three in particular have struck me as particularly shocking. So today I dedicate this art post to the loss of huge talents to the world wide entertainment industry.

David Bowie

What an absolute icon! I can still remember working at the Victoria and Albert museum when the Bowie exhibition was taken down and booking its trip around the world. I believe that it is currently being shown in Rio de Janeiro, but do not quote me as it has been a while and I might not recall the dates as well as I wish.

Bowie was a huge fashion icon, film talent and a musical influence and god that evolved with time and released some of the most awesome music ever. Bands can only dream of creating the unique sound that Bowie continuously honed, and his break through musical techniques are of huge influence to the music industry. It seems bittersweet and a planned goodbye that he released his 25th album on his 69th birthday, just days before he passed away. It is with memories of his sweet voice that I whispered goodbye to his name and remembered a well phrased Bowie quote:

“… And these children that you spit on as they try to change their worlds are immune to your consultations. They’re quite aware of what they’re going through…”

Alan Rickman

A theatrical and film icon, known for many roles but loved globally for being the unsung and unpredictable hero of the Harry Potter series, Severus Snape. Has there ever been a man who’s voice could lull me into a different Universe altogether… maybe my dad’s but not anyone else. He played a huge part of my generation’s coming of age and is such a phenomenal loss to the industry and the world and fantasies of many growing children and dreaming adults. I will ALWAYS be waiting to take a potions and defence against the dark arts class with you. Mostly, Alan Rickman, I will never forget how you forged and paved the way for so many British actors and actresses, a true talent and your grace both on stage and screen will never be forgotten. As you once said, in the most beautiful, sincere and simplistic way – Always.

Glenn Frey

Finally, but not least, Glenn Frey. This may seem like an odd one, but my mom and dad brought me up listening to the melodious and harmonic abilities of The Eagles, and I have the fondest memories of this music. This music that I still have on my car when I do long drives, this band who graces my headphones every day with some of the most iconic and legendary pieces of music. When you write a piece like Hotel California, you know you’re about to make a record that is going to be historic, just like Rumours for Fleetwood Mac andΒ The WallΒ by Pink Floyd. Glenn Frey is a lyrical and musical talent that has left a great big, thundering and aching gap in the music industry and in my heart. I leave you here with some of the very best of The Eagles.