About theShakespeareProject

About theShakespeareProjectLLC

Thursday, March 31, 2016

About theShakespeareProjectLLC

Mission Statement

Through a multi-faceted, cooperative, and highly adaptable interface with established arts, business, educational, and theatrical entities, theShakespeareProject aims at the increased and localized visibility and availability of not only Shakespearean works, but also of Classic Literature in general. These treasures are always at our fingertips, yet rarely touched. Grasped once again, in innovative and sometimes unconventional ways, they can have an enormous impact on the uninitiated and the uninterested. The catalytic role these venerated, yet isolated, artifacts might play in the increased awareness, communication, participation, and a sense of inclusion among the members of a community has, for the most part, been left to the occasional visit to the library, a courageous book club, or the many times grudgingly-accepted academic mandate of the classroom. 

On the other hand, the theatrical form is, by its very nature, communal—interactive and participatory, instructional and educational, as well as fun and entertaining. Utilizing presentational, instructional, participatory, and interactive performance vehicles as complimentary tools--adaptable and symbiotically functional within the architecture of any educational or instructional venue-- members of theShakespeareProject believe that a more than infrequent dusting-off of the museum pieces will reveal how much we actually have in common with them—and with each other. theShakespeareProject is dedicated to the idea that a fresh approach to these literary/dramatic gems, employing them as living examples of excellence, might lead to a regeneration of heightened interest--in the theatre, the classroom, the boardroom—even the family room—and result in a natural and progressive repossession by the community at the grass roots level. A renewal of the interest in our rightful ownership could be the beginning of a new renaissance in thinking, made possible via an enhanced ability to communicate with one another, and spurred-on by an enriched awareness of the true value of our sense of commonality. JM

JM Producing Artistic Director
Contact us at-email: theshaksperproject@gmail.com

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Shakespeare's Restless World; Portrait of an Era, by Neil MacGregor

--Filled with anecdotes and insights, eerie, funny, poignant and grotesque, Shakespeare's Restless World is another brilliant vindication of MacGregor's understanding of how physical objects enter deep into our fore-father's mental and spiritual world.                                                       ---Sunday Times (London)                                                                     
-- Just as he did in A History of the World in 100 Objects, MacGregor repeatedly converts fascinating objects into talismans transporting readers across time and geography. Visually splendid, intellectually stimulating, a must-buy.                                                        
                                                                                    ---Booklist (Starred Review)                                                    
                        Now in Paperback

--What did Elizabethan playgoers eat while watching Hamlet? British Museum Director MacGregor answers this question and many others as he examines twenty objects that illuminate daily life in Shakespeare's England....
Beautifully illustrated, MacGregor's history offers a vibrant portrait of Shakespeare's dramatic, perilous and exhilarating world.
                                                                                       ---Kirkus (Starred Review)
So far, I agree. Fascinating and beautiful. Stayed tuned for a more in-depth report.

Monday, March 10, 2014

I Was Possessed By Edwin Booth (or, a good excuse for any actor)

On a whirlwind 2 day round trip, from Philadelphia to Columbus, Georgia and back again this past weekend, I became possessed by the spirit of Edwin Booth. At least that's the rationalization I came up with for breaking into a spontaneous rendition of Hamlet's famous To Be Or Not To Be soliloquy to an almost empty house at the State Theatre of Georgia Springer Opera House. My daughter knew better. She brought me there suspecting what I might do. She was in the process of giving mom and dad a personal tour of what lately has, seemingly, become her second home. More on that later.

The 700 seat Springer Opera House opened in 1871. And it just happens to be one of the  places Edwin chose to make a re-appearance in his formerly celebrated role as Hamlet on Feb. 15, 1876. He actually quit the theatre for a while after the infamous 'performance' of his brother, John Wilkes at another historic theatre in Washington, D.C.--we all know that story. Anyway, it is said that the Springer Opera House is one of the ten most haunted places in America, and guess who is the most famous Ghost in Residence? Need I say it-- the most celebrated Hamlet of his time, the Edwin Thomas Booth. Here he is as Hamlet:


The fortuitous opportunity for spontaneous hamming on my part occurred because my daughter is currently appearing at Springer Opera House as Fantine in their fantastic production of  
                          Les Miserables, running through March,
as Fantine
after recently completing a First National Tour of   
 The Marvelous Wonderettes for Springer--that's her at the microphone in the pink dress--

as Cindy Lou
a production which landed, finally, on the hallowed stage where Edwin once trod, adjacent to where most of the cast lives in the labyrinth-like set of rooms behind, around, and above the performance platform of this wonderful place. Proud of my little girl, I am. Quite the chameleon, she is. Just what an actor should be. By the way, in the Historical-Shakespearean Spirit of the Springer, and in tribute to Edwin Booth (it's said that one of the reasons he haunts the place is that they've strayed from doing so much Shakespeare over the years), here she is as Pucke in A Midsommer Nights Dreame:

as Pucke

She has also played Helena in the same play. (I said she was a chameleon). Okay, enough bragging. If you're interested in more of what this amazing young lady is doing, simply click this link: www.carlyjmooney.com

What a place to do theatre is The Springer Opera House ! They built theatres 'right' back then. I mean, look at this place. You walk into history as you approach the building itself.

Upon entering, the ornate lobbies--yes I meant the plural--seem to go on forever as you stroll past theatrical portraits and artifacts from bygone eras. Among the many pictures of renowned actors, the halls boast this close to life-size portrait of Edwin Booth:

And there is an original autographed photo of him in one of the many glass cases adorning the hallways.
The cavalcade of actors (many famous for their Shakespeare) who have appeared at the Springer since its opening is stunning: The following list enumerates but a few notables:

Evelyn Nesbit (teenage heart throb of another famous Hamlet, John Barrymore); Jeanette MacDonald; Sydney Greenstreet; Oscar Wilde; Mrs. John (Louisa) Drew, who came to America in support of Junius Brutus Booth, Edwin's father, acted with him in several productions and later ran the Arch St. Theatre in Philadelphia. She was the maternal grandmother of such theatrical personages as John, Ethel, and Lionel Barrymore. (And everyone knows "Drew" Barrymore, John's grand daughter);  Lily Langtry; Agnes DeMille, famed choreographer of the original productions of Oklahoma, Carousel, and Brigadoon, among many others ; Otis Skinner, noted for his Shylock,; Robert Bruce Mantell, fiery Scottish actor, famous for his Macbeth; Ethel Barrymore; Mr. and Mrs. Sidney Drew (Sidney, uncle of John Barrymore); Will Rogers; Mme. Helena Modjeska; Marie Dressler; Gertrude"Ma" Rainey; Ann Sothern; Mary Martin; Tyrone Power; Hal Holbrook...the list goes on.

But perhaps the most famous, maybe because of what seems to be the very strong belief among many that he hasn't quite made his "final exit" into the stage right wing yet, is Edwin Booth.  

Perhaps that's why, as I entered onto the empty stage--last stop on our tour-- from that same SR wing and stopped at the most powerful spot on the stage--USR--I was, shall we say, 'inspired by something' to imagine just where on the stage, way back in 1876, Edwin began what is, arguably, the most famous speech in the English language. Well, of course, thought I...position "A", exactly where I happened to be standing. And then, from memory, it just emerged, start to finish, ringing off the walls and finishing down stage center. No mics needed, folks. Edwin's Hamlet didn't need one.  Just project and pay attention to the rhythms. The acoustics in this theatre are amazing. As I said before, they built them 'right' back then.

..."Soft you now, the fair Ophelia?"...finishing, I turned to look USR, and there she was, a perfect Ophelia if ever I saw one. I hope she does it some day. I'll travel far and wide to see her in that as well.

I don't know if Edwin heard me. I hope so. He was certainly occupying my sub-conscious thoughts enough during the speech, I'm sure. I did it for him--and for my "Ophelia". If he was sitting out there somewhere, he had the courtesy not to stop me. Always the gentleman, they say. Or maybe it was because, as I found out later, his ghost is partial to appearing to those of the female persuasion.  Couldn't be bothered with me, huh Edwin?

Maybe next time I'll try Thisbie's dying speech.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Glee Editions Performance Video Collection

I guess you can tell I don't get around much. --Just found out about News on the Rialto, a notable Shakespeare blog that's been around since February of 2004!

Anyway, thanks to a March 2013 post on News on the Rialto , I discovered this great link to various excerpts from performances of all 37 plays at a website called "Glee Editions Literature Unbound". Featuring anything from the BBC to Bard on the Beach to Bob Jones, 'eclectic' might be an understated description for this collection. There you can sample around 140 Shakespeare videos from stage and film; anything from the RSC to, of all places, Bob Jones University (where, not unexpectedly, you won't hear anything from Dromio of Syracuse in reference to the bogges of Ireland, or the lower regions of Belgia and the Netherlands in his famous exchange with Antipholus in The Comedie of Errors).

As to performers, all the biggies are there, as well as some not so biggies--and some unexpected ones. --Helen Hunt as Viola and Kyra Sedgwick as Countess Olivia in a BBC recorded stage production of Twelfth Night from 1998; Anthony Quayle as Falstaff in 2Henry IV, from 1979 with the National Theatre--interesting stuff. The videos run from just under a minute to over twelve minutes. It's well worth a look--as is the News on the Rialto blog.
 Go have some fun!

Monday, May 27, 2013

On Memorial Day

Soldiers' and Sailors' Monument, Riverside Park, NYC

And for [their] passage,
The Souldiours Musicke, and the rites of Warre
Speak lowdly for [them]...
...Go, bid the Souldiers shoote.

The Tragedie Of
 Hamlet, Prince of Denmarke. 
F1; 5.2.351-3;356

Monday, April 23, 2012

Happy Birthday Mr. S.

Happy 448th birthday Master William! Thanks for making us laugh, cry, and for raising our hackles now and again, not necessarily in that order. Thanks for providing such beautiful Lines for me to work with and teach. Though they doubt your name, "The life yet of [your] lines shall never out."

Vpon the Lines and Life of the Famous
Scenicke Poet, Master William

Those hands, which you so clapt, go now, and wring
You Britaines brave; for done are Shakespeares dayes:
His dayes are done, that made the dainty Playes,
Which made the Globe of heav'n and earth to ring.
Dry'de is that veine, dry'd is the Thespian Spring,
Turn'd all to teares, and Phoebus clouds his rayes:
That corp's, that coffin now besticke those bayes,
Which crown'd him Poet first, then Poets King.
If Tragedies might any Prologue have,
All those he made, would scarse make one to this:
Where Fame, now that he gone is to the grave
(Deaths publique tyring house) the Nuncius is.
                                                    For though his line of life went soone about,
                                                    The life yet of his lines shall never out.

                                                                                                    HVGH HOLLAND.

(A dedication from the First Folio of 1623)

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Steve Jobs: The Shakespeare of our Time? "In short", LOL

In another of the ongoing attempts at The Deification of Steve Jobs by the technology/commercialism worshipers, I found this tidbit in an article by Richard Poplack over at the Daily Maverick  to be particularly funny:

"The sweep of his imagination is illustrated by the caprice of his 313 registered patents: power adaptors, laptop hinges, display cases, operating system configurations, packaging, “graphical user interface methods.

In short, he was the Shakespeare of our time. Five centuries from now, the gasp-inducing sweep of his influence will be contested by humans we can barely conceive of, all using variations of the tools he helped create. No one will believe that one person could do all that he has done."   (emphasis mine)


Even a business-oriented marketing enthusiast like Duane Morin over at Shakespeare Geek,  who was somehow able to wax poetic over Jobs'  'humanities'  bent--  "King Jobs"-- might agree with me on this one.  

Monday, February 13, 2012

Another "Shakespeare Project"--in Chicago

Anyone from "The Windy City" out there? If so, consider going to see this. Help support Shakespeare On Stage. It would be great to hear from someone who sees it. Drop by and tell us what you think. JM


"Of all things living, a man's the worst."

It's a Shakespearean battle of the sexes as The Shakespeare Project of Chicago presents The Bard's boisterous comedy, "The Taming of the Shrew." Spawning countless derivative versions, from "Kiss Me Kate" to "Ten Things I Hate About You," two titanic wills collide as the chauvinistic Petruchio tries to woo the headstrong Katherina. Featuring a veteran cast of Shakespeare Project regulars, the play is directed by former Artistic Director Jeff Christian. 


Saturday, February 25 at 10:00AM, The Newberry Library

Saturday, February 25 at 2:00PM, The Wilmette Public Library

Sunday, February 26 at 2:00PM, The Highland Park Public Library

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Welcome Yule!

I Salute You:
There is nothing I can give you which you have not.
But there is much, while I cannot give, you can take.
No Heaven can come to us, unless our Hearts find rest in it Today:
Take Heaven.
No Peace lies in the Future, which is not hidden in this Present instant:
Take Peace.
The gloom of the World is but a Shadow,
Behind it, yet within our reach, is Joy:
Take Joy.
And so, at this Christmas Time, I greet you with the Prayer
That for you, Now and Forever, the Day breaks, and the Shadows flee away.

from Fra Giovanni's, Salutation to a Friend - 1513
Mar. Some saye, that ever 'gainst that Season comes
Wherein our Saviors Birth is celebrated,
The Bird of Dawning singeth all night long:
And then (they say) no Spirit can walke abroad,
The nights are wholesome, then no Planets strike,
No Faiery takes, nor Witch hath power to Charme:
So hallow'd and so gracious is the Time.
Hor. So have I heard, and do in part beleeve it.

The Tragedie of Hamlet, Prince of Denmarke 1.1.158-65

Friday, November 11, 2011

Pocket Posh William Shakespeare: A stocking stuffer whose time has come!

pocket posh william shakespeare
Pocket Posh® William Shakespeare: 100 Puzzles and Quizzes' by The Puzzle Society is published by Andrews McMeel.

Crossword lover? Like wordsearches? And Shakespeare too? Then you'll really like pocket posh william shakespeare from Andrews McMeel Publishing.

Measuring in at just 6in. X 4in., this little book is chock-full of crossword puzzles, code crackers, and word searches with Shakespearean connections. But here's the thing that's great about it: The "shakespeare parts" are expertly woven into puzzles employing clues for words mere mortals will have no trouble with. Many times, Shakespearean references 'reveal' themselves with work on the rest of the puzzle. So you don't have to be an expert on Shakespeare to have fun with this book. (However, when you're finished with it you just might well be on your way.)

For all of you English teachers -- I can see how pocket posh william shakespeare might easily be used in a classroom setting to have fun and also help familiarize students with Shakespeare's characters and plays.

I gave a copy of pocket posh shakespeare as a gift to an avid crossword puzzler who, upon opening the book for the first time, spent at least a couple of hours doing puzzles without stopping--it's kind of infectious that way.

For it's very small size, pocket posh william shakespeare is a very big book of puzzles; easy to carry with you wherever you go, and a perfect stocking stuffer for the general puzzle enthusiast and lover of Shakespeare alike.