May 7th, 2012

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Othello, Chicago Shakespeare Theater, Globe to Globe, Shakespeare's Globe

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Cut and pasted from the Globe to Globe Website:

Q Brothers, Chicago Shakespeare Theater, Richard Jordan Productions
A fresh urban take on Shakespeare's tragedy spun out, smashed up and lyrically rewritten over original beats. The Q Brothers are America's leading re-interpreters of Shakespeare through hip hop. The Chicago Shakespeare Theater is dedicated to creating and producing classic productions that unlock Shakespeare's work for audiences from all walks of life.

Raks's Reaction


This production had one key advantage over all the other productions I am seeing as part of the Globe to Globe Season and that is that it was in English. So this was the one production where I could understand the language. Although it was in English, the production did not use any of Shakespeare's language, it used urban hip hop rhymes (a tribute to iambic pentameter!).

The other advantage that this production had (although this could have been a major disadvantage if the production had been no good!) was that I love Othello the play to the point of obsession. It is one of my top three Shakespeare plays (the others being The Merchant of Venice and The Tempest). I know the story back to front, and inside out.

The production had been relocated. Othello, Cassio and Iago were not soldiers, but hip hop artists, and it was set in the US. There were only four actors (see image below) plus a DJ on the balcony above. There was no Desdemona (shock horror!). This sounds stupid but it really worked; Desdemona was represented by a soulful singing voice which often emanated from the rooftops. Emilia (Iago's wife) and Bianca (Cassio's mistress) were however both in the production, played by men. This really worked too.

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So what did I love about the production?

- The fact that although they had relocated the story to a different world (entertainment not military) and a different geography (the US), the production stayed 100% faithful to Shakespeare's plot and storyline
- The fact that it was just 4 actors and a DJ
- The acting - all four actors were exceptional and played all the parts with 100% commitment and confidence
- The music and the hip hop rhyme - the whole production was done in hip hop rhymes, no words were spoken
- The energy and pace of the production - very early on the actors asked the audience to put their hands in the air and well over 95% of the audience did so and joined in with the rap
- To have Desdemona not represented in the production was unique and unusual; it sounds stupid but it worked like a dream; I love it when companies try something completely new and off the wall with Shakespeare; this really worked!
- The men playing women were superb, a stroke of genius
- The fact that you could use a production like this to introduce young people to the genius of Shakespeare and show them that Shakespeare's stories are excellent and that what Shakespeare has to say is still relevant to their lives today.

Overall, this has been my favourite production of the Globe to Globe Season so far, although this could be because they had the distinct advantage of this being played in English! It was also urban, gritty, real, and youth!
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May Bank Holiday Monday Treat

"Sunshine on a cloudy day"
Say goodbye to the Blues on a grey May Bank Holiday Monday in London:

Photographer: Simon Annand
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My feature on Simon Annand's recent theatre photography exhibition "The Half" at the Idea Generation Gallery can be found here:

Enjoy! Happy May Bank Holiday Monday!
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Sherlock actor Benedict Cumberbatch voted The Sun’s Sexiest Man by Sun Readers

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Cut and pasted from The Sun website:

SHERLOCK actor Benedict Cumberbatch has been voted The Sun’s Sexiest Man — by our army of clued-up readers.

The star of BBC1’s hit detective series beat scores of traditional poster boys, including all the lads from One Direction, to win the coveted title.

And he romped home — with more than DOUBLE the votes of second-placed man David Beckham.

Modest Benedict, 35, doesn’t rate his looks. He once described himself as looking like racehorse Shergar and revealed: “I’ve wanted to play roles that have gone to better-looking people.”

But Sun readers were clearly attracted to his beauty AND brains.

Follow the link to read the full story:
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Sea Wall - Andrew Scott Q&A

A rare Bank Holiday treat for everyone (especially Andrew Scott fans). Andrew Scott talking about being an actor, the acting process, interaction with audience, doing a one man play etc. Interviews with Andrew are rare and this is a real Jewel in the Crown. A Koh-i-Noor!

Cut and pasted from the Sea Wall Website:

BAFTA nominated actor Andrew Scott and Olivier Award winning playwright Simon Stephens share the stage at the Lyric Theatre, Hammersmith to talk about acting, writing, keeping it simple and the emotional power of their film collaboration, Sea Wall.

Follow the link: