¶ Late last night, my cab from the airport crossed over the recently named Martin Luther King, Jr. bridge in Staunton. I nearly missed it for the dark; my ride-share, a very kind director from California, pointed it out. I have never been to Virginia, but I’m thrilled to be finally attending what many scholars consider to be their favorite academic convening: the biennial Blackfriars Conference at the American Shakespeare Center.
¶ Along with full days of top-notch papers—Tiffany Stern, Paul Menzer, Jim Marino, Claire Bourne, and Christina Dennehy all in one day!—the schedule permits conference-goers the chance to see the full complement of productions running at the re-created indoor Jacobean space. (We also learned that all the innovative thinking about early modern theatre architecture and archeology is happening in New Zealand and Australia.) Tonight, “The Fall of King Henry (3 Henry VI),” tomorrow “Love’s Labour’s Lost,” and for dessert, “Much Ado About Nothing.” Having been dispirited by seeing the “Much Ado” recently concluded at Shakespeare’s Globe in London this past August, it is nice to be back in a performance space still interested in being a site to test ideas about early modern performance.
¶ According to American Theatre magazine, “Shakespeare remains the most-produced playwright in the country, with 108 productions (including various adaptations). And this year his most-produced play will be Twelfth Night with 9 productions.” In fact, Shakespeare in Love was the most produced play of the year, with 15 full-scale professional productions nation-wide. This does not take into account all of the Shakespeare-ish works making the rounds to be excited for, including the Reduced Shakespeare Company’s William Shakespeare’s Long Lost First Play (Abridged) and Emma Whipday’s Shakespeare’s Sister. If you are in the Portland area this fall, there are a couple of exciting productions to keep your eyes peeled for.
¶ Pericles Wet
¶ This December, Portland Shakespeare Project will be producing a full-scale run of my colleague, Ellen Margolis’ adaptation of Pericles, Prince of Tyre. Based on the act printed in a recent issue of Prosceniumand a reading I saw last year, this is likely to prove special. This re-magining refocuses on the assault of Princess Hesperides and the framing device of Gower.