“Feast here awhile”: Shakespeare for a Portland Autumn

Dear readers:

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 Proscenium and 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.

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“the lion’s part”: Midsommer, Solstice, and Shakespeare Gender Parity

I’ve been thinking a lot recently about identity parity in Shakespeare performance. This is in part because of recent articles critiquing Hollywood whitewashing, which in actuality negatively affects box office numbers. (For recent coverage, see the Los Angeles Times and Business Insider.) This is in part because I have been seeing a great deal of theatre interested in the range of implications available when you might choose to play a character against their biological-gender identification. For example, when Hotspur is female-identifying in the Henry IV plays, as in the case at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival this summer, the competing reports of her death at the start of part two resonates with a very different parental agony and pathos. Or, when Aeneas is played by and as a woman, such as is the case of Portland Actors Ensemble’s Troilus and Cressida, that rape is a necessary war strategy becomes newly apparent. But is this kind of parity necessarily true across the industry?

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