Monday, December 17, 2012

Shakespeare in the Park, 2013

Just a reminder that Shakespeare in the Park is on again in January - they are presenting Much Ado from 4 Jan until 2 Feb at Kings Park, Perth. It's always a good night out and the company needs our support!

Here's what Paige Newmark says on their Facebook page:

Shakespeare WA’s 2013 season of Shakespeare in the Park will feature the Bard’s funniest comedy of relationships, Much Ado About Nothing, 4 January to 2 February 2013. Tickets are on sale now at . A great Christmas Gift!

Much Ado About Nothing will be set locally in Western Australia, at the end of the Second World War. A ‘Shakespeare meets Dad’s Army’, this hilarious war of the sexes will delight audiences with its mixture of star-lit romance, scheming rogues, and the silliness of the Home Guard.

Our fun-filled and uproarious comedy will be presented at Kings Park and Botanic Garden under the artistic direction of Paige Newmark. The cast will feature the award-winning actress Hannah Day, who is newly arrived from Scotland to play Beatrice, as well as David Davies, who returns to Perth to play Benedick after working with the Bell Shakespeare Company and running his own GB Shakespeare Company in the UK. WA audiences will be delighted to see Sam Longley once again performing at Shakespeare in the Park as the hapless Dogberry, along with a host of Shakespeare WA favourites, Stephen Lee, Sean Walsh, James Hagan, Claire Munday, and Nick Maclaine. We are pleased to welcome Garreth Bradshaw from Upstart Theatre and Marko Jovanovic, as well as newcomers Geordie Crawley, Sophie Lester, and Jordan Holloway to this year’s production. As in past years, our production is designed to appeal to both the classical theatre market and Shakespeare-newcomers alike, as we seek to keep the plays as fresh and relevant as they were when first performed 400 years ago.

In other unique and exciting initiatives planned for 2013, Shakespeare WA will present:
1) An interpreted performance for WA Deaf Society that will be signed by Auslan interpreters;
2) An audio described performance for the Association for the Blind of WA, including the blind and visually impaired community.

Shakespeare WA is thrilled to be continuing its partnership with Australian energy company, Santos, which has extended its long-term support of the arts in other parts of Australia and is now making a difference to the cultural life of the WA community. This season is made possible through its generosity. Shakespeare in the Park is a smoke-free event proudly sponsored by Healthway promoting the Act-Belong-Commit message.

 For more information please contact us at

Women in Shakespeare

Our president, Frances Dharmalingam, offers her thoughts on the December meeting:

The guest speaker for our December meeting was Jan Altmann, who gave us an interesting and entertaining talk on Women in Shakespeare, from the feminist perspective. Most attention was given to Kate, the 'Shrew', with a lively consideration of the many different possible interpretations that can be placed on the ending of the play. Jan also looked at Lady Macbeth, Queen Gertrude, Ophelia and Desdemona. There was so much to think about that time rather got away, and Juliet and Rosalind received only the most cursory glances, much to our disappointment. Jan explored character and text in detail, and left us with a wealth of new ideas and insights.  Her visit made a lively end to the year, and offered new thoughts for next year's programme.

The meeting closed with a convivial break-up celebration, and we are now on hiatus until Saturday, 16 February. Compliments of the season to all Shakespeare lovers everywhere!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Much Ado About Nothing

Frances Dharmalingam, our Fearless Leader, has had the good fortune to see both stage and film versions of the Globe's production of Much Ado. Here are her thoughts and impressions:

Having been enchanted by a performance of Much Ado About Nothing at the Globe Theatre in 2011, I was delighted to learn that a film of that very production would be screened here in Perth, and hot-footed it to the cinema for another joyous experience.

The verve, charm and good humour of the production were immediately apparent, together with the colour and grace of the costumes and set. The audience was readily and completely involved, thanks to the skill of the actors, who played so directly to all corners of the house.

The lovers were perfectly cast and interacted brilliantly with each other, while making the audience deliciously complicit in their every thought. Given a certain style of delivery, their dialogue might come across as abrasive and could lose the onlookers' sympathy, but this Beatrice and Benedick had such charm. Under all the feisty words they suggested such touching vulnerability that all we wanted was for them finally to face reality and fall into each other’s arms.

The comedy was wildly, eye-wateringly funny. During the eavesdropping scenes the lovers balanced humour and tantalising suspense, with Beatrice ducking and weaving among the washing on the line, and Benedick dodging round the pillars and finally climbing an extremely high fruit tree (from which he made a spectacular descent by rope when a servant casually removed the ladder). The Night Watch were a mis-matched awkward squad who relied as much on mime and delightfully inventive use of props as on dialogue for their well-deserved laughs. Clever casting contrasted a very short, deadpan and smugly officious Dogberry with an extremely tall and shamblingly impassive Vergis.

The darker side of the play tempered the merriment with Don John's saturnine jealousy, and the shock of physical and emotional violence, but it passed quickly with the assurance that matters could be put right. The action progressed smoothly through the priest's plan, the revelations of the Watch and Claudio's repentance, to a fittingly happy and boisterous ending.

These were my responses to both the live and the filmed performances, but there were, of course, some differences. The film relied much upon close-up shots, which allowed even greater appreciation of the actors' expressive faces and by-play with the audience, but as a result views of the whole setting were sometimes sacrificed. On such a wide stage, and with the comic interactions within large groups of performers, I felt that we lost some of the broader effects, in focussing so closely on particular speakers. Of course, I might not have thought about this had I not been lucky enough to see the stage version.

In thinking over the whole lovely production, my lasting impression (which was even more evident in the film) was of the wonderful use of silence. The lines were delivered with masterly sense of rhythm, meaning and emotion, and all the actors displayed admirable control of pace and timing, using pause both for suspense prior to making a point, and equally for allowing the point to have its impact after the spoken words.

A recipient of the Olivier Award for Best Actress, Eve Best, played the role of Beatrice.