Posts Tagged ‘Cardenio’

As part of the National Video Archive of Performance’s 20th anniversary programme the Victoria and Albert Museum will be screening last year’s production of Cardenio at 2pm on Sunday 12 February. Greg Doran will be introducing the screening and will hold a book signing afterwards. This is one of a number of screenings of British theatre productions from the last twenty years (more details at http://www.vam.ac.uk/whatson/event/1637/date/20120212/#single-event-layout). All screenings are free with places allocated on a first come, first served basis on the day.

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So many things to go and see in just one Saturday

In the morning there was Cardenio Unwrapped (at the Swan) where Nicky Cox introduced the Assistant Director of Cardenio, Ben Brymor and the two understudy actors for the characters of Cardenio and Lucinda – Mike Grady-Hall and Maya Barcot. We were told, that in rehearsals, Greg Doran had initially asked all the cast the read the lines apart from their own. So by the time they learnt their own lines each actor knew the play and everyone else’s part – so to speak. This has created great harmony amongst the Ensemble and indeed I have been told by Nick Day a seasoned actor that it is the happiest Ensemble he has ever had the pleasure to work with in his many years in the business.

Ben really set the tone of the day by asking the actors to act with three different interpretations of an early scene in the play between the two characters and we were invited to determine which we thought was be the best option and how a different approach can give an audience a different view and indeed sympathy to the character. Here was a scene where Lucinda was rightly angry with her lover for his not yet informing his father of their relationship. Use of the Thrust stage and the audience intimacy was discussed and one of the interpretations where the actors spoke to the audience rather than to each other only made a big difference and sympathy was somewhat switched back to Cardenio. The question of how more advantageous the thrust stage and closeness of the audience to the stage had a bearing on a Soliloquy where here the actor would speak to the audience rather than himself. Mike presented a Soliloquy from Cardenio with panache.

Finally Maya and two dressers gave a Quick Dress change on stage. It was very brave of all three of them and extremely well done. As Ben said, Dressers are the unsung heroes of the theatre so well done ladies. Just makes one anxious to go and see this wonderful production again.

Cardenio is on until October 6th.

POPPY – The Mark Ravenhill weekend started with the first of two plays he was directing in the Swan Rooms at 2pm. The author Peter Nichols who also wrote the lyrics to the music and the award winning composer, Monty Norman, who wrote the music were present. Indeed Monty joined in one of the songs with great gusto.

This script-in-hand performance of the musical set during the Opium Wars (1840s) has won awards. An important element of the play is audience participation, which brings them closer not only to the play’s fantastic world, but also to the satire that follows later on – a critical look at corruption within our social, political and religious systems i.e. Civilization, Commerce and Christianity (they all belong together and they all begin with C). This was also a great song that stuck in one’s head but left a sweet and sour taste in our mouths.

It is a kind of adult pantomime, but dark and certainly an irreverent story. Marvellous reading by the actors- in particular Ciaron Kellgren, Sally Dexter and Jill Halfpenny. But all actors and musicians were outstanding. A fantastic way to spend the afternoon and it was good fun for everyone present. The cast certainly appeared to enjoy themselves.

FASHION – So back we went for more delight at 7pm for another script in hand play reading. Again this was curated by Mark Ravenhill and again we were privileged to have the author, Doug Lucie present.This play was premiered at The Other Place in 1987; sadly I did not see it because of my then nomadic life. Alan Armstrong and Brian Cox were in the original production. But you know this play could have been written yesterday; it was really proof of the fact that most people do not take heed of what goes on around them. Basically it is a satire about the world of political spin where an advertising boss bids for the task of re-modelling the Conservative party, prior to an election.

Both Murdoch and the female person who was PM in the 80s were somehow well and truly part of the story. With an excellent cast including Sally Dexter, Joe Dixon, Jill Halfpenny, John Gordon Sinclair, Paul Hickey and Ciaran Kellgren we were left, in no doubt, that if we listened to our playwrights more perhaps some of the problems of this world would not be there. Personally I was delighted how they responded to Thatcherism.

Our recent difficulties were cradled at a time when individual greed was encouraged where humanitarian issues were corroded and this marvellous satire brings the message home. Oh that we had listened then. Congratulations to Doug Lucie, and well done Mark Ravenhill and your outstanding actors. Thank you Team RSC.

David Stevens

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 Cardenio: a challenge‏ for you

Last Saturday, I attended a very interesting “conversation” between, the Friends’ own, Greg Doran and Tiffany Stern and chaired by Paul Edmondson at the Shakespeare Centre about “Cardenio”. Fortunately, it was recorded, so you can listen to the first half at http://bloggingshakespeare.com/listen-to-cardenio-in-conversation.  During that conversation, Greg admitted he had used two lines from Hamlet that none of the critics had spotted, so my challenge is: can anyone out there find it? Get checking!

News on Geoffrey

Fans of Geoffrey Streatfeild are in for a double treat next week as he’s appearing in TWO Afternoon Plays on Radio 4 at 2.15pm. The first, “Success Story” on Monday 20th, is about an actor on the brink of stardom when his past catches up with him. In the second, “Playing for his Life”, Geoff is a German tennis player who offends Hitler. Make sure you tune in!

 Happenings at Hampstead Theatre‏

Not content with putting on 3 new works and preparing for a season in New York, the old RSC company are also performing 4 plays in the Michael Frayn Space, in their spare time, and with a little help from some friends such as David Fielder, Martin Turner and Marjorie Yates. Sadly, for most of us, the plays (Mojo, The Bullet, The Price (Miller) and Ahaseverus) are only available for an invited audience but, I have seen one play, in my capacity as an usher, and I’m pleased to say that the production values and performances are to the RSC’s normal high standards. Shame that more people can’t enjoy them!

by Geraldine Caulfield

BUT – Happily you can see Dunsinane at the Swan Theatre, Stratford upon Avon now until July 2nd. First performed at Hampstead last year – I went to see it last night and thought it was very good – well written, thought provoking, great casting and music and funny which was unexpected. I highly recommend it.

by Jane Cromack

And just to add..


Some thoughts on DUNSINANE…..The opening night was marvellous. There was a great script from David Greig, super direction by Roxana Silbert and what a cast and set. Well done in particular Siobhan Redmond and Jonny Phillips. Congratulations to the National Theatre of Scotland


Enjoyed a chat with Tony-Boyd-Williams after the show about the merits of the play and how true it was of events happening today. I slept well but woke up, at 6.am, thinking about Dunsinane. I picked up the wonderful programme which includes the script and re-examined it. This is clearly a play that should be seen by all modern politicians and make them think hard about certain situations they place our commanding officers when involved in a country other than their own. If only one or two took note of this perhaps they would not be so prepared to make questionable and hasty decisions. It was clear to me that Jonny Phillips, as Siward, had given considerable thought regarding the role and he captured the part very adeptly and showing  the strengths and failings of even the most competent of COs when receiving instructions from weaker, greedier and ambitious superiors.


The horror and ethics of fighting a war that is not your own concern, in an alien country, is as topical today as it was then. Scotland? Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya? Where next?


There was humour, which was superb and typical of people placed in impossible situations, and the dialogue between Malcolm (portrayed rather well by Brian Ferguson) on the Throne ,at the Great Hall, in Dunsinane very early in the play was both humorous and thought provoking. Indeed this is a play that you will think about for many days after.  If you have not booked to see this production, you should.


by David Stevens


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We went to the Opening Performance on the 14th April, 2011 and loved every moment of the production. Such inspirational casting- Lucy Briggs-Owen and Oliver Rix. I was really impressed by Christopher Godwin as Don Camillo. The music was wonderful and what a beautiful ending with music and dance. Well done Greg Doran. Our thanks to you for re-imagining the “lost play”, a fantastic achievement. This was a really memorable evening and a superb way to celebrate the re-opening of the lovely Swan Theatre.

……..And so we went to see Cardenio again on the Saturday evening, having so enjoyed the wonderful and informative talk by Greg Doran in the morning to Friends. It was even better the second time and sitting in a different part of the theatre appreciated even more the performance of Pippa Nixon as Dorotea. Superb.

People go the theatre for different reasons, hopefully to enjoy the performance. Certainly we did with Cardenio. Fully recommend it. We will go again!

by David Stevens, RSC Friends

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23rd February to 2nd April were marvellous weeks in RSC History. The productions of KING LEAR and ROMEO AND JULIET on our new main stage deservedly received great acclaim as did the brilliant restaging by Michael and his company of ANTONY AND CLEOPATRA in the Swan. The final performance of that production was indeed a night to be proud of and to remember.

However, there were more treats in store. The YPS productions of HAMLET and THE COMEDY OF ERRORS were successfully revived, with much praise from the older members of the audiences in addition to that from the youngsters present. Both productions confirmed the riches and strengths of our 2009-2011 ensemble and underlined what splendid results are obtained when  a company stays together for such a period of time.

Secondly, this hugely talented company allowed us to see them in an entirely different light when they gave us THE RSC ENSEMBLE REVEALED. And then as if to crown it all, we had two further sensational staging’s – THE TEMPEST (a welcome return of Little Angel Theatre in association with the RSC ) and the first RSC Studio production -THE RAPE OF LUCRECE. Now this makes a total of eight events in our theatres in just over five weeks!! Certainly, a fitting start to the momentous year of our 50th Birthday Celebrations.

However, all this was just the beginning. As I write this, the ensemble are back in London for a season of new work prior to their visit to New York and the first members of our new acting ensemble are settling down with us and the previews of Macbeth and Cardenio are well under way. These early performances are proving most enjoyable, exciting and a first  rate start to the new productions which are marking our 50th Birthday Season. We are being treated to yet more outstanding acting/technical talent as well as fantastic direction from Michael and Greg.

If any readers have not yet booked for these productions, then I advise a visit to our hard working Box Office colleagues as quickly as possible. And the arrival of additional acting ensemble members for The Merchant of Venice and The City Madam companies indicates further treats are in store!

To all who have been with the RSC before, welcome back! To all who are with us for the first time, welcome indeed! We hope you all enjoy this very special time in Stratford and do please be assured of our support and best wishes.

Tony Boyd-Williams

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