kchampagne

kchampagne

This user hasn't shared any profile information

Posts by kchampagne

Beneath summer sky, reveling in Bard’s timelessness

Armed with lawn chairs, blankets, bug spray and – in some instances – feasts fit for a Shakespearian king, more than 40,000 people gather on a hill near Hoyt Lake each summer.

It’s not called Shakespeare Hill for nothing.

Shakespeare in Delaware Park is one of the oldest and largest free Shakespeare festivals in the country. The Buffalo News’ Brian Meyer met with founder Saul Elkin to talk about the popular summer ritual, which continues through Aug. 17 with a unique production of “The Comedy of Errors” that is staged with modern elements borrowed from several “alternative worlds.”

Here is a summary of some of the topics covered in an interview that is part of the “In Focus” series. Watch the full 6-minute interview at BuffaloNews.com/video.

Brian Meyer: How has this festival changed since its debut in 1976?

Saul Elkin: We were a very tiny, little festival in 1976, with a stage that is about a third the size of the stage that you can see behind me. Three standing microphones in front of the stage, where as now, all of our actors are equipped with body mics. …

Meyer: Your longevity is very impressive. You’re the second-oldest free Shakespeare festival in the country. You’re one of the largest. Has that length and stature made it easier to navigate what many have called the annual hustle for money?

Elkin: It’s helped a little bit. I think we’ve become something that this community expects to see every summer. Because they expect to see it, they’re helpful and they’re generous. And the generosity extends year-round. … The hustle as you say goes on constantly. Local businesses, banks – M&T Bank especially – have been very, very generous to us. It helps, I think. The older we get, the more established we are in the community, it becomes a part of people’s giving. …

Meyer: But let’s be candid. There are a lot of people who hear the word Shakespeare and think “boring.” How do you deal with that?

Elkin: Shakespeare is meant to be performed as well as read. What happens in the schools is that it’s read, and it’s read slowly. And that’s tough on a ninth- and 10th-grader. We have lots of young people out here to the park who stick with it and love it and come back. We have developed Shakespeare fans. What happens is that when it’s live, it’s very real. The emotions are real. One of the reasons why Shakespeare has survived for 450 years is that he’s dealing with human interaction that we recognize – love and hate and anxiety and all of those feelings that we recognize. And when we see them on the stage, the difficulty of the language sort of is to one side, I think.

Meyer: And you take these emotions, these common emotions, and you try to make them almost mirrors of the times in many of your productions. You do some creative reimaginings. You take them into different eras with costumes and music. Do you have any favorite re-creations?

Elkin: We’ve done a variety of those, and the point is not so much to rewrite Shakespeare, but to create a moment of relevance – a moment of immediacy. This is not to say that Shakespeare done in a traditional style is not also immediate and relevant. We did a space age “Tempest” years ago, which I liked. Early on in the festival, we did a very rock ’n’ roll “Hamlet,” which was a favorite of mine. … I think those are a way of bringing Shakespeare into the 21st century.

Meyer: Let’s do reimagining here. What do you think the Bard would say if he suddenly materialized here on the hill at Delaware Park and saw one of these productions?

Elkin: When these plays were written, they were very forward-thinking. We live in an age now of electronic devices. I think Shakespeare would have been using one. They might have appeared in his plays. I think he would have liked what we do here.

Buffalo Newson July 28, 2014 – 6:00 PM

It’s a rollicking ‘Comedy of Errors’ at Shakespeare in Delaware Park

Nathan Winkelstein and Norman Sham star in Shakespeare in Delaware Park's production of

Nathan Winkelstein and Norman Sham star in Shakespeare in Delaware Park’s production of “The Comedy of Errors.” 

on July 25, 2014 – 1:45 PM

Déjà vu.

Well, almost. A dozen years ago, Steve Vaughan directed a production of William Shakespeare’s 420-year-old bit of foolishness – one of his first plays and by many accounts, his shortest – “The Comedy of Errors,” for Shakespeare in Delaware Park.

If memory serves, Vaughan’s work that summer was faithful to fun and loyal to text with just the right amount of tweaks on an aged script to keep it from a Hoyt Lake tanking.

“The Comedy of Errors” has returned, again directed by Vaughan in colorful, speedy fashion. A little more music has been added this time around, an assortment of melodies by composer Randy Andropolis played by keyboards, strings, some brass and kazoo accompanists, with reminders of Keystone Cops chases, some vaudeville and bits of Abbott and Costello. In other words, Bardolatry is spruced up, sillied even more. No harm done in this second and last play of SDP’s annual “season,” its 39th.

The story needs much explaining. Very often, “Comedy” audiences and possibly the casts don’t know who’s who or what’s what until the resolve – and that takes its time getting there. Know this much: Two sets of twins – the masters both named Antipholus and their servants, both named Dromio – are separated by shipwreck off the Greek coast. Parents were cast adrift, too, washing ashore in different countries. So, one Antipholus and Dromio combo grows up in a seaport town of Ephesus, the other in rival Syracuse.

After some time, years, of search by the father of the lads takes him to Ephesus where, wouldn’t you know it, his Syracuse son is looking for his long-lost brother. You can imagine the havoc caused among the Duke, city folk, the merchants (there’s a confusing flap about a gold necklace that’s given to the wrong Antipholus) and particularly confounds a wife, Adriana, who wonders about the behavior of her husband – again the wrong twin. And the Dromios? Don’t ask. Instructions go awry, messages get mixed up. The families are finally reunited after a great deal of sorting out. Break out the kazoos.

Legendary actor Orson Welles once wrote that Shakespeare’s plays covered every mood of a man’s season. He wrote about starlight, fireflies, the sun, the moon, Welles said, and he wrote with “tears, blood and beer.” “The Comedy of Errors” perhaps doesn’t have all that to recommend it, but it is full of fun and frolic designed in 1594 to take Elizabethan minds off a rampaging plague. Well, luckily we don’t have that but we can use a laugh or some giggles and Vaughan has populated this latest incarnation of “Comedy” with plenty of both. It’s just lightweight, no-think, rollicking Shakespeare.

The cast is large and multitalented, led by the visiting Steve Braddock, veteran performers Greg Gjurich, Lisa Ludwig and the fiery Kay Kerimian and, of course, the “twins:” Adriano Gatto and Nathan Winkelstein, as the Antipholous brothers; and Norm Sham and Nick Lama as the portly Dromio boys. Sham has wonderful moments with a bawdy few minutes about a certain kitchen maid, Nell: “She’s, well, spherical, like a globe,” he describes, “I could find countries in her.” And then there is a description of where France and Spain and England might be. Sham and Shakespeare belong together.

Others of note include Billy Horn, Lauren Nicole Alaimo, Brittany Bassett, Shabar Rouse, Maria Caruso and, in a very smart choice, Channel 7 weatherman Mike Randall, as goldsmith Angelo; outdoor theater can always use a meteorologist-in-residence.

There’s some choreography by Terri Filips Vaughan. Set designer is Nathan Elsener.

Shakespeare buffs are fond of saying “Where there’s a Will, there’s a play.” Currently, that play is “The Comedy of Errors.” It’s a nice way to spend a summer night.

It’s Double Trouble in The Comedy of Errors

Nathan Winkelstein, Norman Sham and Billy Horn star in Shakespeare in Delaware Park’s production of “The Comedy of Errors.” 

Shakespeare in Delaware Park to open ‘The Comedy of Errors’

  Published: July 21, 2014, 12:49 PM

Updated: July 21, 2014, 12:49 PM

The warmongering King Henry V and his longbow-wielding soldiers have cleared out of Delaware Park to make way for a decidedly less serious and much wackier cast of characters. “The Comedy of Errors,” Shakespeare’s riotous tale of mistaken identities, exceedingly unlikely situations and straight-up slapstick, opens Thursday night in Shakespeare in Delaware Park’s second production of the summer.

In this early Shakespearean comedy, favored by contemporary directors more for its brevity and malleability than its oft-problematic script, two sets of identical twins who were separated at birth meet unexpectedly in the ancient Greek city of Ephesus. It doesn’t help that the two sets of twins share not only physical attributes but first names – Antipholus and Dromio – a crude recipe for comedy as transparent as it is effective.

Steve Vaughan, the veteran local fight choreographer who co-directs many productions for the company and last helmed “Julius Caesar” for SDP in 2009, leads an enormous cast of Buffalo theater veterans and newcomers including Adriano Gatto as Antipholus of Ephesus, Nathan Winkelstein as Antipholus of Syracuse, Nicholas Lama as Dromio of Ephesus and Norman Sham as Dromio of Syracuse.

The production runs at 7:30 nightly, except Mondays, through Aug. 17. Call 856-4533 or visit www.shakespeareindelawarepark.org.

– Colin Dabkowski

For Immediate Release

Contact: Lisa Ludwig 856-4533

Photos attached more available upon request

 

 

 

                                                         

COMEDY OF ERRORS OPENS THURSDAY

AS SHAKESPEARE IN DELAWARE PARK CELEBRATES

THE 39th SEASON OF FREE THEATRE

 

July 21, 2014 Buffalo, NY … Shakespeare in Delaware Park is pleased to announce that this Thursday will be the opening of their second show of the season of free professional outdoor theater. After a successful run or HENRY V,  the crowd pleasing, COMEDY  OF ERRORS hits the stage Thursday July 24th at 7:30pm. Steve Vaughan directs this audience favorite, starring Norman Sham, Adriano Gatto, Nick Lama, Nathan Winkelstein, Lisa Ludwig, Kay Kerimian and Mike Randall.

 

Shakespeare in Delaware Park reaches over 40,000 audience members each season and is proud to be celebrating 39 amazing years of high-quality professional theatre that remains FREE to the public. COMEDY OF ERRORS runs July 24th –August 17th. Performances are held every evening (except Mondays) at 7:30 p.m.  Shows take place on Shakespeare Hill in Delaware Park, next to Hoyt Lake behind the Rose Garden, off Lincoln Parkway near the Albright-Knox Art Gallery. Further information may be obtained at www.shakespeareindelawarepark.org or by calling (716) 856-4533. Or like us on facebook at www.facebook.com/shakespeareindelawarepark.

 

Season Sponsors Provide Generous Support

2014 Season Sponsors include M&T Bank, Erie County, New York State Council on the Arts, WGRZ Channel 2, The Buffalo News, Marketing Tech, Lamar, WBEN and Wynn Creative.  Additional funding comes from members, donors and audience donations.

 

 

Shakespeare in Delaware Park Opens

Shakespeare in Delaware Park opens

Shakespeare in Delaware Park opens
Patrick Moltane plays the title role in Shakespeare in Delaware Park’s production of “Henry V.” 

on Wednesday, June 18, 2014 9:46 AM, updated: 3:04 PM

It’s hard to miss the symbolism in Karen Tashjian’s set for the Shakespeare in Delaware Park production of “Henry V” opening Thursday night.

Streaks of blood-red paint stretch across jet-black walls and columns as if flicked from the paintbrush of some gargantuan Jackson Pollock. The set will serve as the backdrop for the bloody Battle of Agincourt, one of the most famous confrontations in military history, in which the English king leads his outnumbered army to victory over their heavily armored French opponents.

Shakespeare in Delaware Park founder and director Saul Elkin chose “Henry V,” which the company produced once before, in 1987, out of an affinity for Shakespeare’s English history plays and for its title character.

“I chose it really because I loved the ‘Henry IV’ plays that preceded it, and I had played Falstaff in both of them,” Elkin said on a recent afternoon in Delaware Park as actors prepared for the production’s first dress rehearsal. “I loved the idea of this young, profligate prince assuming the throne.”

The King Henry of this production, played by Patrick Moltane, is an older and wiser version of the irresponsible Prince Hal who appeared in the two “Henry IV” plays. His story speaks to the challenges of overcoming the errors and indiscretions of one’s youth, of taking up the mantle of responsibility and of growing into a better and more honorable human being.

“Henry V” has produced vastly different interpretations. In his 1944 film adaptation, Lawrence Olivier struck a deeply patriotic chord and, according to New York Times film critic Vincent Canby, served as “a celebration of monarchy as well as a reminder of Britain’s place on the European Continent.” Kenneth Branagh’s 1989 film, by contrast, shied away from patriotic bluster to focus on the main character’s inner conflicts and has been viewed by some as a critique of English imperialism.

Elkin, for his part, is sticking with the traditional approach.

“I’m making a hero of him,” Elkin said. “I’m not going to deal with the imperialist notion.”

Though Elkin said he didn’t choose the play to mirror any contemporary issues, it’s not likely to escape most theatergoers that the production comes on the heels of the 70th anniversary of D-Day and at a time when a troubling military flare-up is unfolding in Iraq. Now more than usual, many Americans are preoccupied with the rhetoric of war as a glorious, patriotic or economically advantageous endeavor.

Some of the language we associate with valiant wars comes directly from “Henry V,” including the king’s insistence during the play’s first battle that his soldiers head “once more unto the breach.” Another pep talk before the play’s main battle contains Henry’s famous St. Crispin’s Day speech, in which he rallies his fellow soldiers by assuring them a place in history:

“And Crispin Crispian shall ne’er go by, / From this day to the ending of the world, / But we in it shall be remembered / We few, we happy few, we band of brothers.”

Though Shakespeare wrote the play so the battles take place offstage, Elkin and fight choreographer Steve Vaughan have staged highly stylized battle scenes set to music and meant to work in concert with the stylized look of the set.

“We don’t have what Kenneth Branagh had. He hired the Yugoslav Army, or whatever,” Elkin said with a chuckle. “I don’t have that.”

Though he’s keeping the approach largely minimalist, actors playing English soldiers will wield actual longbows on loan from the Hawkeye Bowmen archery club in Marilla, while French soldiers will wear steel breastplates that costume designer Ken Shaw found online for about $40 each.

But in general, Elkin stressed, theatergoers should bring their imaginations to the production, which – aside from being significantly shorter – is presented in a spare manner meant to evoke its original production.

“ ‘Henry V’ is a chapter in English history that’s sort of complicated and it revolves around two famous battles in France. In Shakespeare’s day, obviously, there was no way to be literal about that and there is a chorus who keeps reminding us that this is a stage, use your imagination, think when we speak of horses that you see them and so on,” Elkin said. “What I did was reduce the possibility of any kind of literal theater. I tried, in a way, to make it a stage.”

email: cdabkowski@buffnews.com

kchampagne's RSS Feed
Go to Top