Category Archives: 2015

2015 Taming of the Shrew

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This year 2015 FREE Shakespeare in the ParkS – Taming of the Shrew is made possible in part with public funds from the Manhattan Community Arts Fund, supported by the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council and administered by Lower Manhattan Cultural Council. We thank you for your support from the bottom of our hearts!

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You heard right! MSP is doing the “PROBLEM PLAY”

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William Shakespeare’s

THE TAMING OF THE SHREW

How do we, as contemporary women and artists tackle this notoriously difficult, seemingly extremely “anti-feminist” play and live to talk about it? Follow our BLOG come see the SHOW and find out!!

MSP_Shrew_horiz_PostcardOF COURSE!

ALL PERFORMANCES FREE

ALL PERFORMANCES @ 6:00PM

We’re back at our usual haunts AND we’ve added ASTORIA PARK and HUNTER’S POINT SOUTH PARK in QUEENS!!

Bring a BLANKET

Bring a PICNIC

Rain Policy: The show must go on! We perform rain or shine. We will never cancel a show before showtime. So come on out! Bring a slicker, bring an umbrella. Some of our best shows have been in mysterious and foggy weather 🙂
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Parks & Directions

To Summit Rock in Central Park
(near 83rd St. at Central Park West):

By subway, take B or C train to 86th St./Central Park West. Enter the park at 85th St.

To Astoria Park in Queens
(near 23rd Ave at 19th Street):

By subway, take N or Q train to Astoria / Ditmars Blvd. Enter the park at 23rd Ave.

To Hunter’s Point South Park in Queens
(on the artificial grass circle at Borden Ave.):

By subway, take the 7 train to Vernon Blvd / Jackson Ave. Walk West on 50th Ave towards the East River. Enter the park at Borden Ave.

To St. Nicholas Park in Harlem
(the 135th St. Plaza at St. Nicholas Ave):

By subway, take B or C train to 135th St. / St. Nicholas Ave. Enter the park at 135th St.

To Sunset Park in Brooklyn
(near 44th St. at 6th Ave. top of the hill):

By subway, take N or R train to 45th St. Enter the park at 44th St. and 6th Ave. or 44th St. and 5th Ave.

To Morningside Park in Manhattan
(near the pond at 114th St. and Morningside Ave)

By subway, take B or C train to 110th St. / Cathedral Pkwy. Enter the park at 114th St.

IMG_5918Directed by

Kate Holland

***Ensemble***

IMG_0337Sarah Eismann (see MEET THE PLAYERS for more info) is absolutely thrilled to be working with such a talented and exciting cast and crew on this production. A recent MFA Acting graduate from Columbia University, Sarah got her BFA in Drama at Tisch School for the Arts at NYU. She also trained with the National Theatre Conservatory in Denver, and the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London. She has performed with IMG_5697the Tony Award winning Children’s Theatre Company in Minneapolis, California Shakespeare Theatre, San Francisco Shakespeare Festival, Woman’s Will, improv troupes Tilted Frame SF, Middle School Poetry, and RadioStar Network. www.saraheismann.com

AmandaGobleAmanda Goble is a NYC-based artist, with experience as an actor, aerialist, and physical IMG_6291performer. Recent credits include Fairy Queen, Romeo and Juliet, a national tour of Peter Pan, as well as collaborations on devised theater and aerial/dance theater projects.

Monica_JonesMonica Jones was most recently seen as Smith in Who We Let In (Ensemble Studio Theatre, NYC). Other NYC credits include, but not limited to: Dr. Talbot & others, St. Valerie of Nova Scotia (Columbia University); Keely, Washougal My Heart; Reverend Lawrence, Juliet & Romeo; Willa, or what she will (Fringe NYC); Venita, IMG_5694Skylines; Celia, As You Like It. Film credits include: Emory, The Other Girl (Brooklyn Film Festival); Ellie, Run (Drexel); and Beatrice, Rune (Isis Productions). Monica holds a B.F.A. in Theatre Performance from the University of Oklahoma, School of Drama. www.monicalillianjones.com

IMG_5574Carla Lerner

 

 

 

ShannonDelaneyWardShannon Delaney Ward is an actress and teaching artist from Vermont who is very excited to be spending her summer with Manhattan Shakespeare Project. Her recent credits include Malvolio in Twelfth Night, Beatrice in Much Ado About Nothing, and Lady Macbeth in Macbeth. So far she is having a great time with these wonderful women and this wonderful play. This is Shannon’s first experience with performing Shakespeare outdoors, and she is thrilled by the challenges and joys of these New York City parks. Shannon has been a part of several touring companies, including The Penumbra Players, which she co-founded and performed a sixteen-city tour of New England duringIMG_5878 the summer of 2011. She also spent 8 months as a resident artist at Shakesperience, a touring educational theater company based out of Waterbury Connecticut. In her free time Shannon enjoys writing, reading, and exploring. More information about Shannon can be found at shannondelaneyward.weebly.com

***And Introducing***

Erica Anne Morales-Armstrong is super excited about her debut appearance with Manhattan Shakespeare Project. Erica takes voice classes with Yvonne Armstrong and was awarded admission to the MS Arts Audition Boot Camp at LaGuardia High School. She previously performed in the IMG_5541ensemble of her school’s production of Legally Blonde the Musical. In addition to acting and singing, Erica loves reading, writing fanfiction, skateboarding and binge watching Dr. Who on Netflix. The MSP cast members are insanely talented and cool and have taken Erica under their wings, which she truly appreciates.

***Production***

IMG_20150426_112114Margo Murphy-Gross (Stage Manager) is a recent Wagner graduate and is ecstatic to be making her “real world” debut with the Manhattan Shakespeare Project. Her past credits include Random Access Theatre’s Production of Taming of The Shrew and Wagner College productions Spamalot, Hello Dolly, Stop Kiss, My Soldiers and many more.

Adele Rylands (Fight Director) has staged fights and taught both across the States as well as in Canada.  She has worked in institutions such as New York University, Yale, UNCSA, City College, York University, and George Brown Theatre School, among others.  Recent and current credits include: King John (The Fools & Kings Project), Romeo and IMG_20150516_120842Juliet (Barefoot Shakespeare Company), Elise (Planet Connections Theatre Festivity), Manuel vs The Statue ofLiberty (Signature Theatre).  Iggy Award for Best Choreography: Toronto Shakespeare in the Quad’s Richard III.  BFA in Directing from New York University.  adelerylands.com
SopArtStudioSop-Art Studio (Graphic Design) – Christopher Soprano’s art is born out of an instinctive desire to create. His passion for letter forms and intuitive mark making create intertwined narratives. Fused with his adamant optimism the work is both playful and dark. In addition to identity design, Christopher currently creates huge character sculptures and environments for theme parks. As a result of working under tight deadlines, his personal work captures his energy and expressiveness.

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Production photography by the fabulous NSantasier Photography

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The Shrew Blog 5-9-15

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Carla Lerner – Tranio, Ensemble

Carla_rehearsalI just finished my third rehearsal of Taming and the whole cast has taken me on, out of nowhere, without skipping a beat. I’m having a blast and (perhaps shamefully) am grateful that someone dropped, because being a part of this process is fascinating.

The Taming of the Shrew is a tricky show for the modern woman, which makes me doubly grateful to be working on it with an all-female cast. Even if we are not “shrews,” every person in the room lives with the cultural expectation of docility. I’m grateful for that shared experience, because I think it gives us greater license to look at the aspects of this play that tend to stick in our throats. It also helps that Monica, our Katherina, is an utter powerhouse.

But, I suppose I should be writing more about my own part. So, Tranio. This friggin guy. What a trouble maker. One of my favorite things in life is when, somehow or other, a role lands in my lap that it never would have occurred to me to play. It’s an incredible opportunity for growth and experimentation. Tranio exists in such a different physical space than I do. As a petite lady, it’s so great to play with his bawdiness, his extravagance, the GUYness of him. I’ve played a lot of dudes in my time, but some males are just extra plus male and Tranio is one of them. He’s wonderfully large. My current goal is to push it to the point where Kate asks me to dial it back. I do not know if this is possible. Also, Tranio and Lucentio have a secret handshake and it is the BEST.

Exploring Tranio has been making me think a lot about disguises, about our everyday masks and about code-switching. Tranio, Lucentio, and Hortensio wear the most blatant disguises, but I’m starting to feel like this whole play is an exploration of how we reconcile our nature with the role we’re given at birth, and of the different roles we take on to get what we want.

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The Shrew Blog 5-5-15

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Shannon Ward – Lucentio/Ensemble

Shannon_rehearsalDammit, if I don’t keep making connections between my life and this play. Which is not something I would have guessed coming into The Taming of the Shrew. But there is always something new to find with Shakespeare. (One would hope that would be the case. Otherwise why would we still be reading and performing it?) Today we discussed Bianca, a character who I had always written off as a vapid secondary character that was simply the foil to Kate’s “shrew.” But when I thought of her as a person rather than a character, I remembered that she is a sister. A little sister. I have one of those. Bianca has had a childhood in Kate’s shadow. Learning from her, seeing her failures and successes, and forging her own life accordingly. Now, I’m not sure how much my sister would agree with this, but I am absolutely certain that she is handling life which much more badass poise than I did at her age. I am incredibly proud of her accomplishments, and I think she will grow into an AMAZING woman. But I see Bianca now as a more rounded person. Perhaps very similar to Kate, just better at playing the game. (The game being society. It’s always society.) And Kate sees her, a mini-her that’s more successful at life, and she is jealous. The parallel between their relationship and my relationship with my sister ends there, but I think that Kate is extra infuriated because she has lost an ally in life.

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The Shrew Blog 5-3-15

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Margo Murphy-Gross – Stage Manager

Margo_rehearsalToday’s rehearsal started with a conversation about women using manipulation in different ways and what those different methods of manipulation mean. In the case of “Taming” Bianca’s manipulation seems to be a survival method rather than an act of malice. This conversation led to a conversation about survival v. Flirtation. When we took our break the conversation became more serious and led to some conversation about what it means to be female is today’s society. A big thing that came up was peoples’ perception on breasts. A lot of us have had interactions where people measure our happiness with our femininity based on how “curvy” we are. But not just our bodies but how we “use” them. Are we less feminine if we don’t flirt, or use push up bras? Though this is not a group of people who buy into that we are all being held to that standard when we are out in the world. Though we have come a long way since Shakespeare’s England these same dynamics still exist the difference between Bianca who has learned to flirt and Katharina who has reacted to the world around her with rage. It’s not that one of them is bad or one method is worse or better. But the bare bones of being female is that we still have to make a choice around our behavior we will be a shrew or not? Maybe this is a choice that we make for how we deal with everything in the outside world or a choice have to make and remake in every new location and group. Do you smile at the man in the deli who calls you honey, or do you tell him that you aren’t his honey? Do you keep walking when someone grab your ass or do you say something? Can you accept that free drink or no? What is safe and what isn’t? It seems to be that it all breaks down into the question of safety, and then breaks down into what does safety mean? In a sense when Katharina bows to Petruchio’s will isn’t she making the choice that she needs to, to be safe? And in a sense looking at what her choices were isn’t safety the closest to happiness in that world? And how far removed really is that aspect of that world from our world?

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The Shrew Blog 5-1-15

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Monica Jones – Katharina, Ensemble

Monica_rehearsalI recently got married…like in February. So, I have a sort of connection with Kate. The idea that somehow one must lose themselves in order to become one with their partner for life. We have debated whether or not Kate is a willing participant, a conspirator or somewhere in the middle. From my personal experience, there comes a certain death to self. Not so much one to mourn but a loss, nonetheless. To remove something in order to gain. If I had one goal, my mission to bring to this production, it is to highlight the strength of such a decision. Her unwillingness is a mask to hide her fear…perhaps. Her defiance is to mask her uncertainty…perhaps. Her compliance is a representation of her hope…perhaps.

I’m excited to explore the fight in Kate. Not just in her defiance, wit, unflappableness (Is that a word?), etc…but in her battle to submit and to sustain. Kate is a wild horse, beautiful and dangerous. What happens when she is captured, bridled and bound? Does she lose her spirit? Or is it simply her spirit is so vast and powerful that nothing can truly contain her? I guess I am excited to explore the fight within myself as well.

We shall see….

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The Shrew Blog 4-29-15

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Kate Holland – Director

Kate_rehearsalI have to say, this process of rehearsing this play is a gradual loosening of defenses for me. When Sarah first asked me to direct Taming of the Shrew, I started crying — I begged her to choose any other play. I couldn’t see through my own discomfort with the gender issues raised by the play and my own past experiences in relationships in which I was not an equal partner. These words sound rational and reasonable but the truth is that when I read the words of Katharina’s final speech, I felt scalded by them as if they were drops of acid.

I saw no way INTO the text while being true to ourselves as women. The only way forward that I could see was to direct some kind of commentary on gender, deconstructing the play, “breaking” it. The visionary Tina Packer, who comes from a place of much more experience and wisdom than myself, has a similar dislike of “Taming of the Shrew”.

Sarah was patient and brave enough to hang in there with me while I first protested and then plotted to unravel the play. She challenged me instead to trust the text, to venture into Shakespeare’s words with this amazing company of women and search for the heart of the matter.

Rather than creating a deconstructed “Shrew” that shines a searchlight on power imbalances (as had been my first inclination), we are searching for the spark to light each of the characters so they glow from within, revealing their hearts and their vulnerabilities. Much cruelty and injustice in the world comes from a place of pain on the part of the perpetrator, and we can never win the war for respect and equality with weapons of rage. Only by seeking first to understand, searching for these characters from a place of compassionate curiosity, can we hope to engage meaningfully with this play and effect change in ourselves and each other with it.

Today we dove into the question of masculinity as it relates to Hortensio, his desire for Bianca, and his sense of self in relationship to the other men in the play. More on this next time, as sleep is pulling me down like an irresistible anchor.

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The Shrew Blog 4-27-15

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Shannon Ward – Lucentio / Ensemble

IMG_20150426_113621We talked for quite a while today about Hortensio as a character, and how he strives (somewhat unsuccessfully) to fit into a masculine mold in order to win Bianca’s love. We discussed the pressures that men have to be “masculine.” And I started thinking about how those pressures are two sided. Much like Katharina, I struggled with fitting into a “feminine” mold when I was younger. I was unlucky in love and I blamed my looks and my tom-boyish personality. In college, I tried to become more like how I thought a girl should be. And it’s true, I turned more heads, but it wasn’t until I became truly comfortable with myself as a woman and as a human being that I was able to connect with someone who I ended up falling in love with. It all stems from an acceptance of the self. I was self-conscience of my tomboy ways in high school, and now I embrace them. I am a woman, girly or no, and I am confident and self-assured. And I think, in the end, that’s what really makes a person attractive. So maybe Hortensio shouldn’t worry so much about being all macho like Petruchio. If only he could carry his masculinity in his own way, and just keep being the badass clown he is.

We’d love to hear your thoughts and stories! When have you felt “out of sync” with the world around you? How do you feel when media and society tell you you need to act and behave and look a certain way in order to fit in?

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The Shrew Blog 4-26-15

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Amy Frey – Tranio / Ensemble

(Shortly after this post Amy unfortunately had to leave the production because school and amazing things called her. We will miss her and welcome lovely Carla!)

IMG_20150426_115339First day at Manhattan Shakes and I’m trying not to vomit. I got here way too early. And I’m not entirely sure I should be here in the first place. I’m thrilled, of course, to join this incredibly intelligent, talented group of women, but the excitement is manifesting in a slightly queasy case of nerves. I’ve been in school for the past two years for occupational therapy, and I’ve been spending the last week and a half hunched over a computer, vainly hashing out my master’s thesis. The world of theatre, particularly physical theater, has seemed light years away from my fieldwork at the hospital.

But then I get to the rehearsal space, and Sarah’s already turned on a ridiculously upbeat, candy-pop song, and is starting a physical warm up. I stop worrying if I’m good enough, or if I’ve lost all of the skills that I had in college, (I have.) because we’re running around and dancing and I meet Kate again, who indulges my slightly breathless character analysis, told at a frantic pace because I’m burning with ideas that I’ve been suppressing for the past two years because of science.

I calm down a bit after that. I love my character-Tranio seems to come right out of a commedia dell’arte lazzi, something that I studied in Italy years ago, but put away as a skill set never to be used again. I meet Shannon, who is a grounded, beautifully realized Lucentio, and listen to the smart, nuanced takes everyone seems to have on all of the characters. It’s a fun, thought-provoking, honest rehearsal process: I can’t wait to see where it goes.

Let’s talk! What do you do to prepare for your first day?

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The Shrew Blog 4-23-15

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Margo Murphy-Gross – Stage Manager

IMG_20150426_112114Taming of the Shrew has been one of my favorite shows from a very young age, starting with a preteen obsession with Heath Ledger in “10 Things I Hate About You”. I have been lucky enough to work on a production of Taming two summers in a row now and find that this show holds so much for people to look at from so many perspectives. The rehearsal process thus far with MSP has been really wonderful. Looking at this show from an all-female perspective is a very emotional experience. Today’s rehearsal has me thinking a lot about what women thing of men’s tonality and physicality. Sarah having to find where Petruchio is scary or playful. During this rehearsal Sarah found something particularly powerful with Petruchio’s voice, finding the male tonality that I (and maybe others) react to emotionally and instantly. In addition to that flooring experience in today’s rehearsal there have been many moments watching women take over male characters during this rehearsal. I think that it’s very powerful to witness this and even adds power to the women (the people not just the actors) taking over these male characters. I am excited to watch the power dynamics between the characters and between the actors and the characters that they are taking on.

How do you code shift? When and with who do you use a “different” you? And why?

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New York Shakespeare Convention

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Living Space Players did an amazing job creating the following to advertise for NYShakesCon and we thought, what the heck, why re-invent the wheel?!

The First Annual New York Shakespeare Convention!

Manhattan Shakespeare Project is a proud participant of the New York Shakespeare Convention! The NY ShakesCon is a gathering of New York based Shakespeare Companies hailing from all over the state. The convention is a great way for actors, writers, directors, producers, educators and plain ol’ fans of Willy Shakes to get in contact with up and coming companies producing the Bard’s work! There will be live music, food and drink!

After the convention there will be a performance of Romeo & Juliet done in 5 Way Shakespeare style! What does this mean? Well it means that each act of Romeo & Juliet will be presented by a different company!

The incredible companies that will be there include:

Bottoms Dream
Adirondack Shakespeare Co.
The Puppet Shakespeare Players
Spicy Witch Productions
Underling Productions

Living Space Players
The Night Shift 

And of course, yours truly!

Check out what BroadwayWorld.com has to say about it!

The Convention itself is free! To purchase tickets to 5 Ways Shakespeare Romeo & Juliet, click HERE

We hope to see you there!NYSC dark blue hashtag

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