No matter how you spin it, Shakespeare is tough stuff. Whether you’re approaching the words of the Bard as a director, actor, or crew member, you must be prepared to wrestle with the task of presenting the material with clarity and relevancy. As a long-time fan of Shakespeare, I constantly think about how to accomplish such a task in this day and age. Many times, this results in a clinical and mechanical approach to the story and the play that mentally closes me off to alternative possibilities.
Fortunately, the cast and crew of Al’ukhraa has quickly snapped me out of this over-serious neurosis. From the first read through, I was highly impressed by the balance of professionalism and fun that everyone seemed to possess. I have begun to admire that these challenges, these attempts at relevancy, are approached in the rehearsal room with a genuine sense of fun and play. Work hard, play hard. That’s the name of the game. And I simply can’t wait to engage in hours of both with this exquisite group.
With 5 different high lighters, 20 Shakespeare reference books surrounding me and my 15 month old cat (trying to prove she too can help me paraphrase all of my lines) I dive deep into this process. I love getting my hands dirty with a fresh script, especially when a project calls for 7 distinct characters to be created by one actress!
What a juicy opportunity to be so versatile in an hour and 30 minutes. But now, the situation begs the question. How does one transform from a valiant and noble officer, to a Duke with little to no desire to take on responsibility, to a lovely lady with fiery thoughts and then back to that same valiant officer…drunk? Something tells me my body and voice are about to be in for a work out!
Only 2 rehearsals down and 2 acts blocked, and I’m already enjoying the wonderful company of the cast and crew. My fellow cast mates are open, kind, hilarious and beautiful. The team is quick, sharp, gentle and like a big brother and sister duo, ready with snacks and supportive comments. There’s no way I can’t imagine this being a success, simply by the collaborative minds present in the room. And now, to research how to become a valiant drunk officer. Perhaps Uta Hagen? Perhaps a pint….perhaps both!
Last night,_ the cast and part of the crew met for the first time to have a read-through of Al’Ukhraa.
There is always much apprehension and excitement around those first moments, where you are asked to make choices on the line and just hope Shakespeare is not turning in his grave.
I was impressed by the capacity of my fellow actresses to make a clear distinction between the numerous characters they have to work on.
It is so tricky to get a full picture during these first moments. I always end up leaving the rehearsal space with a picture of an incredible mountain to climb in mind – but I know for sure it is gonna be a heck of a ride.
Walking into our rehearsal room tonight, we were greeted by a fabric-ed reading fort lit by twinkling string lights; to me this instantly shouted MAGICAL! And that’s how I feel after meeting the team and completing our first read-through. I do generally feel that first rehearsals are magical, but this one feels especially special. I met most everyone for the first time tonight, and already I could feel the generous, passionate energy in the room. Our undertaking is challenging. After hearing the fearless voices around the reading circle tonight, I’m teeming with confidence and ready to dive into the metaphorical twinkly-light fort that is “Othello” with these amazing people (No, our production is not set in a twinkly-light fort. Even better: it will take place in REAL light!).
Tomorrow we start rehearsals and I keep coming back to the thought that I am not the one who should be doing this project. Here’s this Jersey-born Catholic white girl, what right does she have to even think she can tell the story of what it’s like to be a Muslim in the United States right now.
I can’t. I lead, and have led a very privileged life. I have not been the direct object of any kind of -ism. I have not been directly called names, stereotyped, or been made to feel afraid to do anything solely based on what I look like to sound like. Quite the opposite in fact. How I look and what assumptions people make based on how I look have on several occasions awarded me much better treatment.
It pains my heart to hear their stories and know it’s true. There are 6 year old girls afraid to go to school because other kids call them terrorists. There are sisters afraid for their little brothers. There are girls who will not walk to school in the neighborhood they grew up in.
This is wrong and it should not be happening. But people don’t know their stories. Their voices cannot be heard over the noise of fear being generated by the adults in this world. Adults that should know better. Adults that should nurture and care for our children. Adults that should create safe places for them, not environments of fear.
I know in my heart these girls’ voices must be heard. I want to create the space for that to happen. I hope their stories and their passions and their loves take over and I can disappear into the background.
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!
You heard right! MSP is doing the “PROBLEM PLAY”
THE TAMING OF THE SHREW
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 🙂
- Summit Rock, Central Park – June 3, 11, 25, 26, 28
- Astoria Park, Queens – June 4, 5, 6, 7
- Hunter’s Point South Park, Queens – June 10, 12, 13, 14
- St Nicholas Park, Harlem – June 18, 20
- Sunset Park, Brooklyn – June 19, 21, 27
- Morningside Park – July 9, 10, 11, 12, 23, 24, 25, 26
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.
Sarah 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 the 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
Amanda Goble is a NYC-based artist, with experience as an actor, aerialist, and physical performer. 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 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, Skylines; 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
Shannon 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 during 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
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 ensemble 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.
Margo 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 Juliet (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
Sop-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.
Production photography by the fabulous NSantasier Photography
Happy Bawdy Birthday to You Mr Shakespeare!
Manhattan Shakespeare Project Invites you to celebrate Shakespeare’s 450th Birthday!!!
And Naughty Bits!
Date: Sunday, April 20, 2014
Place: The Thirsty Fan Bar, 254 W. 31st St, NYC
Across the street from Penn Station & 3 doors up from Eighth Ave.
Join us for a toast to the Bard as we blow out the candles for him. Then, join the fun by reading your favorite bawdy jokes, exchanges and erotic passages from any of the Bard’s writings. Read any way you want, impromptu or prepared, solo or in pairs. It’s up to you and it’s just for fun. Bring your readings with you.
Or just come to meet old and new friends and the folk from Manhattan Shakespeare Project. We want to get to know you, have fun and honor our beloved Willie. We’ll be sharing champagne and birthday cake.
More food and drinks are available from the cash bar.
Tell your friends
ROMEO & JULIET Auditions (Paid, Non-Equity)
Manhattan Shakes is casting for its all-female (6 actor cast) of Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet directed by Reesa Graham.
We are looking for passionate, joyful, exuberant performers with a sense of humor and love for rehearsal, will double in at least two roles in the play, must have great ability and facility with the text, must have exceptional movement skills especially with weight sharing and lifts, singing and musical instruments a plus. All types, ethnicities, and ages are strongly encouraged to audition.
Auditions will be this:
Friday March 14th
8:00pm – 9:00pm
BE PREPARED TO MOVE
304 Boerum Street, Brooklyn, NY 11206
Please prepare a less than 1 minute Shakespeare monologue in verse (you will be stopped). Please do not prepare a monologue from R&J.
Please bring headshot & resume stapled together.
If cast we are offering a $300 travel stipend.
This is an open call, please do not call or e-mail. Audition slots are first come first served, we will see as many people as time permits.
Please note: 4 of the 6 ensemble members have been cast.
Because this is an ensemble production (read everyone is doing everything all the time) everyone is required to be at all workshops and rehearsals. Please look over the following schedule very carefully for all actual and possible conflicts.
Sun Mar 16 Read through, Harlem, 7p-10pm
Mon Mar 17 8:00pm – 9:00pm
Fri Mar 21 8:00pm – 9:00pm
Sat Mar 22 3:00pm – 4:00pm
Mon Mar 24 8:00pm – 9:00pm
Fri Mar 28 8:00pm – 9:00pm
Sun Mar 30 5:00pm – 7:00pm
Sun Apr 6 5:00pm – 6:00pm
Sun Apr 20 11:00am – 1:00pm
Wed Apr 30 8:00pm – 9:00pm
Friday May 2nd – 5:00-9:00pm
Saturday May 3rd – 5:00-9:00pm
Sunday May 4th – 5:00-9:00pm
Monday May 5th – 6:00-9:00pm
Thursday May 8th – 6:00-9:00pm
Saturday May 10th – 5:00-9:00pm
Sunday May 11th – 5:00-9:00pm
Monday May 12th – 6:00-9:00pm
Wednesday May 14th – 6:00-9:00pm
Saturday May 17th – 5:00-9:00pm
Sunday May 18th – 5:00-9:00pm
Monday May 19th – 6:00-10:00pm
Wednesday May 21st – 6:00-10:00pm
Thursday May 22nd – 6:00-10:00pm
Saturday May 24th – 6:00-10:00pm
Sunday May 25th – 5:00-9:00pm
Monday May 26th – 5:00-9:00pm
Tuesday May 27th – 5:00-9:00pm
Wednesday May 28th – 5:00-9:00pm
6:00pm (5:00pm call)
Wednesday – Sunday
May 29th – June 29th
Manhattan Shakespeare Project is proud to announce we have received our first grant ever!!
Our education program Problem Solving with the Bard: Shakespeare in the Special Education Classroom received a partial grant (about a third of the project budget) from Creative Curricula, supported by New York State Council on the Arts and administered by Lower Manhattan Cultural Council.
We are so excited! Education Director Leah Reddy and Artistic Director Sarah Eismann will be doing an in-school residency with 9th graders at Manhattan School for Career Development where they will research and personalize Romeo and Juliet to learn real life problem solving skills that reach outside the English classroom. This will also be the first step in creating an open source series of classroom tools for bringing Shakespeare into the Special Education classroom. (Not so secretly we’re hoping a TED Talk is in our future.)
If you would like to help support this project make your tax deductible donation HERE! Thanks so much for your support!
Problem Solving with the Bard: Shakespeare in the Special Education Classroom is made possible in part with matching public funds from Creative Curricula, supported by New York State Council on the Arts and administered by Lower Manhattan Cultural Council.
Manhattan Shakespeare Project – Manhattan’s All-Female Shakespeare Company
(New York, NY)
Manhattan Shakespeare Project – Manhattan’s All-Female Shakespeare Company is looking for a dynamic and self-motivated individual to be our Development Intern. Get real world, hands on experience with grant research and grant writing! We are looking for a person who is reliable, dedicated, and fun to work with. We are a team of very passionate people, who are committed to presenting innovative work. We need someone who is self motivated and who can take initiative. We’d like to find someone to grow with us, someone with a true passion for great theatre and one who understands the need for consistency in today’s inconstant theatrical scene.
Hours are very flexible and work can be done from home. This is currently a part time position with opportunities for full time and growth within the company.
Manhattan Shakespeare Project is a New York based grassroots theatre company dedicated to facilitating the growth of the female artist in all its incarnations, and developing theatre not only as an art form but also as an educational tool. Manhattan Shakespeare Project produces Free Shakespeare in the ParkS (a 90 min all-female cast that tours parks around the 5 boroughs of NY in the summer), Shakespeare Scholars (a free educational tour to NY public schools), and New Works Productions (a project that supports and fosters the development of the female playwright from conception to production). Now in its 5th season, Manhattan Shakespeare Project is reaching out to international artists and communities with a new project: Shakespeare For A New World, which has both educational and performance components. In 2013 Shakespeare For A New World spent a month working with artists in Palestine, and this summer (July 2014) we will be returning.
Applicants for the Development Intern position should:
Have a strong interest in growing a female-based company
Demonstrate excellent communication skills and the ability to communicate quickly and persuasively (especially in writing) a compelling case for supporting Manhattan Shakespeare Project
Have a demonstrated ability to set priorities, meet deadlines, and operate independently with a precise, confident working style
Demonstrate knowledge of the latest fundraising best practices in the arts field
Interest in Shakespeare education and new works development a plus.
Conduct prospect research and outreach to identify potential funding opportunities
Oversee and maintain the fundraising calendar
Draft letters of inquiry to new funding sources
Write and edit grant proposals, sponsorship requests, and grant reports; including all execution and delivery, cultivate foundation relationships, and manage supplementary materials
Complete three full grant applications a month
Plan and execute an individual donor communication and engagement strategy, including the creation of a solicitation calendar, the writing of appeal letters, timely acknowledgment of donations, ongoing donor stewardship, and innovative recognition programs
Collaborate with the team to create individual giving strategies and campaigns and to organize benefits and cultivation events
Collaborate with company personnel to create funding budgets
Fulfill data management and reporting needs including gift recording and quarterly reporting
Collaborate with marketing and other company personnel on work samples and media for fundraising purposes, and proof funder credits on all marketing materials
Be available for meetings, as scheduled, a minimum of biweekly, and to work through January 2015, with the possibility for negotiating a longer contract if so desired by the company and the applicant.
Fee to be negotiated; the estimated time-commitment is 40-60 hours/month. Please send cover letter, résumé and references, plus a writing sample demonstrating fundraising strategy and approach to email@example.com