December 10, 2014 (Ithaca, NY) — Over the next two years, the Ithaca Shakespeare Company will present a cycle of Shakespeare's English history plays, beginning with Richard II at the Hangar Theatre, February 13-21, 2015.
Shakespeare wrote ten plays on English history, of which eight form a continuous narrative sequence. Ithaca Shakespeare will be combining and condensing these eight plays into a series of five productions, one for each king in the sequence. They will be performed over the next two years, alternating between indoor productions at the Hangar and outdoor productions over the summer at Cornell Plantations.
The series will begin with Richard II at the Hangar Theatre in February 2015, then continue with Henry IV at Cornell Plantations in July 2015, Henry V at the Hangar in February 2016, Henry VI at Cornell Plantations in July 2016, and finish with Richard III at the Hangar in the fall of 2016.
"I think this will be one of the most exciting things we've ever done," says ISC Artistic Director Stephen Ponton. "The history plays are my favorites of all of Shakespeare's works, and collectively I think they are his single greatest achievement. These are absolutely not dry, dusty history lessons. They're the original Game of Thrones — wild, exciting plays that chronicle almost 100 years of violent conflict for the English throne. They're full of life and variety and contain the greatest comic character Shakespeare ever created in Falstaff, one of his most powerful female roles in Queen Margaret, and some of the most thrilling staging he ever imagined."
Richard II is the play that starts it all. It sets up the basic conflict that carries through the rest of the plays. "Richard II is such a rich play," Ponton continues. "It asks the question, what do you do when the person in power misuses his authority? Richard is the lawful king, but he abuses his power to the point that the other nobles are driven to rise up against him — only to discover, when they succeed, that they have opened the door for others to do the same to them. This sets up the cycle of conflict and rebellion that drives the country into the chaos of civil war in Henry VI and reaches its final, stunning conclusion in Richard III. At the same time, Richard II himself is a fascinating character, one of those typical Shakespearean tragic figures who loses everything and in the process manages to find himself — just a little too late."
Each production in this series will be connected to the ones before and after it through introductions and linking scenes, so that they form a single continuous narrative. "We're approaching it kind of like a movie franchise," says Ponton. "We hope people will be able to experience the whole sequence, so we're working hard to tie the stories together and make them clear. So don't worry if you're not familiar with these plays or have found them confusing in the past — we'll make sure everyone understands who these characters are and what they're fighting for."
This will be the second year that Ithaca Shakespeare has performed at the Hangar Theatre, after a successful production of The Tempest there in February 2014. The history sequence is being offered as part of ISC's 3-year celebration of Shakespearean Milestones, in commemoration of the 450th anniversary of Shakespeare's birth in 2014 and the 400th anniversary of his death in 2016.
Richard II will be performed February 13-15 and 19-21, 2015. Evening shows will be at 7:30 pm and Sunday matinees at 4 pm.
Tickets will be available soon. For more information and to purchase tickets online, visit the Ithaca Shakespeare Company's website at www.ithacashakespeare.org.
Tickets will also be available by phone by calling the Hangar Theatre at 607-273-8588, or at the door before performances.
May 9, 2014 (Ithaca, NY) - The Ithaca Shakespeare Company's 2014 summer season at Cornell Plantations features Shakespeare's most famous tragedy paired with one of his lightest and most effervescent comedies, and the Company will be introducing a new educational program for children in connection with the productions.
The two shows will be presented in rotating repertory from July 10-26, 2014. ISC will present Hamlet on July 10, 12, 18, 20, 24, and 26, 2014, and Love's Labour's Lost on July 11, 13, 17, 19, and 25, 2014. All performances will begin at 6 pm in the F.R. Newman Arboretum at Cornell Plantations.
"Hamlet and Love's Labour's Lost are like the yin-yang symbol," says Artistic Director Stephen Ponton. "They are polar opposites in many ways, but each of them also contains a tiny seed of the other within it. The two plays are strongly contrasted in tone, setting, themes, imagery, and degree of realism, but there are also a surprising number of points of contact between them. They both explore fundamental conflicts between reason and emotion; they both feature a play-within-the-play that breaks down into chaos; there is an intrusion of death into Love's Labour's Lost and a reading of a love letter in Hamlet, and so on. In fact, the more we work on the plays, the more connections I see between them."
This summer's production of Hamlet will feature Ithaca-based actor Theo Black in the title role. Mr. Black is a member of Actor's Equity Association and received his MFA from The Shakespeare Theatre's Academy for Classical Acting in Washington, D.C. He has performed with The California Shakespeare Theatre, Lake Tahoe Shakespeare Festival, Illinois Shakespeare Festival, and others. This will be his first time in the role of Hamlet, after having played both Horatio and Laertes in previous productions.
Mr. Black will also be the lead instructor of ISC's new Shakespeare For Kids Camp, a two-week training program in Shakespearean performance for ages 8-13. The program will run from June 30 through July 13 and culminates in a performance by the students on ISC's summer stage at Cornell Plantations. More details are available on the ISC website at www.ithacashakespeare.org.
ISC productions feature actors and theatre artists from Ithaca, Central New York, New York City, Chicago, and California, working with students, faculty, and staff from Ithaca College, Cornell, and Syracuse University to make exciting, high-quality classical theatre available to everyone. The ISC approach to Shakespeare combines careful attention to the details of language and character with a strong component of physical action. ISC summer productions draw approximately 4,000 visitors each year from throughout the region, across New York State, and from 27 other states and 18 foreign countries.
General admission is Pay What You Can at all Thursday performances and $10 per person on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays. A limited amount of reserved seating is available for all performances. Advance tickets and reserved seating will be available on the ISC website at www.ithacashakespeare.org. General admission tickets may also be purchased at the entrance.
For more information, visit the Ithaca Shakespeare Company's website at www.ithacashakespeare.org.
June 17, 2013 (Ithaca, NY) — The Ithaca Shakespeare Company's 2013 summer season at Cornell Plantations features two of Shakespeare's greatest works, a comedy and a tragedy that both focus on the nature and consequences of jealousy.
The ISC will present Much Ado About Nothing on July 11-14 and 18-21, 2013, and Othello on July 25-28 and August 1-3, 2013. All performances will be at 6 pm in the F.R. Newman Arboretum at Cornell Plantations.
Both plays are built around a similar plot structure, in which one man convinces another man that the woman he loves has been unfaithful to him. The situations play out very differently in the two plays, but, as always with Shakespeare, both plays explore a wide range of moods and emotions. "Othello may be the most emotionally intense of all of Shakespeare's plays," says ISC Artistic Director Stephen Ponton, "but there is also tenderness and humor — sometimes bordering on the absurd — and some very sharp social commentary regarding race, class, and gender relations. Much Ado is a romantic comedy known for the witty verbal war between Beatrice and Benedick and the hilarious ineptitude of Dogberry and his crew, but there are also some truly wrenching emotional moments that give it depth and richness."
This summer's production of Othello will feature Ithaca- and New York City-based actor Godfrey L. Simmons, Jr., in the title role. Mr. Simmons' extensive list of stage and screen credits includes work with the Obie Award-winning Epic Theatre Ensemble in New York City, Syracuse Stage, Playwrights Horizons, and others. He is a 2012 recipient of a TCG Fox Foundation Fellowship for Distinguished Achievement and was a Resident Professional Teaching Associate at Cornell University's Schwartz Center for the Performing Arts from 2003-2005.
This production of Othello will complete a multi-year cycle of Shakespeare's four major tragedies by the ISC. The Company produced Hamlet in 2007, King Lear in 2008, and Macbeth in 2010.
ISC productions feature local and regional theatre artists, community members, and students, faculty, and staff from Ithaca College, Cornell, and other area schools working together to make exciting, high-quality classical theatre available to everyone. The ISC approach to Shakespeare combines careful attention to the details of language and character with a strong component of physical action. ISC summer productions have drawn approximately 4,000 visitors in recent years from throughout the region, across New York State, and from 21 other states and 8 foreign countries.
General admission is Pay What You Can at all Thursday performances and $10 per person on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays. A limited amount of reserved seating is available for all performances. Advance tickets and reserved seating may be purchased on the ISC website at www.ithacashakespeare.org. General admission tickets may also be purchased at the entrance.
For more information, visit the Ithaca Shakespeare Company's website at www.ithacashakespeare.org.
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