Monday, December 24, 2007

Shakespeare's Memory

Jorge Luis Borges wrote a story called "Shakespeare's Memory," which I read today and fell in love with a little bit. I am not a huge fan of Borges's, despite everyone's telling me I should be.
I like him well enough, but I have never been drawn in the way I was today reading his fictions at Pegasus Downtown today.

I like the way the character starts out as someone who can't wait to know everything "Shakespearean" and then ends up understanding that knowing all of Shakespeare's experiences is useless. Shakespeare's memory is superfluous and mundane because it does not elucidate the plays or sonnets. His use of language is independent of his life experience. The product is what we love, not the man. Dissecting the man yields almost nothing.

Saturday, December 15, 2007


Let's say you're the type of person who is so addicted to Shakespeare that you would travel to a small town in Virginia just to see a few plays.

You will definitely end up in Staunton. There, there is a place called Blackfriars. It is the brainchild of Ralph Cohen, who I think is a genius, who wrote a book called Shakesfear, which I like very much so far but haven't finished.

But when you leave Shakespeare's world, you'd think that you'd be stuck in small-town USA, but you'd be wrong. There's a restaurant/bar that brings the urbane to main street America. It's called Zynodoa, and if you eat there, you just might think that you have been transported into the big city. The food is fantastic and the drinks are wonderful. They have a good beer selection, and everything anyone would ever want from a fancy restaurant in NYC, including incredible service, nice bathrooms, and clean chic decor.

The only reason I didn't eat there every day I was in Staunton is because they only have two Vegetarian dishes. On my last day there, they explained to me that they could have substituted something with something else, but I like ordering things on the menu. Plus, I hate asking for no meat and paying as much as someone who ate the animal. I have asked some other vegetarians about an aversion to substitutions, and I am not alone. If the substitution is on the menu, it makes it easier for everyone.

So, go to Staunton, See a play, and eat and drink at Zynodoa. Everyone should feel at home on Main St. USA, and Zynodoa does that for urbanites like me.

Monday, December 10, 2007


If you like Shakespeare underwear, you'll love Nakespeare.
It makes me wish I were a girl who could wear those kinds of things; or a person who were into wearing ladies underpants. But I'm not, and I don't think any of their sizes would fit me anyway.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Love's Labour's and The Winter's Tale in Staunton

Yesterday, I saw Love's Labour's Lost and The Winter's Tale at the Blackfriars.

Love's Labour's Lost did some surprising things. All the scenes with Armado and the two clowns were very funny, and I don't usually think they are. The scene with Costard's broken shin and he rhyming about the goose has not been this funny since the 1630's.

It made the scenes with the lovers kind of a drag. Usually, the parts with all the lovers together are the sweetest, but in this one, the girls and guys didn't really seem like they wanted to be around each other, so when they were around each other, th play turned to molasses. But whenever they were apart, they really wanted to be together. The scene in which all the boys read their love letters aloud was particularly clever and delicious.

Moth and Armado. I liked them.

John Harrel as Holofernes and Tyler Moss as Nathaniel were brilliant. Truly genius.

The Winter's Tale had a wonderful party scene. Made me want to be a shepherd.

Also, the trial of Hermione was frightening and heartbreaking. They had her in a dress that looked like someone had given birth in it for real. Intense.

Also, the bear chasing Antigonus hapened so fast and startlingly, it didn't get a laugh, which is refreshing. I kind of wished the Shepherd's son had been a bit more scared that he had just seen the bear tear the bloke's shoulder, but I was so happy that the bear didn't look lame, it was OK.

Romeo and Juliet in Staunton

On Friday, I saw Romeo and Juliet at the Blackfriars playhouse in Staunton. They pushed the comedy really hard in the beginning of the play so that when the tragic elements start coming forward, they are made that much more tragic in comparison to what has been going on on stage.

I didn't like the friar being humorous so loudly because I think a lot of what he says and does is pretty funny already and should be kind of dead pan type of stuff. The language does enough for the friar that the actor doesn't really need to try so hard.

They "Do it with the lights on" at the American Shakespeare Center. They leave the house lights on so something strange happens. The actors see the audience and the audience sees each other. I wish they didn't explain the situation before the play because it is really surprising what happens. The audience feels like they are part of the show. Indeed, several theatergoers end up on stage sitting on the sides, sometimes becoming very active in the course of the play.

It's kind of a mixed bag, but I think what lacks in the type of experience the Blackfriars provides is made up for by the fact that everyone seems to be enjoying themselves immensely. The actors and audience are in it together to have a good time. And they do.

The actors also play songs at intermission. I love that. It's like a poetry reading that way, and I like poetry readings, and I think that the oral tradition of poetry and theater is never respected without music. And they are good musicians! And because of the way the theater works, the audience claps the beat unabashedly.

They also laugh loudly and gasp audibly and do all of the things that theatergoers do in the movies but not in real life.

And this was a good Romeo and Juliet. Everyone was good in it. I think, though, that the most memorable effort was provided by Benvolio played by Christopher Salazar. I think that Benvolio is a thankless role: hard to play and totally forgettable. Everyone ends up talking about Mercutio when it comes to Romeo's pals, and Benvolio just slips out of the memory as soon as you leave the theater. But the Romeo, Mercutio, Benvolio trio really worked out on the Blackfriars stage.

Friday, December 7, 2007


On Tuesday, Professor Kerrigan gave a talk on his book, Archipelagic Macbeth, at UCB. It dealt a lot with titles. I will blog about it for real on Monday.

Last night, the cast of Macbeth got together for the screening of the videotaped play. We had pizza and sentiment. It was really nice. I enjoyed seeing what I looked like up there, what everyone looked like up there.

After that, I flew to Virginia. I'm going to see the plays at the American Shakespeare Center in Staunton at the Black Friars. Mostly, I want to see Antony and Cleopatra, but as long as I am here, I am going to see all the plays that they are showing.
They are:
  • Romeo and Juliet
  • The Winter's Tale
  • Love's Labour's Lost
  • Antony and Cleopatra

A grad student from the college out here picked me up at the airport. His name is Bob Jones, a fellow Shakespearean and a very cool person. It was a long flight, so it was particularly wonderful to see a friendly face. I just got here, so this post is incomplete. I am travel-weary but thoroughly delighted to be here.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Pictures were taken at the last performance. Don't you hate it when people take a million pictures of something, pictures you really want to see, that never emerge? Whenever a picture exists that you despise and want to hide, you can't escape it. Everything embarrassing finds its way online. Everything you want to brag about must be taken on your word, like that time I sang and danced all night with Jack Hirschman.

I miss rehearsal. Professional actors must constantly feel as if they are losing friends. I have moved a lot. I have not lived in the same place for over three years. But every couple of months imust be pretty intense.

Ever think about As You Like It?
There's a lot there to think about. But I'd like to design a poster for the UCLA Bard's upcoming production of the play, and I think that there are very few images that people remember from the play that can come through in an abstract fashion on a poster. I've been asking friends about what images come to their minds when they think of As You Like It, and most say something about the wrestling match between Orlando and the sinewy Charles.

I think I've got something now, but I must say that it has opened a veritable can of worms for me. I want to design a poster for every play. I think I just might.

Friday, November 16, 2007

First Performance

Last night, I got a lot of compliments for my performance. I think everyone gets a lot of compliments, though. The one person from whom I really wanted a compliment did not give me one. It's probably going to be the thing that makes me want to be a full-time stage actor.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Horror, Horror, Horror.

'God help thee, poor monkey'

Dani Loebs plays lady MacDuff in one of the sweetest scenes in Shakespeare's plays. Well, it starts off sweet. It doesn't end well for Lady MacDuff and her poor monkey. But it ends well for Dani Loebs. Her scream as she exits startles me every time. It is a great scream. She would be great in a horror film.

The good guy scenes in Macbeth are interminable. They drag out as we wait to see what's happening with the Macbeth's. But with Dani Loebs and Kali Peterson, things are different. We might sneak down the street to see what's going on with the spooky neighbors, but we really want to hang out at the MacDuff house.

But man, that scream!

Monday, November 12, 2007

Shakespeare Haunts Me and Everyone Else

I read Shakespeare often and gladly. I am finding that being in a Shakespearean tragedy, memorizing lines and watching others interpret theirs in ways I don't expect, germinates my reading of other plays. I dig into the Riverside and troll out new ideas about plays I thought I understood. The return to Shakespeare is nothing new, but it is always exciting, and time-consuming, to approach a familiar destination from a new direction.

Does one ever really stop reading Hamlet?

I was looking for a picture of a woman with Yorick. I know there are all-female casts all over the world performing Shakespeare plays, but I couldn't find the most popular image in drama with a woman playing Hamlet. I think this is really weird. I spent almost 90 minutes looking to no avail. You would think that feminists and other progressives, whose interest is to establish women in predominantly male roles in society, would have taken on this one by now. If I were an actress, I would demand a picture be taken of me with a skull.

Even weirder is that the one I finally had to settle on was this:::::
It is from Shakespeare production in Second Life.
SECOND LIFE!!! I have never even considered the possibilities of Second Life when it came to drama. You can be in a play without stage fright.
You can play any role because you can be any size weight or anything else. Props? No problem. Set? your imagination is the limit. Remarkable.

Shakespeare's continuing effect on contemporary culture.
I found this:::::
She's supposed to be Ariel from the Tempest.
I laughed a little when I looked at the pictures, but there is something sad and piteous about them, too. That's exactly what Ariel does in the play, so that's pretty cool.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Harold Bloom is Scary

When I was looking on things about Shakespeare inventing human nature, I found one of the scariest pictures I have ever seen. I find scarecrows very frightening. Much worse than zombies.

Don't you wish you were Harold Bloom?
Don't you wish you invented human nature?

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Imagine All the People

Already, over one hundred people have confirmed their attendance. Pretty incredible. There must be some popular people in the play. It's probably because most people want to see Jessie Brownstien. It might also be because people have seen the sexy pictures of Brett Gamboa on line. Maybe they have never seen a Shakespeare play and want to start with one of the short ones. Or maybe they like the poster.

In any case, it is going to be a full house.

This is a picture of Macduff's castle in Fife.

Monday, November 5, 2007


In Shakespeare
by James Richardson

In Shakespeare a lover turns into an ass
as you would expect. People confuse
their consciences with ghosts and witches.
Old men throw everything away
because they panic and can't feel their lives.
They pinch themselves, pierce themselves with twigs,
cliffs, lightning, and die––yes, finally––in glad pain.

You marry a woman you've never talked to,
a woman you thought was a boy.
Sixteen years go by as a curtain billows
once, twice. Your children are lost,
they come back, you don't remember how.
A love turns to a statue in a dress, the statue
comes back to life. Oh God, it's all so realistic
I can't stand it. Whereat I weep and sing.

Such a relief, to burst from the theatre
into our cool, imaginary streets
where we know who's who and what's what,
and command with metrocards our destinations.
Where no one with a story struggling in him
convulses as it eats its way out,
and no one in an antiseptic corridor,
or in deserts or in downtown darkling plains,
staggers through an Act that just will not end,
eyes burning with the burning of the dead.

Poster Printed Today!

I changed my mind about the blood. I set out to make a very bright poster that seems bloody and dark. I think I am fairly successful in that regard. I also consulted Professor Booth before finalizing and printing. Posters will be available to anyone who wants to hang one up tomorrow. The handbills will be ready by Thursday.

"Pale Hecate's offerings; and withered murder,
Alarumed by his sentinel, the wolf,
Whose howl 's his watch, thus with his stealthy pace,
With Tarquin's ravishing strides, towards his design
Moves like a ghost."

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Friday, November 2, 2007

full Play

How cool is it to see the whole play in one go?
I would like to say that everyone was wonderful.
Everyone was wonderful.

I had to leave early the second time through in order to make the Joshua Clover reading, but what I saw was amazing, and I feel like I am the only one who might ruin everything. With so much talent on the stage, I am easily humbled.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Coming Together

I am beginning to understand why actors are paid more money than they seem worth. There is a lot of waiting around, and one has to give up a great deal of one's autonomy, freedom, and self-determination in order to be an actor. And then, as if by magic, one's trust in one's director begins to pay off. Things, as if by magic, begin to come together. As if by magic, they begin to look like a play.

It is a phenomenon that is rather exhilarating to behold. And behold, the beast, a scholar, begins to fancy himself a thespian.

I have always found the stage rather magical. Now I know it to be.

The dates are up.
Pick one that is right for you.

Monday, October 29, 2007


Have you seen Kenneth Branagh's newest Shakespeare film? It's AS YOU LIKE IT in Japan. I enjoyed it immensely. Maybe you will, too. It just came out on DVD.

Monday, October 22, 2007

He spent a lot more time on Macbeth.

Prose Pointers

[from last Monday's class]

In experimenting with different ways to read our lines, Brett has advised us to pay attention to the ways in which Shakespeare "organizes" his prose...

1. Verse
2. Syntax
3. Rhythm

Is your syntactic reading sounding stale?
Are you having trouble figuring out when to breathe?
Try reading line by line, according to the verse.

...if you pay heed to all three aspects...your voice will modulate and "act" all by itself! amazing!

Rehearsals and Readings.

At my reading on Saturday, people were like, "that was your best reading yet!" They liked it very much. It was nice. Maybe learning how to be an actor is really paying off in the poetry department.

Someone said I was an orator. That's nice. If you missed the reading, you missed out.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Waking Up a Failure

In the spirit of chronicling failures, I would like to talk about mine.
Yesterday, was my first rehearsal. We rehearsed the last scene I was supposed to memorize. I didn't know I had to memorize it until very recently. So, I am not off-book on that.

I should mention also that I have never been to a rehearsal of any kind.

Then I went to a poetry reading. It was OK. It is very important to talk to poets after readings. When you talk with poets, there are often drinks involved.

The next morning I woke up on the wrong side of town and 30 minutes late for line-running with SeƱor Gamboa.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Boom Boom Energy

A poet I like very much is doing anagrams of Shakespeare's sonnets. I like them very much.
K. Silem Mohammad is who I am talking about. Forget everything you know about poetry and Shakespeare and check him out.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

The Murder of Banquo

and of sleep.

Banish Plump Jack and Banish All the World.

Although I have never been in a Shakespeare play, I have always wanted to be Jack Falstaff. It isn't why I go by Jack, but it should be.

I have always liked Macduff. He is the reason why I have developed my obsession with Shakespeare's plays.

When Macbeth ceased being my "favorite," certain images from it have always remained to haunt me.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

the curse of shakespeare's tomb

Hey Everybody!

I went home to LA over the weekend and my grandmother gave me an old book (circa 1934) entitled: William Shakespeare, A Handbook

It's all about Shakespeare's life, company, audience, theater, and I don't know what else because I have not read it all.

BUT. Something interesting caught my eye and I thought I'd share it with you other Shakespeare lovers. The epitaph on his gravestone, (according to this book probably written by the Bard himself) reads:

Good frend for Jesus sake forbeare,
To digg the dust encolased heare:
Bleste be the man that spares thes stones,
And curst be he that moves my bones.

might not be "life's but a walking shadow," but I'll take it.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Rehearsals of late...

Rehearsals these days have felt a little strange... I guess I could attribute these strange feelings to the gender segregation. Little do they know though... that this is a "special" rendition of Macbeth (wink).

Let's compare...
Hey, all you guys out there in 117T! Do you drop your head and do crazy eights with your dangling arms while shouting/whispering tongue twisters to warm up? Wait. A personal favorite of mine...Have you guys puckered your lips and squeezed out: "raisin, raisin" and then followed by opening your mouth and body to bellow "LIME!" ???

In all seriousness though, I am so impressed by the talented actors that I have been working with. Today, we read through the end of the play... Stephanie aka Macbeth's "strut and fret" speech brought tears to my eyes. Can't wait to see the guys go at it!

Anyway...Respondez-vous s'il vous plait!



Friday, September 14, 2007

Brett Gamboa

I decided to Google Image Brett Gamboa, don't ask me what inspired me, but this is what I found on page one. I'll let the picture speak for itself.

Multitudinous Seas of Macbeth

I looked up Macbeth on Google Images. These are some of the things I found. A Macbeth Synthesizer, two different Macbeth shoes, Macbeth chocolate flavored cigarettes, Macbeth font, Macbeth color board (some weird thing from Stanford); check it out.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

MacBeth Macbeth

You're supposed to learn things in school.
Since high school, I have read MACBETH several times, but I never learned, or never thought about the name MACBETH. Maybe I have never seen it written correctly. Indeed, every time it appears in our copy of the play, it is in all caps.

Outside of school, a friend of mine who reads things about names or something for some reason, quite unexpectedly brought to my attention that MACBETH is a first name, not a patronymic. I was astonished to discover that I had been living a lie. This whole time, on some level, I have always thought of Macbeth as MacBeth. How foolish of me.

Friday, September 7, 2007

First Table Read

Everyone did a wonderful job.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Cal Shakes Does King Lear

Calshakes is doing King Lear this year!
They even have a blog.

A video of everyone but me

Now most of you are on YouTube... here is a video I took with the Campus Movie Fest camera. I know it is not the greatest, but neither are you, and this is the first video I have made with it. I will try and take some more videos before I have to bring the camera back next week. Here is the link.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007


An essay by Professor Booth about actors. The ones in MacBeth seem fairly safe, but it is always wise to prepare oneself, I guess, for the worst.

Modest Beginnings

First Day of Production

Macbeth V.v

It starts.

Saturday, September 1, 2007