• Aaron Posner on revisiting ‘The Merchant of Venice’: To be or not to be?

    by John Moore | May 17, 2018

    Cast of The Merchant of Venice Sarah Roshan The cast of Miners Alley Playhouse's 'District Merchants,' which reimagines 'The Merchant of Venice' in 1870s America. Photo by Sarah Roshan.

    Rather than foreclose on The Bard's problem play, playwright gives it a new lease on American life in District Merchants

    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

    The Merchant of Venice, with its legendarily merciless Jewish money-lender who demands his pound of flesh and receives not one ounce of mercy in return, has not stood well the test of time. In these contemporary times, Shakespeare’s blatantly anti-Semitic leanings have even led some to suggest the play should no longer be performed at all.

    Aaron Posner, one of the leading imaginers and re-imaginers in the American theatre today, is not one of them. Which is not to say he likes the Bard’s problematic play.

    Aaron Posner Quote“I had known The Merchant of Venice for a long time, but I never wanted to direct it because I couldn't find a way to make the play, as it existed, interesting to me,” said Posner, who sustains multiple careers as playwright, adaptor, educator, company leader and acclaimed director in Washington D.C. “But I knew that if I was going to push it around too much, it ceases to be ‘the play’ for me. So I began to think: ‘Maybe I should use it as a launch-pad for a brand-new play.’ And that's what I did.” That brand-new play is District Merchants, which opens in its regional premiere tonight (May 18) at the Miners Alley Playhouse in Golden.

    District Merchants uses The Merchant of Venice as a jumping-off point to explore the complex relationship between blacks and Jews in America after the Civil War — without cleansing the troubling ethnic undertones of the original story.  

    “For all of his genius, Shakespeare was still a product of his time,” said Posner. “And while he was forward-thinking in a number of ways, he was still limited by those times. Thank goodness, civilization has progressed over the past 400 years.”  

    For centuries, many regarded The Merchant of Venice to be a harmless romantic comedy with a happy ending for all — save for that unforgiving and unforgiven Jew. “I actually think a lot of that play really is interesting and engaging and true and human,” said Posner. “But it has its darker side, too.

    “What's tricky is that I don’t have a problem with the darker sides of the play. I just think they are not explored fully enough in the play to make it clear to us what Shakespeare was really up to — or to make it resonant for us. You have to keep in mind that, for all his genius, Shakespeare was writing 300 years before Freud. He was not asking deep questions about relationships between his characters that we do today, because he didn't have that vocabulary. He doesn't care why this person falls in love with that person. He's not asking about what psychological wounds might be driving this person, or what kind of emotional healing needs to happen between those people. He was talking about incredibly interesting universal truths. But I wanted to engage with the issues of that play in a way where I could make it speak to people today.”  

    Posner easily could have taken inspiration from today’s headlines and set his modern variation in the offices of, let’s say, any the five largest banks in the United States, whose assets equal 60 percent of the U.S. economy. He wanted to create some distance instead. “Because the moment you see a guy named Shylock walking around the streets of D.C., and it’s today, and he's on his cellphone, you are in danger of becoming really kitschy really quickly,” he said.  

    Instead, Posner found “really fertile ground” exploring relations between blacks and Jews during the Reconstruction. He cites lines in Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice that bluntly equate slavery to personal property. “That hit a chord with me,” said Posner. “And that led me to the Civil War, which circuitously led me to the setting of my play. And then the play quickly became about the relationships between blacks and Jews, which was very interesting and historically fraught.

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    In District Merchants, set in the 1870s, Shylock is an immigrant who has fled ethnic cleansing in the Ukraine. Antonio — the unfortunate merchant of Shakespeare’s title — here becomes Antoine DuPre, a freeborn black man who unwisely borrows money from Shylock to help pal Benjamin Bassanio win Portia's heart and fortune. The play also has its modern, 21st-century meta-theater moments as well, simultaneously making the setting Shakespearean, post-Civil War and present-day — all at the same time. Think of it as two pasts make a present.

    “There has been an uneasy and complicated relationship between blacks and Jews in this country for years,” said Posner, who took inspiration from a book called Blacks and Jews by Nathan Lerner and Cornel West. “Of course, they have been allies at times. But there also have been times when they should have, and could have, been stronger allies. Instead, there is still some essential distrust between those communities to this day. It really piqued my interest to think about these historical relationships between oppressed peoples in this country where there should be natural affinity, and often instead, there is actually animosity, for a variety of interesting and compelling reasons. All of that is in the play to some extent.

    “But really, for all of the political and social aspects of the play, I'm always most interested in individual human beings and the complicated relationships they make. To me, District Merchants ends up being more a story of people coming together across difference, trying to build bridges, trying to reach out to each other, and looking at the things that divide us.”

    (Story continues below the photo.)

    District Merchants Miners Alley Playhouse Photo by Sarah Roshan
    Chris Kendall and Cris Davenport in Miners Alley Playhouse's 'District Merchants,' opening Friday. Photo by Sarah Roshan.


    And what has all of that to say about the rampant corruption in today’s banking industry, the lives left ruined in its wake, and the ongoing ideological polarization that seems to have America in a vice?

    “I guess the play is asking, as you look at such a divided society: Is it possible to come together across distrust, suspicion and genuine difference? Particularly after genuine, deep and abiding harm has been done? You can't pretend damage hasn’t been done. But how do you move forward anyhow?”

    But, just to clarify: Posner swears District Merchants is also a very funny play. Really.

    “If you come to it with an open mind, I think there's a lot there,” he said. “I don't think it takes sides in any one direction. It's just trying to engage people with questions about power and privilege. And if people are open to that story, I think that is a worthwhile story to tell.”

    The year of Aaron Posner in Colorado theatre

    Posner is on the verge of becoming much more known to Colorado theatre audiences, starting with Friday’s opening of District Merchants at Miners Alley Playhouse. Cherry Creek Theatre will stage Posner’s My Name is Asher Lev in October, and the Aurora Fox will stage Life Sucks, his hilariously titled variation on Chekhov Uncle Vanya, in February. 

     Jacqueline Garcia, Curtiss Johns, Albert Banker in My Name is Asher Lev. Photo by Sarah Roshan My Name is Asher Lev, an adaptation of the popular novel by Chaim Potok, follows the journey of a young Jewish painter torn between his Hassidic upbringing and his desperate need to fulfill his artistic promise. When his evident artistic genius threatens to destroy his relationship with his parents and community, young Asher realizes he must make a difficult choice between art and faith.

    (Pictured: Jacqueline Garcia, Curtiss Johns and Albert Banker in Miners Alley Playhouse's 2015 staging of 'My Name is Asher Lev.' Photo by Sarah Roshan Photography.)

    “It’s just a great story,” Posner said. “I already had adapted Chaim's novel The Chosen, (directed by new DCPA Theatre Company Artistic Director Chris Coleman in 2010 at Portland Center Stage), and I began meeting people who told me that Asher Lev had really changed their lives. It’s the story of growing up in a family that doesn't seem to be yours, or being pulled between your community and something else that is deeply important to you.”

    And while District Merchants and Life Sucks are very much Posner’s singular versions of their source stories, “Asher Lev is not my story,” he said. “This is Chaim Potok’s story. I'm very much the midwife trying to tell his story as best I can. I do think it is a deeply universal, very relatable story regardless of whether you've ever met a Jew.”

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    In Life Sucks, a group of old friends, ex-lovers, estranged in-laws and lifelong enemies grapple with life’s thorniest philosophical questions and stumble their way toward the inevitable conclusion that, yeah, life pretty much sucks. “It's one of my favorite things I’ve ever written, and maybe one of the closest to me,” Posner said. "Because while Stupid F***ing Bird (a meta takeoff on Chekhov’s The Seagull) is a young person's play in its core sensibilities, Life Sucks is more of a middle-aged play, which is where I sit in my life right now.”

    While The Merchant of Venice is steeped with villains, Posner said, there are no evil-doers here. “I'm much more interested in good people doing their best and still messing things up,” he said. “That's what Chekov tends to do, and that's what I apparently am building of off in Life Sucks. It’s people struggling to do their best and (bleeping) it up on a regular basis."

    John Moore was named one of the 12 most influential theater critics in the U.S. by American Theatre Magazine in 2011. He has since taken a groundbreaking position as the Denver Center’s Senior Arts Journalist.

    District Merchants Miners Alley Playhouse Sarah Roshan Photography

    Candace Joice as Portia and Sinjin Jones as Benjamin Bassanio in 'District Merchants' at Miners Alley Playhouse. Sarah Roshan Photography.


    Aaron Posner at a glance

    Aaron Posner, born in Eugene, Ore., has built a thriving career as a theater administrator, playwright, and a freelance director of award-winning productions in the Washington, D.C. area and throughout the country with an emphasis on Shakespeare and literary classics. A graduate of Northwestern University with a B.S. in Performance Studies, Posner is an Eisenhower Fellow whose plays and productions have been seen at more than one-third of all LORT theatres in the country. He was a founding Artistic Director of Arden Theatre in Philadelphia, directing more than 35 productions there and Aaron is an Associate Artist at the Folger Theatre and Milwaukee Rep.  Posner has won four Helen Hayes Awards for Best Director for work at the Folger, including: Measure For Measure, The Two Gentlemen of Verona, and Cyrano, He also won the 2014 HHA -The Charles MacArthur Award for Outstanding New Play along with two Barrymore Awards (A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Best Director), and The Chosen (playwright), both at the Arden.

    District Merchants: Ticket information

    • Presented by Miners Alley Playhouse
    • Performances May 18-June 24
    • Written by Aaron Posner
    • Directed by Len Matheo
    • Performances 7:30 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays; 2 p.m. Sundays
    • Tickets: $15-$38
    • At 1224 Washington Ave., Golden, 303-935-3044 or minersalley.com.
    • The play runs 2 hours and 30 minutes

    District Merchants Miners Alley PLayhouse, Sarah Roshan PhotographyCast

    • Cris Davenport as Antoine Dupree
    • Chris Kendall as Shylock
    • Amy Elizabeth Gray as Jessica
    • Sinjin Jones as Benjamin Bassanio
    • Sean Michael Cummings as Finn Randall
    • Candace Joice as Portia
    • Kristina Lorice Fountaine as Nessa
    • Isaiah Kelley as Lancelot
    Aaron Posner's work in Colorado:
  • 2018 DPS Shakespeare Festival turns into a celebration of teachers

    by John Moore | Apr 28, 2018

    Our NewsCenter video recap of the 2018 DPS Shakespeare Festival. "What I like is that any person can play any character," said Wedase Gezahagi of Denver Green School.  Photo gallery below. Video by David Lenk and John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.

    Despite rally at the state Capitol, most teachers wouldn't have missed seeing culmination of students' hard work

    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

    To be or not to be … red. That was not even a question on Friday.

    The 34th Denver Public Schools Shakespeare Festival took on the feel of recent downtown protest marches in support of women and gun control — only in this case, most of the marchers were dressed in colorful Elizabethan garb as queens, clowns, swordsmen and ghosts. But the prevailing color of the day was assuredly red, in support of thousands of Colorado teachers who were gathering down the road at the state Capitol building for a second day of rallies calling for better pay and more school funding.

    2018 Shakespeare Festival. Photo by John Moore. “Red for Ed” and “Kids First” were common chants along the short opening parade from the 16th Street Mall to the Denver Performing Arts Complex, where an estimated 3,400 students from kindergarten through high school performed more than 640 short scenes, dances, soliloquies and sonnets on 18 indoor and outdoor stages. An estimated 5,000 attended.

    Protest signs were prevalent, such as, “I would rather be in a funded classroom,” and, “Out, damned TABOR. Out, I say.” That’s both a takeoff on Lady Macbeth’s famous “Out, damned spot” speech, and a dig at a state constitutional amendment that severely limits Colorado’s spending — and has been blamed for the state’s dismal ranking as 47th in educational spending.

    For decades, the nation's largest annual student Shakespeare Festival has been a celebration of both students and the man considered to be the greatest writer in the English language. But on Friday, the festival turned into a joyous and organic exaltation of teachers.

    “Today is absolutely a celebration of teachers,” said Denver Center President and CEO Janice Sinden. “Thousands of teachers across Denver Public Schools give every minute of every day to their students, and this is an opportunity celebrate their contributions to our educational system.”

    The call for Colorado teachers to rally at the state capitol on Friday came down only last week. But DPS have been preparing their students for the hard work of Friday’s fun back since the semester began in January. Missing it, said Highline Academy teacher Rachel VanScoy, “would have been horrible,” she said.

    “What's happening at the state Capitol is important, but what is happening here is important, too. We have a lot of good people representing us at the rally, but I wanted to be here to see what my kids have worked so hard to accomplish.”

    Read more: Our list of Shakespeare's Top 10 teenagers

    Studies have shown that studying and performing Shakespeare improves students’ reading skills, vocabulary, critical thinking, public speaking, confidence, self-esteem and even empathy. VanScoy said her students got even more out of it on Friday. “Well, they got a little bit of stage fright,” she said with a laugh. “But they also got a sense of accomplishment. … And they get turkey legs and cotton candy.”

    All in all, a pretty great day.

    (Story continues below the photo.)

    2018 Shakespeare Festival. Travis Ostrum. Photo by John Moore.
    Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.


    Travis Ostrom, a fourth-grade reading and writing teacher at Denver Green School, said Friday was easily the highlight of his school year. “The sense of pride and love that I have for my students has never shined stronger than when I got to see them perform,” he said. “I support everything that is going on down at the Capitol, and I will join them later today. But there was no way I was going to miss this for anything. This is my special time with my students.”

    2018 Shakespeare Festival. Photo by John MooreDPS officials said only two schools pulled out of the Shakespeare Festival because of Friday’s teacher walkout.

    Denver School of the Arts theatre teacher Shawn Hann said she thought about going to the Capitol on Friday “for a split second,” she said. “But we have 177 students in this program, and so there was no question about it. I had to be here. This is about being the biggest advocate we can be for theatre in Denver Public Schools.”

    The DPS Shakespeare Festival, founded in 1984 by the legendary teacher Joe Craft, is presented by the Denver Public Schools in partnership with the city of Denver, the Denver Public Schools Foundation and the Denver Center for the Performing Arts.

    Sinden delivered opening remarks wearing a gown that was used by the actor playing Juliet’s attendant in the DCPA Theatre Company’s 2013 production of Romeo and Juliet.

    “My favorite part of the day was walking across the street this morning and a swarm of children ran to greet me asking me who I was dressed as,” Sinden said. “Another highlight was seeing a little group of boys wearing mafia outfits as Shakespeare’s Kingsmen. “They all have their own interpretation of what Shakespeare is.”

    Priya Burkett, Chair-Elect of the DPS Foundation Board of Directors, said "the Foundation believes our city is strengthened by each student who graduates and leads a successful life, and we see this Shakespeare Festival as a key component for learning about literature, culture and creative expression."

    Gabriella Cavallero and Leslie O’Carroll, both longtime actors for the DCPA Theatre Company, each have daughters who performed on Friday. Cavallero’s daughter, Ariana Lavezza, is a first-timer because only fifth graders at Park Hill Elementary School participate in the festival. Lavezza said she loved the chance to perform because it is a chance for her to be like her mom, who won a 2016 True West Award and most recently appeared in the Aurora Fox’s staging of Real Women Have Curves.

    O’Carroll, best known for playing Mrs. Fezziwig in the Denver Center’s annual production of A Christmas Carol, has watched her daughter Olivia Wilson grow — and grow up — through her six years at the DPS festival. On Friday, she could hardly believe how grown up her daughter has become as she engaged in a rather intense sparring match playing Anne opposite the wicked Richard III.

    (Story continues after the photo gallery below.)

    Photo gallery: The day in pictures:

    2018 DPS Shakespeare Festival
    Photo gallery: Our best images from the 2018 DPS Shakespeare Festival. To see more, click on the photo above to be taken to our full, downloadable Flickr gallery. Photos by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.

    “When I was little, going to the DPS Festival was all about wearing costumes and being around the big kids,” said Wilson, a ninth-grader at Denver School of the Arts. “As I have gotten older, I’ve learned to appreciate Shakespeare's language, and I have learned so much about acting because Shakespeare basically tells you exactly how to play the scene.”

    Ostrom, who was bringing his Denver Green School students to the DPS festival for the first time, said the semester-long Shakespeare project gave them a real sense of purpose. “That’s the best type of education,” he said, “when your students are completely engaged, and fully invested in an assignment."

    Watch our Facebook Live stream of the 2018 parade

    Each year, DPS students submit essays for the privilege to play William Shakespeare and Queen Elizabeth I in the welcoming ceremonies, and ride at the head of the parade. This year’s honorees were Daniel McCorquodale, a senior at Denver Center for International Studies, and Denver School of the Arts senior Emily Embleton.

    2018 Shakespeare Festival. Photo by John Moore“It’s such an honor for me because this is the biggest student-run Shakespeare festival in the country, and theatre arts are so important,” Embleton said. “I am so honored to help facilitate the opportunity for all of these young people to be here doing theatre. It’s amazing."

    McCorquodale was treated like a rock star wherever he went, often stopping to talk with groups of young student performers.  

    “This is just tremendous,” he said. "I am so glad to be part of something as wonderful as this, in a city as wonderful as Denver is, and to just be having a good time with all these lovely theatre kids.”

    Friday’s program included a performance by DCPA Education’s “Shakespeare in the Parking Lot” ensemble — a group of six professional teaching artists who presented a shortened, 45-minute version of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. This semester, the group has traveled to 52 schools and logged 132 performances of Midsummer and Romeo and Juliet, followed by classroom workshops that connect the themes of the plays with  issues relevant to contemporary students. The group will perform at 1 and 3 p.m. today (Saturday, April 28) at 1610 Little Raven St., just north of 15th Street. The public is welcome.

    Shakespeare keeps on truckin' in high-school parking lots

    “When schools might not have the opportunity to come downtown and see a matinee, we are so excited to bring Shakespeare to them,” said DCPA Director of Education Allison Watrous. “We also think it’s just so important for Shakespeare to be a part of the core curriculum in schools across Denver, and so to have ‘Shakespeare in the Parking Lot’ perform as part of this festival just connects with that mission. And when the kids see our teaching artists performing at the highest level, it shows them that Shakespeare is still very relevant, that it is accessible and that his stories are just incredible.Charlie Korman as Romeo

    “And to be able to watch these professional actors perform Shakespeare, that gives them something to shoot for themselves.”

    Friday was a busy day at the Denver Performing Arts Complex. Three young members of the DCPA Theatre Company's production of The Who's Tommy attend Denver Public School and performed in the fest before Friday evening's opening of The Who's rock opera: Charlie Korman (pictured as right Romeo), Olivia Sullivent and Tristan C. Regini. The national touring production of Disney's Aladdin also performed a matinee that attracted nearly 3,000 to the Buell Theatre during the festival.

    John Moore was named one of the 12 most influential theater critics in the U.S. by American Theatre Magazine in 2011. He has since taken a groundbreaking position as the Denver Center’s Senior Arts Journalist.


    2018 Shakespeare Festival. Photo by John Moore
    The 2018 DPS Shakespeare Festival. Photo by John Moore.

    Our coverage of the DPS Shakespeare Festival through the years
    Our 2017 DPS Shakespeare Festival coverage
    Our 2016 DPS Shakespeare Festival coverage
    Our 2015 DPS Shakespeare Festival coverage
    Our 2014 DPS Shakespeare Festival coverage

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

  • Shakespeare keeps on truckin' in high-school parking lots

    by John Moore | Apr 25, 2018

    Video above by David Lenk and John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.

    Education program paves 400 years of distance between The Bard and issues of relevance to contemporary teens

    By John Moore

    Senior Arts Journalist

    William Shakespeare’s most popular play centers around a magic potion that makes you fall madly in love with the first person — or, say, donkey — you come across. A Midsummer Night’s Dream audiences have never taken the actual implications of that comic premise too terribly seriously. After all, by end of the beloved forest romp, all of the characters pretty much end up with their true loves.

    But when you think about it from today’s perspective … that’s kind of messed up. A magic potion that robs you of your free will? That manufactures intense and unnatural romantic desire? That very idea is, at the very least, ethically specious.

    SITPL Kevin Quinn Marchman. Photo by John Moore. Eric Minton, founder of a Bard fan site called Shakespeareances, once theorized that Midsummer remains Shakespeare’s most produced play because it is probably also his most accessible play. "It appeals to people who aren’t familiar with Shakespeare,” Minton said. “You are going to get the comedy even if you’re not proficient at speaking in verse.”

    That’s exactly what makes A Midsummer Night’s Dream the perfect vehicle for DCPA Education’s wildly successful “Shakespeare in the Parking Lot" program, which for four years has presented abridged versions of Midsummer at Romeo and Juliet at high schools throughout the state, followed by creative and compelling classroom workshops that bridge Shakespeare’s themes from 400 years ago with contemporary issues that are relevant to today’s teenagers.

    “Often we just look at Midsummer as magic and fairies and fun,” said actor and DCPA Teaching Artist Kevin Quinn Marchman. “But we wanted to apply that concept to a real-world situation that involves real stakes, and then have a conversation about it.” And at a time when full-on genetic manipulation is becoming closer and closer to a reality, the power to control emotional responses in humans seems like fairly real stakes.

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    So a day after presenting a 45-minute version of Midsummer in the parking lot at Strive Prep Excel School in north Denver last week, Marchman and his five fellow DCPA Teaching Artists rejoined the students in their classrooms and presented them this what-if:

    SITPL Kevin Quinn Marchman. Chloe McLeod. Photo by John Moore. What if you were a mother of a teenage girl who isn’t recovering from her first crushed heart? A year has gone by, and she’s only getting worse. She’s withdrawing, and her grades are falling. She’s descending into drugs and alcohol, and starting to display signs of suicidal tendencies. Now imagine being told that doctors are conducting trials on a new drug they believe can selectively zap your daughter’s entire memory of the relationship. If she can’t remember the breakup, the theory goes, then there is no more pain to feel, which means she might be able to resume a normal life. But scientists are unsure of the long-term consequences. It’s your call … would you let your daughter take that pill?

    “Is it ethical to use medicine to change our life experiences and our memories?” Marchman asked the students. “And if that is the case, what effect might that have on destiny?”

    That sparked a spirited debate among the Strive students. After all, there is something undeniably appealing about the opportunity to surgically excise emotional pain from our lives — without the surgery. But most of the Strive students gravitated toward the belief that this drug would be taking science too far. “Mistakes are necessary for growth,” said one student. “Breakups are hard,” added another, “but kids have to learn how to handle painful experiences in their adolescence now, because that prepares us for the far greater difficulties to come in the future.” And another said: “You can’t erase pain. Our pain is what makes us who we are.”

    Then the Teaching Artists connected the dots: This not-so-far-out medical scenario actually poses some of the same underlying questions Shakespeare asks in A Midsummer Night’s Dream:

    • “What is love?”
    • “What causes us to fall in (and out of) love?”
    • “How does love relate to the world of law and reason?”

    The goal of “Shakespeare in the Parking Lot,” conceived and directed by DCPA Director of Education Allison Watrous, is to make Shakespeare more accessible and less intimidating to students who are decreasingly exposed to the man generally considered to be the greatest playwright in the history of the English language.

    (Story continues after the photo gallery below.)

    Photo gallery: 2018 Shakespeare in the Parking Lot

    2018 Shakespeare in the Parking Lot
    Photos from recent performances of 'Shakespeare in the Parking' lot at the central branch of the Denver Public Library and Strive Prep Excel school in north Denver. To see more, click on the image above to be taken to our full gallery. Photos by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.


    “Reading the play is just one thing,” Watrous said. “But we know that Shakespeare really comes alive when it is spoken. It is meant to be performed.”

    Presenting shortened, live versions of Midsummer and Romeo and Juliet with a young and multi-ethnic cast helps connect those dots. So does performing the story in and around and on top of a beat-up old pickup truck that actor John Hauser likens to “a theatrical jungle gym.” If students are welcomed into the storytelling despite their unfamiliarity with Shakespeare’s language, "then the longer they will stay with the story,” Watrous said.

    SITPL. Strive Prep. Photo by John Moore. “My students were talking about the play all the way back from the parking lot,” Strive Prep teacher Allison Body. “I think it was very engaging for them to see the play in a quick and fast-paced way. And then to be able to talk more about the themes the next day was really great. It’s not the same as just reading an annotated version of Romeo and Juliet in class.”

    At a recent outing to Fort Morgan High School, located 80 miles northeast of Denver, the Denver Center ensemble performed for 400 students throughout a single day. "This outreach program is just amazing," Fort Morgan drama teacher Morgan Larsen told the Fort Morgan Times. "A lot of our students never have a chance to see live theatre, let alone Shakespeare. So this outreach that Denver Center does is just a great opportunity."

    Watrous’ cast, comprised of Marchman, Hauser, Kristina Fountaine, Chloe McLeod, Joelle Montoya, Jenna Moll Reyes and Justin Walvoord, are both experienced stage actors and educators trained in drawing sometimes reticent students out of their shells. They get them up and moving, and make sure everyone has a chance to be heard.

    "These actors are stellar on the stage and stellar in the classroom — and that is a hard, beautiful combination to find," Watrous said. 

    SITPL Kevin Quinn Marchman. Photo by John Moore. And it can be quite an endurance test. The creative team, including Technical Director Stuart Barr and sound operator Erik Thurston, are often on the road by 5 a.m. and sometimes perform their plays as many four times a day, both in cold rain and on steamy-hot asphalt.

    This spring, “Shakespeare in the Parking Lot” will visit 52 Colorado schools and public parks — including upcoming free, public performances of both Romeo and Juliet and Midsummer at 1 and 3 p.m. this Saturday (April 28) at 1610 Little Raven Street across from Commons Park in lower downtown Denver.

    In four years, “Shakespeare in the Parking Lot” has now served about 45,000 Colorado students, including 20,000 this school year alone. By the time the current tour ends on May 11, the ensemble will have performed 132 shows (sometimes four on a day) at 52 schools in eight Colorado counties. They will have delivered 66 workshops and engaged more than 20,000 students.

    The No-Fear Factor
    Strive Prep is a public college-prep charter school whose enrollment is 97 percent persons of color, and where 49 percent of students are learning English as a second language.

    SITPL Chloe McLeod and John Hauser. Photo by John MooreBut two of Body’s advanced A.P. literature students said they were neither bored nor afraid of Shakespeare when they heard the Denver Center crew was coming to their school. “We already read Othello and Hamlet in class, and last year we went to see Macbeth at the Denver Center, which I loved,” said Strive Excel student Cesar Robledo. “So I already think of myself as a pretty big fan of Shakespeare.”

    In the DCPA Theatre Company’s controversial and nontraditional take on Macbeth, the story was told in the future by warlocks and set against a backdrop of driving techno music and dance breaks.


    “I always enjoy seeing new interpretations of Shakespeare,” Strive student Connor Ellertson said of seeing both Macbeth in a future glam world — and Midsummer on a pickup truck.

    John Moore was named one of the 12 most influential theater critics in the U.S. by American Theatre Magazine in 2011. He has since taken a groundbreaking position as the Denver Center’s Senior Arts Journalist.

    “Shakespeare in the Parking Lot”: Upcoming public performances

    Friday, April 27

    • Denver Public Schools Shakespeare Festival
    • 1 p.m.: A Midsummer Night’s Dream
    • Just outside of the Bonfils Theatre Complex at the Denver Performing Arts Complex

    Saturday, April 28

    • 1 p.m.: Romeo and Juliet
    • 3 p.m.: A Midsummer Night’s Dream
    • At 1610 Little Raven St., just north of 15th Street and across from Commons Park in lower downtown Denver
    • More information: Call 303-446-4892, email education@dcpa.org or go to denvercenter.org/education

    The cast of DCPA Teaching Artists includes Kristina Fountaine, John Hauser, Kevin Quinn Marchman, Chloe McLeod, Joelle Montoya, Jenna Moll Reyes and Justin Walvoord

    Selected previous NewsCenter coverage of “Shakespeare in the Parking Lot”

    SITPL 2018 cast. Strive Prep. Photo by John MooreThe 2018 Shakespeare in the Parking Lot ensemble at Strive Prep, from left: Joelle Montoya, Justin Walvoord, Chloe McLeod, John Hauser, Kristina Fountaine and Kevin Quinn Marchman. Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.

    Shakespeare in the Parking Lot is supported by a multi-year grant from Anadarko Petroleum Corporation
  • Phamaly's Elizabeth Bernhardt on destroying the things we love most

    by John Moore | Apr 17, 2018
    Elizabeth Bernhardt Phamaly Romeo and Juliet Photo by Michael Ensminger

    Phamaly Theatre Company's Jacob Elledge and Elizabeth Bernhardt. Photo by Michael Ensminger.

    Denver actors with disabilities explore the passion, poetry and tragedy of Romeo and Juliet as only Phamaly can.

    MEET ELIZABETH BERNHARDT
    Elizabeth Bernhardt is playing Juliet in Phamaly Theatre Company's Romeo and Juliet. Phamaly exists to create performance opportunities for actors with disabilities. This is a workshop production with minimal staging. All performances are open-captioned. 

    • Elizabeth Bernhardt Phamaly Romeo and Juliet Photo by Michael EnsmingerHometown: Pearland, Texas
    • Home now: Denver
    • Training: B.A. in English and MA. in English Literature from Abilene Christian University
    • What's your handle? @lizbernhardt
      on Twitter and Instagram
    • Website: elizabethbernhardt.wordpress.com
    • Twitter-sized bio: Library assistant who loves too many things: Books, games, movies, plays. They’re newly back to theater and will never stop learning. (They/them are preferred pronouns.)
    • What would you be doing if you were not an actor? By day, I’m a library assistant at Aurora Public Libraries, and I love the creativity of it: I get to sing songs with kids, teach Excel to adults, fix e-readers and fingerpaint, and hear so many different life stories. I’ve tried other dreams, too – teaching English, game development and writing – but the common thread in all of them is stories: How we shape them and how they shape us.
    • One role you were completely miscast for: A friend asked me to voice one of his characters in an animated short. He only gave me my lines to read — so I didn’t realize it was about eternal judgment and damnation. And this was just when I had stopped believing in God. I really should have asked more questions before reading. I didn’t have nearly enough fear of hell-fire in my reading — but he was very kind about it.
    • Romeo Bucket-list role: The Mexican poet and social activist Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz. It will never, ever happen, and it should never happen, because I am whiter than untoasted bread. But I want Sor Juana to get the Hamilton treatment, because doesn’t this clever, visionary, sarcastic queer nun deserve that?
    • What's playing on your Spotify? I just saw Coco and it ripped my heart out in the best possible way, so I’ve been listening to the movie soundtrack.
    • What's one thing most people don't know about you? My eyes are opposites! I have one near-sighted eye and one far-sighted eye.
    • One time you saw greatness play out in front of you: In Oxford, I saw a performance of The Taming of the Shrew by the Globe Theatre on Tour with an all-female cast. I think I stopped breathing when Petruchio walked onstage, and I didn’t start again until the final bow. The beauty of Shakespeare is in the interpretation, especially in the problem plays. This performance took a play about gender roles, implicitly queered it by casting all women, and then played its comedic ending as a tragedy. There’s this moment where you watch Petruchio realize that he’s destroyed the best thing in his life, because he loved it, and because the world only provided him with broken ways to love and define people. I came to that play ready to hate it, and I left replaying those final moments over and over for more than a year. That, to me, is the power of live theatre. 
    • One thing we should be doing to foster the next generation of theatregoers? We need as many stories as possible about every gender and race and sexuality and class and lifestyle. Kids should look at a stage and see the entire world.
    • What is this reading of Romeo and Juliet all about? Shakespeare's timeless love story is about putting aside differences to pursue love above all else. And we are exploring the passion, beauty, poetry and tragedy of that story as only Phamaly can. This is a workshop presentation with minimal staging.
    • Why does Romeo and Juliet matter? Imagine waking up every morning to find out that three new tragedies occurred overnight. (Maybe you don’t have to imagine that.) Every tragedy leads to more fighting and heartbreak, but nothing changes, and maybe people have stopped believing things can ever change. Romeo and Juliet is “that play where the kids fall in love and die,” yes, but it’s also about hope in the middle of a cycle of violence and hate. It asks if a better world is possible. And it makes a lot of sex jokes, because it’s Shakespeare. What’s not to love?
    • What do you hope audiences get out of seeing Romeo and Juliet? I hope they laugh more than they expect and remember the last time they fell in love with possibility. I hope they forgive themselves and someone else. And I hope they have fun.
    • What do you want to get off your chest? Being in this production with Phamaly has been more fun and fulfilling than I could have imagined. I’ve learned so much. Thank you so much for the opportunity!

    Regan Linton named Colorado Theatre Person of the Year

    Phamaly Romeo and Juliet Photo by Michael EnsmingerThe cast of Phamaly Theatre Company's 'Romeo and Juliet' at the Dairy Arts Center in Boulder. Photo by Michael Ensminger.

    Romeo and Juliet: Ticket information

    • Presented by Phamaly Theatre Company
    • Performances through April 22
    • Directed by 2017 True West Awards Theatre Person of the Year Regan Linton
    • At the Dairy Arts Center, 2590 Walnut St., Boulder
    • 303-575-0005 or thedairy.org

    Remaining performances:

    • 2 p.m., Saturday, April 21 (with talkback)
    • 7 p.m., Saturday, April 21
    • 2 p.m., Sunday, April 22 (with talkback)

    Cast list:

    • Romeo: Jacob Elledge
    • Juliet: Elizabeth Bernhardt
    • Mercutio: Marcus Cannello
    • Benvolio: Apollo Blue Norton
    • Tybalt: James Vegliante
    • Nurse: Lucy Roucis
    • Friar Laurence: Kevin Pettit
    • Prince Escalus: Rich Brunker
    • Paris: Connor Long
    • Montague: Gregg Vigil
    • Capulet: David Wright
    • Lady Capulet: MaryAnne Migliorelli
    • Lady Montague: Dale Rose
    • Friar John: Melissa Ottke
    • Apothecary: Tammy Davidson

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    More 2017-18 'In the Spotlife' profiles:
    • Meet Sheryl McCallum of Aurora Fox's Passing Strange
    • Meet Brynn Tucker of Off-Center's This is Modern Art
    • Meet Gustavo Márquez of DCPA Theatre Company's Native Gardens
    • Meet Gia Valverde: DCPA Theatre Company's Native Gardens
    • Meet Jake Mendes of Off-Center's This is Modern Art
    • Meet Ilasiea L. Gray of Denver Children's Theatre's Sleeping Beauty
    • Meet Meet Jordan Baker of DCPA Theatre Company's Native Gardens
    • Meet Candy Brown of Lone Tree Arts Center's Love Letters
    • Meet Christy Brandt of Creede Rep's Arsenic and Old Lace
    • Meet Deb Persoff of Vintage Theatre's August: Osage County
    • Meet Monica Joyce Thompson of Inspire Creative’s South Pacific
    • Meet Hugo Jon Sayles of I Don't Speak English Only
    • Meet Marialuisa Burgos of I Don't Speak English Only

  • Sheryl McCallum on the search for something more real than real

    by John Moore | Apr 17, 2018
    Sheryl McCallum. Passing Strange

    Sheryl McCallum passes from The Lion King to The Wild Party to the unusual odyssey of Passing Strange

    MEET SHERYL McCALLUM
    Sheryl McCallum, who played Delores last year in Off-Center's The Wild Party, appeared on Broadway in Disney's The Lion King. Denver credits include Marcus: Or the Secret Of Sweet for Curious Theatre; and Jesus Christ Superstar and I'll Be Home for Christmas at the Arvada Center. She was a featured singer in the first European tour of Blackbirds of Broadway. TV credits include "Law & Order" and "Golden Boy."

    • Sheryl McCallum. Photo by Christine Fisk. Hometown: Denver
    • Home now: Denver (although I lived in New York for 20 years)
    • Training: B.S. in Telecommunications from Texas Southern University
    • Website: None — shame on me!
    • Twitter-sized bio: Denver native, best Auntie, wanna find my beach, ZPhiB💙. Creator and host of The Source Theatre's monthly Monday!Monday!Monday! cabaret at Su Teatro. ❤Spain, 13.1 coming soon.
    • What would you be doing if you were not an actor? I would pursue sports reporting or TV travel hosting. I have always enjoyed sports of all kinds. My take would be more commenting than reporting. You should hear me in my living room! For travel, my focus would be on best lounge chairs and beach or pool bar service.
    • One role you were completely miscast for: Sister Hubert in a particular production of Nunsense 2. Who knew?
    • Bucket-list role: At one time, I wanted to be an opera singer. So I guess my bucket list-role would be to sing "Ebben? Ne andrò lontana" at the Metropolitan Opera.
    • What's playing on your Spotify? Kid Astronaut and Bruno Mars. I also recommend Air Dubai. They are a local band and they don’t perform live as often as they used to.
    • What's one thing most people don't know about you? I direct my church choir.
    • viola-davis-fencesOne time you saw greatness play out in front of you: I had a chance to witness Viola Davis (pictured right) perform on Broadway in Fences and King Hedley II. Enough said!
    • One thing we should be doing to foster the next generation of theatregoers? One simple thing would be to expose them to theatre early. Not just expose them to acting or singing, but expose them to set and lighting design, to playwriting, to music composition, to stage management and to front-of-house operations. The elementary-school play or musical goes a long way toward fostering future theatregoers.
    • What is Passing Strange all about? It opens as a concert with a rousing funk band led by a showman named Stew who takes us back to the tumultuous 1970s where we retrace young Stew’s epic journey from the suburban comforts of Los Angeles to Amsterdam and Berlin in search of “something more real than real." It’s a tough and meaningful odyssey about cultural identity and family that culminates as young Stew comes face-to-face with present-day Stew — and to terms with the cost his youthful narcissism has exacted on those he left behind.
    • What does the title mean? The phrase "Passing Strange" was coined by William Shakespeare in Othello when he says, "My story being done, she gave me for my pains a world of sighs. She swore in faith 'twas strange, 'twas passing strange;     'Twas pitiful." Stew once said in an interview that the quote reminds him of a rock musician who tries to attract a girl with his on-the-road stories. "Passing" also refers to the history of African-Americans passing as white, as well as to the passage of time.
    • Why does Passing Strange matter? It offers another perspective of a black man's journey to find himself. Before I saw this show, I never would have thought of a black man writing a rock musical about moving to Amsterdam and Berlin to find himself. It’s an amazing story that everyone can see a little of themselves in.
    • What do you hope audiences get out of seeing Passing Strange? I hope they  feel challenged to find what is real in your life. I love this line in the show: ”The only truth of youth is grown-up consequences.” Also, to look at those places where you may be “passing."
    • What do you want to get off your chest? Denver, please find your civility again. When I lived in New York, I would brag about how nice the people in Denver were. When I moved back about four years ago, I was shocked at the rudeness. Of course, the natives blame all the other people who moved here. It doesn’t matter. We all live here now. Please be nice.

    John Moore's 2008 review of Broadway's Passing Strange

    Sheryl McCallum. The Wild Party. Photo by Adams ViscomSheryl McCallum in Off-Center's 'The Wild Party' last year at the Stanley Marketplace. Photo by Adams Viscom.


    Passing Strange: Ticket information

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    More 2017-18 'In the Spotlife' profiles:
    • Meet Brynn Tucker of This is Modern Art
    • Meet Gustavo Márquez of Native Gardens
    • Meet Gia Valverde: Native Gardens
    • Meet Jake Mendes of This is Modern Art
    • Meet Ilasiea L. Gray of Sleeping Beauty
    • Meet Meet Jordan Baker of Native Gardens
    • Meet Candy Brown of Love Letters
    • Meet Christy Brandt of Creede Rep's Arsenic and Old Lace
    • Meet Deb Persoff of Vintage Theatre's August: Osage County
    • Meet Monica Joyce Thompson of Inspire Creative’s South Pacific
    • Meet Hugo Jon Sayles of I Don't Speak English Only
    • Meet Marialuisa Burgos of I Don't Speak English Only

  • 'The Book of Will' wins national critics' Steinberg New Play Award

    by John Moore | Apr 08, 2018


    Highlights from he DCPA Theatre Company's world premiere staging of 'The Book of Will' in 2017. Videos by David Lenk and John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.

    Lauren Gunderson scores the nation's largest prize for new plays, which comes with a $25,000 cash award

    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

    Lauren Gunderson’s celebrated play The Book of Will was named the winner of the American Theatre Critics Association's Steinberg New Play Award on Saturday night at the Humana Festival of New American Plays in Louisville, Ky.

    The award, which comes with a $25,000 prize, considers scripts that were premiered by professional theatre companies outside New York City during 2017.

    Lauren Gunderson Quote AwardThe Book of Will
    was commissioned by the DCPA Theatre Company, developed at the 2016 Colorado New Play Summit and given its world premiere on the Ricketson Theatre last year. It has since been scheduled for productions around the country, including the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, opening June 6. The play already has been staged at theatres in New York, Illinois and Maryland.

    Without William Shakespeare, we wouldn’t have literary masterpieces like Romeo and Juliet. But without his friends Henry Condell and John Heminges, we would have lost half of Shakespeare’s plays forever. Gunderson's play tells what the two actors sacrificed when they endeavored to compile the First Folio and preserve Shakespeare's words after the death of their friend and mentor.

    “For a play about theatre-makers to garner this honor in this company is so meaningful,” Gunderson said. “Thank you to the Denver Center and Kent Thompson for commissioning and premiering the play, to Davis McCallum for his heartfelt direction and to  all the artists who worked on it to make it full of soul. Also to ATCA for all they do, and to Jim Steinberg, who is a generous visionary.”

    The play was commissioned under former Producing Artistic Director Kent Thompson, who calls The Book of Will "a love letter to Shakespeare, to actors and to the theatre."

    Video: Our interview with playwright Lauren Gunderson

    The Book of Will fires on all cylinders” said one unnamed judge, according to an ACTA press release. Said others:

    • “The play wrestles with big questions: Why do we create, and how do we deal with death? What constitutes a legacy? And how a surpassing love for something bigger can make every sacrifice worth it.”
    • “This play is all the more impressive given that we know how the story will end."
    • “It’s funny — genuinely funny — in a way that feels contemporary and yet not cynical.” 

    Denver Center audience member Artis Roslyn Silverman said it was the play’s themes of friendship, love and devotion to craft that made the play memorable to her. “I still quote lines from the play,” she said.

    Denver Center's sudden impact on national theatre scene in 2017-18

    Two additional citations that come with $7,500 prizes were presented to Molly Smith Metzler’s Cry It Out and Ike Holter’s The Wolf at the End of the Block, which had their world premieres respectively at the Humana Festival and by Teatro Vista at Chicago’s Victory Gardens Theater. At $40,000, the Steinberg is the largest national new-play award program recognizing regional theaters as the crucible for new plays in the United States, according to the ATCA.

    Cry It Out 
    focuses on the bonds and barriers between two new mothers across a backyard and across class differences. It wrestles with issues of female friendship and class and privilege while still being a story about two people. The Wolf at the End of the Block is centered on a beating outside of a Chicago bar. Other finalists for the Steinberg/ATCA Award were Linda Vista and The Minutes, both by Tracy Letts; and Objects in the Mirror by Charles Smith.

    The six finalists were selected from eligible scripts recommended by ATCA members from around the country. They were evaluated by a committee of theater critics, led by Lou Harry, who has written for theatrecriticism.com, The Sondheim Review, and many other publications.

    “Once again, the panel has bowled me over with its rigorous and passionate debate,” said Harry, “and once again playwrights and theaters from around the country have supplied us with plays worthy of those fierce discussions. Together, these six plays speak well of the American theatre today. Individually, they speak to the excitement and originality of some of our finest playwrights.”

    Other committee members were:

    • Misha Berson, Seattle Times (Seattle)
    • Bruce Burgun, The New Orleans Advocate (New Orleans)
    • Lindsay Christians, The Capital Times (Madison, Wis.)
    • Amanda Finn, Wisconsin State Journal (Madison, Wis.)
    • Mike Fischer, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, (Milwaukee)
    • Pam Harbaugh, floridatheatreonstage.com (Indialantic, Fla.)
    • Erin Keane, Salon (Louisville, Ky.)
    • Mark Lowry, theaterjones.com, Fort Worth Star-Telegram (Dallas)
    • Jonathan Mandell, newyorktheater.me  (New York)
    • Julius Novick, freelance (New York)
    • Marjorie Oberlander, freelance (New York)
    • Kathryn Osenlund, freelance (Philadelphia)
    • Wendy Parker, freelance (Midlothian, Va.)
    • Wendy Rosenfield, broadstreetreview.com (Philadelphia)
    • David Sheward, artsinny.com, theaterlife.com (Jackson Heights, N.Y.)
    • Martha Wade Steketee, freelance (New York)
    • Perry Tannenbaum, Creative Loafing, (Charlotte)
    • Bob Verini, Variety (Boston)

    Denver Center's 'Georgia McBride' to be a film starring Jim Parsons

    In 1977, ATCA began to honor new plays produced at regional theaters outside New York City, where there are many awards. Since 2000, the award has been funded by the Harold and Mimi Steinberg Charitable Trust.

    Since its inception, ATCA’s New Play Award honorees have included Moisés Kaufman, Adrienne Kennedy, Craig Lucas, Donald Margulies, Arthur Miller, Marsha Norman, Robert Schenkkan, August Wilson, Lanford Wilson, and Mac Wellman.

    Last year’s honoree was Man in the Ring by Michael Cristofer. 

    John Moore was named one of the 12 most influential theater critics in the U.S. by American Theatre Magazine in 2011. He has since taken a groundbreaking position as the Denver Center’s Senior Arts Journalist.

    Photo gallery: The making of The Book of Will at the Denver Center

    'The Book of Will' in Denver

    To see more photos, click the forward arrow on the image above. All photos are downloadable from our Flickr site above. Photos by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.


    Production photo gallery:

    The Book of Will- 2016-17 Theatre Company Season Production photos by Adams VisCom. To see more, click the forward arrow on the image above.

    Selected previous DCPA NewsCenter coverage of The Book of Will:
    Video: Your first look at The Book of Will
    Perspectives: Why is there a bobble-head on that set?
    Guest columnist Lauren Gunderson: How one word can change a play
    Five things we learned at The Book of Will opening rehearsal
    'The Year of Gunderson' has begun in Colorado
    Video: Take a tour of The Book of Will set
    Shakespeare in a season with no Shakespeare
    First Folio: The world's second-most important book heads to Boulder
    Video: Our look back at the 2016 Colorado New Play Summit
    Summit Spotlight: Playwright Lauren Gunderson
    Lauren Gunderson wins Lanford Wilson Award from Dramatists Guild of America
    Just who were all the king's men, anyway?
    2016-17 season: Nine shows, two world premieres, return to classics
    Meet the cast: Jennifer Le Blanc
    Meet the cast: Wesley Mann
    Meet the cast: Rodney Lizcano

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

  • Meet Autumn Hurlbert of 'Something Rotten!'

    by John Moore | Oct 18, 2017
    AUTUMN HURLBERT. Something Rotten

    Autumn Hurlbert of the national touring cast of 'Something Rotten!' attended college in Greeley.


    MEET AUTUMN HURLBERT
    Portia in 'Something Rotten!,' playing through Oct. 29 in the Buell Theatre.  

    AUTUMN HURLBERT On Broadway: Legally Blonde. First National Tour: Little Women. Selected Off-Broadway/Regional: Nobody Loves You (Second Stage), A Taste of Things To Come (York Theater Company), The Last Five Years (ACT Lousiville), Private Lives (Shakespeare Theatre Company, Huntington Theatre Company), every tongue confess (Arena Stage), Les Miserables and Evita (Pioneer Theater). Film/TV: “The Sound of Music, Live!,” “Legally Blonde: The Search For Elle Woods,” Sudden Death!, Research.

    • Hometown: I was born in Montana, and that's where most of my family lives now.
    • Home now: I have lived in New York City for almost 15 years now ... longer than anywhere else.
    • Training: I have a Bachelor of Arts in Musical Theater from the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley.
    • AUTUMN HURLBERT. Twitter-sized bio: Performer, mommy, wife, yogi, explorer, rule-breaker, wannabe political-science expert, musician ... and a silly, life-loving adventurer. 
    • What's your handle? @autumnhurlbert on Twitter and Instagram
    • What do you be doing if you were not an actor? Ooh! I would pursue a profession in some form of social advocacy: Social work, animal rescue, public school after-school programs, something along those lines. I feel that my purpose here on Earth is to empathize and help others in any possible way I can. Or ... this is weird, but I would totally be an aesthetician. I would love to give people facials!
    • One time you saw greatness play out in front of you: One of the most transformative theater experiences I witnessed was Coram Boy (which on Broadway featured former longtime DCPA Theatre Company member Jacqueline Antaramian). It was an epic adventure that addressed child cruelty in the 18th Century. It was unlike anything I had ever seen, and it took my breath away. It was a huge production, but it had these beautiful, nuanced themes that I still think about. It closed much too soon and I am sad more people didn’t get to experience it. It was sad and magical and mind-blowing.
    • Bucket-list role: There are so many great roles I would love to tackle, but my No. 1 dream is to originate a role on Broadway. I love the creative process, and I really hope some day I can put my stamp on a role that future musical theater comediennes will conquer with their own interpretations.
    • One time you were totally miscast: I played one of the urchins in a production of Little Shop of Horrors at a community theater in Arizona. I sang the crap out of it, but it was definitely three white girls playing the urchins. Miscast!
    • alabamashakesWhat's playing on your your Spotify? I am currently obsessed with Alabama Shakes. They have been around for a while, but - man! - their music makes me feel the feels. I also really love Big Boi’s album, Big Boi Boomiverse. He calls himself an old-school rapper, but he says, 'I can lay down all of these new sounds and make them my own.' It’s an eclectic and fun album.
    • How should we should foster the next generation of theatregoers? I think arts education is the most important avenue, not only for nurturing future theatregoers, but also for making the world a better place. The arts teach empathy  and inclusiveness. The arts challenge and enhance your world view and your ability to participate in an ever-changing and evolving world. Studies have shown that children who play musical instruments are better at math. The arts are everything. (But I am totally not biased, am I?)
    • One thing we don't know about you: I have my toddler and my husband on tour with me. We are a like a traveling family band. We are living our gypsy spirit dreams!
    • Why does Something Rotten! matter? Our motto for this tour is: “Make America Laugh Again." Something Rotten! offers an escape from the stress and worry of daily life. One of the main themes is “To thine own self be true." That is a courageous and beautiful mission for anyone to live by. And we exemplify how to do that through comedy. Laughter is a necessity in life, in my opinion.
    • What do you hope the audience gets out of this play? I hope they walk out with their cheeks and bellies sore from laughing. I hope the love we have for each other on stage is felt in the audience — you are our final cast member.
    • One thing you want to get off your chest: Please, please, make fanny packs go away for good. They really don’t look good on anyone. ANYONE. 😜

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    Something Rotten!: Ticket information
    Something Rotten!At a glance: Set in 1595, this hit musical comedy  tells the story of two brothers who set out to write the world's very first musical. It was called  'The Producers + Spamalot + The Book of Mormon. Squared,' by New York Magazine. The New York Post called Something Rotten! 'a big, fat hit.'

    • National touring production
    • Performances Oct. 17-29
    • Buell Theatre, Denver Performing Arts Complex
    • Tickets start at $25
    • Call 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
    • Sales to groups of 10 or more click here
    Previous NewsCenter coverage of Something Rotten! (to date)
    Something old, something new, something borrowed and Something Rotten!
    Go to the Something Rotten! show page
  • Lights, Camera, Theatre: 'Macbeth' at the movies

    by John Moore | Oct 06, 2017
    macbethatthemovies_header

    Get out the popcorn for flicks that mimic the sound and fury of Shakespeare’s tragedy on our stage

    By Carolyn Michaels
    For the DCPA NewsCenter

    By now you’ve probably heard that The DCPA Theatre Company's presentation of Shakespeare’s Macbeth is unlike anything you’ve seen before. Director Robert O’Hara is retelling the classic with a staging where “sex and tragedy meet in a mosh pit” – a difficult image to clearly understand until you see it for yourself.

    For those in need of a primer before your performance or who are hungry for similar fare after the curtain call, here are five films that hearken to the themes, artistic elements or straight-up source material that continues to inspire storytellers to this day.

    Macbeth (2015)

    As one of Shakespeare’s most popular plays, it’s no surprise that there have been many, many Macbeth adaptations for stage and screen over the centuries since it was written. But if you’re looking for a true-to-form telling that blends historically accurate elements with gorgeously modern visuals, look no further than the 2015 movie by Justin Kurzel. His filmography often centers around intense human stories set against bleak backdrops, so it comes as little surprise that he would choose a story set in 11th century Scotland. Gorgeous costumes by Jacqueline Durran mimicked simplistic fabrics, forms and techniques that would be natural in the frontier society in which the story was set – a far cry from the futuristic leather-clad lads you’ll ogle in the DCPA’s present production. But the treatment of grand fights as gripping slow-motion action sequences holds true to both takes, and sometimes it’s nice to refresh your memory of the play’s original form before diving into to something completely new.

    The Neon Demon (2016)

    What do an aspiring model and an aspiring king have in common? A lot more than you’d think! Director Nicolas Winding Refn’s take on the cutthroat world of fashion follows a seemingly innocent young woman as her quick rise to fame and recognition feeds the jealousy of others, as well as her own appetite for power. Stylistically, the two pieces feel like sisters from another mister. As with the DCPA’s Macbeth, conflicts in Demon reach their bloody ends with some suspiciously witchy elements at play. Both feature hypnotic moments filled with thumping music and geometric neon lights, some enviably hip parties and forward-thinking fashion straight out of Vogue. The film is abstract, raw, sexual and symbolic. It may be too much to take in for your average moviegoer, just like Macbeth may surprise and startle the average Shakespeare fan. If you don’t think you’ll be dipping your toes into the glitter anytime soon, at least listen to Sia’s slow burn track written for the end credits.


    Scarface
    (1983)

    While the departure from having actual kings played a role in America’s independence, we’ve had our fair share of mini-monarchies that have made their way into our history books and pop culture canons. One sector in particular has basked in the glow of Hollywood for their moments of high glamour dissolving into unflinching violence: The Gangster. And no film seems to embody the story of a simple man’s ruthless rise to power quite like Scarface. Tony Montana’s ride to the top is glorious, but as our drug-and-dancing-infused Macbeth can attest, a leader getting too wrapped up in cocaine, tigers and babes (oh, my!) is liable to lose his footing and temper faster than you can say “yayo.” If you want to enjoy the story with less f-bombs and more beer, try the tamer 1932 version of the film, which feels more like an unlicensed story of Al Capone over the modern movie it later inspired.

    Romeo + Juliet (1996)

    Hollywood in the late 90s and early 2000s was all about sneakily making Shakespeare’s stories cool with the kids. 10 Things I Hate About You, She’s The Man, O, Romeo Must Die and Get Over It slyly cast teens as players on the grand stage of high school as they loosely get tangled in the drama and comedy of The Bard’s source material. But one standout jumped on the bandwagon while leaving the text perfectly intact – Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo + Juliet. He knew that iambic pentameter always goes down sweeter when it’s sprinkled in between kisses from Leo DiCaprio, interrupted with interludes of high-gloss trippiness and sped up in zippy, quick-cut gun fights. O’Hara’s world in the DCPA’s production attempts a similar feat of world-building, injecting the untouched words of the original play with a visual feast of bright lights, thumping remixes and diction that smacks of the present day. You won’t see Leo on the stage, but there are plenty of gorgeous guys worthy of a spread in Tiger Beat magazine.

    Throne of Blood (1957)

    Even if you’ve never seen a film by director Akira Kurosawa, you’ve probably felt his influence somewhere else. His revolutionary artistry impacted the language of film forever and often drew from Shakespearean elements. He is best known for his prolific creation of samurai epics – stories of honor, revenge and retribution in feudal Japan. A lifelong student of drama, Kurosawa believed Scotland and Japan in the Middle Ages shared similar social problems and set out to adapt Macbeth in his wheelhouse. While elements of modern dance and choreography make the entire room pulsate with life in The Space, Throne of Blood draws from Japan’s traditional noh theatre. Masked characters, an emphasis on body language and open staging add a beautiful minimalism to the film while peppering in battles of a massive scale. It is considered one of his greatest films, and for many critics, the greatest adaptation of Macbeth ever seen on screen. If you’re okay with spoilers, the finale (and how it was made), is the perfect example of his creativity.

    carolyn_profilepicAbout the Author: Carolyn Michaels

    Carolyn Michaels is the copywriter for the DCPA’s Marketing Department, acting as voice of the organization through everything from Facebook posts to mail via snail and internet. Though she works for the stage, she is a cinephile at heart, spending her free time badgering friends to watch arthouse films that could change their lives (if they would just stay awake until the end).
     

    Macbeth: Ticket information

    Macbeth_seasonlineup_200x200At a glance: Forget what you know about Shakespeare’s brutal tragedy. Director Robert O’Hara breathes new life (and death) into this raw reimagining for the grand reopening of The Space Theatre. To get what he wants, Macbeth will let nothing stand in his way – not the lives of others or his own well-being. As his obsession takes command of his humanity and his sanity, the death toll rises and his suspicions mount. This ambitious reinvention reminds us that no matter what fate is foretold, the man that chooses to kill must suffer the consequences.

    • Presented by the DCPA Theatre Company
    • Performances through Oct. 29
    • Space Theatre, Denver Performing Arts Complex
    • Tickets start at $25
    • Call 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
    • Sales to groups of 10 or more click here
    Macbeth: Previous DCPA NewsCenter coverage
    Director Robert O'Hara: Can Macbeth transcend gender?

    Tattoos, video and opening-night Macbeth photos
    Video, photos: Your first look at Macbeth
    Perspectives: Macbeth director's recommendation: 'Invest in yes'
    Video: Adam Poss on a man playing Lady Macbeth
    Video: Ariel Shafir on the young new warrior face of Macbeth
    The masculinity of Macbeth
    Macbeth
    at a time when everything is shifting
    Cast announced for Robert O’Hara’s reimagined Macbeth
    Video, photos: Our coverage of the Space Theatre opening

    Video bonus: DCPA Theatre Company's Macbeth:

  • Robert O'Hara: Can 'Macbeth' transcend gender?

    by John Moore | Oct 04, 2017

    In the video above, 'Macbeth' director Robert O’Hara talks about the setting for his re-imagined Macbeth, why making his players warlocks necessitated an all-male cast and more. The play continues in the Space Theatre through Oct. 29. Video by John Moore and David Lenk for the DCPA NewsCenter.

    Shakespeare needs to be alive, Macbeth director says,
    'Or you are just blowing wind into a corpse.' 

    John Moore: There is a conflict in the American theatre when it comes to Shakespeare. Traditionalists think of Shakespeare as a sacred cow and that it should be presented exactly as written. But when you want to attract younger generations to Shakespeare, is it no longer enough to let his words speak for themselves?

    Robert O’Hara: It’s still live theatre, and that means it needs to be alive. If you are just blowing wind into a corpse, then you just have the walking dead. I think you need to give it life, and the life comes from the people who are in the room right now.  

    John Moore: How does that affect your approach to Macbeth?

    Robert O’Hara: I don't want to go into a theatre and see a museum piece. I think there is an elitist quality to Shakespeare in this country, and I don't believe in elite theatre. Theatre is already elite, and I don't want to come in and put another level of elitism on top of that. So I tried to make this production as honest as possible, and to speak for now.

    John Moore: As a director, this is your first production of a Shakespeare play. Has that been a matter of preference or opportunity?

    Robert O’Hara: I have not been afforded opportunities to direct Shakespeare. African-Americans are not usually in the room directing Shakespeare. So when I was asked to direct Macbeth by the Denver Center, I was very intrigued. I thought, ‘Now I can have a conversation I have been waiting to have for a long time.'

    John Moore: Why have you not been afforded that opportunity before now?

    Robert O'Hara Quote MacbethRobert O’Hara: There is a Catch-22 in the American theatre. I am mostly considered a playwright and a director of new plays, right? So I don't usually get offered to direct classical work. The Catch-22 is that you won't get offered classical work because you haven't done classical work. But if you are not getting the opportunity to direct classical work, when can you ever do it? I think we categorize artists of color, because white people are allowed to do everything. They can do black plays, Latino plays, classical plays, new plays, whatever. But somehow I am only supposed to do one certain type of play. My entire career has been working against that. There are far more white people directing Shakespeare than people of color in this country. That's something important to acknowledge and be transparent about. I know that I am in Denver doing Macbeth and that this is the first time anyone has ever asked me to do Shakespeare. That is significant for me in my career, but I'm sure it is significant for the theatre community here, too.

    John Moore: How did that happen?

    Robert O’Hara: (DCPA Associate Artistic Director) Nataki Garrett called and asked if I would be interested in coming to Denver. It was sort of a fishing expedition. She was interested in a play I had done at Steppenwolf in Chicago, and I said, 'Well, I'm not so sure I want to go all the way to Denver to do something I have already done. What else do you have?' And she said they were thinking about Macbeth and a couple of other plays. And I was like, "Hmmm ... Macbeth! And that sparked a conversation that just kept going. I threw the book at her, because I don't want to go to any theatre just to be told, 'Don't be who you are, because this is Shakespeare!' So I said to Nataki, 'Can I do this and this and that?' And she kept saying yes.

    John Moore: What do you bring to Shakespeare that a white director might not?

    Robert O’Hara: What Shakespeare means to me is going to be different from what Shakespeare means to a lot of other people, just based on who I am. James Baldwin once said that when African-Americans speak Shakespeare, it changes the meaning of Shakespeare’s words. The language becomes universal when it is spoken out loud by people who were never supposed to speak it.

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    John Moore: How is this Robert O'Hara's Macbeth?

    Robert O'Hara: It’s not. It's Shakespeare's Macbeth. Robert O'Hara is simply interpreting it. What I love is that Shakespeare allows you the interpretation. There is nothing that I am going to do that is going to destroy Macbeth. I don't have that power. But I think this production allows me the freedom to actually be fully who I am.
    John Moore: So what is your concept?

    Robert O'Hara: The concept comes out of a simple question that I asked myself when I was reading the play, and it sounds crazy. But I thought, 'Why are you talking to witches?' In what society does one see three witches in a field and he just goes up to them and is like, 'Hey, what's up?' If I see three witches, I am going to run, jump out the window, race, scream, pray, whatever. But these guys are just rolling up on witches, and they don't seem to be afraid of them. That in itself tells me that this is a play that is fantastical. That is has the imagination at its core. This is a world where people and witches can interact freely. And that started me thinking about the way we deal with otherness in our culture. At the same time we denigrate 'the other,' we also praise them. We go to the shaman or the witch doctor or the medicine man to help us root out the evils in our lives - and then we will burn them at the stake. I have always thought the witches are unfairly blamed for what Macbeth does. And so I thought, what if we told this story from the witches' perspective? What if a bunch of witches got together and said, ‘Why don't we do the story of Macbeth?’ They don’t change the story. The idea is that these characters are being played by people with supernatural powers. By people who are actually talked about in the play.

    John Moore: And in fact, you set the play in the Pit of Acheron.

    Robert O'Hara: Yes, and the Pit of Acheron is an actual setting in Shakespeare’s play. The warlocks take Macbeth there, and that is where our play takes place.

    John Moore: How is this relatable to today?

    Robert O'Hara: They have just built an arts complex on the 9/11 memorial site at the World Trade Center. And I am assuming there will be plays staged there that have something to do with the 9/11 tragedy. And I think to and set this play at a place that is actually in the story gives it a different life.

    John Moore: What about the idea to make it an all-male cast?

    Robert O'Hara: That comes from the Banquo line, when he says something like, ‘You should be women, but you have beards.’ When I read that, I was like, 'What if they are men?' Of course, all of Shakespeare's plays were originally performed by men. I wanted to explore what that means. 

    John Moore: Lady Macbeth has been called the most bloodthirsty character in all of Shakespeare – including her husband. Does that fact that she was created by a man in patriarchal Jacobean times tell us more about her – or about Shakespeare? 

    Robert O’Hara: Here we have this legendary character of Lady Macbeth, and she is demonized and deified and everything in between. But it's essentially a character written by a man and at the time played by a man, and most of the audiences then were probably men. It’s exciting for me to put a bunch of men in a room and we deal with that dynamic. It's exciting to explore how one feels about that.

    John Moore: How is she presented?

    Robert O’Hara: We are not making Lady Macbeth a man, we are just having her be played by a man. So we’re not doing a drag show.

    (Story continues below the photo)

     Macbeth Adam Poss. Photo by Adams Viscom


    John Moore: And what is your take on her now?

    Robert O’Hara: Look, she doesn't even have a name. Her name is ‘Lady.’ Right there, she is a symbol for something. I feel like she is just as important as the title character of Macbeth. That in fact you can't have Macbeth the play without Lady Macbeth. To me, they are one and the same. When I see Lady M on stage, they usually remove all femininity from her. She is basically a masculine, evil, unsexed woman. But I think she is no more evil than anyone else in the play. Remember the witches don't actually tell Macbeth to kill anyone. They just say, 'You are going to be the king.' And then he and his wife start reaching for daggers. What women goes, ‘I would dash the brains of this kid?' That sounds crazy. Especially a woman who has lost a child. And yet she is saying this to encourage Macbeth to kill someone.

    John Moore: What is Shakespeare's complicity in all of this?

    Robert O’Hara: There are no examples that I know of in Shakespeare of a man pretending to be a woman - as a serious plot point. There are tons of examples of a woman pretending to be a man, and everyone accepts it. But where is the play where a man pretends to be a woman, and everyone in the world of the play accepts it? That’s because nobody wants to be a woman in this sexist society. Women should want to be men. That says something about the society these plays are written in. 
     
    John Moore: Are you worried about an anti-feminist response by removing the female voice?

    Robert O’Hara: I contend that there was never a woman's voice in Macbeth. I want to explore the idea of what happens when you get a bunch of men in a locker-room setting, if you will, they begin to deal with a heterosexual relationship. What does that reveal? I am less interested in what happens if you remove the female voice because I am not doing a play in which there ever was a female voice. I am doing a play in which there was a male voice inside of a female character who acts, for the most part, as if she were a man. But just because I am doing men with all men does not mean that I’m not interested in women. I want to see what 17 male actors will make of some of the places in the play that are very vulnerable and emotional - on top of all the violence. Because violence is easy. But can we have a relationship between Lady Macbeth and Macbeth, and even between Macbeth and Banquo, that transcends gender?

    John Moore: Is there a statement in all of that?

    Robert O’Hara: I'm not really interested in making statements. I am really interested in asking questions about our value systems, and what we accept in male behavior that we don't accept in other behaviors. I am interested in the nature of being complicit in a society, because Macbeth gets away with a lot of stuff before they kill him. I am interested in exploring the idea of reaping what you sow. Because Macbeth's death is going to be brutal. I think about a dictator like Muammar Gaddafi and how he was killed and dragged through the streets. The message is: When you radicalize a group of people, be careful because they will turn on you. That is central to what I am exploring. When you do a play that has an act of violence as its central core, that dagger, if you will, may come and slit your own throat.

    John Moore was named one of the 12 most influential theater critics in the U.S. by American Theatre Magazine in 2011. He has since taken a groundbreaking position as the Denver Center’s Senior Arts Journalist.

    Macbeth
    : Ticket information

    Macbeth_seasonlineup_200x200At a glance: Forget what you know about Shakespeare’s brutal tragedy. Director Robert O’Hara breathes new life (and death) into this raw reimagining for the grand reopening of The Space Theatre. To get what he wants, Macbeth will let nothing stand in his way – not the lives of others or his own well-being. As his obsession takes command of his humanity and his sanity, the death toll rises and his suspicions mount. This ambitious reinvention reminds us that no matter what fate is foretold, the man that chooses to kill must suffer the consequences.

    • Presented by the DCPA Theatre Company
    • Performances through Oct. 29
    • Space Theatre, Denver Performing Arts Complex
    • Tickets start at $25
    • Call 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
    • Sales to groups of 10 or more click here
    Macbeth: Previous DCPA NewsCenter coverage

    Tattoos, video and opening-night Macbeth photos
    Video, photos: Your first look at Macbeth
    Perspectives: Macbeth director's recommendation: 'Invest in yes'
    Video: Adam Poss on a man playing Lady Macbeth
    Video: Ariel Shafir on the young new warrior face of Macbeth
    The masculinity of Macbeth
    Macbeth
    at a time when everything is shifting
    Cast announced for Robert O’Hara’s reimagined Macbeth
    Video, photos: Our coverage of the Space Theatre opening


    Video: Your first look at the DCPA Theatre Company's Macbeth:



    Video above by DCPA Video Producer David Lenk. 

  • Video, photos: Your first look at DCPA's 'Macbeth'

    by John Moore | Sep 20, 2017



    Without changing a word of Shakespeare's text, DCPA Theatre Company Director Robert O’Hara breathes new life (and death) into his raw reimagining of Macbeth, which will mark the grand reopening of the in-the-round Space Theatre. Video above by DCPA
    Video Producer David Lenk. 

    Production photos:

    Macbeth
    To see more, hover your cursor over the image above and click the forward arrow that appears. Photos by Adams VisCom.

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter


    Macbeth: Ticket information
    Macbeth_seasonlineup_200x200At a glance: Forget what you know about Shakespeare’s brutal tragedy. Director Robert O’Hara breathes new life (and death) into this raw reimagining for the grand reopening of The Space Theatre. To get what he wants, Macbeth will let nothing stand in his way – not the lives of others or his own well-being. As his obsession takes command of his humanity and his sanity, the death toll rises and his suspicions mount. This ambitious reinvention reminds us that no matter what fate is foretold, the man that chooses to kill must suffer the consequences.

    • Presented by the DCPA Theatre Company
    • Performances through Oct. 29
    • Space Theatre, Denver Performing Arts Complex
    • Tickets start at $25
    • Call 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
    • Sales to groups of 10 or more click here
    DCPA Macbeth. Adams Viscom. Scenie Design by Jason Sherwood.
    DCPA Theatre Company's 'Macbeth.' Scenic Design by Jason Sherwood. Photo by Adams Viscom.

    Macbeth
    : Previous DCPA NewsCenter coverage

    Perspectives: Macbeth director's recommendation: 'Invest in yes'
    Video: Adam Poss on a man playing Lady Macbeth
    Video: Ariel Shafir on the young new warrior face of Macbeth
    The masculinity of Macbeth
    Macbeth
    at a time when everything is shifting
    Cast announced for Robert O’Hara’s reimagined Macbeth
    Video, photos: Our coverage of the Space Theatre opening

    Making of Macbeth: Backstage photo gallery

    Making of 'Macbeth'

    Photos from the making of Robert O'Hara's 'Macbeth' for the DCPA Theatre Company. To see more, hover your cursor over the image above and click the forward arrow that appears. Photos by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.
  • Perspectives: 'Macbeth' director's recommendation: 'Invest in yes'

    by John Moore | Sep 19, 2017
    Perspectives Macbeth. Robert O'Hara. Steven Cole Hughes'Perspectives' is a series of free panel discussions held just before the first public performance of each DCPA Theatre Company staging. The 'Macbeth' panel included director Robert O'Hara and actor Steven Cole Hughes, above, as well as actors Alec Hynes and Kim Fischer (pictured below right). The moderator was Literary Director Doug Langworthy. The next 'Perspectives' will be held before the first preview of 'Smart People' at 6 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 13, in the Jones Theatre. Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.


    'The Curse,' the costumes and the king obsessed with witches are all fair game at season's first Perspectives

    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

    Macbeth An audience member before Friday’s first performance of Macbeth wanted to know: Is “The Curse” real?

    He was talking about the most famous – and famously respected – superstition in all of theatre: Say the word "Macbeth" inside a theatre, and you invite disaster. Better to say “The Scottish Play” or “Mackers.” Shakespeare’s play gets its evil reputation in part because of the witches in the story, and of course the legendary tales of misfortune that have been associated with hundreds of Macbeth stagings going back to 1606.

    Macbeth. Perspectives. Photo by John Moore. Robert O’Hara, who is directing Macbeth for the DCPA Theatre Company, says so far – knock on wood! – there have been no incidents attributable to black magic lurking under the brand-new Space Theatre floorboards. But he said things got super weird before rehearsals even began.

    O'Hara invited the actors playing Macbeth and Lady M (Ariel Shafir and Adam Poss) to his home a few months ago to talk about the play. As they were diving into the play, O’Hara looked outside and noticed an inexplicable pack of wild kittens loitering underneath his tree. He says they didn’t live in the neighborhood, and they all disappeared by the next morning. But that day, Poss’ simple plane trip home from Cincinnati to Chicago ended up taking nearly 24 hours to complete.

    Weird, sisters.

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    Here are five more things we learned about 'Macbeth at Perspactives:

    Macbeth set design by Jason SherwoodTrue blue: NUMBER 1 Macbeth is O’Hara’s first Shakespeare production as a director. And while he brings a different sensibility to this staging that is evident from costumes to clothing to music to movement, he’s not rewriting a word of Shakespeare’s language. “Nothing you see will defame Shakespeare,” O'Hara said. “I didn't come here to do Shakespeare in order to not do Shakespeare. I am a playwright, too, so if I wanted to do an adaptation of Shakespeare, I would have just written my own play. But at the same time, I don't want the audience to see a museum piece. I want them to see something that shows how elastic Shakespeare is. I am not interested in how Shakespeare is ‘supposed’ to be done. I am interested in how I meet Shakespeare’s language today.”

    (Pictured above and right: A look at the 'Macbeth' set design by Jason Sherwood.)

    NUMBER 2About those costumes: "We don't wear many. You're welcome,” actor Steven Cole Hughes said to laughs. O’Hara said it makes perfect sense for warlocks to live their lives more unencumbered by inhibition (and clothing) than humans. “Our show is essentially warlocks putting on a play, and these warlocks have a different sense of their bodies. They have a different sense of nakedness,” O’Hara said. "But when it comes time for the warlocks to put on Shakespeare’s play, they add some Jacobean clothing. They’re costumes. But underneath, they are still who they are.”

    NUMBER 3 What the Hecate? There is a character in the play who usually gets cut in contemporary stagings. Her name is Hecate, queen of the witches. Hecate says: 'Bring Macbeth to the Pit of Acheron,” and that’s where O’Hara has chosen to set this production. It’s years after the real-life story of Macbeth, the witches are all male warlocks, and they are performing the play as a kind of historical ritual. And here, we will meet Hecate. “Robert did some research that said Hecate is a three-headed witch, so there are three of us actors paying her,” said Hughes. “We had the freedom to create both how we move and talk as a trio. Hecate has a monologue, and we split it up between the three of us." 

    NUMBER 4And as for the music: “It's going to start loud, and get louder,” says Hughes. O’Hara only asks of his audience what he asked of his cast on the first day of rehearsal: "Invest in yes," he said. And if you do, he added, "you will be rewarded at the end.” The play is performed as a ritual not unlike the Catholic Church’s Stations of the Cross. And each ritual is accompanied its own music, movement and lighting scheme. These are transitions that act as a bridge between the scenes that Shakespeare wrote, and the hybrid world these warlocks inhabit at the Pit of Acheron.

    NUMBER 5Back to those those witches: Scotland’s King James I – yes, namesake of the King James Bible – was obsessed with the subject of witchcraft. There were 247 witch trials during the reign of Queen Elizabeth and King James, and he was a frequent instigator of them. Belief in witches was common at the time. James, who became the first king of both England and Scotland in 1603, even wrote a book on supernatural creatures and demons. James was also a big fan of live theatre, and he hired Shakespeare to write plays for him. The Bard wrote Macbeth specifically to please King James. In the play, quintessential good-guy Banquo is meant to represent James. And to please His Majesty, Shakespeare inserted more biblical imagery than in any of his other plays.

    John Moore was named one of the 12 most influential theater critics in the U.S by American Theatre Magazine in 2011. He has since taken a groundbreaking position as the Denver Center’s Senior Arts Journalist.

    Macbeth. Perspectives. Photo by John Moore.

    Actors Steven Cole Hughes and Kim Fischer demonstrate some of the choreography in 'Macbeth.' Photo by John Moore.


    Macbeth: Ticket information
    Macbeth_seasonlineup_200x200At a glance: Forget what you know about Shakespeare’s brutal tragedy. Director Robert O’Hara breathes new life (and death) into this raw reimagining for the grand reopening of The Space Theatre. To get what he wants, Macbeth will let nothing stand in his way – not the lives of others or his own well-being. As his obsession takes command of his humanity and his sanity, the death toll rises and his suspicions mount. This ambitious reinvention reminds us that no matter what fate is foretold, the man that chooses to kill must suffer the consequences.

    • Presented by the DCPA Theatre Company
    • First performance Sept. 15, through Oct. 29
    • Space Theatre, Denver Performing Arts Complex
    • Tickets start at $25
    • Call 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
    • Sales to groups of 10 or more click here
    Macbeth: Previous DCPA NewsCenter coverage
    Video: Adam Poss on a man playing Lady Macbeth
    Video: Ariel Shafir on the young new warrior face of Macbeth
    The masculinity of Macbeth
    Macbeth
    at a time when everything is shifting
    Cast announced for Robert O’Hara’s reimagined Macbeth
    Video, photos: Our coverage of the Space Theatre opening

    Making of Macbeth: Full photo gallery:

    Making of 'Macbeth'

    Photos from the making of Robert O'Hara's 'Macbeth' for the DCPA Theatre Company. To see more, hover your cursor over the image above and click the forward arrow that appears. Photos by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.
  • Video: Adam Poss on a man playing Lady Macbeth

    by John Moore | Sep 17, 2017

    'I think a lot of women (who play Lady Macbeth) have to bring this masculine energy to it. But because I am a man with that masculine energy (my job is) to find what that feminine energy is," Adam Poss says of his role as Lady M  for the DCPA Theatre Company. Video by John Moore and David Lenk for the DCPA NewsCenter.


    'When you see someone like me playing Macbeth, already you are getting a different energy, look and feel.'


    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

    In one way, Director Robert O’Hara is telling the tale of Macbeth just as Shakespeare did — with an all-male cast. Not that anyone will mistake O’Hara’s staging with anything resembling Shakespeare as it was presented in Jacobean times.

    O'Hara is telling the tale for the DCPA Theatre Company from the point of view of a coven of shamanic warlocks. In his world, these warlocks are getting together years after the actual story and are now performing Macbeth as a kind of passion play. So the storytellers are all necessarily male.

    Adam Poss. Macbeth. But Adam Poss, the acclaimed Chicago actor playing Lady Macbeth, believes the female voice will come through loud and clear through this unusual telling, which he says is at once both historic and futuristic. "It's a great combination of old and new, and we're going to freak people out a little bit," he said with a laugh. 

    The strongest women of the time were polar opposites and deadly rivals, Poss said: "You have Queen Elizabeth and Mary Queen of Scots and they both represented very different ideas of who women were. Queen Elizabeth was the virgin and Mary Queen of Scots was  bloodthirsty." Lady Macbeth was more of the latter, clawing her way to a place of power in the only way a woman could: Through her husband. "She could not be out there fighting, and taking on a kinship on her own," Poss said, "But she can make  things happen in her own way behind the scenes."

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    Poss said it will be both useful and relevant for a contemporary audience to see the story with women and witches who have facial hair. 

    "I think as we move forward, things are less binary in terms of what it means to be a man and a woman," he said. "Just because this is a company of men does not mean that there cannot be intimacy between men.

    "At its heart, yes, Macbeth  is a play about ambition and being bloodthirsty and taking people on to achieve what you want. But it’s also about a marriage, and a husband and wife doesn’t necessarily have to be a man and a woman. There can be partnerships between men that have love and care and tenderness but also violence and aggression and manipulation. That’s just human."  

    Adam Poss. Macbeth. Photo by John Moore.
    Adam Poss with his castmates at the first rehearsal for 'Macbeth.' Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter


    Adam Poss: At a glance

    At the Denver Center: Debut. Other regional credits: Macbeth (Actor’s Theatre of Louisville), 2666, Teddy Ferrara, A Christmas Carol, The Magic Play, The Solid Sand Below (Goodman Theatre), Lot’s Wife (Kansas City Rep), The North Pool, The Lake Effect (TheatreWorks, Palo Alto) Other credits: 1984, Animals Out of Paper (Steppenwolf Theatre), The History Boys (Studio Theatre, D.C.). Oedipus el Rey, Queen (Victory Gardens Theater); The Lake Effect, Scorched (Silk Road Rising); The Beats (16th Street Theater). Television: Shameless, Empire, Chicago Med, Chicago Fire, Chicago PD, Crisis, The Chicago Code, The Mob Doctor. Film: The Middle Distance, The Drunk, The King of URLS, Speed Dating.

    Macbeth: Ticket information
    Macbeth_seasonlineup_200x200At a glance: Forget what you know about Shakespeare’s brutal tragedy. Director Robert O’Hara breathes new life (and death) into this raw reimagining for the grand reopening of The Space Theatre. To get what he wants, Macbeth will let nothing stand in his way – not the lives of others or his own well-being. As his obsession takes command of his humanity and his sanity, the death toll rises and his suspicions mount. This ambitious reinvention reminds us that no matter what fate is foretold, the man that chooses to kill must suffer the consequences.

    • Presented by the DCPA Theatre Company
    • First performance Sept. 15, through Oct. 29
    • Space Theatre, Denver Performing Arts Complex
    • Tickets start at $25
    • Call 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
    • Sales to groups of 10 or more click here
    Macbeth: Previous DCPA NewsCenter coverage
    Video: Ariel Shafir on the young new warrior face of Macbeth
    The masculinity of Macbeth
    Macbeth
    at a time when everything is shifting Cast announced for Robert O’Hara’s reimagined Macbeth
    Video, photos: Our coverage of the Space Theatre opening

    Making of Macbeth: Full photo gallery:

    Making of 'Macbeth'

    Photos from the making of Robert O'Hara's 'Macbeth' for the DCPA Theatre Company. To see more, hover your cursor over the image above and click the forward arrow that appears. Photos by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.
  • Video: Ariel Shafir on the new warrior face of 'Macbeth'

    by John Moore | Sep 12, 2017

    'We're getting a taste of where theatre has evolved, and Robert O'Hara is at the finger's edge of all this," Ariel Shafir says of his 'Macbeth' director. Video by John Moore and David Lenk for the DCPA NewsCenter.


    'When you see someone like me playing Macbeth, already you are getting a different energy, look and feel.'


    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

    Actor Ariel Shafir is well aware that when most people imagine the face of Shakespeare’s Macbeth, they likely conjure a face like, say, Patrick Stewart’s or Kelsey Grammer’s as the great killer Scot. “It’s usually some 60-year-old, very WASPy looking guy,” Shafir said with a laugh.

    Ariel ShafirBut nevertheless, the decidedly younger Shafir is preparing to play the iconic embodiment of bloodthirsty ambition for the DCPA Theatre Company. And he thinks he’s just right for the role.

    “Macbeth is not one of these old generals in some back room,” Shafir said. “He’s on the battlefield. He’s the greatest warrior they have. So when you see someone like me playing Macbeth, you can see how far we are veering from the typical playbook. Already you are getting a different energy, a different look, a different feel for Macbeth.”

    Director Robert O’Hara is telling the tale of Macbeth from the point of view of a coven of shamanic warlocks. In his world, these warlocks are getting together years later and performing the story of Macbeth as a kind of passion play.

    There are purists who believe Shakespeare should not be tinkered with, even in concept. Shafir challenges that notion. “It is important to note that this is going to be the exact text Shakespeare wrote,” Shafir said. “But instead of relying on the template of productions past, I think Robert is actually probing deeper into the script and striking much closer to the heart of Shakespeare’s actual play.

     “We are delving into some of the darkest shadows of human psychology, and I think I directors sometimes tiptoe that line. But not Robert. There are so many things in our production that many others don’t ever deal with. There are just so many things about our own shadow selves that we need to embrace, and I think we do.”

    Ariel Shafir. Photo by John MooreThere’s a reason Macbeth remains a popular story after 400 years. Shafir says it’s the same reason we love Halloween and horror movies.

    “What is this darkness in ourselves that we need to embrace in the nighttime so that we can go out and be productive in the daylight hours?” he said.

    “This play is reaching forward in time and, at the same time, reaching back. There will be an interesting tension between the classic Jacobean style, while also having this completely futuristic feel as well. There are so many parts of this play that I think will be illuminated for the first time for people.”

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    Ariel Shafir: At a glance
    At the Denver Center: Debut. Other regional credits: John Proctor in The Crucible (Playmakers Rep), Mercutio in Romeo and Juliet (Chicago Shakespeare), Axel Fersen in Marie Antoinette (Steppenwolf), Uzi in Captors (Huntington), John in A Life in the Theater (Alliance), among many others including most recently Isaac in the China Tour of Disgraced. TV/Film: "Orange is the New Black," "30 Rock," "Army Wives," I Love You ... but I Lied," "M'Larky," "What Happens in Vegas" "Bride Wars" "Don Peyote," "What Happens Next," "Hysterical Psycho." Winner of a Suzi Bass Award, Jeff Award and Barrymore Award.

    Macbeth: Ticket information

    Macbeth_seasonlineup_200x200At a glance: Forget what you know about Shakespeare’s brutal tragedy. Director Robert O’Hara breathes new life (and death) into this raw reimagining for the grand reopening of The Space Theatre. To get what he wants, Macbeth will let nothing stand in his way – not the lives of others or his own well-being. As his obsession takes command of his humanity and his sanity, the death toll rises and his suspicions mount. This ambitious reinvention reminds us that no matter what fate is foretold, the man that chooses to kill must suffer the consequences.
    • Presented by the DCPA Theatre Company
    • First performance Sept. 15, through Oct. 29
    • Space Theatre, Denver Performing Arts Complex
    • Tickets start at $25
    • Call 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
    • Sales to groups of 10 or more click here
    Macbeth: Previous DCPA NewsCenter coverage
    The masculinity of Macbeth
    Macbeth
    at a time when everything is shifting Cast announced for Robert O’Hara’s reimagined Macbeth
    Video, photos: Our coverage of the Space Theatre opening

    Making of Macbeth: Full photo gallery:

    Making of 'Macbeth'

    Photos from the making of Robert O'Hara's 'Macbeth' for the DCPA Theatre Company. To see more, hover your cursor over the image above and click the forward arrow that appears. Photos by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.
  • The masculinity of 'Macbeth'

    by John Moore | Sep 05, 2017

    Macbeth. Thaddeus Fitzpatrick. Photo by John Moore.


    'You should be women. And yet your beards forbid me to
    interpret that you are so.'

    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

    The words above come out the mouth of Banquo, Macbeth’s power-hungry frenemy. And the first time Director Robert O’Hara came across them, they stuck in his head like courage to a sticking post.

    “That line is Banquo telling the witches they don’t look like women because they have beards,” said O’Hara, “And right then I was like, ‘Well maybe they're not women. Maybe they are men'!”

    That inherent gender contradiction fueled O’Hara’s vision for the DCPA Theatre Company’s season-opening production of Macbeth, which promises to confront audiences with a sexy, physical vision of Shakespeare the likes of which they likely have never seen before. 

    “This is a world where you can roll up on some witches, and it doesn’t send you off running for the hills screaming at the top of your lungs?” O’Hara said. “Not only that, but they tell you you’re going to be king, and you just go right off and start killing folks. That, to me, is crazy. The witches don’t tell Macbeth to go kill Duncan. They just tell Macbeth he will be king someday. But he couldn’t wait a few days to start killing? Who knows, Macbeth? Maybe the king will choke to death on a chicken bone or something.” 

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    O’Hara is presenting Macbeth just as Shakespeare did — with an all-male cast. Not that anyone will mistake O’Hara’s staging with anything resembling Shakespeare as it was presented in Jacobean times. 

    “The reason Shakespeare did not use women in his plays wasn’t because it was illegal for women to be on stage,” O’Hara said. “He did it because England was a sexist and misogynistic society that devalued the female.” That’s why, O’Hara says, the bloodthirsty Lady Macbeth must be viewed through the male perspective that created her.  

    “Can you imagine what women must have felt hearing about all these stories with female characters that were written and performed by men? The very nature of the Jacobean patriarchal society would color how characters like Lady Macbeth came about and were presented on the stage.” 

    Masculinity pervades Shakespeare’s text without any help from O’Hara. With the exception of the witches, Lady Macbeth and Lady Macduff are the only significant female characters in the entire story to begin with. “Lady Macbeth says all this stuff about ‘Unsex me,’ and, ‘If you were a man you’d be more of a man’ by killing the king, as she’s egging her husband on,” O’Hara said.

    (Story continues after the photo.)

    Macbeth Robert O'Hara


    O’Hara was interested by what he calls the locker-room mentality, then and now. “I thought, ‘What happens when a bunch of men get together and decide to present this story?' And so O’Hara’s tale takes place in a world where it is warlocks, not witches, who “double, double, toil and trouble.”  

    In O’Hara’s world, getting together and performing the story of Macbeth as a kind of passion play is a ritual of these warlocks that has gone on for centuries. 

    In Shakespeare’s Macbeth, The Pit of Acheron is a swamp near Macbeth's castle where the witches are ordered to bring Macbeth. In O’Hara’s production, this pit becomes the setting of his entire play.

    “As someone living in New York City, it’s interesting to me that millions of people come to pay their respect to the fallen of 9/11 at the World Trade Center. They have built a performance complex right there, and inevitably there will be performances there that deal with 9/11. And that made me think, ‘What if my production in some odd way was the warlocks paying their respect to the fallen in the Macbeth story, which is a real story that took place hundreds of years before?’

    “These warlocks are forever linked to their ancestors, and not in a good way. They have been blamed for the actions of Macbeth for centuries. So, what if this is them giving those ancient witches a renewed voice, through this ritual?”

    This concept not only gives the audience the opportunity to see women characters played by men just as they were in Shakespeare’s time, but also to consider the inevitable patriarchal consequences. 

    What will an all-male Macbeth do to the story?

    “I hope it will do exactly what it probably did when it was first performed,” O’Hara said. “I hope it gives some insight into the world we are living in today.”


    Macbeth
    : Ticket information

    Macbeth_seasonlineup_200x200At a glance: Forget what you know about Shakespeare’s brutal tragedy. Director Robert O’Hara breathes new life (and death) into this raw reimagining for the grand reopening of The Space Theatre. To get what he wants, Macbeth will let nothing stand in his way – not the lives of others or his own well-being. As his obsession takes command of his humanity and his sanity, the death toll rises and his suspicions mount. This ambitious reinvention reminds us that no matter what fate is foretold, the man that chooses to kill must suffer the consequences.
    • Presented by the DCPA Theatre Company
    • First performance Sept. 15, through Oct. 29
    • Space Theatre, Denver Performing Arts Complex
    • Tickets start at $25
    • Call 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
    • Sales to groups of 10 or more click here
    Macbeth: Previous DCPA NewsCenter coverage
    Macbeth at a time when everything is shifting
    Cast announced for Robert O’Hara’s reimagined Macbeth
    Video, photos: Our coverage of the Space Theatre opening


    Making of Macbeth: Full photo gallery:

    Making of 'Macbeth'

    Photos from the making of Robert O'Hara's 'Macbeth' for the DCPA Theatre Company. To see more, hover your cursor over the image above and click the forward arrow that appears. Photos by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.
  • Cast announced for Robert O’Hara’s reimagined 'Macbeth'

    by John Moore | Aug 28, 2017

    Rehearsal for Robert O'Hara's 'Macbeth.' Photo by John Moore. Rehearsal for Robert O'Hara's 'Macbeth.' Photo by John Moore.


    Robert O'Hara's story is told from the point of view of a warlock coven that gathers to recreate the tale of Macbeth.

    The DCPA Theatre Company has announced the full cast and creative team for Robert O’Hara’s raw and reimagined take on Shakespeare’s Macbeth, which opens the company's 38th season with an all-male cast on Sept. 22.

    In preparing for the production, the director was struck by Banquo’s line referencing the witches: “You should be women, And yet your beards forbid me to interpret that you are so.”

    “That inherent contradiction stuck in my head,” O’Hara said. “And right then I was like, ‘Well maybe they're not women. Maybe they are men.’ ” That opened the door for a concept told from the point of view of the supernatural: Specifically, a warlock coven that gathers to recreate the tale of Macbeth.

    “People have asked me, ‘What will an all-male Macbeth do to the story?’” O'Hara said. “I tell them, ‘I hope it will do exactly what Shakespeare’s work should always do – give some insight into the world in which we are living today.’ ”

    Macbeth castFrom left: Colorado natives Skyler Gallun (Donalbain) and Gareth Saxe (Duncan), with Lady M (Adam Poss) and Macbeth (Ariel Shafir).

    The production will feature, in alphabetical order:

    • Rob Fenton (Malcolm/Ensemble)
    • Kim Fischer (Second Warlock/Ensemble)
    • Thaddeus Fitzpatrick (Third Warlock/Ensemble)
    • Keith D. Gallagher (Seyton/Ensemble)
    • Skyler Gallun (Donalbain/Ensemble)
    • Joel Reuben Ganz (Macduff/Ensemble)
    • Joe Goldammer (First Warlock/Ensemble)
    • Steven Cole Hughes (Doctor of the Psychic/Ensemble)
    • Alec Hynes (Banquo/Ensemble)
    • Erik Kochenberger (Hecate Two/Ensemble)
    • Daniel Kyri (Lady Macduff/Ensemble)
    • Jesse Pennington (Rosse/Ensemble)
    • Adam Poss (Lady Macbeth/Ensemble)
    • Gareth Saxe (Duncan/Ensemble)
    • Ariel Shafir (Macbeth/Ensemble)
    • Travis Turner (Lennox/Ensemble)
    • Danny Zuhlke (Fleance/Ensemble)

    Several cast members have appeared in previous DCPA productions or have longstanding Colorado ties. Hughes is a graduate of the Denver Center's masters program and has appeared in 14 Theatre Company productions. Most recently he was seen in DCPA Cabaret's production of An Act of God in the Garner-Galleria Theatre.

    Saxe is a graduate of Denver East High School and Colorado College who has appeared in Theatre Company productions of The Homecoming and Heartbreak House. He was most recently seen as Scar in the national touring production of The Lion King. (Watch our video interview here.)

    Gallun is a graduate of Denver's George Washington High School who previously appeared here in Lord of the Flies. Kochenberger is a graduate of East High School in Pueblo. Fitzpatrick was last seen in The Book off Will.   

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    The creative team includes:

    • Robert O'Hara (Director)
    • Jason Sherwood (Scenic Designer)
    • Dede M. Ayite (Costume Designer)
    • Alex Jainchill (Lighting Designer)
    • Lindsay Jones (Original Music and Sound Designer)
    • Douglas Langworthy (Dramaturgy)
    • Kathryn G. Maes (vocal and dialect coaching)
    • Kurt Van Raden (Stage Manager)
    • D. Lynn Reiland (Assistant Stage Manager)

    Macbeth also marks the reopening of the newly renovated Space Theatre. The nearly 40-year-old venue has been completely rebuilt to enhance the world-class experience for audiences and artists alike.


    Macbeth
    : Ticket information

    Macbeth_seasonlineup_200x200At a glance: Forget what you know about Shakespeare’s brutal tragedy. Director Robert O’Hara breathes new life (and death) into this raw reimagining for the grand reopening of The Space Theatre. To get what he wants, Macbeth will let nothing stand in his way – not the lives of others or his own well-being. As his obsession takes command of his humanity and his sanity, the death toll rises and his suspicions mount. This ambitious reinvention reminds us that no matter what fate is foretold, the man that chooses to kill must suffer the consequences.
    • Presented bythe DCPA Theatre Company
    • First performance Sept. 15, through Oct. 29
    • Space Theatre, Denver Performing Arts Complex
    • Tickets start at $25
    • Call 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
    • Sales to groups of 10 or more click here
    Macbeth: Previous DCPA NewsCenter coverage
    Macbeth at a time when everything is shifting
    Video, photos: Our coverage of the Space Theatre opening


    Making of Macbeth: Full photo gallery:

    Making of 'Macbeth'

    Photos from the first day of rehearsal for Robert O'Hara's 'Macbeth' for the DCPA Theatre Company, along with behind-the-scenes process shots. To see more, click the forward arrow in the image above. Photos by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.
  • 'Macbeth' at a time when everything is shifting

    by John Moore | Aug 17, 2017
    Making of 'Macbeth'

    Photos from the first day of rehearsal for Robert O'Hara's 'Macbeth' for the DCPA Theatre Company. To see more, click the forward arrow in the image above. 'Macbeth' plays Sept. 15-Oct. 29 in the newly reopened Space Theatre. Photos by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.

    Rehearsals open in a divided country roiling and reeling from violence that is becoming commonplace in its streets

    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

    The DCPA Theatre Company opened rehearsals Tuesday for the first offering of its 39th season in a deeply divided country that is roiling and reeling from violence that is again becoming commonplace in its streets.

    That makes it both important – and poignant – to be re-examining the troubled world of Shakespeare’s bloodthirsty tragedy of Macbeth right now through the lens of a rising, rebel director named Robert O’Hara, DCPA Associate Artistic Director Nataki Garrett said in an impassioned welcome to cast, crew, staff and guests.

    Macbeth Nataki Garrett“Everything about the way we live is shifting,” Garrett said. “And that’s why this is the perfect time to be doing this play right now, in the middle of the shift. We are in this chrysalis right now, trying to figure out who we are as a people, who we are as a theatre community, who we are as creative people,” Garrett said.

    “Especially in light of where we are right now, particularly in the United States, this is what you do: You do this play, right now, because Shakespeare has this uncanny way of reaching forward and back at the same time, and making us really think about why we think the things we do. Who put those ideas there? And is there a way to have a different way of thinking than the way we think now."

    Garrett promised those gathered that O’Hara’s Macbeth “ain’t your grandmama's Macbeth.” O’Hara’s Macbeth is set entirely at the Pit of Acheron, a swamp near Macbeth's castle where the witches are ordered to bring Macbeth. Only in this telling it’s years, perhaps centuries later, and the witches are warlocks.

    “I thought, what if every so often, a bunch of witches go off and tell that messed-up story about that guy who went off killing people just because they told him he was going to be king? That would be interesting …  and crazy,” O’Hara said.

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    "We tend to demonize the witches. We blame them for what Macbeth does in the story. They always got the short end of the stick. So, what if our play is about giving those ancient witches a renewed voice, through this ritual?”

    O’Hara’s Macbeth will have a very modern, almost futuristic element, “but also one that honors the past,” said award-winning scenic designer Jason Sherwood. Dede M. Ayite's costumes will offer “lots of skin, and lots of leather,” she said, “and when we transition into the actual storytelling we will have pieces that reflect Jacobean garments.” Alex Jainchill’s lighting design will incorporate modern technologies and incorporate dub-step music from sound designer Lindsay Jones.

    Video, photos: Our coverage of the Space Theatre opening

    “Robert called me last week and said, ‘Hey did I tell you that you were writing a score that's like Game of Thrones?’ And I was like, 'No, you did not.' So I'm writing a score that's like Game of Thrones, along with rap music, lots of sound effects and other really exciting stuff.”

    O’Hara and Garrett hope this reimagined way of looking at Macbeth will give audiences another way of contextualizing the shocking daily headlines that are becoming more and more difficult to process.

    “We are a nation that moves and evolves. Said Garrett. “We are a theatre company that moves and evolves, and it is moving before our very eyes right now. And so I am very excited to have this play open our new Space Theatre, open our season and open our minds."

    John Moore was named one of the 12 most influential theater critics in the U.S by American Theatre Magazine in 2011. He has since taken a groundbreaking position as the Denver Center’s Senior Arts Journalist.


    Macbeth
    : Ticket information

    Macbeth_seasonlineup_200x200At a glance: Forget what you know about Shakespeare’s brutal tragedy. Director Robert O’Hara breathes new life (and death) into this raw reimagining for the grand reopening of The Space Theatre. To get what he wants, Macbeth will let nothing stand in his way – not the lives of others or his own well-being. As his obsession takes command of his humanity and his sanity, the death toll rises and his suspicions mount. This ambitious reinvention reminds us that no matter what fate is foretold, the man that chooses to kill must suffer the consequences.
    • Presented bythe DCPA Theatre Company
    • First performance Sept. 15, through Oct. 29
    • Space Theatre, Denver Performing Arts Complex
    • Tickets start at $25
    • Call 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
    • Sales to groups of 10 or more click here
  • In the Spotlife: Christian O'Shaughnessy of 'Much Ado About Nothing '

    by John Moore | Aug 05, 2017
    Christian O'Shaughnessey


    MEET CHRISTIAN O'SHAUGHNESSY
    Don John in Colorado Springs TheatreWorks' 'Much Ado About Nothing' at the picturesque Rock Ledge Ranch near the Garden of the Gods through Aug. 19. Tickets

  • Hometown: Vancouver, British Columbia 
  • Home now: Colorado Springs
  • High school: Fruita Monument
  • College: University of Colorado, Colorado Springs 
  • What have you done for us lately: I played Reverend Hale in The Crucible at The Millibo Art Theatre in Manitou Springs 
  • What's next? I will be playing Sergey in Wild Honey at Theatreworks from Oct. 19-Nov. 5
  • What's your handle? @christianboheme on both Twitter and Instagram
  • Twitter-sized bio: Heavily influenced by Space Jam, French wine and the paintings of Edvard Munch. Brad Stevens for President. 
  • The role that changed your life: Without a doubt, it was Ibsen's Ghosts at Theatreworks in 2015. It was a play I never thought I'd get a chance to see, let alone be part of at that level. We also had this tremendous Ibsen legacy in the cast and crew of that production that connected us in sort of an unspeakable way, I thought. It heightened and informed everything we were doing inside the play. We all knew that. We all knew we were in the right room at the right time with the right text. I've always felt a kind of relief when I finally get to the theatre each night, but there was definitely something else going on in me whenever I got to the Bon Vivant that fall. It was special, and it unlocked a lot for me.
  • SIMON RUSSELL BEALEIdeal scene partner: Simon Russell Beale: The deal does not get any realer. I saw the NT Live screening of his King Lear and I've never been so honestly enthralled by a performance. That dude has so much grace and vulnerability and control in what he does. If it weren't so beautiful, it would terrify you. 
  • What is Much Ado About Nothing all about? I think the play is about the anxieties of realizing you're absolutely up to your neck in love with someone. What happens when you're that galvanized and out of body with that? It makes you crazy. It's about love, baby. It also might be about Leslie O'Caroll playing Dogberry. Need I say more? 
  • Tell us about the challenge of playing this role: We had a great room for this production, so even when the process was challenging, we all made it easier for each other. And yet, "The King" isn't in the building anymore. Coming back to Theatreworks for the first time since our founder Murray Ross passed away in January was difficult for us. I  worked on about 10 projects with Murray since 2011, and our working relationship had grown into something so exciting. We came a long way from him throwing me out of rooms and locking the door, or calling me a disgrace. He taught me so much about working in the theatre, and what kind of tenderness and drive it requires. There's hardly a lesson I've learned on stage that I can't trace back to him and what he taught me. He had just as much of an influence on my character offstage. Don't let anything hold you back. I loved Murray. Entering any rehearsal room, anywhere in the world will always be a little harder without him around. Our preview did get rained out right after I opened my mouth to speak, though. So, he may still be around. (Read more about Murray Ross here.)
  • Christian O'ShaughnesseyWhat do you hope audiences get out of seeing your show? I hope everyone wants to run out of the theatre and go get close to the person they can't stop thinking about. Much Ado should make you want to make out.
  • What don't we know about you? I can drain 3-pointers and recite Sylvia Plath.
  • What do you want to get off your chest? No matter what happens in this country, or anywhere in the world, for better or worse, the Warriors still blew a 3-1 lead in the NBA Finals. 

  • (Note: "The Warriors Blew a 3-1 Lead" refers to a series of jokes about how the NBA’s Golden State Warriors lost the 2016 NBA Finals to the Cleveland Cavaliers after having three wins against Cleveland’s one in the best-of-seven series.) 

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    Christian O'Shaughnessey


    Much Ado About Nothing: Ticket information
    Rock Ledge Ranch Handsome Claudio loves beautiful Hero, and the two dreamboats are going to the Chapel of Love. Or are they? Villainy is afoot, and treachery lurks in a midnight garden. Meanwhile, marriage is the last thing on Benedick’s mind, especially with sharp and witty Beatrice, who is equally resistant to tying the knot. Complications naturally ensue until it all works out in the end.
    • Presented by Colorado Springs TheatreWorks
    • Written by William Shakespeare
    • Directed by Jane Page
    • Estimated running time: 2 hours and 15 minutes
    • Through Aug. 19
    • At Rock Ledge Ranch at the base of the Garden of the Gods FIND IT
    • Tickets: $30-42; Children under 18, $20
    • Call  719-255-3232 or go to theatreworkscs.org

    Remaining performance schedule:

    • Saturday, Aug. 5, 7:30 p.m.
    • Tuesday, Aug, 8, 7:30 p.m.
    • Wednesday, Aug. 9, 7:30 p.m.
    • Thursday, Aug. 10, 7:30 p.m.
    • Friday, Aug. 11, 7:30 p.m.
    • Saturday, Aug. 12, 7:30 p.m.
    • Tuesday, Aug. 15, 7:30 p.m.
    • Wednesday, Aug. 16, 7:30 p.m.
    • Thursday, Aug. 17, 7:30 p.m.
    • Friday, Aug. 18, 7:30 p.m.
    • Saturday, Aug. 19, 7:30 p.m.


    Cast list:

    Town Folk
    • Leonato, Owner of Hotel and Saloon: Robert Rais
    • Antonia, Leonato’s Sister, Barkeep: Rya Dyes
    • Beatrice, Leonato’s Niece, Manager of Hotel/Saloon: Jennifer Holcombe
    • Hero, Leonato’s Daughter: Dalia Anderton
    • Margaret, Barmaid: KT O’Conor
    • Ursula, Hotel Maid: Samantha Pistoresi
    • Padre Paul, Local Clergy: Steve Wallace
    • County Clerk – Christian O’shaughnessy

    The Law
    • Dogberry, Local Sheriff: Leslie O’Carroll
    • Verges, Deputy, Dogberry’s Right-Hand Man: Mark E. Cannon
    • Hugh Oatcake, Deputy: Jake Zindorf
    • Georgia Seacole, Deputy: Katie Medved

    Wagoneers
    • Don Pedro, Wagon Master – Kyle Dean Steffen
    • Benedick, Trail Master – Nick Manfredi
    • Claudio, Wheelwright – Alex Williams
    • Don John, Don Pedro’s Brother, Gunsmith – Christian O’shaughnessy
    • Borachio, Trail Cook: Michael Lee
    • Conrad, Drover: Matt Radcliffe
    • Balthasar, Scout: Leo Lopez Rivera

    More 'In the Spotlife' profiles:

    Meet Lauren Bahlman of Wide-Eyed West's theMumblings
    Meet Jack Barton of BDT Stage's Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat
    Meet Christy Brandt of Creede Repertory Theatre's Arsenic and Old Lace
    Meet the ensemble of Buntport Theater's The Crud
    Meet Mark Collins of And Toto Too's Lost Creatures
    Meet Alexis Cooley of square product theatre's House of Gold
    Meet Carley Cornelius of Colorado Springs TheatreWorks' Constellations
    Meet Emily Paton Davies of Miners Alley Playhouse's God of Carnage
    Meet Kelsey Didion of Curious Theatre's Constellations
    Meet Denise Freestone of OpenStage's August: Osage County
    Meet Ethelyn Friend of ________________, An Opera
    Meet Sam Gregory of the Arvada Center's Tartuffe
    Meet Emily K. Harrison of She Rode Horses Like the Stock Exchange
    Meet John Hauser of Curious Theatre's Hand to God
    Meet Tim Howard of Backstage Breckenridge's The Producers
    Meet Haley Hunsaker of Funky Little Theatre Company's Extremities
    Meet Jim Hunt of Buntport's The Zeus Problem
    Meet Jeff Jesmer of Spotlight Theatre's The Crucible
    Meet Wayne Kennedy of BDT Stage's Mid-Life 2
    Meet Lenne Klingaman of Colorado Shakespeare Festival's Hamlet
    Meet Carla Kaiser Kotrc of Miners Alley Playhouse's A Skull in Connemara
    Meet Heather Lacy of the Aurora Fox's Priscilla Queen of the Desert
    Meet Seth Maisel of Town Hall Arts Center's The Firestorm
    Meet Tim McCracken of Local Theatre's The Firestorm
    Meet Tamara Meneghini of The Last Testament of Mary
    Meet Angela Mendez of Beauty and the Beast
    Meet Joelle Montoya of Su Teatro's El Sol Que Tu Eres
    Meet Rebekah Ortiz of The Robber Bridegroom
    Meet Anne Oberbroeckling of Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company's Ripcord
    Meet Jessica Robblee of Buntport Theatre for All Ages' Siren Song: A Pirate Odyssey
    Meet Cory Sapienza of Miners Alley Playhouse's Hir
    Meet Sean Scrutchins of the Arvada Center's Bus Stop
    Meet Lauren Shealy of Lone Tree Arts Center's Evita
    Meet Jane Shirley of The Avenue's Santa's Big Red Sack
    Meet Marc Stith of Benchmark Theatre's The Nether
    Meet Peter Trinh of the Aurora Fox's Chinglish
    Meet Petra Ulyrich of Germinal Stage-Denver's Johnny Got His Gun
    Meet Megan Van De Hey of the Arvada Center's Sister Act
    Meet Sharon Kay White of the Arvada Center's I'll Be Home for Christmas
    Meet Adriane Wilson of Miners Alley Playhouse's Cabaret

  • Photos: 'Shakespeare in the Parking Lot'

    by John Moore | May 24, 2017
    2017 Shakespeare in the Parking Lot

    Photo gallery: DCPA Teaching Artist John Hauser performs with 'Shakespeare in the Parking Lot' at the recent Denver Public Schools Shakespeare Festival. To see more, click the forward arrow on the image above. All photos by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.


    Traveling to high schools across Colorado, DCPA teaching artists perform abridged versions of Shakespeare plays for a popular education program called Shakespeare in the Parking Lot. The next day, the actors often conduct classroom workshops to help students make the connection between the play its current-day relevance in their own lives. Here are photos from spring 2017, when the cast performed 45-minute versions of A Midsummer Night's Dream and Romeo and Juliet.

    Now finishing its third year, Shakespeare in the Parking Lot has now served about 25,000 Colorado students, 15,000 this school year alone. DCPA Education traveled to 31 schools in eight counties, did 98 performances and conducted 59 classroom workshops. The photos above come from performances of Midsummer at a local library, as well as the Denver Public Schools Shakespeare Festival.

    Our full coverage of the DPS Shakespeare Festival

    The current cast is made up of Jessica Austgen, John Hauser, Kevin Quinn Marchman, Chloe McLeod, Jenna Moll Reyes and Justin Walvoord, with technical support from Stuart Barr. The director is DCPA Director of Education Allison Watrous.

    Teachers can book performances for the fall by emailing education@dcpa.org.

    All photos by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter. 


    Shakespeare in the Parking Lot is made possible by a grant from Anadarko.

    Selected previous coverage of Shakespeare in the Parking Lot
    How Shakespeare in a truck rolls down the window on today's world
    Shakespeare in the Parking Lot brings Bard to life at Weld Central High
    2015 True West Award: Rosaline the 1980 Ford F-250 Farm Truck
    The Shakespeare in the Parking Lot home page

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

  • Shakespeare Fest: Students put spirit of youth in everything

    by John Moore | Apr 29, 2017

    Above: Video coverage from the 2017 The Denver Public Schools Shakespeare Festival on April 28. Our guests include Denver Mayor Michael B. Hancock; DCPA President and CEO Janice Sinden; DPS Superintendent Tom Boasberg; teacher Tim Boyle (John F. Kennedy High School); students Amelia Corrada (Denver School for the Arts), Vincent Haney (Denver North High School) and Alexis Ayala (J.F.K). Video by David Lenk and John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter. 

     

    'Today, we keep the arts alive. Today we triumph
    over hatred, over grief and over despair.'

    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

    Surely no one will compare Friday to a summer’s day. But compared to the bone-chilling festivities of a year ago, the 33rd Denver Public Schools Shakespeare Festival was, in the Bard’s own words, a comfort like sunshine after rain.

    2017-dps-shakespeare-festivalDespite a gloomy forecast, the mild weather cooperated just long enough for 5,000 students from kindergarten through high school to perform more than 640 short scenes, dances, soliloquies and sonnets on stages in and around the Denver Performing Arts Complex. The celebration is the largest and oldest student Shakespeare Festival in the country.

    Performing in 14 tents, theatres and stairway landings spread out over four acres, students from an estimated 80 schools soliloquized, sang, fenced, danced, played musical instruments, raged and gently wooed – but did not kiss. (Festival rule: High-fives – not smooches!)

    2017-dps-shakespeare-festivalDressed in authentic period garb, Mayor Michael B. Hancock told the wee throng that the DPS Shakespeare Festival has become part of the fabric of Denver. “We believe wholeheartedly in arts education,” said Hancock, a graduate of DPS’ Manual High School. “We believe in connecting to our history. We believe in upholding our culture. You are making Denver proud today.”

    Most participating DPS teachers have spent the past two months introducing Shakespeare to their students and creating live performances through auditioning, rehearsals, text analysis and costume-building. Studies have shown that studying Shakespeare improves students’ literacy and literary skills, especially in a district like DPS, where more than 50 percent speak English as a second language.

    “This experience gives them the opportunity to really dig into Shakespeare’s words and find emotions and character motivations and storylines,” said Jacqueline Smilack, a journalist and fourth-year English teacher at Abraham Lincoln High School. And for those who speak English as a second language, she said, “Shakespeare is the great equalizer. Everyone comes into it on the same page.” A team from Denver School of the Arts presented a scene from Romeo and Juliet with two students performing in English and two others in Spanish.

    (Story continues under the photo gallery)

    Full photo gallery: 2017 DPS Shakespeare Festival

    2017 DPS Shakespeare Festival

    To see more photos, click the forward arrow on the image above. All photos by John Moore for the DCPA's NewsCenter. Photos may be downloaded and shared with credit to the DCPA NewsCenter. 



    Alix Gonzalez, 15-year-old sophomore from North High School, performed Friday in her third festival, dating back to middle school. “I love it because it gets me out of my comfort zone,” she said. “Speaking in old English stretches your confidence as an actor because of how big you have to go to do Shakespeare.”

    Watch our Facebook Live stream from the parade

    Each year, DPS students submit essays for the privilege to play William Shakespeare and Queen Elizabeth I in the welcoming ceremonies, and ride at the head of a short parade from the 16th Street Mall to the Denver Performing Arts Complex. This year’s honorees were Denver North High School Senior Vincent Haney and Denver School of the Arts senior Amelia Corrada, who has been accepted into the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art. Haney said he was speechless and euphoric when he learned he had been selected to speak as The Bard.

    Story: Where do those 5,000 costumes come from?

    2017-dps-shakespeare-festival“Theatre is the voice of our people,” Haney said as Shakespeare. “And today, our message is as strong as ever. Today, we keep the arts alive. Today we triumph over hatred, over grief and over despair. Today we sing, today we dance, today we act.”

    Corrada said Shakespeare remains timely because “the themes of Shakespeare’s plays are the same themes we are living through in our country right now. Through his verse, he exposes us to the very truth and nature of friendship, magic, betrayal, war and even love in all its forms. It's totally relevant.”

    2017-dps-shakespeare-festivalSmilack admitted that Shakespeare can be intimidating for first-time students, and they are not alone. “It can be intimidating for teachers, too,” she said. Because many teachers are not specifically trained in teaching or interpreting the Shakespeare canon, she said, “This exercise gives teachers good perspective on what our students are going through.”

    Now in its fourth decade, the DPS Shakespeare Festival’s bloodlines go back for generations. Acclaimed singer and actor Mary Louise Lee (Hancock’s wife), performed in the festival as a student at Thomas Jefferson High School. The First Lady has made restoring arts-education programs in schools her top priority since founding her nonprofit, Bringing Back the Arts. John F. Kennedy High School Drama Director Tim Boyles, who brought a fresh group of festival participants this year, performed in the festival when he himself was a student at JFK.

    2017-dps-shakespeare-festivalNot all of the performances on Friday were by students. A team of DCPA Education Teaching Artists presented a 45-minute version of A Midsummer Night’s Dream that they perform at schools statewide in and around a beat-up old pickup truck as part of the “Shakespeare in the Parking Lot” program. All costumes and props come from the back of the truck – so, for example, floor mats are used as a wall, and an ice-scraper is used as a sword to depict a suicide.

    This is the DCPA’s third year partnering with Denver Public Schools and the DPS Foundation to present the festival. “We provided workshops, we judged auditions, we opened our doors and we offer financial support to 4,000 students from across Denver to participate in this event,” said President and CEO Janice Sinden. “We do that because the DCPA knows arts education improves academic success, produces leaders and cultivates creativity. Plus, it’s fun.”

    2017-dps-shakespeare-festivalDance Legend Cleo Parker Robinson, a graduate of the Denver Public Schools who created Cleo Parker Robinson Dance 47 years ago, brought two of her company members to perform a short excerpt from their current offering, Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet layered with scenes from George Gershwin’s Porgy & Bess (through May 7 at 119 Park Avenue West.)

    “It's thrilling to see students of all backgrounds and ages be introduced to the magic of theatre in this way,” said Robinson. “Our presence here today is meant to show these young students that Shakespeare can be expressed through the word, through music – and also through the ballet of Prokofiev.”

    2017-dps-shakespeare-festivalThe Grand Marshal of this year’s parade was Deputy Director of Denver Arts and Venues Ginger White Brunetti, who heads the city’s Imagine 2020 arts program.

    While students were free to perform from any of Shakespeare’s works, this year’s featured title was Much Ado About Nothing. But in the words of DPS Superintendent Tom Boasberg, “Today there is going to be much ado about something.” 

    John Moore was named one of the 12 most influential theater critics in the U.S by American Theatre Magazine in 2011. He has since taken a groundbreaking position as the Denver Center’s Senior Arts Journalist. This is his 16th year covering the DPS Shakespeare Festival.


    2017-dps-shakespeare-festival

    Our 2017 DPS Shakespeare Festival coverage

    Our 2016 DPS Shakespeare Festival coverage

    Our 2015 DPS Shakespeare Festival coverage

    Our 2014 DPS Shakespeare Festival coverage

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    TO SEE MORE PHOTOS, CLICK ON THE GALLERY AT THE TOP OF THE PAGE.
  • Meet the cast: Vandit Bhatt of 'Disgraced'

    by John Moore | Apr 17, 2017
    Vandit Bhatt. Adams VisCom. Disgraced


    MEET VANDIT BHATT
    Bhatt plays Abe in Disgraced, playing through May 7 at the Ricketson Theatre. The Pulitzer Prize-winning play is about a successful Muslim-American attorney named Amir Kapoor, who has turned his back on his faith and is now thriving in post-9/11 Manhattan. Amir's American nephew, born Hussein Malik, is now assimilated and called Abe. He brings to Amir his concerns over the arrest of a local imam accused of terroristic acts.

    At the Theatre Company: Debut. Select New York credits: Indian Ink (Roundabout Theatre Company); Harper Regan (Atlantic Theater Company); Other Farmers’ Fields (The Public), Skin, Asking for Trouble, and The Unusual Life of Bed Bugs and Other Creatures (all at The Ensemble Studio Theatre); Bike America (Ma-Yi Theater Company); and The Great Recession (The Flea Theater). Select regional credits: The Hard Problem (American Conservatory Theater) and Disgraced (Arizona Theater Company). Film: "Ripped," "42 Seconds Of Happiness." TV: "Younger," "The Michael J. Fox Show," "Mercy," "One Life To Live."

    • Vandit Bhatt, Disgraced. Photo by Adams ViscomHometown: A blend of Fort Myers, Fla. and Hyderabad, India
    • Training: Graduated from the University of Central Florida in Orlando, Fla.
    • Twitter handle: @thevanditbhatt
    • Website: vanditbhatt.com
    • What was the role that changed your life? Claudio in Much Ado About Nothing. It was the first play I ever did. I had just moved from India, so I didn't know anything about acting, much less Shakespeare. I auditioned and, for some reason, Mrs. Goff cast me as Claudio. I had a lot of firsts with that play: First lead, first Shakespeare play, my first friends in America, my first girlfriend and my first kiss. I firmly believe doing that play set me on a path to become an actor. I always wanted to be an actor but I probably wouldn't have gone for it if it hadn't been for that production.
    • Why are you an actor? If I were to put it simply, it's all I have ever known. Sometimes, when I take a step back and look at my life, I feel like it was really meant to be. 
    • What would you be doing if you weren't an actor: I honestly don't know.
    • deniroIdeal scene partner: Robert DeNiro. There are numerous reasons, but the most obvious one is that it would be a tremendous learning experience.
    • Why does Disgraced matter? It's one of the most relevant plays of our time. It matters because it is incredibly complicated, much like life.  
    • What do you hope the audience gets out of this play? I want them to leave with questions. Lots of them.
    • Finish this sentence: "All I want is ..."
      At the risk of sounding silly: "All I want is to share my work with the world."

    Fron left: Vandit Bhatt, Olivia Gilliatt and Dorien Makhloghi. Photo by adamsviscom'Disgraced' actors, from left, Vandit Bhatt, Olivia Gilliatt and Dorien Makhloghi. Photo by Adams VisCom for the DCPA NewsCenter.


    Disgraced
    : Ticket information
    DisgracedIn this raw new play, Amir has built the perfect life. But as a high-profile case and his wife’s art show reveal how little his culture is understood, their misconceptions become too much to bear.

    Through May 7
    Ricketson Theatre
    ASL and audio-described performance: 1:30 p.m. April 30

    Tickets: 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE

    Previous NewsCenter coverage of Disgraced:
    Perspectives: Disgraced is about starting, not finishing, conversations
    Video, photos: Your first look at Theatre Company's Disgraced
    Video: A talk with Disgraced Costume Designer Lex Liang
    Disgraced
    has been known to leave audiences gasping
    Disgraced Director promises to push your (empathy) button
    TED Talk: On the danger of a 'single story'

    More 2016-17 'Meet the Cast' profiles:
    Steven J. Burge, An Act of God
    Liam Craig, The Book of Will
    Aubrey Deeker, The Glass Menagerie
    Thaddeus Fitzpatrick, Frankenstein
    Meridith C. Grundei, Frankenstein
    Steven Cole Hughes, An Act of God
    Sullivan Jones, Frankenstein
    Mark Junek, Frankenstein
    Dorien Makhloghi, Disgraced
    Charlie Korman, Frankenstein
    Jennifer Le Blanc, The Book of Will
    Cajardo Lindsey, The Christians
    Rodney Lizcano, The Book of Will
    Wesley Mann, The Book of Will
    Robert Montano, Two Degrees
    Amelia Pedlow, The Glass Menagerie
    Benjamin Pelteson, Disgraced
    Jessica Robblee, Frankenstein
    Erik Sandvold, An Act of God
    John Skelley, The Glass Menagerie
    Kim Staunton, Two Degrees

     

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

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    ABOUT THE EDITOR
    John Moore
    John Moore
    Award-winning arts journalist John Moore has recently taken a groundbreaking new position as the DCPA’s Senior Arts Journalist. With The Denver Post, he was named one of the 12 most influential theater critics in the US by American Theatre Magazine. He is the founder of the Denver Actors Fund, a nonprofit that raises money for local artists in medical need. John is a native of Arvada and attended Regis Jesuit High School and the University of Colorado at Boulder. Follow him on Twitter @moorejohn.

    DCPA is the nation’s largest not-for-profit theatre organization dedicated to creating unforgettable shared experiences through beloved Broadway musicals, world-class plays, educational programs and inspired events. We think of theatre as a spark of life — a special occasion that’s exciting, powerful and fun. Join us today and we promise an experience you won't soon forget.