• 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

    2017-dps-shakespeare-festival
    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

  • 2017-18 season: TheatreWorks moving forward in memory of Murray Ross

    by John Moore | Mar 30, 2017

    Theatrworks. Sammie Joe Kinnett
    Sammie Joe Kinnett, seen here in Colorado Springs Theatrworks' 'A Midsummer Night's Dream,' will star in 'The SantaLand Diaries.'


    Colorado Springs TheatreWorks has announced its first season since the death of founder Murray Ross (pictured right) in January. The 2017-18 season will be presented in honor of Ross:

    • A Murray Ross 160Much Ado About Nothing, by Shakespeare (July 27-Aug. 19 at Rock Ledge Ranch)
    • Heisenberg, by Simon Stephens (Sept. 7-24 at the Bon Vivant Theatre)
    • Wild Honey, by Michael Frayn, adapted from “The Play Without a Title” by Anton Chekhov (Oct. 19-Nov.  5 at the Bon Vivant Theatre)
    • The SantaLand Diaries, by Joe Mantello, adapted from David Sedaris (Nov. 30-Dec. 23, starring Sammie Joe Kinnett at the Bon Vivant Theatre)

    The following will be presented at the new Ent Center for the Arts at the University of Colorado-Colorado Springs:

    • Oklahoma! by Oscar Hammerstein and Richard Rodgers (Feb. 15-March 11, 2018)
    • Amadeus, by Peter Shaffer (April 26-May 13, 2018)

    Our tribute to Murray Ross: He put goodness out into this world'

    For more information, visit theatreworkscs.org or call 719-255-3232

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

     

  • Shakespeare rolls down the window on today's world

    by John Moore | Mar 12, 2017
    Shakespeare in the Parking Lot

    Photos from DCPA Education's 'Shakespeare in the Parking Lot' program over the past three years, most recently a visit to University Schools in Greeley. To see more, click the forward arrow on the image above. Photos by McKenzie Kielman and John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.

    How presenting Shakespeare in a pick-up truck
    rolls down the window on everyday issues for students 

    By McKenzie Kielman
    For the DCPA NewsCenter

    “What light through yonder window breaks?” 

    If you are Stuart Barr and Max McEwen, abosutely none. For the DCPA Education crew to arrive in Greeley on time, the equipment must be loaded onto a truck before the sun rises. On this Tuesday morning, that’s 4:30 a.m. Pitch dark.

    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 conduct classroom workshops to help students make the connection between the play its current-day relevance in their own lives.

    Stuart BarrThere would be no Shakespeare in any parking lot without the early morning prep work undertaken by Barr, the DCPA Education’s Technical Director, and McEwen, his Assistant Technical Director. They meet in the pre-dawn dark at the downtown warehouse where the equipment is stored, but they have devised a methodical system to load their rig under the helpful aid of a nearby streetlight. The main set piece going along for the ride is an old, white 1980 Ford F-250 Farm Truck. It’s a beat-up contraption with a crystal door handle to accessorize the gearshift. But it has no mirrors, license plates or other legalities necessary to be road-ready.

    In fact, the truck has been known to have a mind of its own when Barr tries to get the motor to turn over after chilly evenings. The gas pedal will stick, and off they often fly. Surely the Bard’s line, “Do you bite your thumb at us, sir?” has come to Barr’s mind during these moments. The crew jokes that in order for the truck to be the center of a production filled with interesting characters, it had to be a character itself. They call this truck Rosaline - after the poor girl Romeo dumped about two seconds after first seeing Juliet.   

    When the truck has been tamed and tethered onto the flatbed, there is a quick double-check of necessary equipment, and then off toward Greeley they go, the Hamilton soundtrack punctuating the crisp morning air.

    While the program is called Shakespeare in the Parking Lot, the “parking lot” portion of the title can be interpreted liberally. The location of the actual performance at each school can vary widely depending on the building layout, traffic, noise pollution and weather.

    Problems are solved as they come up through trial and error, which at times can be painful. During the program's pilot run in 2015, Barr found out the hard way that wireless microphones do not work well near metal buildings. So the crew had to completely dismantle the whole staging and reassemble elsewhere. Now it's more of a well-oiled machine.

    Read more: Shakespare in the Parking Lot visits Weld Central

    Upon arrival, Barr and McEwen go straight into memorized action. And one of the most important items on their daily checklist is to simply take a moment to enjoy the sunrise. After a brief discussion about its quality of color and a comparison to the numerous others they have experienced together, they go back into work mode. Soon the actors arrive and begin assisting with the equipment and other assigned tasks. 

    Shakespeare in the Parking Lot By McKenzie KielmanOnce the stage is set, the equipment operational and the sound check complete, it’s time for fight call. According to union rules, each fight sequence in the performance must be practiced in advance under the supervision of the designated fight captain. Although the actors could by now do these exercises in their sleep - and often do depending on how early their call time is - Fight Captain and actor Jessica Austgen reminds the crew: “Safety first, safety last, safety always.” 

    Other performers in this cast of Romeo and Juliet are John Hauser as Romeo, Jenna Moll Reyes as Juliet, with Napoleon M. Douglas, Chloe McLeod, Joelle Montoya and Justin Walvoord playing a variety of supporting roles. Depending on the size of school, the actors can do up to four performances a day, each 45 minutes long, for audiences that at times exceed 200. 

    Long days spent together in the parking lot or in the classroom together over an intensive five weeks have fostered close friendships among the crew. Between performances, the group will play Frisbee or occasionally luck out to find the school has, say, a disc golf course. It’s in the downtime this crew has gone from co-workers to comrades.

    The sun, if not a curtain, rises

    The performance is timed to coincide with a typical high-school class session so as not to disrupt the normal school routine. On this day, the students seem intrigued by the unusual setting of the performance, the fight scenes, the masquerade ball, Shakespeare in the Parking Lotthe love story and Shakespeare’s beguiling words – all happening on and around this broken-down truck.

    More than 400 years later, Romeo and Juliet remains steeped in recognizable themes of violence, blind loyalty and the origin of love. As the playwright himself said, “Never was a story of more woe than this of Juliet and her Romeo.”

    While the set and costuming are modernized, it is important to DCPA Education Director Allison Watrous, who conceived this pilot program, that the students hear Shakespeare’s actual, if abbreviated, language.

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    "Oftentimes, the students watching these performances have recently read Romeo and Juliet as part of their preparation for the actors’ visit. Seeing the play performed by professional actors after having read it can be vitally helpful in helping the students comprehend the action and its meaning," she said.

    Romeo and Juliet is a cornerstone of high-school reading curricula all over the country. And reading about a sword fight can certainly be exciting. However, it’s a completely different experience to watch a fully choreographed stage combat scene, let alone one that takes place against the cab of a truck.”

    Watrous came up with the idea for Shakespeare in the Parking Lot from seeing newfangled food trucks in action. Performing the play in an environmental setting gives the DCPA an opportunity to engage young audiences in a new way.

    “This unique approach breaks out of the physical theatre and directly delivers the show to students in an outdoor, non-traditional playhouse experience that introduces thousands of students across the region to the theatre arts,” Watrous said.

    Shakespeare in the Parking Lot By McKenzie Kielman 2
    On the second day, the 'Shakespeare in the Parking Lot' program moves into the classroom, here at University Schools in Greeley. Photo by McKenzie Kielman


    Why don't you take it inside?

    The next day, in this case a Wednesday at University Schools in Greeley, the actors lead students through three workshop activities to foster a discussion about the production and its meaning. They are asked to name a line from the play that sounded familiar to them, a character they related to, a moment in the play that stood out, or perhaps the trickiest question: Did Romeo and Juliet really experience true love? The fictional girl is only 14, after all, and the couple have no shared past. The question, put another way: Do you believe in love at first sight?

    With each question, the volume in the classroom grows along with the students' passionate opinions. “When you know, you know,” one group concludes. Another cluster of students disagrees, saying, “We’re too young to know anything for sure.”

    Shakespeare in the Parking Lot By McKenzie Kielman 3For the next segment, the students are asked to register their opinion on a suggested issue by moving to one side of the room or the other, like in a political caucus, to reflect whether they agree or disagree. Taking the middle ground – or being unsure – is not allowed in this exercise. They must take a stand. But as the students begin to defend their positions out loud, they can change sides by moving from one group to the other.

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    An example: “Holding a grudge is a sign of strength.” One student immediately moves to the side indicating that she agrees. When asked to support her position, she giggles and says, “Because I’m petty.” A fellow student disagrees, saying, “It takes more guts to forgive someone.”

    More consequentially, the students are asked: “Violence always leads to violence.” One student disagrees. “You shoot someone, they’re dead,” he says. “They can’t do anything.” But DCPA actor John Hauser, who is co-leading this session, plays devil's advocate by pointing out an example from the performance the day before: Tybalt kills Mercutio, so Romeo kills Tybalt. And in the end, both Romeo and Juliet are dead.

    Another student responds with a real-world example by saying simply: “ISIS.”

    In a lighter moment, the student are asked whether friends should always come first in every situation, even before significant others. A quieter student sets up the scenario more simply: “Pals before gals.” It's a moment of welcome levity after such an earnest examination of the play’s issues.

    (Story continues below video)

    Video: Our visit to Weld Central High School in 2015:



    The workshop allowed the students to dig deep into matters that are clearly important to them both at school and at home. The moderators suggested the following talking points, and each sparked meaningful back-and-forth among the students:

    • Loyalty is dangerous
    • The only appropriate punishment for murder is death
    • Parents can never understand what a child feels
    • Going behind someone’s back can be necessary
    • Teenagers have right to privacy no matter what
    • Parents have a right to know a child’s whereabouts at all times
    • Parents own and therefore can regulate any items they have bought for their child

    To finish up, the students are presented a “what-if” scenario involving a fictional teenager and her father: A senior in high school, a few months shy of turning 18, has been getting into trouble and is disrespectful to her father. She is breaking curfew and other house rules. Frustrated and concerned, the father would like to gain access to her password-protected cell phone and computer. So he asks his older, adult daughter for her help with the passwords. Should the older sister give them to her father? 

    Students immediately dive into arguments on both sides of the issue. As the debate continues, the DCPA moderator adds to the stakes: What if the girl is also coming home with alcohol on her breath, and is possibly experimenting with drugs?

    Most of the students remain on the daughter’s side: “People need privacy,” says one. “Strict parents make for sneaky children,” offers another.

    Others sympathize with where the father is coming from. “What if she’s getting into illegal stuff?” one asks. “If you are not doing anything bad, there would be nothing to hide,” opines another.

    Check out the Shakespeare in the Parking Lot home page

    There is one classroom consensus - that a direct, one-on-one conversation between the father and younger daughter is in order.

    From the start of one normal class period to the end, these students have gone from being quiet and impartial to conversational and assertive. DCPA actor Justin Walvoord later says the point of the workshop wasn’t to change the students' minds about any particular issue. It was to empower them to be opinionated, and also to more thoughtfully consider and respect the opinions of people they don’t necessarily agree with. 

    In its first two years, more than 15,000 students have participated in Shakespeare in the Parking Lot. The program returns on April 3 and runs through May 12 - one week longer than originally scheduled to accommodate demand. Participating schools can now choose between Romeo and Juliet and A Midsummer Night's Dream.

    The bottom line, Barr said, is that Shakespeare in the Parking Lot “is a touring production that introduces Shakespeare to young people who have never seen a play before with a group of very hard-working professional performers who have become a tightly knit group of friends," he said. 

    “And seeing some beautiful Colorado sunrises!”

    McKenzie Kielman is a sophomore at Wartburg College in Waverly, Iowa, and an intern 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
    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

  • Meet the cast: Liam Craig of 'The Book of Will'

    by John Moore | Feb 06, 2017
    Liam Craig and Nance Williamson in The Book of Will. Photo by Adams VisCom. Liam Craig as John Hemmings and Nance Williamson as his wife in 'The Book of Will.' Photo by Adams VisCom.


    MEET LIAM CRAIG

    John Hemmings in The Book of Will. Hemmings was an actor who also served as the financial manager for the King's Men, William Shakespeare's acting company. He is celebrated in The Book of Will as one of the editors of Shakespeare's 1623 First Folio.

    At the Theatre Company: Debut. Broadway: Boeing Boeing. Off-Broadway: A Servant of Two Masters, The Killer (Theatre For A New Audience), The Internationalist (Vineyard Theater), Aunt Dan and Lemon (The New Group), Two Noble Kinsmen (The Public). Regional: The Tempest, Government Inspector, The Servant of Two Masters A Liam Craig Quote 3(Shakespeare Theatre Company), Accidental Death of an Anarchist, A Doctor in Spite of Himself (Berkeley Rep), Accidental Death of an Anarchist, The Servant of Two Masters (Yale Rep), The Scene (Alley Theater, Hartford Stage). Film/TV: "The Royal Tenenbaums," "Mozart in the Jungle," "Law and Order," "Law and Order SVU."

    • Hometown: North Falmouth, Mass.
    • Training: B.A. from Yale in English and Theater Studies; MFA from NYU's Tisch School of The Arts Graduate Acting Program
    • What was the role that changed your life? I played Algernon in The Importance of Being Earnest when I was a junior in high school. My relationship with theater changed at that time.
    • Why are you an actor? I like the discipline it requires.
    • What would you be doing if you weren't an actor: I would be teaching Latin somewhere.
    • Ideal scene partner: Emily Young. She was in the original Broadway cast of  Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson and is a member of Fiasco Theater. I am a fan.
    • More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    • Why does The Book of Will matter? Because it examines theater and grief in surprising ways. This is such a special play, and I am so proud to be a part of it.
    • Finish this sentence: "All I want is ..."
      "... Turner Classic Movies."

    The Book of Will: Ticket information
    The Book of WillWithout William Shakespeare, we wouldn’t have masterpieces like Romeo and Juliet. But without two of his friends, we would have lost Shakespeare’s plays forever. A comic and heartfelt story of the characters behind the stories we know so well.

  • Plays through Feb. 26
  • Ricketson Theatre
  • ASL and Audio-Described Matinee 1:30 p.m. Feb. 4
  • 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE

  • Selected previous 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
    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

    More 2016-17 'Meet the Cast' profiles:
    Steven J. Burge, An Act of God
    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
    Charlie Korman, Frankenstein
    Jennifer Le Blanc, The Book of Will
    Rodney Lizcano, The Book of Will
    Wesley Mann, The Book of Will
    Robert Manning Jr., The Christians

    Amelia Pedlow, The Glass Menagerie
    Jessica Robblee, Frankenstein
    Erik Sandvold, An Act of God
    John Skelley, The Glass Menagerie
    Caitlin Wise, The Christians

     

  • Meet the cast: Jennifer Le Blanc of 'The Book of Will'

    by John Moore | Jan 20, 2017
    Jennifer Le Blanc and Rodney Lizcano in the DCPA Theatre Company's world premiere production of 'The Book of Will.' Photo by Adams Viscom. Jennifer Le Blanc and Rodney Lizcano in the DCPA Theatre Company's world premiere production of 'The Book of Will.' Photo by Adams Viscom.


    MEET JENNIFER LE BLANC
    Jennifer Le Blanc Quote

    Alice and Susanna in The Book of Will

    At the Theatre Company: Pride and Prejudice and Our House. Regional Theatre: Love’s Labour’s Lost, Macbeth and The Three Musketeers at Colorado Shakespeare Festival; Silent Sky, 33 Variations, and Sense and Sensibility at TheatreWorks; Disgraced at Capital Stage; Fifth of July at Aurora Theatre Company; Othello at Arabian Shakespeare Festival; Much Ado About Nothing and The Taming of the Shrew at Livermore Shakespeare Festival; By and By at Shotgun Players; Eurydice at Artists Repertory Theatre; and Twelfth Night, A Midsummer Night’s Dream and The Imaginary Invalid at Pacific Repertory Theatre. Training: MFA from National Theatre Conservatory

  • Hometown: Oakland
  • Web site: jenniferleblanc.com
  • Training: BA in English Lit from UC-Berkeley; Masters in Fine Arts from the National Theatre Conservatory at the Denver Center for the Performing Arts
  • What was the role that changed your life? Playing Rosalind in As You Like It and Desdemona in Othello at the Napa Valley Shakespeare Festival. After being cast in those roles, my husband, Gregg, very sweetly encouraged me to quit my job at a software company and pursue my love of acting.
  • Why are you an actor? I love sharing stories with other people. It’s exciting to imagine seeing the world through someone else’s eyes and trying to understand how they feel and why they make the decisions they do.
  • What would you be doing if you weren't an actor: Dramaturgy or teaching English.  I adore research and books. I’m a total word nerd.
  • Ideal scene partner: Emma ThompsonEmma Thompson is incredible. Her combination of honesty, intelligence, humor and ease inspires me.
  • Why does The Book of Will matter? We think of Shakespeare’s canon as this great collection of phenomenal plays, as a fixture of every Literature Department - and this play shows how it came to be. We get to meet the remarkable people who made it possible.  And we get to see how their lives were touched by their friend Will, as well as William the playwright.
  • What do you hope the audience gets out of seeing it? I hope the audience experiences a story of great friendships, a fascinating moment in history, some humor, some heartbreak and some adventure.
  • Finish this sentence: "All I want is ..."
    " ... to learn more and to do more for the world around me."
  • The Book of Will: Ticket information
    The Book of WillWithout William Shakespeare, we wouldn’t have masterpieces like Romeo and Juliet. But without two of his friends, we would have lost Shakespeare’s plays forever. A comic and heartfelt story of the characters behind the stories we know so well.

    Through Feb. 26
    Ricketson Theatre
    ASL and Audio-Described Matinee 1:30 p.m. Feb. 4
    303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE

    Selected previous NewsCenter coverage of The Book of Will:
    Photos, 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
    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

    More 2016-17 'Meet the Cast' profiles:

    Michael Bouchard, The SantaLand Diaries
    Steven J. Burge, An Act of God
    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
    Charlie Korman, Frankenstein
    Rodney Lizcano, The Book of Will
    Wesley Mann, The Book of Will
    Amelia Pedlow, The Glass Menagerie
    Jessica Robblee, Frankenstein and Siren Song
    Erik Sandvold, An Act of God
    John Skelley, The Glass Menagerie
    Wesley Taylor, An Act of God

  • 'The Book of Will': Why is there a bobble-head on that set?

    by John Moore | Jan 17, 2017
    The Book of Will Perspectives Sandra Goldmark'The Book of Will' Scenic Designer Sandra Goldmark on her commitment to incorporate recycled and reclaimed materials into all of her designs. Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.


    The upcoming world-premiere play The Book of Will takes place in a number of locations including a tap house, a print shop, and the stage at Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre. But to Scenic Designer Sandra Goldmark, “location is the least interesting part of my job.”

    The Book of Will Perspectives Lauren GundersonWhat interests her more is how she and her team of collaborating designers can create a world that is distinct and relevant to each play. And the team from The Book of Will wanted to have a little fun with the idea that a life in the theatre today has not fundamentally changed all that much over the past four centuries.

    So even though the story begins in 1619 London, Goldmark has fashioned an intentionally anachronistic set that cleverly links the past to the present by mingling modern elements into the otherwise Elizabethan world of the play. For example, eagle-eyed audience members might spy, say, a small model car on a print-shop shelf, or a baseball bobble-head, or family photos tacked onto a bulletin board. “This is 2017, after all,” said Goldmark, "so why not have some fun with that?”

    Here are five more fun things we learned last Friday at Perspectives, a series of free conversations hosted by DCPA Theatre Company Literary Director Douglas Langworthy with cast and crew on the evening of each first preview performance. He was joined by Goldmark, Playwright Lauren Gunderson, Lighting Designer Paul Toben, Sound Designer Stowe Nelson, Assistant Director Alyssa Miller and actors Triney Sandoval and Thaddeus Fitzpatrick.

    (Pictured above and right: Playwright Lauren Gunderson wore your study guide to the first preview performance of 'The Book of Will.' The opening performance is Friday, Jan. 20. Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.)

    NUMBER 1A The Book of Will Perspectives 400 2As important as it was to Goldmark to be playful in creating her set, she is equally serious about carrying her considerable personal interest in climate change and sustainability into her all of her work across the country. So her sets are almost entirely made up of reclaimed and recycled materials, or in the case of the DCPA, pulled from storage. “I hope that adds a richness and history and integrity to the objects and the materials that are on stage,” Goldmark said. The Ricketson Theatre floor, for example, is now made up of old wooden bleacher boards that came from an old school gymnasium. The beams and railings that denote the Globe Theatre come from trees that were cut down to make room for the expansion of a local ski resort. “The set does feel like it very much could exist in 1623, but it does have these subtle modern touches that make it feel very current as well," added Sound Designer Stowe Nelson. 

    NUMBER 2Ben Jonson, the Shakespeare contemporary perhaps best known for writing The Alchemist, would not approve. So says the playwright and the actor playing him, Triney Sandoval, who doubles as the famous actor of the day, Richard Burbage. It's great fun for Sandoval to play both, he said, “because Ben Jonson had an utter disdain for actors." Added Playwright Lauren Gunderson, with a laugh: "Every time I see Triney as Ben Jonson, it reminds me of how (bleeped) off Jonson would be by the way I have written him.” The fierce rivalry between Shakespeare and Jonson reminds Sandoval of the famous feud between the painters Henri Matisse and Pablo Picasso. “The actor John Houseman was having lunch with Picasso one day at a restaurant and there was a hair in Picasso’s soup,” Sandoval said. “And Picasso's response was, 'Oh look - a Matisse.’ ”

    A The Book of Will Perspectives 800 4

    NUMBER 3

    The Theatre Company has recently presented A Weekend with Pablo Picasso and One Night in Miami, both plays where the writer completely imagines what might have happened during an otherwise unrecorded moment in history. So Gunderson was asked how much of her play is true, and how much of it is imagined? “The most important thing to me is that the true things are all true in the play - and most of it is absolutely true,” she said. "It’s true that Shakespeare died in 1619. It's true that only 18 of his plays had been published, and that were they not printed on paper that was meant to be saved. It’s true that Burbage and Henry Condell and John Heminges decided to publish the complete collected works after Shakespeare was gone. We know they published the book in 1623. And there are a couple of fabulous plot elements that I am not going to tell you here, but I did not make them up; I just took them from history. The small stuff we invented is still, at heart, true, and it honors the people and their story."

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    NUMBER 4

    The DCPA Theatre Company has launched dozens of world premieres over the years, but The Book of Will is the first to have its second staging lined up before the original even bows in Denver. The Book of Will already has been added to the Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival summer lineup in New York, where it will run from June 9 through July 28. That production also will be directed by the DCPA's Davis McCallum, and Gunderson said that staging will feature about half of the Denver cast. By the time The Legend of Georgia McBride closed in Denver in 2014, plans were set for that premiere to have its New York debut at the MCC Theatre.

    NUMBER 5If you saw the reading of The Book of Will at the Colorado New Play Summit last February, Gunderson promises that the play opening on Jan. 20 has a new ending. There were two potential endings written into the original script. “The ending we did before worked very well, but this one has a little more …” Gunderson said as Sandoval suggested the word “pizazz” to complete her sentence.  “Exactly," Gunderson teased. "You'll see.”

    Bonus: The cost of publishing Shakespeare’s collected works in 1623 was the equivalent of the average yearly salary for most working-class people in London at that time. 

    Bonus: It was mentioned above that the actor’s life has not essentially changed in 400 years. But here are three ways that it has: 1. The advent of the director. “They didn't have them back then,” said Sandoval. 2. Actors today primarily perform indoors. And 3. Actors are provided full scripts. In Shakespeare’s day, they were only given their own handwritten lines, as well as the cues that told them when to speak. That was all to save on paper.

    The next Perspectives will cover The Christians at 6 p.m. Friday, Jan. 27, in the Conservatory Theatre. All are welcome. It’s free.

    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.

    The Book of Will: Ticket information
    The Book of WillWithout William Shakespeare, we wouldn’t have masterpieces like Romeo and Juliet. But without two of his friends, we would have lost Shakespeare’s plays forever. A comic and heartfelt story of the characters behind the stories we know so well.

    Jan. 13-Feb. 26
    Ricketson Theatre
    ASL and Audio-Described Matinee 1:30 p.m. Feb. 4
    303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE


    Photo gallery: The making of The Book of Will in Denver:

    'The Book of Will' in Denver
    Photos from the making of Lauren Gunderson's world-premiere play 'The Book of Will' by the DCPA Theatre Company. To see more, click the forward arrow on the image above. Click again to download. All photos by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter. 

    Selected previous NewsCenter coverage of The Book of Will:
    Meet the cast: Rodney Lizcano
    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
    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

     The Book of Will Perspectives
  • Guest columnist Lauren Gunderson: How one word can change a play

    by John Moore | Jan 04, 2017
    Lauren Gunderson. Jennifer LeBlanc. The Book of Will.

    Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.


    By Lauren Gunderson
    Playwright, The Book of Will

    During a very early reading of The Book of Will - when I was just starting to understand my own play and how to make it the richest, most complex and soulful play I could - one of my favorite actors in America changed one word of my play.

    Handsomely. The Book of Will. Well. She didn't change the word itself, but she changed her delivery of it. And with that one instinct she changed my whole play. The word was "handsomely," and the actor was Jennifer LeBlanc, a graduate of the Denver Center's own National Theatre Conservatory.

    During a scene where our trio of heroes (John Heminges, Henry Condell and John's daughter Alice - played by Jenn) are discussing what kind of publication their friend William Shakespeare deserved, Jenn's character describes this future book like a strapping young man, and everyone in the scene agrees with her that they want to publish the book "handsomely." But also in this same scene is another character, Isaac (played by Andy Nagraj), who is trying to convince the trio that he can help them publish the works of Shakespeare.

    A jennifer_le_blanc_headshot 160During a rehearsal of this scene Jenn (pictured at right) tried something new and, without any direction from me, turned to Andy and sent her one-word line - "handsomely" - in his direction and with a slight twinkle of flirtation in her delivery. Suddenly her character of Alice wasn't just talking about the book but about this new young man: a smart and thoughtful person who loves theatre as much as she does, who loves Shakespeare as much as she does, who might just share her values and interests. In that moment I saw a part of the play I had never noticed before: A simple love story.

    American Theatre on Gunderson and LeBlanc's previous work

    For the past months I have been developing this subplot in the play and so enjoyed watching both Jenn and Andy subtly plant clues of their character's love throughout the production.

    Jennifer LeBlanc. Photo by John MooreThe mutual interest of Alice and Isaac isn't overt or ruddily operatic in the play, but it allows me to echo the other love stories in the play like those between the main character John and his wife Rebecca, between Shakespeare and the "Dark Lady" to whom he dedicated his sonnets, and between the men and their lost friend Will. It's a simple, fun, and rosy addition that I would have lost without Jenn's great insight and improvisation.

    This is one of those amazing moments in the creation of a new play where one actor's instinct - in this case with a single word! - influences the entire play. This is why theatre is such a collaboration at heart. It only exists with the mutual brainpower and bravery of a group of talented and complimentary people working together to discover a story's best self. We are finding moments like this in every rehearsal of The Book of Will here at Denver, and I truly cannot wait to share it with you. Because the final element of this production is - of course - you.

    The audience completes the collaboration by offering the heart and histories you bring with you when you walk in the theater. Our story is yours, just as Jenn's instinct became mine. We all affect, challenge, and exhilarate each other. And isn't that the great magic and power of theatre.

    (Photo above and right: Jennifer LeBlanc at first rehearsal for 'The Book of Will.' Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.)

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter


    About our Guest Columnist

    A Book of Will Lauren Gunderson 160Lauren Gunderson is a playwright, screenwriter and short story author from Atlanta, GA. She received her BA in English/Creative Writing at Emory University, and her MFA in Dramatic Writing at NYU Tisch, where she was also a Reynolds Fellow in Social Entrepreneurship. She was named the most produced living playwright in America by American Theatre Magazine in 2016, was awarded the 2016 Lanford Wilson Award from the Dramatist Guild, and was awarded the prestigious 2014 Steinberg/ATCA New Play Award for her play, I and You(also a Susan Smith Blackburn Blackburn and John Gassner Award finalist). Her Play Silent Sky will be presented by the Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company from April 6-30 at The Dairy Arts Center in Boulder. 

    Editor's Note: The DCPA NewsCenter offers a regular guest column from local and national voices covering a wide range of theatre topics. To submit a proposed guest column, email your name and topic to jmoore@dcpa.org.

    The Book of Will: Ticket information
    The Book of WillWithout William Shakespeare, we wouldn’t have masterpieces like Romeo and Juliet. But without two of his friends, we would have lost Shakespeare’s plays forever. A comic and heartfelt story of the characters behind the stories we know so well.

    Jan. 13-Feb. 26
    Ricketson Theatre
    ASL and Audio-Described Matinee 1:30 p.m. Feb. 4
    303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE

    Selected previous NewsCenter coverage of The Book of Will:
    Five things we learned at 'The Book of Will' opening rehearsal
    'The Year of Gunderson' has begun in Colorado
    Shakespeare in a season with no Shakespeare
    First Folio: The world's second-most important book heads to Boulder
    2016-17 season: Nine shows, two world premieres, return to classics
    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?

    Selected previous NewsCenter Guest Columns:
    Students Aleksandra Kay and Alice Zelenko on The Secret Garden in NYC
    Student Nik Velimirovic on A Gentleman's Guide to Love & Murder
    Douglas Langworthy: On translating Shakespeare for Oregon Shakespeare Festival
    David Nehls: Live theatre returns to Elitch Gardens after 24 years
    Gillian McNally: Colorado's oldest theatre celebrates Artistic Director Tom McNally
    Margie Lamb on the Henry Awards: Something doesn't add up
    Bryan VanDriel on Lloyd Norton: A name that will live on in Greeley
    Jessica Jackson on Creede Repertory Theatre's 50th anniversary season
    Susan Lyles on 10 years of staging plays for women in Denver

    Photo gallery: The Book of Will in Denver

    'The Book of Will' in Denver
    Photos from the first rehearsal for Lauren Gunderson's world-premiere play 'The Book of Will' by the DCPA Theatre Company. To see more, click the forward arrow on the image above. Click again to download. All photos by John Moore for 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.