Interview: 17-Year-Old Madeleine Russell Contemplates To Be or Not To Be

Westridge Hamlet

Madeleine Russell in Hamlet. Rehearsal photos by Cris Capp

Proving that Shakespeare is for all ages and all people, Westridge School in Pasadena is getting ready to open an all-female 1990’s grunge-inspired production of Hamlet, starring Madeleine Russell in the title role. Anyone who has ever worked on the play, and particularly on that role, will tell you that it is a huge undertaking and one that presents many opportunities for growth, both as an actor and as a person. Since I’m always interested in the process, I asked Russell, who is a 17-year old senior at Westridge, what it was like for her to step into the shoes of one of Shakespeare’s most tortured characters. I think you’ll be impressed at what she has to say about her experience.

How do you get inside a character like this as a young woman in the role, rather than a young man?

Because my school is single-sex, I have had the chance to play men before. I find that my approach is fairly similar for any character, male or female. I read for emotions, motivators, character shifts. I analyze their journey, always taking into consideration their present circumstances. With Hamlet, I have easier access to his feelings and thoughts. He never hides from the audience, which I find to be one of the reasons he is so compelling.  More

Come See Jeff McLane in Wit of Will at the SCTE Conference

Wit of Will

Teachers: Are you looking for an educational show that makes Shakespeare accessible to your students? Wit of Will has announced that it will be previewing its latest show – a thrilling, spilling and laugh riot version of Hamlet – to teachers and educators in the Los Angeles area at the 2014 Southland Council of Teachers of English fall conference. Wit of Will is an educational one-man touring production that is a terrific resource for educators and departments looking to introduce their students to the world of William Shakespeare. The main show runs approximately 20 minutes, and presents Shakespeare in a hilarious, fun, and enjoyable way, making it accessible to everyone, even grade school students.  More

Around the Block (with Hamlet) Opens at Arena Cinema in Hollywood

Sarah Spillane’s Around the Block is the story of American Dino Chalmers (Christina Ricci) – an edgy and charismatic drama teacher with a passion for Shakespeare. When the opportunity arises for her to work at a school in inner Sydney, she embraces the chance to introduce the magical world of theatre as an alternative to life on the tough streets of Redfern, Sydney, Australia. The story centers on the developing relationship between Chalmers and Liam, a sixteen-year-old urban Aboriginal boy who lives ‘around the block’ in Redfern. As well as presenting Liam with an alternative to life on the tough streets of Redfern, Chalmers’ American idealism becomes a counterpoint for racial tensions between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians. The film provides an intimate insight into Redfern, a third world ghetto town that exists in the middle of an otherwise illustrious city, provoking an emotional and engaging journey towards a hope and the future.

Around the Block opens theatrically in Los Angeles August 1st at the Arena Cinema in Hollywood and stars Christina Ricci and Hunter Page-Lochard in an acclaimed debut performance, with Jack Thompson, Damian Walshe-Howling and Ruby Rose.

AROUND THE BLOCK
Opens August 1, 2014 for a one week run
Arena Cinema Hollywood
1625 N. Las Palmas Avenue
Hollywood, CA 90028
http://arenascreen.com/event/around-block/?eID=1459
Check theatre listings for showtimes

 

Shakespeare by the Sea Offers Free Performances of Hamlet and Midsummer

Shakes by the Sea Bottom & Fairies SBTS MND14

Bottom (Patrick Vest) and his Fairies

Shakespeare by the Sea continues its 2014 summer of Shakespeare with performances of Hamlet, directed by Stephanie Coltrin, and A Midsummer Night’s Dream, directed by Patrick Vest, in various locations around the city, now through August 16. Shows are always free and seating is on a first-come-first-served basis. For a complete list of dates, locations, and details about each of the performance venues, visit www.shakespearebythesea.org.

Shakes by the Sea Hamlet SBTS HPD 2014

Cylan Brown as Hamlet

Fringe Review: Jacob Sidney’s HAMLET MAX

The title of Jacob Sidney’s futuristic Hamlet refers to the Dane’s dead father Maximus, a character who never appears live on stage but only materializes as part of Hillary Bauman’s black & white anime projections on a screen behind the actors. The audience sees the ghost fade in and out behind them while a mirthless Hamlet peers out over the audience and responds to his father somewhere out in the empty wasteland beyond us.

It is a stylistic element that characterizes Sidney’s Hamlet in a production that is a steely mix of live action and introspective contemplation. As an exercise, it is immensely thought-provoking, but because each of the actors is already working within his or her own individual style, it keeps the sum of its parts fragmented.  More

Speakeasy Theater Company Presents HAMLET

Hamlet Speakeasy Theatre

Speakeasy Theater Company invites you to its latest production of Hamlet, which will be presented at a beautiful private residence in the Hollywood Hills. It follows previous productions of Shakespeare classics like A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Macbeth in a season that also includes Much Ado About Nothing and Twelfth Night later this year.

The show is directed by Brad Ashten, who will also play Hamlet, and features Melissa Rojas (Horatio), Brien Perry (Claudius), Kat Waters (Gertrude), Richard Johnson (Polonius), Jenn Swirtz (Ophelia), Alex Bennett (Laertes), Caitlin Carleton (Rosencrantz), Nathaniel Meek (Guildenstern), Rebekah Hughes (Marcellus), Joshua Davis (Bernardo), Doug Mitchell (Francisco), Ben Rathbun (Ghost/Gravedigger 1), Marisa Van Den Borre (Gravedigger 2/Player Queen), Joshua Davis (Player King), Doug Mitchell (Lucianus), and Chelsea Newman (Osric/Chorus).

Tickets are $15 and reservations must be made in advance by emailing bradashten@yahoo.com. Performance dates are June 18, 19, 20, 21, 28 and 29 and all shows begin at 8:00 pm. Exact location will be provided when you make your reservation. Click Here for more information.

Fringe Spotlight: A Post-Apocalyptic Hamlet Max

Hamlet Max

Jacob Sidney takes Shakespeare’s Hamlet and turns it into HAMLET MAX for the Hollywood Fringe Festival, setting the production in a post-apocalyptic dystopian future that allows for a freer style of interpretation. Projected scenery and support footage by artist Hillary Bauman will create a unique manga-inspired visual foundation for the story.

Hamlet Max manga imageWhat is manga? Basically, it is a style of Japanese comic developed in the late 19th century that Sidney says, “allows exploration of surrounding circumstances through projections, keeping the text efficient without losing touch with the world of the play: Simple B&W turrets, with clouds drifting across ‘the moist star upon whose influence Neptune’s empire stands,’ will communicate the cold and solitude of the midnight watch; We watch Ophelia drown while Gertrude describes how her garments ‘Pull’d the poor wretch from her melodious lay to muddy death;’ We see Fortinbras’ army encamped in the distance when Hamlet remarks on ‘The imminent death of twenty thousand men That for a fantasy and trick of fame, Go to their graves like bed.’”  More

What Happens When You Combine the LA Phil, Shakespeare and Tchaikovsky?

Gustavo Dudamel
Updated: The Los Angeles Philharmonic has an exciting concert coming up at Walt Disney Concert Hall featuring a unique program specifically for you music-loving Shakespeare enthusiasts. It’s Shakespeare Fantasy, a special concert presentation that is part of the LA Phil’s  TCHAIKOVSKYFEST on Wed. Feb 26th, with conductor Gustavo Dudamel and the Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra of Venezuela. The program will include music inspired by Tchaikovsky’s love for Shakespeare, including his Hamlet Fantasy Overture, The Tempest Fantasy Overture, and Romeo and Juliet Fantasy Overture.

Here’s the best part. The performance will also feature Orlando Bloom, Joe Morton and Condola Rashad presenting key scenes from Shakespeare’s plays before each piece. Bloom and Rashad recently played the title characters in Romeo and Juliet on Broadway, and reprise their roles here for one night only. The all-star cast is directed by Kate Burton, Tony-nominated stage and screen actress and daughter of the late Richard Burton.

This really is a one-of-a-kind event as Dudamel and the LA Phil celebrate the English playwright whom Tchaikovsky adored; so much so that the composer once thought of learning English just to read the plays in their original language.

You can also join renowned music scholar Joseph Horowitz at 7:00 pm for a FREE Upbeat Live pre-concert talk that will provide historical and cultural context for the concert.

SHAKESPEARE FANTASY
Wed. February 26, 2014 – 8:00 pm
Walt Disney Concert Hall
111 South Grand Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90012
Tickets: www.LAPhil.com/Shakespeare

HAMLET Coming to Arena Cinema in Hollywood

Hamlet filmBreaking Glass Pictures offers a new look at Hamlet beginning January 17 at Arena Cinema in Hollywood. The 88-minute film is adapted and directed by Bruce Ramsay and has been nominated for four Leo Awards (British Columbia).

Treachery, sex, murder, betrayal and revenge – the hallmarks of Shakespeare’s classic drama are still there, as director Bruce Ramsay adapts the story for a 21st Century audience, relocating the action to post WWII London and making the female characters (Gertrude and Ophelia) considerably more assertive.

Filmed entirely in Vancouver, B.C. with sumptuous production values that belie the film’s tiny budget ($27,000), the screenplay is faithful to Shakespeare’s text in most regards. Says Ramsey, “My intent with Hamlet was to make it as fresh, and accessible as possible. By eliminating everything that happens outside of Elsinore and shedding any characters that are not a part of, or in direct service to, the royal family, Hamlet the play, becomes Hamlet the classic cinematic genre, the family drama. The loss of a parental figure, the power vacuum that it creates, the self- reflection demanded by the lead character’s contemplation of his own mortality, all these themes are central to the piece, and very familiar in modern cinematic storytelling.”

The film stars Ramsay as Hamlet, Stephen Lobo (Horatio), Lara Gilchrist (Ophelia), Peter Wingfield (Claudius), Gillian Barber (Gertrude), Duncan Fraser (Polonius), and Haig Sutherland (Laertes), with production design by Paul Joyval and music by Schaun Tozer.

HAMLET
January 17 – 23, 2014
Arena Cinema
1625 N. Las Palmas Ave., Hollywood, CA 90028
Discounted parking is available with validation in lots adjacent to the theatre and across the street. Showtimes: Fri. at 6:05 pm, Sat. at 4:30 and 6:05, Sun. at 3:30 & 5:00, Mon.-Thurs. at 6:10 pm. Admission: $12.
For tickets, visit http://arenascreen.com

Gordon Goodman, John Barrymore, and William Shakespeare Convene Onstage

GPTC - Barrymore, Goodman

Gordon Goodman as John Barrymore.

In 1963, Orson Welles was asked who the best Hamlet he’d ever seen was and he responded without hesitation, “Barrymore…he was a man of genius…” A legendary star of stage and screen, John Barrymore stretched beyond what even he might have thought himself capable of with his portrayals of Hamlet and Richard III. He was larger than life, charismatic, and charming like a rogue. But with fame came complications that included four failed marriages, a troubled mind, and a lifelong relationship with the bottle, in his endless search for love.  More

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