The title, Bloody, Filthy Shakespeare! (BFS) suggests lots of lust, gore and more -- and the performance delivers: Blood. Sex. Murder. Lust. Revenge. But for Susan and Ron Scot Fry, producing an original "Shakespeare" show in Florence, Italy was more along the lines of joyful, fascinating and delightful.
After seeing Ron's outreach work last summer in Tuscany, FESTA (Florence English Speaking Theatre Artists) commissioned Optimist Theatre to coproduce an original play. The production focused on the universal concepts of murder and death...Shakespeare's plays having no shortage of wrack and ruin!
Ron shared the stage with the talented Elia Nichols. Originally from Louisiana, Elia is an ex-pat living in Florence and one of FESTA's cofounders. Elia played The Boy, who enthusiastically aided in Shakespeare's exploration of art vs. popular entertainment. Although the violent bits were broadly drawn, the dialogue was in earnest. The Boy was also obviously a woman -- obvious, that is, to everyone but Will, until the end of the play. Let your imagination run wild on those breadcrumbs.
BFS was performed on March 28 & 29, 2014 at Teatro Goldoni in Florence. According to Ron, here's the recipe: a grand total of 48 hours face-to-face rehearsal time--GO! Start with 1 show featuring 2 actors playing 36 characters in 18 scenes from 20 plays with 3 fights involving 10 weapons and 9 blood packs. Sneak in 1 puppet with removable bloody tongue and hands and 1 severed hand. Interweave 34 costume pieces, 10 props and 3 poems. Corral 6 audience members on-stage, perform 2 magic tricks. Set up all of the above in a picturesque Florentine venue and the result: 3 encores from a lovely and generous audience and a happy, exhausted Susan and Ron.
The Frys are the first to admit how bloody filthy lucky they are -- to have the opportunity to do what they love together, in Florence, the hotbed of Renaissance creativity. It was magnifico!
There are plans afoot for BFS to return to Italy in August. Will we see BFS in MKE? "Stay tuned," Susan teased. And so we will....
"To Be! Shakespeare Here and Now" News
Didst thou survive “the ides of March” (Julius Caesar, Act 1, sc. 2)? Congratulations. Spring is here (verily) and in honor of Optimist Theatre’s upcoming Shakespeare in the Park production of AS YOU LIKE IT, may I share…
It was a lover and his lass,
With a hey, and a ho, and a hey nonino,
That o’er the green corn-field did pass,
In the spring time, the only pretty ring time,
When birds do sing, hey ding a ding, ding;
Sweet lovers love the spring.
As You Like It, Act 5, sc. 3
"To Be! Shakespeare Here and Now" News
“To Be!” is going international!
Mid-June to mid-July, Ron Scot Fry, our favorite Bard of Avon, will be teaching Shakespeare in Florence with FESTA Theatre. In addition to teaching, three performances of “To Be! Shakespeare Here and Now” are on the docket. Ron’s challenge will be adapting his show for interpreters to share with an Italian speaking audience via huge projector screens.
Two weeks will be spent teaching theatre skills in the mountains at Dynamo Camp. Located in the midst of a World Wildlife Foundation reserve in Tuscany, Dynamo is the first camp in Italy specifically designed for children with life-threatening and chronic illnesses.
For all of us here in the USA, the bad news is that Ron won’t be available for presentations in June, but the latter half of July is wide open. Wait a moment – that’s bad news?! Hah!
Soldier's Grove Public Library / North Crawford School
William Shakespeare celebrated the Ides of March with a visit to Soldier’s Grove, WI – pop. 595. The Village of Soldiers Grove is nestled among the steep hills and narrow valleys of the Driftless Area of southwestern Wisconsin near the Kickapoo River. The business district is the first in the United States to be powered by solar energy.
Soldier’s Grove Public Library hosted a visit by William Shakespeare to North Crawford School. Over the course of two presentations at the school on Friday, March 15th, he got together with all the students at the school – K through 12.
Ron performed in the school theater, which was decked out for the play “Shakespeare in Hollywood”. Throughout the day, he had great conversations with many of the cast members about the play they would be doing that evening. “Shakespeare in Hollywood”, by Ken Ludwig, was originally commissioned by the Royal Shakespeare Company and won the Helen Hayes Award for Best New Play of the Year. Of course, having received guidance from Shakespeare himself, the play presented that night in Soldier’s Grove was a smash hit.
Over the years of offering “To Be! Shakespeare Here and Now” it’s been wonderful to see the close relationship that so many of our Wisconsin libraries have with the schools in their communities. It’s often thanks to the library that Shakespeare is able to also visit the school. Great partnerships.
In Honor of April Fool's Day
In 2010, the BBC perpetrated a delightful hoax when they ran a piece claiming that Shakespeare was Frenc h.The story wove a convoluted chain of ‘proof’ that his mother was actually French, ergo as was Will by birthright. The radio article (link via the BBC logo) is quite a fun listen.
Sharing Resources and Inspiration: No Fear Shakespeare
In the course of portraying William Shakespeare, Ron Fry fields numerous questions about ‘his’ works. With Ron’s wealth of knowledge, he usually has much more ready answers than I do. So, when I find myself needing to research a particular play, the interpretations I often end up reading are from No Fear Shakespeare.
No Fear Shakespeare puts Shakespeare’s language side-by-side with a facing-page translation into modern English. The full, original text is still there, matched with a thorough and credible modern translation. Of course, the ideal way to understand the works is to see it performed live. If you that opportunity isn’t available, this handy reference is one of the next best things.
Q: What are your favorite reference materials for understanding Shakespearean text or context?
Upcoming Presentations for National Poetry Month
April is National Poetry Month so perhaps it’s not a coincidence that the greatest playwright and poet of all time will be visiting 20 schools and libraries for a total of 44 presentations throughout Wisconsin this month.
From Milwaukee to Cable to Eau Claire, Shakespeare is going to be racking up some major mileage on the Bard-Mobile.
To see a Google map of upcoming travels, follow the link by clicking on the National Poetry Month poster.
As you know, Shakespeare coined many words and phrases that are still in common use today. A few favorite “household words” (Henry V) …
Until Next Time...
“O, how this spring of love resembleth
The uncertain glory of an April day;
Which now shows all the beauty of the sun,
And by and by a cloud takes all away.”
Proteus, Two Gentlemen of Verona, Act 1, sc. 3
Thank you for sharing the joy of the Bard of Avon. We hope to see you soon.