It's a Sad News/Good News Situation
Heartfelt greetings from Optimist Theatre
We have both sad (but probably not surprising) news and an update on our current programming.
We’ve decided to postpone Romeo and Juliet until 2021. This was an incredibly difficult decision to make. We have been dedicated to making Peck Pavilion performances happen. But, we reached a point when we had to decide whether to hang on and roll forward with possible live performance dates for R&J or, instead, to do something we could do well right now (well, soon, anyway).
First, Why Postpone?
While it might have been possible to produce at the downtown Peck Pavilion this summer, it’s become a slimmer and slimmer chance. Some of the reasons we chose to delay Romeo and Juliet?
So, we made the hard choice to postpone.
But, there is Good News!!!
On the flip-side, this postponement is an invaluable opportunity.
We are embracing today and our current resources to focus on what we CAN do to fulfill our mission and bring some Shakespearean fun to our community. Shakespeare in the Park is our highest profile event every season but Optimist Theatre is very busy year-round.
Optimists are still hot on the heels of fulfilling our mission and goals in 2020.
We have three programs in high gear:
Zoom To Be!
Our award-winning educational outreach program, To Be! Shakespeare Here and Now! has successfully adapted to a virtual platform.
14 shows for a middle school in Maryland and one in Wisconsin taught us a lot. Thanks to this adaptation, we are no longer limited to the distance our William Shakespeare (live and in person) can drive. Er… ride. On a horse… less carriage...!
No Holds Bard!
It’s so new, we aren't quite ready to describe it to you and there’s not even a blurb yet on our website! The focus, though, is on fun with Shakespeare.
Stay tuned for all the info about this program!
(graphic credit for Will in sunglasses to the Charleston City Paper, Charleston, South Carolina.)
To All of Us Optimists
Here's to embracing all the possibilities of today, doing work we can be proud of, and looking to the future.
With all our love, gratitude and optimism,
Susan, Ron, Tom, ML, Christie, Karen and Barbara
A Special Note to Our Supporters: Members, Donors and Financial Supporters – Thank You.
Nearly every arts organization in the country have suffered steadily decreasing financial support and for understandable reasons (https://artsnc.org/covid-19-pandemic-bad-for-arts-nonprofits/). Happily, thanks to you and organizations like the Greater Milwaukee Foundation and the Milwaukee Arts Board, we have funding to help keep our doors open.
'Blood. Sex. Murder. Lust. Revenge. And Sex. Lots and lots of Sex.'
In this production by Ron Scot Fry, "Dirty Bloody Shakespeare", William Shakespeare and his ‘Boy’ do battle with some of the naughtiest, raunchiest and bloodiest scenes ever penned by the Bard of Avon.
March 28 & 29 in Florence, Italy.
OT fans will get the details of this performance in a couple of weeks. For now, you can soak this in.
"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.