Thank you, Footlights, for your interview with Executive Director Susan Scot Fry to talk about our 10-year anniversary.
Thank you, Greg Stanford. You are and will be missed.
If the outpouring of sentiment and sorrow is any indication, Mr. Gregory Stanford was well-loved and highly regarded by so very many people. Optimist Theatre is right there with them as we mourn his passing on April 8th.
Since 2015, Greg served on the Optimist Theatre board of directors, offering insight, support, and sheer good will and enthusiasm. His friendship and mentorship was warm and inspiring.
Executive Director Susan Scot Fry remembers meeting Greg for the first time at his art gallery in the Grand Avenue mall. "A fellow former Journal Sentinel reporter and mutual friend introduced us. As we got to know each other, it became apparent that Greg would make an excellent addition to our board of directors and he happily accepted. We had so many things in common – from his love of theater to his devotion to the community."
Greg was always one to step up and get involved. In his long career as a columnist, he tackled tough subjects with stories about racial segregation and took the federal justice system to task. Yet, he never lost his wry sense of humor. He saw a lot of things – experienced a lot of change – and always with that sideways smile.
Yes, Greg will be missed. Thank you for your service to Shakespeare in the Park and to all of Milwaukee.
You can find Greg's Journal Sentinel obituary here.
Column by Executive Director Susan Scot Fry
Hale and well met, gentle cousins,
“There is nothing either good or bad but thinking makes it so.” (Hamlet, Act 2, sc. 2)
February is a special time of year: most of our major grant applications have been submitted and we wait with “bated breath” (Merchant of Venice, Act 1, sc. 3). In the meantime, Optimist Theatre embraces our name and moves forward.
There is a great deal of faith that goes into producing theatre. Launching our 10th season, I find myself meditating on just how much. It was quite an ‘aha’ moment when I began to trust that we always do find a way. How? It’s a mystery. (Shakespeare in Love)
This milestone season engenders so much reflection about how far we’ve come, from the quad at Alverno to Kadish Park to the Peck Pavilion. About how much has changed. These reflections inform the perspectives that will take us into the future. Thank you (yes, you...and you...and you, too!) for investing in that!
So, what’s next? Even though it was last week, “Good morrow, 'tis Saint Valentine's Day, All in the morn betime, And I a maid at your window, To be your valentine.” (Hamlet, Act 4, sc. 5). The day may pass, but the love remains. ♥♥
Until next time,
We will very soon be deep into our production of The Comedy of Errors, with all of the news that related directly to i, so it seems like now is the best time to share some other bits and bobs of Shakespeare news with you:
We'll be back soon with lots and lots of Comedy of Errors goodness!
Column by Executive Director Susan Scot Fry
As usual, I forgot to get photos... Mea culpa.
I got so wrapped up in having fun with my fellow enthusiasts that I forgot to step back, put on my staff hat, and snap some snaps at the Shakespeare in the Park Member’s Salon* on Friday, November 30th.
In homage to 2019’s upcoming production of The Comedy of Errors, the topical topic was “What is Comedy?”
Needless to say there were plenty of laughs that night as we explored what makes us laugh and why. Everyone had a story. So lively was the conversation, there were even some clips shared later on the member’s Facebook page.
2019 will mark the 10th anniversary of Shakespeare in the Park. Even more salons, outings and special recognitions are in the works. (Hint, hint – Membership makes a great gift. It’s the gift that gives and gives.)
So, this newsletter’s missive from me is a special thanks to all 120 of our Members. We could not offer Shakespeare in the Park for free to 96% of our audience if we didn’t have members. Whether you join for the group activities and special invitations, discounts at local businesses, or just knowing that you can reserve a seat ahead of time for any show date you like, your membership makes a huge difference.
Our challenge is to be 300 strong in 2019! Spread the word!
*Special thanks, again, to Founding Members David HB Drake and Jennifer Esh for hosting that salon!
Susan Fry is the Executive Director for Optimist Theatre. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Most of the time, she works alone and talks to her dog. Your email would be a welcome human interaction!
Whether it's holiday gift-giving or year-round everyday shopping, there are a TON of ways you can help fund Shakespeare by just taking a couple of extra steps!
From Abercrombie & Fitch to Zappo's, dozens and dozens of major retailers offer rebates to charitable organizations when you pay via Benefit Mobile.
All you need to do is follow the link:
And then follow the directions (download the app, add a credit card and/or bank account, look up your retailers before you checkout)
Now, you can ditch the paper & postage and send eCard greetings that ALSO benefit Shakespeare in the Park!
Right now, we have Holiday cards, several with suitable Shakespearean sentiments, as well as general Hanukkah and New Year's pages.
In addition, there are cute placeholder cards for Birthdays and Thank Yous. We'll be updating those, too, but if you need to send something right away, the "Don't Send Me a Card" art without Shakespearean quotes still has you covered!
Shakespeare After All
Drawing on her hugely popular lecture courses at Yale and Harvard over the past thirty years, Marjorie Garber offers passionate and revealing readings of the plays in chronological sequence, from The Two Gentlemen of Verona to The Two Noble Kinsmen. Supremely readable and engaging, and complete with a comprehensive introduction to Shakespeare’s life and times and an extensive bibliography, this magisterial work is an ever-replenishing fount of insight on the most celebrated writer of all time.
A brilliant and companionable tour through all thirty-eight plays, Shakespeare After All is the perfect introduction to the bard by one of the country’s foremost authorities on his life and work.
The Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award finalist, reissued with a new afterword for the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death.
A young man from a small provincial town moves to London in the late 1580s and, in a remarkably short time, becomes the greatest playwright not of his age alone but of all time. How is an achievement of this magnitude to be explained? Stephen Greenblatt brings us down to earth to see, hear and feel how an acutely sensitive and talented boy, surrounded by the rich tapestry of Elizabethan life, could have become the world’s greatest playwright.
The Millionaire and the Bard
When Shakespeare died in 1616 half of his plays died with him. No one—not even their author—believed that his writings would last, that he was a genius, or that future generations would celebrate him as the greatest author in the history of the English language. By the time of his death his plays were rarely performed, eighteen of them had never been published, and the rest existed only in bastardized forms that did not stay true to his original language.
Seven years later, in 1623, Shakespeare’s business partners, companions, and fellow actors, John Heminges and Henry Condell, gathered copies of the plays and manuscripts, edited and published thirty-six of them. This massive book, the First Folio, was intended as a memorial to their deceased friend. They could not have known that it would become one of the most important books ever published in the English language, nor that it would become a fetish object for collectors.
The Millionaire and the Bard is a literary detective story, the tale of two mysterious men—a brilliant author and his obsessive collector—separated by space and time. It is a tale of two cities—Elizabethan and Jacobean London and Gilded Age New York. It is a chronicle of two worlds—of art and commerce—that unfolded an ocean and three centuries apart. And it is the thrilling tale of the luminous book that saved the name of William Shakespeare “to the last syllable of recorded time.”
Today it is the most valuable book in the world. Recently one sold for more than five million dollars. It is the book that rescued the name of William Shakespeare and half of his plays from oblivion. The Millionaire and the Bard tells the miraculous and romantic story of the making of the First Folio, and of the American industrialist whose thrilling pursuit of the book became a lifelong obsession.
Now, help support Shakespeare in the Park at no extra cost to you when you purchase your paper or e-book at Barnes & Noble (using the Benefit Mobile app) or Amazon (via AmazonSmile). Learn more here!!
A King Lear dispatch from Danielle Levings...
Night gathers, and now my watch begins. It shall not end until my death. I shall take no wife, hold no lands, father no children. I shall wear no crowns and win no glory. I shall live and die at my post. I am the sword in the darkness. I am the watcher on the walls. I am the shield that guards the realms of men. I pledge my life and honor to the Night's Watch, for this night and all the nights to come.”
~ George R.R. Martin
When you watched King Lear this past summer, you may have noticed a frequent presence of two tall women, clothed in black, hanging in the shadows of Lear and his party. That was me and Libby Amato, my compatriot in knightdom. I’m Danielle Levings, and this is my "Knight’s Tale."
To become these models of honor and stealth, we went through our own sort of training. From the beginning, Director Lisa Gaye Dixon gave us the model of the Dora Milaje, fierce warriors who guard Wakanda and T'Challa, its king (also known as the Black Panther).
We started from a basis of physicality. Posture is not my strong suit -- I have a strong tendency to "shlump" whenever possible. So, for two months, posture became my focus, and I self-corrected constantly. Because warriors and fighters must look, at all times, capable, powerful and on guard, Lisa often reminded me to own my power and focus on my character’s task of protection. I instantly straightened up, tightened my core and intensified my focus.
Set to music, we experimented with this type of purposeful movement in the context of our set, to learn from the interactions that developed organically.
This exercise was incredibly informative for harnessing non-verbal power, a skill that the Knights often had to call upon. Incorporated into the production, I would constantly scan above the audience, alert for any sign of danger to Lear. Libby and I developed nonverbal conversations to express our concerns and plans of action, as we were unable to do so in the King’s presence. This connection made us a team, and strengthened our character work.
Armed with these skills, I finally received the mark of a true knight: my sword. As soon as I put it on, it affected my posture and presence. Though it’s edges were dull, this very real sword became a physical expression of a knight’s power. My arms no longer rested at my sides; hands placed upon the hilt, I stepped away from myself and into my character.
This journey exemplified a principal of acting we are always taught: all roles are important. Along with learning text, I was tasked with growing my understanding of physicality, connection and nonverbal expression. There was always work to be done, power to be harnessed. Lisa and the team at SitP made a point to focus on my growth and development, as they did with all of us. My watch may have ended for King Lear, but a Knight’s work is never truly finished.
When not performing, Danielle is a Teaching Artist with First Stage's Education Department and Academy.
2013 Shakespeare In The Park
2014 Shakespeare In The Park
2015 Shakespeare In The Park
2016 Shakespeare In The Park
2017 Shakespeare In The Park
2018 Shakespeare In The Park
2019 Shakespeare In The Park
2020 Shakespeare In The Park
2021 Shakespeare In The Park
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