Best of 2011

Here is my best of.. lists. The following post discusses what I thought about the year.

Shakespeare in the Theatre

1. Romeo and Juliet (RSC at the RST)

2. Much Ado About Nothing (Globe)

3. Hamlet (The National Theatre)

4. Much Ado About Nothing (Wyndham’s)

5.The Comedy of Errors (Propeller at Sheffield)

6. Antony and Cleopatra with Katy Stephens and Darrell D’Silva (RSC at the RST)

7. Macbeth (RSC)

8. The Merchant of Venice (RSC)

9. King Lear (RSC at the RST and Roundhouse)

10. Hamlet (Young Vic)

11. Othello (The Crucible, Sheffield)

12. As You Like It (RSC at Roundhouse)

13. Macbeth (Liverpool Everyman)

14. All Well That End’s Well (The Globe)

15. The Comedy of Errors (Young Person’s at RSC)

16. Hamlet (Northern Broadsides at West Yorkshire Playhouse)

17. Hamlet (Globe touring)

18. The Comedy of Errors (National Theatre)

19. Richard III (Old Vic)

20. Richard II (Donmar)

21. Hamlet (Young Person’s at RSC)

22.  King Lear (West Yorkshire Playhouse)

23.  The Tempest (Theatre Royal, Haymarket)

24.  A Midsummer Night’s Dream (RSC, RST)

25. Twelfth Night (National Theatre)

Other Theatre

1. Jerusalem (Apollo)

2. The Homecoming (RSC at the Swan)

3. Frankenstein (The National)

4. One Man, Two Guvnors (The Lowry)

5. Anna Christie (Donmar)

6. The City Madam (RSC, The Swan)

7. Dr Faustus (The Globe)

8. Betrayal (Harold Pinter/Comedy)

9. Inadmissible Evidence (Donmar)

10. Cardenio (RSC, The Swan)

11. Rosencrantz and Guldenstern are Dead (Haymarket)

12. Grief (The National)

13. 13 (The National)

14. Silence (RSC at Hampstead)

15. Little Eagles (RSC at Hampstead)

16. Season’s Greetings (National Theatre)

17. Juno and the Paycock (National)

18. Cause Célèbre (Old Vic)

19. Deep Blue Sea (West Yorkshire Playhouse)

20. Moonlight (Donmar)

21. The Crucible (York Theatre Royal)

22. The Heretic (Royal Court)

23. Forty Years On (York Theatre Royal)

24. American Trade (RSC at Hampstead)

25. Beggar’s Opera (Belt Up at York Theatre Royal)

Note: Forty Years On is here for proud Mum reasons.

Exhibitions

1. John Martin (Tate Britain)

2. Ford Maddox Brown (Manchester City Art Gallery)

3. Degas (Royal Academy)

4. Leonardo da Vinci (National Gallery)

5. Juma Plensa (Yorkshire Sculpture Park)

6. Glamour of the Gods (National Portrait Gallery)

7. Gerhard Ritcher (Tate Modern)

8. First Actresses (National Portrait Gallery)

9. Miro (Tate Modern)

10. Afghanistan: Crossroads of the Ancient World (British Museum)

11. Gabriel Orozco (Tate Modern)

12. Watteau (Royal Academy)

13. Hokusai’s Great wave (British Museum)

14. Treasures of Heaven (British Museum)

15. Devotion by Design (National Gallery)

16. Royal Academy Summer Show 2012

17. Building the Revolution (Royal Academy )

18. Barry Flanagan (Tate Britain)

19. Grayson Perry (British Museum)

20. Tacita Dean (Tate Modern)

My great cultural moments of 2011

Meeting Sir Alan and Lady Ayckbourn

First night of Wyndham’s Much Ado About Nothing

Last night of Long Ensemble (2009-11) at Royal Shakespeare Theatre – Romeo and Juliet

First night of Long Ensemble (2009-11) at the opening of the Royal Shakespeare Theatre – King Lear

The performance of the year – Adam James as Don Pedro in Wyndham’s Much Ado About Nothing – just wonderful.

Edinburgh Festival

The RSC Ensemble Revealed at the Swan Theatre.

Best actor and actress

Best Actor – Adam James in Much Ado About Nothing (Wyndham’s)

Best Actress – Eve Best in Much Ado About Nothing (The Globe)

The Comedy of Errors and The Tempest (Ripley Castle, Library Gardens York)

Open air Shakespeare is about having an entertaining afternoon/evening out, as much as it is about searching out that brilliant performance of Shakespearean production. Of course when going to any theatre, there is a hope it will be entertaining, but open air Shakespeare brings with it all the ritual of what you do before and during the performance. Armed with picnic and low backed chairs, the experience is about finding a nice spot to settle down eat food and get a good view of the performance and the surroundings in which the performance takes place.

There are some tips to consider when embarking on open air Shakespeare. Make sure you have layers of clothes to put on as the night gets colder (if it is at night). Don’t get envious of other people’s food. You’ve got enough and other people are as envious as you are. There’s no need to wish that you’d got an endless supply of alcohol, as you see ofter people opening bottle after bottle, because there are always fewer toilets at open air Shakespeare than other theatres (and ladies will know that’s saying something).

Open air Shakespeare can be wonderful if the sun is out, but if it rains, it might make the storm scene in The Tempest feel realistic, but sitting watching Shakespeare getting drenched can really make you feel that you are suffering for art. This is often the risk you take when buying your tickets and hoping the day will be beautiful. The benefits are clearly the fresh air and the nature around you. As well as actors there is often a cast of birds anf bats taking part.

Open air Shakespeare tends to play safe with the text, the sets are minimal so it would be unusual to get some of the thoughtful designs in the major theatre such as Tom Piper sets. The open air Shakespeare has the advantage of the settings and can use the space in different ways.

We saw an interesting use of space in The Comedy of Errors at Ripley Castle (Globe Company)and The Tempest in York’s Library Gardens the night after (Sprite). There were the usual jokes around audience members and Dromio (Miltos Yerolemou) got laughs as he pinched food from the members of the audience. The cast of The Tempest made entrances and exits from different areas of the gardens.

In both productions the two companies made much of doubling up. You could argue that Sprite overdid this with most of the cast taking turns to play Ariel and often in unison. The Globe company used one actor to play Antipholus (Ronan Raftery) and Dromio. The Syracusians look like tourists and wear glasses, the others don’t. This worked extremely well and made the last scene really funny. Indeed, in the final scene all the doubling up worked well in getting laughs.

We went to watch The Tempest and it stayed very nice for the actual storm, but there was a little drizzle later on. For The Comedy of Errors, it stayed dry but got really chilly later on. Good Shakespeare and a great night out.

The Tempest – again (Sheffield Lyceum, 23rd April 2009)

Having seen this Baxter Theatre/RSC production in Stratford (Courtyard Theatre), I was really keen to see it in a different playing space. The proscenium arch theatre in Sheffield did present a very different viewing experience, but none of exceitement I felt when I saw the production in February was lost.

In a proscenium arch theatre, the audience are separated from the performance. It is like watching a framed picture and as you are aware of rows of the backs of other members of the audience in front of you there isn’t that sense of being really close to the action, but feeling at a distance from the actors, dancers and musicians. In Sheffield the house lights are down, whereas in Stratford they were up so there was much more sense of being aware that the actors could see you and were responding to you.

At Sheffield, I was much more aware of the changing colours. The strong green and blue backgrounds contrasted with the very dark backgrounds when Caliban was on stage. I hadn’t really seen this in Stratford. In Stratford, I watched the performance from several different angles. In Sheffield all the action was in front of me. The action is much more contained on a proscenium arch stage. In Stratford the sea serpent and the mariners use the whole stage, which means they are surrounded by the audience. The Sycorax puppet enters from different parts of the theatre making it very magical.

I felt the production worked well in the different space, but it does highlight how the Courtyard stage draws the audience in and how close you are to the actors and action.

Reviews and Previews (Updated List).

The Tempest at the RSC Courtyard, Stratford – T…
The Tempest: How a legend of African theatre wa…
Antony Sher and John Kani to Star in RSC’s The …
BBC NEWS Programmes Andrew Marr Show Vide…
news.google.com
The Tempest whips up a storm Metro.co.uk
SA Tempest triumphs as it takes the UK by storm
The Tempest, Courtyard, Stratford
Othello, W…

Antony Sher on The Tempest, Stratford – Telegraph
Theatre review: The Tempest / Courtyard theatre…
Luke’s enjoying some Bard times (From Elmbridge…
The Tempest at Courtyard Theatre, Stratford – r…
The Weston Mercury – The Tempest at Bath
The Tempest, Courtyard Theatre, Stratford-up…
Capturing the magic – Sheffield Telegraph
The Tempest: Full of spectacle and zest, it wil…
The Tempest at Courtyard, Stratford – Times Online
RSC storming back to city after decade with Tem…
Tempest gets a blast of sunshine – Coventry Tel…
She(e)r passion – Mail & Guardian Online: The s…
Tonight – More Shaka than Shakespeare
Antony Sher on The Tempest, Stratford – Telegraph
Curtain goes up on region’s must-see shows – Yo…
The Tempest – Review (From Wimbledon Guardian)
Out of Africa, Shakespeare with the stars and a…
The Tempest, Courtyard Theatre, Stratford-upon-…
Antony Sher on The Tempest, Stratford – Telegraph
The Times – Sir Antony Sher: Actor/writer/direc…
The Stage / Reviews / The Tempest
Theatre review: The Tempest / Courtyard, Stratf…
FT.com / UK – The Tempest
The Tempest: Why the RSC got it wrong – Feature…
The Tempest whips up a storm Metro.co.uk
Theatre Review (Stratford-on-Avon): The Tempest…
The Leamington Observer – Tempest to an African…
Tonight – Stepping out from under dad’s shadow
Kani’s Caliban bids for freedom (From Your Loca…
Review of the Royal Shakespeare Company’s The T…
The Stage / Reviews / The Tempest
A stormy Knight in Richmond (From Epsom Guardian)
The Tempest, Courtyard Theatre, Stratford-upon-…
BBC NEWS Entertainment Arts & Culture She…
The Tempest : Whatsonstage Midlands

The Tempest (The Courtyard, 26th, 27th, 28th February 2009)

 

Wow, this is a production that as well as being entertaining, is also very political and makes you think. Superb casting of Antony Sher as Prospero and John Kani as Caliban really emphasises the postcolonial themes in the play. The play makes us think about the Caliban and Propsero relationship in terms of relationships between whites and blacks in apartheid South Africa.

Though the production clearly attempts to place the Propsero and Caliban relationship as its central focus, the relationship between Prospero and Ariel is a strength in the production. Atandwa Kani, with his athletic and his decorated body, is a stunning Ariel. It is clear that Propsero delights in Ariel’s magic and youthfulness, but can’t tell him he loves him nor can he embrace him. Prospero’s daughter, Miranda, does not have this restraint and baggage from the so called civilised world and she looks upon the stranded Milanese with delight. This is a portrayal of Miranda as if she really grew up on an island away from the latest fashion and trends.

The music is stunning, the use of puppets and masks is staggering which all adds to the spectacle. The production is loud and colourful and aesthetically beautiful. There isn’t a moment when you aren’t fully engaged.

Details of the production

http://www.rsc.org.uk/WhatsOn/6941.aspx

Photos of the Production
(from the RSC Facebook site)

Previews, Interviews and Reviews

The Times – Sir Antony Sher: Actor/writer/direc…
The Leamington Observer – Tempest to an African…
news.google.com
RSC storming back to city after decade with Tem…
The Tempest, Courtyard Theatre, Stratford-upon-…
Antony Sher on The Tempest, Stratford – Telegraph
BBC NEWS Entertainment Arts & Culture She…
Antony Sher on The Tempest, Stratford – Telegraph
The Tempest at the RSC Courtyard, Stratford – T…
Antony Sher and John Kani to Star in RSC’s The …
The Tempest, Courtyard Theatre, Stratford-upon-…
FT.com / UK – The Tempest
She(e)r passion – Mail & Guardian Online: The s…
Antony Sher on The Tempest, Stratford – Telegraph

The Tempest, Courtyard Theatre, Stratford-up…
Curtain goes up on region’s must-see shows – Yo…
Tempest gets a blast of sunshine – Coventry Tel…
Theatre review: The Tempest / Courtyard theatre…
The Tempest: Full of spectacle and zest, it wil…
The Stage / Reviews / The Tempest
The Tempest at Courtyard Theatre, Stratford – r…
Tonight – Stepping out from under dad’s shadow
Theatre review: The Tempest / Courtyard, Stratf…
The Stage / Reviews / The Tempest
The Tempest: How a legend of African theatre wa…
The Tempest : Whatsonstage Midlands
The Tempest, Courtyard, Stratford
Othello, W…

Tonight – More Shaka than Shakespeare
The Tempest whips up a storm Metro.co.uk
The Tempest at Courtyard, Stratford – Times Online