You don’t really need any special reason to rediscover the wonders of Shakespeare’s sonnets, but an evening with Shakespeare & Company’s co-founder Kristin Linklater is enough for me. You see, Linklater is the revolutionary voice teacher whose brilliant techniques make every single word instantly understandable. Linklater is many an actor’s Mr. Miyagi, to use a popular reference from The Karate Kid. But unlike the Suzuki system where actors are planted on the floor, hands rigidly by their side and recite the lines with relatively little emotion, Linklater frees the spirit, and makes the words resonate from deep within the full body. Watching her perform is to be constantly amazed at how the whole body can be in service to the uttering of deceptively simple words.
You don’t get to see Linklater on stage much anymore, so there was an instant recognition that a memorable evening was planned when I received word from Tony SImotes, Artistic Director of Shakespeare & Company, that he has arranged a special recital/concert of Shakespeare Looking East with Linklater and celebrated flautist Martin Gonschorek.
Shakespeare Looking East will be presented in the Tina Packer Playhouse on Saturday, September 1 at 5:00 pm.
The recital will herald the CD release of the same title and the collaboration between these two world-renowned artists. I have listened to the CD where Linklater has compiled a thematically linked selection of Shakespeare’s sonnets, which are intertwined with Martin Gonschorek’s moving compositions for this special celebration and recording of Shakespeare Looking East.
Neither a reading nor a classic concert, but a happy marriage of the two, Shakespeare Looking East features Linklater reciting some of Shakespeare’s best loved sonnets. Flautist Martin Gonschorek, whose original music has been composed specifically for this event, underscores the piece. Linklater has dedicated her life to Shakespeare, and she draws on the Bard’s sonnets to express the joys and sorrows of love. Youth, betrayal, and wisdom feature prominently in this concert of inspiring emotions, and Martin Gonschorek’s flute aptly raises its reverberating voice with his own compositions inspired by Isang Yun, the exiled Korean composer.
“Shakespeare’s sonnets tell of the joys, jealousies, and sorrows of love,” says Linklater. “Full of love’s rapture and torture, they are learnt and quoted by lovers, studied and analyzed by scholars, and fiercely argued about by all who want to know the story behind them. I love the sonnets because their personal passion plumbs the depths of a universal human experience and provides the words and music to express what is often inexpressible in our daily language.”
Flautist Martin Gonschorek’s music immediately impresses as strongly and as directly as Shakespeare’s verses. His compositions combine East Asian tradition with Western modernism in this unique collaborative celebration of turmoil and serenity, language and music.
“I was never interested in pure complaisance, which is so often associated with the flute,” says Gonschorek. “Sometime during my studies, probably around 1985, my tutor Karlheinz Zoeller, who knew Yun personally, gave me a score with the words: ‘Here, have a go at this, you’ll like this!’ And he was exactly right to confront me with this foreign, mysterious tonal language. Since that day, I have been under Isang Yun’s spell. The relentless stream of his music, the alternation between wild and lyrical rhetorics and his peaceful, Taoist spirit inspire me deeply.”
Prof. Kristin Linklater teaches at Columbia University School of the Arts in New York. Her books Freeing the Natural Voice (1976/2006) and Freeing Shakespeare’s Voice (1992) have become required study in most academic actor training courses and have made her a leading figure in theatre. She has coached experimental and classical theatre companies from the 1960s to the present day. She gives voice workshops around the world. In 1978, she co-founded Shakespeare & Company, a company famous for its training and its fidelity to Elizabethan language. As an actor she has played most of Shakespeare‘s women and some of his men. Kristin Linklater lives in New York and in Orkney, Scotland, her home country.
“You are a singer on the flute!” people often tell Martin Gonschorek. He already developed his great and unmistakable sound very early on in his career, in a master class with Karlheinz and Gertrud Zoeller at Hamburg Academy of Music and Theatre. At the time of his concert exam, he also received a Masefield scholarship. He debuted with Mozart’s, Nielsen’s and Ibert’s solo concertos and established a long collaboration with Deutschlandradio Kultur. Since 2000, he has been active at Formation Weisser Rausch, where he has been devoting himself more and more to the Lied – most recently with Schubert’s variations on Trockne Blumen and his own interpretation of Mahler’s Kindertotenlieder.
Tickets for the 5 pm, September 1 presentation of Shakespeare Looking East are $15 and General Admission. For customized group visits—which may include artist talkbacks, tours, and catered events—contact the Group Sales office at (413) 637-1199, ext. 132. The Tina Packer Playhouse is air-conditioned, hearing aid assisted, and wheelchair accessible. Visit www.Shakespeare.org to purchase tickets, request a new Fall & Winter Season brochure, and for further information on the Company’s 35th Season.