Shakespeare & Company will present a series of five Artistic Insights designed to provide a deeper background for their 2016 productions. The series is designed to delve deeper into the shows’ themes and enhance the audiences’ experience. All talks are general admission with an $8 cost for Adults and a $4 cost for Students. All talks will take place in Bernstein Studio Three.
Kicking off the series is Shakespeare and The Jews lead by Founding Artistic Director Tina Packer and celebrated Company actor Jonathan Epstein. The talk will explore Shakespeare’s controversial The Merchant of Venice. Audiences and artists are invited to discuss the themes of prejudice, representation, love, and religion that are prevalent in one of the Bard’s most relevant plays. Shakespeare and The Jews is the Artistic Insights opener on July 19 at 5pm.
“People often ask whether Merchant is an anti-Semitic play,” says actor Jonny Epstein. “Certainly there’s a bitter anti-Semitism in it, and certainly it’s very painful to be called a “dog Jew” even in a fiction, but what would make it anti-Semitic, I think, is if the audience walked out of the performance more liable to prejudice than when they walked in—and I honestly believe that the reverse is the case. It is certainly a play about prejudice and disenfranchisement of all kinds and causes. There is disenfranchisement due to sexuality as with Antonio, gender as with Portia, status as with Lancelot and race as with Morocco. But it seems to be a time in the nation and the world when we must wrestle with questions around such prejudice, no matter how painful it is to do so.”
In addition to Shakespeare and The Jews, Shakespeare & Company will present four more talks throughout the season. In Thoroughly Modern (Women) Playwrights WAM Theatre’s Artistic Director Kristen van Ginhoven moderates a conversation about what it means to be a female playwright in modern times. The discussion features Liz Duffy Adams, the playwright of Or, which follows a day in the life of Britain’s first female playwright Aphra Behn; Alice Reagan, director of Or, and Jenna Ware, director and adapter of The Emperor of the Moon written by Aphra Behn. Thoroughly Modern (Female) Playwrights takes place July 26 at 5pm.
Later in the season, Company design professionals in the fields of costumes, sets, sounds, and props will discuss the contribution of design to the arts in Designed for Theatre. Extreme makeup transformations and the new in-the-round theatre configuration are among the topics discussed. Designed for Theatre takes place August 2 at 5 pm. Soon after, The Art of Healing, or Trauma and the Theatre features experts in the field of art and its relation to trauma and healing who are joined by actor Christianna Nelson from Ugly Lies the Bone and playwright and actor Stephen Wolfert from Cry “Havoc!” The Art of Healing, or Trauma at the Theatre takes place August 9 at 5 pm. Rounding out the series is The Spirit of (MS) St. Louis– Troubled Times for Immigration. This discussion uses the tragedy of the MS St. Louis to bring light to some of today’s issues of prejudice and separation. This important final talk finishes out the season on August 16 at 5pm.
ARTISTIC INSIGHTS SCHEDULE
JULY 19, 5 PM – SHAKESPEARE & THE JEWS
JULY 26, 5 PM – THOROUGHLY MODERN (WOMEN) PLAYWRIGHTS
AUGUST 2, 5 PM – DESIGNED FOR THEATRE
AUGUST 9, 5 PM – THE ART OF HEALING, OR TRAUMA AND THE THEATRE
AUGUST 16, 5 PM – THE SPIRIT OF (MS) ST. LOUIS – TROUBLED TIMES FOR IMMIGRATION