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by William Shakespeare
directed by R. Kevin Doyle

July 19 - August 8, 2003

Hamlet with skull

Plot Synopsis
Madness, murder and mayhem follow the melancholy Prince
of Denmark as he seeks to avenge his father's death.

Robb Bonnell Hamlet
Scot Davis Laertes
Taurie Kinoshita Ophelia
Blake Kushi Polonius
Shen Sugai Claudius
Danel Verdugo Gertrude

Director's Note
In Shakespeare's life, and shortly after his death, there were three published versions of The Tragedie of Hamlet, Prince of  Denmarke. Two were stand alone volumes called quartos, and one was with a collection of all of Shakespeare's plays called the First Folio.

One of the two quartos was considered to be fairly inaccurate; sort of like a novel about a movie rushed into printing to capitalize on the movie's success. The second quarto is considered to be accurate to what Shakespeare wrote, as is the version published in the First Folio.

Of course, the problem is that the second quarto and the first folio are different in several regards. Also, there are a couple of passages in the first quarto that, for whatever reason, are considered more accurate than either of the other editions.

This means that scholars, in attempting to construct a definitive edition of Hamlet need to look at all three versions to create a copy of Hamlet that you would pick up in a book store. One popular publisher of Shakespeare, Arden, has even given up trying to create a definitive edition and will just publish all three versions of Hamlet later this year.

In addition, Shakespeare (or his publishers) didn't always use accurate spelling when they made their books. For example, there is a famous speech of Hamlet's that begins "Oh, that this too, too sullied flesh..." or maybe "too, too sallied flesh..." or, perhaps, "too, too solid flesh." Thus, between the different editions and the variant spellings, scholars can't quite agree on whether there is a definitive version of Hamlet or not. 

Over the years, scholars and directors have made a number of assumptions about the play that have come to be thought of as fact that are, in fact, bunk.  The Arden Shakespeare folks do a pretty good job of debunking many of these Shakespearean urban myths. 

For example, everyone knows that when Hamlet tells Ophelia to "get thee to a nunnery," that he is really referring to a whorehouse. Well, the folks at Arden did some research and found that, in Shakespeare's time, when people said "nunnery," they meant a place where nuns live. It wasn't until a hundred years later that scholars decided it meant the other.

Ultimately, a modern director staging Hamlet needs to wade through all of this material and figure out how to best make the play entertain a modern audience.  I believe that the best way to do this is to follow Dr. James Brandon's method of translating Kabuki theatre for an American audience: use the model and make it work.  My understanding of this is that a director should try to identify how the play worked for it's original audience and then try to make it work for the new audience in a similar way.  For this production, I used the Arden as my guide in determining how the play worked for an audience in Shakespeare's time.  Ultimately, I hope that our production works for you.  Thank you for coming and enjoy the show.



Two Gentlemen
of Verona

by William Shakespeare
directed by Tony Pisculli

July 16 - August 10, 2002

Valentine and Proteus, the two gentlemen

Plot Synopsis
All-female production of this early romantic comedy.  Valentine
and Proteus test the bonds of friendship when they vie for the
love of the same woman.

Elizabeth Wolfe Valentine
Jennifer Robideau Julia
M.J. Coats Thuria
Noelle Poole Silvia
Jennie S. Frazer Antonio/Host/Outlaw 2
Phoebe Johnson Crab the Dog

Director's Note
The Two Gentlemen of Verona is one of Shakespeare’s earliest comedies.  Though often dismissed as a mere rough-draft of Twelfth Night, it deserves to stand on its own, not only for the central romantic story but for the inclusion of Lance, one of the greatest clowns in all of Shakespeare’s plays.

Some critics have expressed dismay, or even outrage, at the play’s happy resolution after the surprisingly dark turn of events in the final scene.  In the Elizabethan age, friendship between men was valued higher than any other relationship, higher even than romantic love.

Without a proper context, modern audiences are apt to come away with the idea that Valentine and Proteus are more enraptured with each other than with Sylvia and Julia.  With an all-female cast this perception does not so readily arise.  Perversely, it is easier to stay true to the author’s original intent by turning his conception of casting on its head (in Shakespeare’s day all roles would have been played by men as women were forbidden to act on the stage).



by William Shakespeare
directed by Harry Wong III

August 2 - August 11, 2002

Coriolanus fights Tullus Aufidius

Plot Synopsis
An epic tragedy about a general, driven by wounded pride and warlike
ambition, who vows revenge on his own city.  Don't miss this rare
opportunity to see Shakespeare's last great tragedy.

Antonio Anagaran, Jr. Tullus Aufidius
Alvin C. G. Chan Sicinius Velutus
Chris Doi Junius Brutus
Moses Goods III Coriolanus
Linda Johnson Volumnia
Yama Lake Lieutenant to Aufidius

Director's Note
ver since Coriolanus was announced as part of the Festival, people have asked me, "why?"  The play has never been thought of as one of Shakespeare’s best; I've heard it called "Crawl-up-your-anus" because no one in the play is likeable, or in the end noble.  True, this is not one of Shakespeare’s most popular plays, but how could it be?  He shows us in our most unforgiving role – as political animals, and none of us are spared.  We find nothing attractive about ourselves when this mirror Coriolanus is held up to nature.  That is why I like the play; why I like any of his plays.  They all contain a truth of what we are, however wonderful, ridiculous or terrible.

More than two millennia ago, Aristotle, one of the dead "olive-skin" men, said that persuasion in politics should only rely on our capacity for reason, and not our emotions or the personal charisma of our leaders.  Written in the years after the death of Elizabeth I, Coriolanus is ultimately Shakespeare’s cry for reason.

Dramaturg's Note
Shakespeare wrote Coriolanus sometime between 1607 and 1610, making it one of his last tragedies, if not his very last. The play is based on a chapter from Plutarch's Lives, and its plot and characters are, for the most part, historically accurate. We know, for example, that the Roman general Caius Marcius really was awarded the name Coriolanus after he single-handedly conquered the town of Corioli in 494 BCE. It is also believed that Shakespeare wrote Coriolanus in response to contemporary events: in 1607, the newly-crowned James I was at odds with Parliament over electoral procedures, and peasants in central England were rioting over the price of grain.

Coriolanus has never been a popular play, either with critics or audiences. Yet there is no denying its power. It is muscular and tightly structured, filled with tension and intrigue. The language is aggressive and spare, giving the story a perpetual forward thrust. This is very much a soldier's play, filled with a soldier's poetry, and it has no patience for prettiness or self-reflection.

Coriolanus is often condemned for having no sympathetic characters, which at first glance seems true: the protagonist is one of the most arrogant and uncompromising in the entire canon, and the supporting characters are either bloodthirsty or double-crossing, or else shrinking violets. However, the title character is ruled by one quality that sets him apart from the rest: honesty. Coriolanus may be a class snob, but he does not hide his bigotry. Oddly enough, this makes him the most genuine character in the play, more sympathetic than the suave politicians and scheming military leaders who surround him. Entirely lacking in social pretension, unable to understand tact or empathy, Coriolanus acts without thinking: lashing out at those who wound his pride or threaten his welfare. This is both a major flaw and a major asset, for it makes Coriolanus the perfect soldier – and the worst politician. In the course of the play, he is called upon to be both soldier and politician, and his inability to reconcile the two spheres leads to disaster and tragedy


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