|We are thrilled to welcome the following actors to the Forest Meadows stage this summer:|
- James Dunn is Marin’s beloved “Mr. Shakespeare.” Just about anyone who has ever studied theatre or acted in Marin County has probably had the great fortune to work with Jim. As Artistic Director of the Mountain Play where he will helm the 2005 production of Oklahoma, or as a frequent guest artist at the venerable Ross Valley Players, Jim has worked all over the county with both students and professional actors.
In over 40 years at the College of Marin,where he was Founder and Chairman of the Drama Department, Jim has directed just about every Shakespeare play…except Two Gentlemen of Verona. A new James Dunn take on a previously untackled Shakespeare play is almost as exciting as it would be to find the script of a previously unknown Shakespeare comedy lurking on a forgotten shelf in a dusty library. But we all know Jim will be blowing the dust off of Two Gentlemen of Verona and giving us a high-energy and hilarious production no Shakespeare fan will want to miss. We’re hearing rumblings about a dolce vita style design — so watch out for some slinky dresses and macho stylishness. With Jim, anything’s possible!
- Francis Beaumont and John Fletcher were the most successful team of playwrights in the years following Shakespeare’s retirement. John Fletcher is considered to be Shakespeare’s hand-picked successor as the principal dramatist for the King’s Men. Fletcher is generally accepted as Shakespeare’s collaborator on several of the latest plays : Two Noble Kinsmen, Cardenio and Henry VIII. First performed around 1607, The Knight of the Burning Pestle was the work of Beaumont and Fletcher, whose 34 plays between 1605 and 1612 were published in a Folio in 1647 with an additional 18 plays included in the second Folio of 1679. In fact, of all the Elizabethan and Jacobean playwrights, only four had their collected plays gathered together and published as a body of work: Ben Jonson, whose self published Folio in 1616 was the first of its kind; Shakespeare, whose Folio followed in 1623; and Beaumont and Fletcher, whose Folio was also created posthumously by admirers. The Knight of the Burning Pestle is considered by some to be the first “post-modernist drama” and has been likened to Six Characters in Search of an Author and other 20th century plays that self-consciously break the fourth wall. It is said to have been written in just one week, and to have been a theatrical flop when first performed. Despite its initial reception, The Knight of the Burning Pestle has been rediscovered in an age more endeared to satire and metatheatrical flair, and has become a popular if still relatively rare offering in the past 100 years. We are indebted to Ralph Cohen, founder of Shenandoah Shakespeare Company, for reminding us how fun this play is and sharing with us his elegantly edited and delightfully playable acting script.
Verona is the home to the most famous lovers in all of literature.
Today, visitors can pretend to be Romeo gazing up at a balcony above walls strewn with colorful note notes, or they can — like Paris — visit Juliet’s tomb to pay homage to her tragic young demise. Shakespeare set both of the romantic plays you can see this summer at Forest Meadows in this city of love, 71 miles west of Venice with its political and international ties. To Shakespeare, Verona held all the charm of Venetian art and culture, yet retained a more homey and natural ambiance. While the Duke of Venice in Othello plots troop movements, the corresponding authority figure, the Friar in Romeo and Juliet, is a botanist who cavorts through the fields searching for medicinal plants.
It is tempting to think of Venice and Verona as a metaphor for London and Stratford. The big city is the venue for law, politics, courts and noblemen. The town is the place where one first falls in love, struggles with one’s parents, and enjoys the company of one’s chums. Literary historians continue to argue over whether or not Shakespeare ever visited Italy. Some of his geographical details are quite bad, yet he has a well-developed sense of Italy’s nostalgic romance. Whether or not Shakespeare ever found his way to Verona, it held a fascination for the playwright and it continues to cast its spell on visitors to this day.