Just when you thought that Elizabethan drama fad was fading, a slew of Shakespeares hits the scene.
Shake (Yer Groove) Speare!
He's hot, he's sexy, and he's Elizabethan. And just when you thought interest in him was starting to abate, along comes a slew of productions and even a symposium to prove that William Shakespeare, the popular playwright of four centuries past, is still the man of the moment. For some reason I've yet to fathom, February has spawned more area productions of work by and about the Bard of Avon than usually fill an entire summer, so if you're serious about Shakespeare, you should be aware of what all is happening. And the first thing you should be aware of is: Shakespeares!!, a symposium on the Bard being sponsored by Southwestern University. For the 23rd Brown Symposium at Southwestern, the Georgetown school is bringing in scholars and theatre professionals to consider the many faces of the playwright. Highlights will include former Royal Shakespeare Company voice coach Patsy Rodenberg leading a public master class on "Finding Shakespeares," Norton Shakespeare editor Peter Greenblatt speaking on Hamlet, Shakespeare & Company artistic director Tina Packer speaking on "Race, Gender, and Public Performance in Shakespeare's Plays," and the performance of director Ron Bashford's new adaptation of Hamlet featuring three actors, each playing multiple roles and all playing the melancholy Dane. The symposium is February 8-10, and while registration has closed, you can attend all lectures without registration, and the performances of Hamlet Trio on Friday and Saturday evening are still open to the public. For more information, call 512/863-1902 or check out the Web site at www.southwestern.edu/brownxxiii. This weekend also sees the premiere of a new play about Shakespeare and the women in the Bard's life and works. Titled Roses and Thistles, it's written by Susan Kelso of McNeese State University in Louisiana and is being directed by Bonnie Cullum, who happens to be the playwright's daughter and an experienced director of works by Shakespeare in her own right. The production runs Feb. 9-March 10 at the Vortex. Call 478-LAVA. Then, next week, four productions of Shakespearean plays will open around Central Texas. The first is the early comedy Love's Labours Lost, which has been adapted and directed by Lisa M. White for Melting Moon Arts Inc. Proceeds from this production of the bittersweet romantic comedy benefit Any Baby Can. The show runs at the Bad Dog Comedy Theater Feb. 12-27. Call 454-TIXS. Starting Tuesday morning, you can see an abbreviated version of A Midsummer Night's Dream staged by Project InterAct, the professional children's theatre company of Zachary Scott Theatre Center. The production, which focuses on the fairies and the rude mechanicals, is staged as part of Playfest 2001 and can be seen through Sunday, Feb. 18. Call 454-TIXS. And that isn't the only Dream going up this week: Another version opens in Round Rock on Friday, Feb. 16: Sam Bass Community Theatre offers a tropical take on the comedy, with the midsummer madness overtaking a Hawaiian resort. It runs through March 10 at the Old Depot Theatre. Call 244-0440. On Thursday, Feb. 15, the Public Domain Theatre Company opens director Robi Polgar's staging of King Lear in which Lear presides over a modern high tech corporation, England.com. The tragedy runs through March 17 at the Blue Theater. Call 474-2448. Then, on the last weekend of the month, Southwestern is at it again with a new staging of Tom Stoppard's riff on Hamlet, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, directed by Ron Bashford. Call 512/863-1378.