Check out the article to find out why this production is “Shakespeare for adults” and why it’s not exactly a romance.
The Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington D.C. is perhaps the world’s largest and finest collection of Shakespeare-related materials. So, let’s get them to tell us what this Cymbeline thing is all about.
Cymbeline tells the story of a British king, Cymbeline, and his three children, presented as though they are in a fairy tale. The secret marriage of Cymbeline’s daughter, Imogen, triggers much of the action, which includes villainous slander, homicidal jealousy, cross-gender disguise, a deathlike trance, and the appearance of Jupiter in a vision.
Kidnapped in infancy, Cymbeline’s two sons are raised in a Welsh cave. As young men, they rescue a starving stranger (Imogen in disguise); kill Cymbeline’s stepson; and fight with almost superhuman valor against the Roman army. The king, meanwhile, takes on a Roman invasion rather than pay a tribute. He too is a familiar figure—a father who loses his children and miraculously finds them years later; a king who defeats an army and grants pardon to all.
Cymbeline displays unusually powerful emotions with a tremendous charge. Like some of Shakespeare’s other late work—especially The Winter’s Tale and The Tempest—it is an improbable story lifted into a nearly mythic realm.
New to Cymbeline? So were we. Don’t worry though, the good ol’ internet will help you get fired up and ready to go.
Just to whet your appetite, here’s how the play begins…
Imogen, the daughter of the British king Cymbeline, goes against her father’s wishes and marries a lowborn gentleman, Posthumus, instead of his oafish stepson, Cloten. Cloten is the son of Cymbeline’s new Queen, a villainous woman who has made the king her puppet. Cymbeline sends Posthumus into exile in Italy, where he encounters a smooth-tongued Italian named Iachimo. Iachimo argues that all women are naturally unchaste, and he makes a wager with Posthumus that he will be able to seduce Imogen. He goes to the British court and, failing in his initial attempt to convince the princess to sleep with him, resorts to trickery: He hides in a large chest and has it sent to her room; that night he slips out, observes her sleeping, and steals a bracelet that Posthumus once gave to her.
See you at the show!
DID YOU KNOW: Artistic Director Matt Slaybaugh has every issue of The Believer magazine. He’s been a subscriber since issue #9, from December 2003. Says Matt, “Suffice to say, I get a lot of education and ideas from The Believer.”
Poet/Novelist Ben Lerner, author of “Leaving the Atocha Station,” was interviewed by Tao Lin for The Believer magazine upon the release of his novel. Here’s a choice cut:
BLVR: After three books of poetry, you’ve written a novel whose protagonist—Adam Gordon, a young American on a one-year poetry fellowship to Spain—views himself as a fraud on many levels. He considers, even, at one point, that maybe only his fraudulence is fraudulent. Do you think of your novel as arguing for the existence of poetry or exposing its fraudulence? Or something else?
BL: I think the novel both celebrates and savages poetry—or you might say that the novel celebrates poetry but savages poems. Early on Adam says something about poetry quoted in prose. Let me find the passage:
“I tended to find lines of poetry beautiful only when I encountered them quoted in prose, in the essays my professors had assigned in college, where the line breaks were replaced with slashes, so that what was communicated was less a particular poem than the echo of poetic possibility.”
I don’t think this is just an admission that he’s not interested in poetry, or a confession of fraudulence. He does find lines of poetry beautiful, but what he tends to find beautiful is an abstract potential that’s betrayed by actual poems. I can sympathize with this kind of negativity. It captures something about why poetry retains its power in the face of so many failed poems. You’re a poet; don’t you hate most poems?
Please do read the entire, fascinating interview here: http://www.believermag.com/exclusives/?read=interview_lerner
Here is one sentence which is, in our view, the briefest possible description of what this book (and our theatrical adaptation of it) is about:
“Leaving the Atocha Station” is, centrally, about communication and translation, about what can be truthfully expressed, not just in a foreign tongue but in one’s native language.
It’s from James Wood’s review of the book in The New Yorker.
Read the whole review here: http://www.newyorker.com/arts/critics/books/2011/10/31/111031crbo_books_wood
“Most theatre is still really bad,” says Cock playwright Mike Bartlett, in this interview from The Guardian. He goes on, “It isn’t church. There’s nothing innately good about it. Most theatre is still really bad.”
Another choice quotation – “If you’re still going at theatre-in-the-1970s speed and your audience has been watching The Wire, then your play’s going to seem pretty slow.”
Read the whole piece here: http://www.theguardian.com/culture/2009/nov/08/mike-bartlett-royal-court-cock
Listen to the first two minutes of this to hear British playwright Mike Bartlett talk about how he began work on his play, “Cock,” and what it really does have to do with cockfights.
The idea for the “Cock” photo shoot came to me when I was thinking of the Vanity Fair photo spreads of the “Mad Men” and “Sopranos” casts. Like these…
I had a mental image of David Glover’s character lounging on a recliner, with Elena and Drew standing somewhere near him. For some reason I pictured them all bloody and bruised. Since we’ve been going with a boxing match metaphor for the show, it seemed like a good photo to tie into the story. I told the idea to Matt and Dave and they set everything up and handled the shoot, along with Acacia Duncan as our makeup artist. It was one brief flash of insight for me, but a collaboration of will and talent to make it a reality.
Here are some Instagram posts from our photo session last weekend.
Grab your earbuds and check out this audio clip from a rehearsal for We Are Proud to Present by Jackie Sibblies Drury.
More info and tickets: http://avltheatre.com/shows/we-are-proud-to-present/