Posts Tagged american shakespeare center
The American Shakespeare Center in Staunton, Virginia has launched what it bills as a 20-year project to find “companion pieces” to each of Shakespeare’s 38 plays. Every six months or so, the center will announce four plays for which it is seeking companions. The first round was announced last year — with the eligible plays being COMEDY OF ERRORS, MERRY WIVES OF WINDSOR, THE WINTER’S TALE and HENRY IV, PART 1.
I chose to compete in the HENRY IV, PART 1 category. Out of that challenge, I decided to tell the story of one of Shakespeare’s minor characters — the Welsh nationalist leader Owen Glendower. Glendower appears in just one scene, where Shakespeare portrays him as a wild barbarian with mystical leanings — he talks of summoning “spirits from the vasty deep.” In fact, Glendower was a cultured man for his age. One notable fact: He taught his daughters to read, which was not common for that era. Another: He was a patron of the arts, who kept a retinue of poets and musicians at his Welsh estate. He was also briefly king of Wales — Prince of Wales was the title he preferred — in a nationalist uprising that succeeded for time, until finally being crushed by Henry IV.
To prepare my script SPIRITS FROM THE VASTY DEEP — but adhere to the ASC rules forbidding prior productions — I held an invitation-only staged reading in September 2017. Mill Mountain Theatre graciously provided the free space, and Linsee Lewis signed on as director.
The good news: SPIRITS FROM THE VAST DEEP was a semi-finalist. The not-so-good news: It did not win. However, the world now has a new play about Owen Glendower. Here are photos from that secret staged reading.
SPIRITS FROM THE VASTY DEEP
In Shakespeare’s Henry IV, Part 1, one scene depicts Owen Glendower, a Welsh nationalist leader who led a rebellion against the English crown. In Shakespeare’s play, Glendower was depicted as a mystical barbarian who claimed he could call “spirits from the vasty deep.” In fact, Glendower was a cultured man – a lawyer who had served the English king and was known for keeping a retinue of poets and musicians at his estate in Wales. This play looks at some of the events of Henry IV, Part 1 from Glendower’s perspective. The story as told here follows actual historic events but, for dramatic purposes, conflates many of them and omits others, just as Shakespeare himself did. For instance, Glendower had many children. For dramatic purposes, this script just shows three. Glendower was eventually defeated, but never captured. Welsh legend holds that his shade still walks the hills, waiting to return. That’s the premise that animates “Spirits From The Vasty Deep,” as the ghost of a poet and musician who had been in his service take a modern-day newsboy back in time to introduce him to Glendower.
Cast: 12 — 5 male, 3 female, 4 gender-flexible.
It’s the spring play season at high schools around the country. Between them — and Falcon Radio Theatre in Seattle getting back on the air after a brief absence — I can tally up the following:
So far this spring, I’ve had nine scripts produced in five states — and Singapore! — with another script scheduled to be produced in a sixth state later this spring.
(If you’re scoring at home, those six states are Maryland, Montana, Oregon, Wasington, Wisconsin and Virginia.)
Keep in mind that some play publishers alert me ahead of time to productions; others don’t until they have to pay royalties later in the year, so it’s quite possible that some scripts are getting done this spring that I won’t know about until later.
Here’s a run-down of what I know so far:
* “Big Time College Chemistry,” a five-minute comedy about how a college chemistry department would look like if it operated like a big-time college football program, was produced by Falcon Radio Theatre on April 9, 2013. It previously was done as a staged reading at No Shame Theatre in Roanoke, Va. (I’m hoping to have a link to audio of this and the other scripts done by Falcon soon.)
* “Cat and Dog,” a five-minute comedy about, well, a cat and a dog, was produced on Falcon Radio Theatre on April 2, 2013. This was the fourth time this script has either been produced outright, or had a staged reading. (It’s also the first in a series of “Cat and Dog” pieces.
* “Catch of the Day,” a one-act comedy about the exotic poisonous fish fugu (look it up!), was produced by Falcon Radio Theatre on April 9, 2013. It’s still unpublished, so remains one of the scripts that is available royalty-free. (I explain how and why here.)
* “The Circus Man,” a dark five-minute script, was produced by the Star City Creators Society as part of the Marginal Arts Festival in Roanoke, Va., on March 29, 2013. Brian O’Sullivan, who played Klaus in my Christmas show, and directed last year’s “57 Hours in the House of Culture,” was The Man here.
* “Hit the Books,” a one-act comedy at a student who hits herself in the head with a book and suddenly acquires all its knowledge, was produced by the Owens-Withee School District in Owen, Wisconsin on April 1, by Walkersville High School in Walkersville, Maryland on April 12 and is scheduled to be produced by Triangle Lake High School in Blachly, Oregon on May 2. It’s published by Eldridge Parks and Musicals; the Triangle Lake show will be the 11th production.
* “Mac and Beth,” a one-act in which a failed bank robbery plays out much like Shakespeare’s Scottish play, was produced by a youth group in Singapore on April 1. It’s published by Brooklyn Publishers; this was the second production of the script. Pre-publication, there was a staged reading at what is now the American Shakespeare Center in Staunton, Va.
* “Macbeth Goes Hollywood,” an hour-long one-act in which Shakespeare meets Hollywood, is scheduled to be produced by the Malta Junior-Senior High School in Malta, Montana on April 25, 2013. That will be the 25h production of that script, which is published by Eldridge Plays and Musicals.
* “The Monkey Rodeo,” a five-minute comedy about a monkey act at a minor league baseball game that goes wrong, oh so very wrong, was produced by Falcon Radio Theatre on April 9, 2013.
* “The Weird Sisters on Holiday,” a one-act in which the Weird Sisters of Macbeth fame take a trip, was produced by Medicine Lake School in Montana on March 28, 2013. That script, published by Brooklyn Publishing, has now been produced twice. Before publication, it also had a staged reading at what is now the American Shakespeare Center.
The spring high school play season is soon here, and I have at least two scripts scheduled for production:
* “Hit the Books,” by Walkersville High School, in Walkersville, Maryland, in April.
” Mac and Beth,” by inwardBOUND, in Singapore, also in April.
“Hit the Books” is published by Eldridge Plays and Musicals. This will be the 10th production. It’s about a high school girl who tries to study by hitting herself in the head with a book. More or less.
“Mac and Beth” is a riff on “Macbeth,” this time with two ne’er-do-well bank robbers. It’s published by Brooklyn Publishers; this will be the second full production; there was a previous staged reading at the American Shakespeare Center in Staunton, Va.