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January 09, 1987 - Image 7

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The Michigan Daily, 1987-01-09

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ARTS

" ,- ".

The Michigan Daily

Friday, January 9, 1987

Page 7

'U' prof directs British cast inR2'

By Noelle Brower
A bit of merry olde England will
artive in Ann Arbor this weekend
via the National Theatre of Great
Britain. As a part of the National
Theatre's Education Program, John
Fussell Brown, an Associate
Director of the National Theatre and
Charman of the Department of
Theatre and Drama at this
University, will direct a touring
production of Shakespeare's The
Tragedy of King Richard the Second

This weekend's production will be
the American premiere of what
promises to become a tradition of
cultural exchange between the two
countries.
In a country overflowing with
long-standing traditions, the Na -
tional Theatre is a relatively new
one; but one that has solidified its
place as an institution of con -
siderable acclaim since its inception
in the '70s. It has become a forum
for a high-powered meeting of the
best theatrical minds from Britain
and elsewhere. Since the beginning,

the National Theatre has won a
reputation for theatrical excellence
both in the modern and the classical
veins. It is a bona fide theatrical
treat that Brown's affiliation with
the Theatre has brought about this
opportunity.
The current production is the
outcome of an educational program
started by the N.T. in '82. Designed
to both educate and entertain its
audiences, the program organizes
tours of small-scale productions.
The term "small-scale," though
adequate, is misleading. When one

thinks of Shakespearean produc -
tions, words like grandeur, pomp,
and ceremony pop up as apt
descriptives. However, in order to
tour these productions, which have
included non-Shakespearean plays
as well, are pared down both
textually and visually.
"We wanted to have a sufficient
size [text] so that it is graspable by
people who may be seeing their
first Shakespeare," Brown explains,
"It is an educational production, but
all it means is that the scale is
smaller - it is a full production of
a version of a play that will run for
two hours, scaled down for
necessity and clarity."
An important part of the
educational process is the discus -
sion afterwards between the
audience and the players in which
everyone is encouraged to parti -
cipate. From start to finish,
traditional barriers between the
company and the audience are
broken down with both parties
profiting in the process.
Richard II is the first in
Shakespeare's great four-play saga
that continues with the two parts of
Henry IV and concludes with
Henry V , completing Shake -
speare's cycle of the War of the
Roses. By emphasizing the
personal aspects of the play,
Brown's production centers upon
the conflicts encountered by
Richard, who ascended to the throne
in the shadow of his popular father
and grandfather when only ten years
of age. The play takes place during
the last year of his reign (1399)
when, surrounded by power-hungry
relatives and controversy, Richard is

eventually overthrown by his
cousin Henry Bolingbroke. The
characters of Richard and Boling -
broke emerge as differing portraits
in statesmanship: Richard as the
well-intentioned young man, inev -.
itably doomed by his circum -
stances, and Bolingbroke as the
dynamic usurper who possesses a
greater ability to rule than than the

anointed king.
Richard II will be performed
this Saturday, and the following
Friday and Saturday at 8p.m. at the
Lydia Mendelssohn Theatre in the
Michigan League. Additional
performances will be next week on
Tuesday and Thursday at 2 p.m. in
the Trueblood Theatre. For more
information call 764-0450.

$259 ROUND TRIP
Charter Flight
FT. LAUDERDALE
Feb.20 thru 27 KEY TOURS For details contact:
1329 S. University 769..QRSa 2763Plymouth R

d.

TWO ANN ARBOR LOCATIONS

Director and faculty member John Russell Brown (center) poses with the cast of Richard II. From left to
right: Nigel Le Valiant, Peter Needham, Clive Arrindell, Peter Sproule, Jessica Turner, Mark Payton, and
Nick Dunning.

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They don't do anything fancy, in
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it's fairly surprising that two
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