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March 09, 2001 - Image 5

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 2001-03-09

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Ivge rock at the 'Box...
Come to the Lunchbox this Saturday
21 John St.) for the cello-powered
emo of Utah, who are playing along
with Presidio, Showshane, Bargos
Steeler and Fell in a Well.
michigandaily.lom /arts


MARCH 9, 2001



Masterful RSC to
present lesson in,
f for U' visi

Costumes bring plays to life

By Charity Atchison
Daily Arts Writer
The Royal Shakespeare Company
will premiere "Richard III" tomor-
row as part of its presentation of
S espeare's Histories. The
marathon viewing of the cycle is not
for the weak of heart: With nine
hours of Shakespeare in one after-
noon, the experience should be a

ower Center
March 10 -18
experience that

to those
take the+


E n g l i s h
Professor Ralph
Williams, who
was in Stratford
when RSC pre-
sented the
Henry trilogy,
said that "the
audience came
out feeling they
had a profound
drew on them.

Soeone said 'I expected to be tired,
bR am not.' It was very powerful,
intense, but not an experience from
which one emerges tired."
The plays Henry VI, parts I, II and
III and Richard III were written very
early in Shakespeare's career. A per-
son with very little experience in
Shakespeare would have a similar
experience to those who saw the
original plays performed. Williams
says, "The plays make sense as dra-
These are challenges as read
ex riences, but not as stage experi-
RSC's first visit to Ann Arbor is
the beginning of a five-year partner-
ship. In addition to this visit, RSC
will return again in 2003 and 2005.
With the visits will come not only
exceptional theater performances,
but also educational opportunities for
ev yone. Events ranging from cos-
tt exhibits to the staging history
will be covered in the 70 educational
events taking place. The educational
program is something the RSC does
at home in London and while on tour;
the program here at the University,
however, is different than the pro-
gram RSC usually runs.
Kate Hunter, RSC senior press and
public relations officer, said "What

makes the work with the University
of Michigan different is the scale of
the educational program lasts over
three months, and is not just around
the performances. The scope of the
program has two main strands, across
the faculty in the University, and out-
reach/community work in the state.
All RSC educational work is very
practical, drawing heavily on the
experience of performance. It usually
involves members of the RSC acting
Theater is very much part of the
social process. Every performance
has to have a cast, financial support,
a theater to play in, and an audience,
which will shift with every perfor-
mance. The RSC community educa-
tion experience is directed so that
many different audiences, such as
those interested in the text, directing,
stage-managing and costuming, can
RSC associate director Michael
Boyd directs all of the plays in the
tetralogy debuting in Ann Arbor, and
several people directed the first
tetralogy of the eight-play cycle.
"Michael Boyd wanted to direct all
the plays that made up the second
tetralogy because he sees them as
four acts in a large play," said Hunter.
This will bring continuity to the
tetralogy. Fiona Bell, who plays Joan
of Arc and Queen Margaret, said,
"the style and casting is cohesive."
Nearly 1,000 hours of rehearsal for
the 30 actors involved were needed to
bring about the performance. Six
weeks were spent on each part of the
Henry cycle. "Spending four months
with the company definitely made us
gel together on and off stage. [It was
a] highly enjoyable and creative time
for me."
The histories, which cover a period
of more than 50 years of England's
most turbulent history, begin with the
reign of the nine-month-old Henry
IV and continue through England's
civil war. The production contains
highly physical fight scenes, utilizing
25 swords and five pints of stage
blood. Bell, who has individual
sword fights as Joan of Arc, enjoys
the sword fights. "During rehearsals,
I was told to keep my shoulders back
and feet apart," Bell said. "It's not
overwhelming, but if something goes
wrong it throws you temporarily"

By RoseayMz
Daiy ArtsWriter
A majestic midnight blue velvet gown with attached
train and matching crowned veiling is the first sight a vis-
itor encounters on entering Costuming in Shakespeare's
History Plays. This exhibit is located in the Special
Collections section of the Graduate
Library, as an important component
a .for the current residency of the Royal
Shakespeare Company.
Shakespeare Costuming in theatrical produc-
Costume tions can either make or break a play.
Exhibit This collection emphasizes the cre-
Special ativity, careful research work and pro-
Collections duction values of costuming for
Library Richard II and Richard Ill. The exhib-
through April 14 it is richly detailed, with costume
pieces on loan from the Royal
Shakespeare Company, the Stratford
Festival of Canada and from the pri-
vate archives of Zelma Weisfeld,
Professor Emerita of Theatre Design.
As it is so committed to authenticity, there are copies of the
research materials which were used in costume creation.
James Robinson Planche's "Costume of Shakespeare's
Historical Tragedy of King John" is listed as Professor
Weisfeld's costuming bible. Planche's encyclopedia work,
in two parts, was first published in London in 1823-25.
There are scene sketches, which include the appropriate
costume, some penciled in, others scratched out and re-
written, like a snapshot on theatrical life.
When actor Nicholas Pennell performed in Richard III in
1979, it was important to create a mood that reflected a
crumbling social order during the reign of an evil and cor-
rupt king. Weisfeld used a dark tabard as a background
upon which she could impose, in a quartered pattern, the
fleur-de-lis of France and the lion of England. Through the
magic of costuming, this tabard had a dual role. Originally,
it had been worn in a production of Richard II in 1978 by
a lance-bearer. The easy adjustment was accomplished

Courtesy of the Royal Shakespeare Company
David Oyelowo as Henry VI.
The development of the five-year
partnership between the University
and RSC reflects a link between
learning and theater. RSC will be
able to use the partnership to model
and build a more active university-
based presence in the United States.
RSC's visit will mark the first time it
has performed in Michigan since
Bell, who will be visiting the
United States for the first time,
"can't wait to get involved in the
community and educational work. As
it's a proper three week residency, it
will be really intense, and everyone
will be able to experience much more
than the productions themselves."
"Those who go will come to trust
their ability to respond powerfully to
a theatrical experience. In this soci-
ety, Shakespeare is so frequently
found in text. The eye is intolerant to
deviation. To the ear there is an
immediacy to respond of which is
very intelligible," Bell said.
Williams sums up Shakespeare's
Histories by saying they are "stagger-
ingly wonderful productions."

through the use of spray or dry-brush.
Richard II was known as the Sun-King. At the beginning
of the play, he is at the height of his royal powers. Dressed
in bright colors, he wears a sun medallion. As his powers
deteriorate, his costumes reflect the enveloping darkness.
Fabric colors change to somber tones of gray. In a pivotal
scene with Lord Bolingbrooke, he is garbed in gray-green
robes. There is a touch of irony however. On the darkened
robes, there is a gold trim.
Many outstanding Shakespearean actors of 18th and
19th century England are represented in this exhibit as
well. There is a hand-colored engraving of Mr. Edmund
Kean, who portrayed Richard III around 1820. It is an ele-
gant engraving, with a stamped out piece of silver and gold
leaf, beads and glass stones. A pair of ocher kid gloves,
which are reputed to have belonged to William
Shakespeare, are on display. David Garrick, the recipient,
used the gloves in his performances of Hamlet in the 18th
century. Silver and pink threads are embroidered on the
gloves, with silver fringe at the wrist. Authenticity is fur-
ther realized in a King John Souvenir booklet produced by
Herbert Beerbohn, "Tree at the Majestic Theatre."
Costuming heightens the understanding and pleasure of
Shakespearean plays, and this exhibit is a richly textured

My, my, how styles have changed.

y y g ii'2 isss %t


EiiM;i4 'iiiii t;<t'ii'i: "'iiiiiiri '='ir' . x:a

A look at the
underside of U of M


i. ri

&n [bor tbi Oeat
ThFont Page
by Ben Hecht &
Charles MacArthur
March 8-18, 2001
Thurs-Sat, 8 pm
Sun, 2 pm
AACT is downtown!
408 W. Washington
CALL 971-AACT (2228)
www.a2ct.org by xpcitl wrrrmylmenht wish MimurlIrvnd,. Inc.
Tickets: $16 Adults - $14 Students
All seats $8 on Thursday!


You are cordially invited to the
inaugural annual lecture in memory
of Tamara Williams, an LS&A senior
and Family Housing resident who
was killed by her boyfriend.
Tamara Wi (iams
Working Together to End
Dating and Doi. estic Violence
Speaker: Barbara J. Hart



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