I don't know much about theater in Tampa. I only go when my gf makes me, which is nice because it's not very often. But the above makes me think this is one catty, unpleasant bunch of people with thin skins. Maybe theater peeps are just like that? A Tampa thing? I'm gonna have to distract the gf next time ........
Thanks for your response. I tried to make clear that the sex of the characters didn't change; we were playing with theatrical conventions, where something always is both itself and something else. That's why my statement about Shakespeare knowing the actors he wrote for supports and doesn't undermine my point. He also knew the theatre he wrote for and the audience -- none of which exists anymore. Very few people object to seeing Shakespeare indoors, with electric lights, recorded sound, with everyone (in most theatres) sitting in seats and so on. The playing conditions have changed, the prevailing theatrical conventions have changed. Some audience members understand and like the conventions, some don't like them. and sometimes they don't work. I think, on the whole, the fact that women played some of the male characters did not create problems for the audience nor undermine the play (Horatio was Horatio, not Harriet). Sorry you were t able to get there to judge for yourself.
Wow, wow and wow! I can see nothing but success in the Bay area theatre scene and I have been here a long damn time!! Among my first shows were a musical version of R & J directed by Vince Petty and a melodrama directed by the lovely Marcelle at Tampa Community (gasp) Theatre in Drew Park. It is now the XXX movie theatre located next door to the warehouse that used to be Gorilla. (I digress) Those were in '60 something, I can't remember that far back! I came from a high school where if the school musical didn't happen in the gym, nobody came! (I know because that's the one I was in!) What the hell! Get along for crying out loud! We have more than two theatres in town! We have sooooo many talented performers! Of course there are fewer crazy choices being made! HELLO!! Nobody has any money! Of course, it's being approached as a business (thank you, artistic directors). It wants to survive. We are not a Bay full of bickering siblings. We are an environment, we are fostering growth, we are honing skills and we should be damn proud of how far we have come! Mr. Leib, I support your comment that we are solid. But it is my experience as an actor, director and playwright that there are many MORE outlets for any level of performer now than there ever have been. And, off the top of my head, I can't think of a theatre that isn't fostering new work and performing it. In the last week, there were staged readings of three completely original, locally grown plays. We are still writing, it's a natural part of our growth. Given a little more time, those plays will start appearing in seasons. Bet on it. Meanwhile, there is YDP, TRT2, TampaWorks.....One Acts everywhere...
Tina: I did respond to the issues, in some detail. Please read more carefully. And I'm not uncomfortable with any dirty laundry -- there is no dirty laundry, that's my point. Yes, toward the end there I took some cheap shots at Annette, and I should not have done so, I am sorry I did. But she was saying some pretty ugly things about a community of which I am a part -- am I not entitled to respond in kind?
I find it amusing that you charge me with ad hominem attacks in defense of Annette, whose post was bile start to finish. You apply a rather inconsistent standard.
The assumption -- and by "sounds like," I thought I had made it clear I was aware that I was making an assumption -- that Annette was talking about Jobsite was logical, based on the fact that she was describing a company she had followed for some time and described them as "kids," which fits only the perception of Jobsite, and because that specific charge is commonly made against Jobsite. I did also address the issue more broadly, saying the charges Annette made applied to most small theaters (you really must read more carefully), but you are absolutely right, I do not know with certainty she was describing Jobsite, and if she was not, I surely regret having assumed so.
Plays under copyright are often now licensed for production with sex-restrictive clauses concerning casting.
You can argue about the rightness or wrongness of that, but it does reflect playwrights' concerns that it can be a very serious change to the work to have a female actor playing a male role, and vice versa.
You don't have to worry about that with public domain works like those of Shakespeare, of course. (No royalties on those, either! Yay!)
Women in the time in which Hamlet is enacted would never have had the relationship with him that men would have had. Women would not have been soldiers. Women at that time would never have been standing night watch with men; women would not have been out there at all. Women would have been in the custody of their fathers, or their husbands, or, as Hamlet himself suggests, a nunnery. Sometimes, it makes no difference whether you change the sex of a character. Sometimes, it makes quite a bit of difference, and can be at war with the suspension of disbelief.
It sounds as though the admission that "Shakespeare presumably wrote whatever words he did write with specific actors in mind" rather concedes the point of the prior post.
All this makes me wish I had been able to get to see this play.
I don't know if I agree with anything or anyone above, 'cause I don't know enough about it, but I see "Ned" is attacking a post for being "mostly leveled against" a particular group. However, the post he's responding to doesn't mention that group at all. Sounds like the comments are being made in a general way.
"Ned's" also pretty ad hominem, (or feminem, as the case may be.) That's usually an approach taken by people who are uncomfortable with the dirty laundry being aired. Why not just respond to the issues, instead of trying to attack your conception of the messenger?
I agree with David Jenkins, when Mr. Leib opened his reviews up for comments those reviews became a dialogue between the reviewer, the producers, the actors, and the audience. I enjoy getting everyone's perspective. Tampa is lucky to have such an exciting and engaged theater community.
Dear Ms. Lovage,
Thank you for coming to see Hamlet, and for taking the time to post your comments.
Just a few words in response:
Your experience, of course, is your experience, so I won't try to argue about what you felt -- I'll only note that the overwhelming response of audience members, both those I know and those I don't, was different from yours, especially in regard to the acting. Many people commented about Emily Belvo's strong performance as Ophelia and Caitlin Eason's restrained performance of Horatio (until the floodgates of emotion open with Hamlet's death). I'm not sure which actors you felt didn't know what to do with themselves or their bodies -- all of the actors seemed physically engaged to me, and one way to tell is that those who played multiple characters changed their physicalities in meaningful and truthful ways (for instance, compare Belvo's Ophelia and Osric, or Rodner Salgado's Francisco and Player Queen). As for moving like they were in the 21st century -- they are. And, as I would hope the other production choices made clear, so was the production -- it combined elements of the Elizabethan and the contemporary, and foregrounded the fact that the audience was present at a play.
As for casting women in men's roles, well, first, I cast the best people who auditioned in the roles I thought they would be best for, knowing that some of them would be playing multiple roles. I don't think for certain kinds of plays (using certain kinds of conventions) that the gender of the actor matters -- the gender of the character does, though, and I don't think many (any) audience members were confused about the nature of the characters. You say that "the role is written as the role is written" as if that were transparent to everyone (and, perhaps, you're suggesting that there's no need for actors -- just read the words as written). There are serious problems with that contention, though -- first, with Hamlet (as with other of Shakespeare's plays) there's often some question as to which words he wrote -- there are three primary versions of the play, and they differ from each other in significant ways. Second, Shakespeare presumably wrote whatever words he did write with specific actors in mind. He knew that Richard Burbage (short, stocky, and 33ish) was going to play Hamlet; he knew who would play all (or, at least, most) of the parts - and that knowledge meant that he know how some of the scenes would be played, for the conventions of performance would dictate that in large measure.
So, again, your experience is your experience, and if you found the use of female actors to play male characters "weird," well, then, you did. I would only suggest, though, that any time performance conventions change, some people find it weird (just as some people find it weird that in the 19th century 60-year old actresses were in demand to play the 14-year old Juliet -- a part, of course, written for a 15 or 16-year old male). Perhaps your view of theatrical conventions may change; perhaps not. In any event, I think we agree that "the play's the thing," even if we disagree about how that thing is to be -- or not to be.
I think Jessica, showed the development between the façade of Curley's wife the girl using her looks and body to get attention she needed, then to the defensive women who had to defend herself from being labeled a Tart, and then to baring her soul and dreams to Lennie in the barn. Just the interpitation was not the same as what you would have wanted to see. She gave the Audience a wonderful performance.
Jessica is a wonderful actress that you will have to review many times in the future, We are glad you enjoyed the Show.
Sorry for any misspelled words, My magic is not in my writing.
Wow, anyone who considers Shawn a shill for me has obviously never sat in the same room and listened to us argue about just about, oh, umm, everything to do with making shows. I like that about him. It's productive, generative to have a difference of opinion. We both learn from each other, and, I think make each other better at what we do.
Sorta like the relationship between those who make and those who critique. This stopped being a one-sided conversation a long time ago.
Dugggan was wonderful; the part really suits him. I also thought Scruggs and Konowicz were powerful actors. Scruggs' monologue, intertwined with Duggan's as though a canon, almost brought me to tears. I disagree about the "parody" comment. Steinbeck clearly wrote her as an aspiring (albeit, failed) vixen, hence the other characters' references to her as a "tart" strutting her goods around the farm. That, to me, seems to be her initial defense mechanism/means of reaching out to those people with whom she desperately wants to have some human contact. I loved Scruggs' character arc. Slim/Konowicz was very subtle, but his performance, walking the line between friendship and calculated detachment as it did, resonated. I would like to see him in an even bigger role.
A shill? Because he is associated with the company he loses his right to express an opinion?
Mark gave his opinion, that's his job. Shawn takes issue with the ideas underlying a part of that opinion, and it's his right to express that.
It's healthy for artists to receive considered criticism and analysis, it's healthy for them to articulate a counteropinion, and it's healthy for the critic -- and readers -- to hear it. Everybody is doing exactly what they should be doing.
Except you. You are being snide and unproductive, and quite transparently have a chip on your shoulder. You should go away.
Oh, and "troubled kids"? Shawn is a successful producer and film director, and nowhere near a kid anymore. You don't know what -- or whom -- you are talking about.
Annette: It sounds like your complaint is mostly leveled against Jobsite. It's one I have heard before, and it's bogus. I have been in a handful of Jobsite productions over the years, but I am not part of the organization, not one of "the kids." Almost every Jobsite show I have been in has had one or more cast members in it who were completely new to Jobsite. In the last one, the leading lady was new to Jobsite -- I'm sure some of the regular Jobsite women who might have wanted that role would be amused to hear about how it's always the same people getting the good parts.
Some of us who work sporadically at Jobsite go years between roles, Jobsite can hardly be accused of showing us too often. Yes, there are people who are sort of regulars, because they have a history with the company and the company knows they're good and they are reliable, and why not? That's true of every small theatre in the universe -- look around, it's how it's done. In every endeavor, people gravitate toward working again with people they have had positive experiences with -- but there is always new blood, if not in every show, surely multiple times in every season, and at every theater in town. Yes, some people play similar sorts of roles in multiple plays (though perhaps not as invariably as you suppose), because that's what they are physically suited to, and do well, and why not? Sorry for you that you have not been among the new blood. I don't know anything about you, but you might consider that there are other possible reasons you have not been cast, and work toward addressing those deficiencies, instead of writing it all off to the supposed "semi-autism" (gawd) of the director.
Based on some of your other patently baseless charges ("lefty, lesbo-centric theater"... what the hell are you talking about?), I wonder if you have a reputation for being an unpleasant person to be around. Maybe that's why nobody casts you. Ensemble spirit is an important factor in the success of a show, and a wise director avoids casting poisonous people who might cast a pall over the process. I have no way of knowing whether that's the case with you. But you might give it some thought. You should get some coaching on your auditioning skills, practice being nice to people, and see if things improve for you. Refraining from labeling directors retarded in print under your own name would be an excellent start.
And yes, MT is correct, Jim and Alvin and I are all dead sexy.
"Bland, sexless, nonthreatening white male over the age of 50" Ned Averill-Snell? Jim Wicker? Alvin Jenkins? This over 50s gal thinks they are all pretty sexy. Maybe I'm watching too much lefty, lesbo-centric theater.
People ought to know that Paonessa is vice-chair of Jobsite's board, and a shill for David Jenkins. Jobsite is the only theater group I've ever seen regularly, almost compulsively argue in print with reviews of its work.
A lotta thin skins over among those troubled kids.....
"I'd audition for things, not get cast ..."
I wonder how much this tempered the rest of what you had to say?
Wow. I don't know if it is your intent to sound smug and myopic, Mark, but that's the way this is reading. "Are the citizens of Tampa in danger of marrying into a haredi family? Are the ultra-Orthodox slowing encroaching on Seminole Heights?" Do you really want to reduce any play to the direct relation it has on you personally? I guess there's not much point to you (or any non-African American, for that matter) watching Yellowman, is there? When's the last time you were a salesman nearing death, participating in a spelling bee or had your horse sold off to fight in WWI?
Despite my 12 years in religious school, a lot of the culture in this piece is completely new and (brace yourself) fascinating to me. It is to many people. While you are extremely educated on this topic, that doesn't mean the content of this piece is so obvious to everyone else. There may be issues with the production or the script; totally understandable. However, when we cannot see theater, especially new work, that introduces and enlightens us to cultural and social conflict, then we're cutting theater off at the knees. Or perhaps you would prefer Jobsite to do safer, more accessible, published works? Or are you only looking for pieces that take place in Ybor, Hyde Park, etc.? Just looking for some consistency here.
I know the history of theater in Tampa (mostly) since about 2007. I used to try to get out and see just about everything in my budget.
Then, I quickly realized that I was seeing the same actors, doing mostly the same parts, in the same kinds of works, over and over and over again. I'd audition for things, not get cast, and then read Leib's review of the production, usually, as mediocre.
Over time, my consumption of theater has dropped precipitously. I just don't attend most theater in Tampa any more.
This is a well-known problem, discussed usually only in hushed tones. Tampa theater is run like a high-school drama club. (I guess you can say the same for the city itself.) A small group of people are “in,” and this group exists largely in a self-referential, narcissistic vacuum. Their chief goal is their own preservation, preferably with someone else paying for it. New blood is resisted, if not barred entirely, and works to be produced seem to be chosen largely on the basis of who in the club will be playing which role next year.
If you need a bland, sexless, nonthreatening white male over the age of 50, everyone in town knows who's going to be playing that part.
If you want self-indulgent fare put on by kids led by a semi-autistic kook, largely for their own entertainment, you know where to go.
If lefty, lesbo-centric theater is not your thing, you know which house to avoid.
And that just about sums up the Tampa scene. For the last 6 years. No wonder people don't stay.
Saw this to see Jack Holloway, who is one of the few consistently good things about the Tampa theater “scene.” I was not disappointed. He is not afraid to be physical, and to fully embrace the character and his own choices' consequences.
(As noted by Leib, Holloway does dwarf just about everyone else on stage, and you can argue about whether that serves or impedes the believability of the character, but I didn't feel this was much of an issue. Why, however, did he play so much of the work barefoot? His feet are huge. Like a Hobbit's. I was distracted.)
When you have one very physical actor/interpretation, however, it's jarring to then turn to other actors who look like they are still doing what they did in high school. Some of the players had no idea what to do with themselves or their bodies, and walked around like it was the 21st century.
Some, though not all, of the older actors managed to make a convincing go at the Shakespearean verse. None of the (really) younger actors did. This is the problem with doing Shakespeare. It cannot be spoken like modern English. Every word requires choices, and the easy choice is often not the right one. Shakespeare also usually calls for large casts, and when you have a large cast, you inevitably get unevenness of effort and talent. (This is the big problem with community/amateur theater.) Unfortunately, suspension of disbelief requires a seamless production, and one actor who mouths the verse as though s/he really doesn't understand or believe what the character is saying destroys the illusion.
Several male roles were cast with young women. Why? Not enough men available? Is this “non-traditional casting” run amok? Yes, tis true that Shakespeare wrote in a day when women were not permitted on stage, therefore young men had to play female roles, and it was undoubtedly easier to write works heavy on the men. But the role is written as the role is written. If you don't like it, don't do the work. Stick a female actor in where a man is supposed to be and the result is just weird.
Tampa theaters, finally, continue to cast and recast and re-recast some of the same faces doing essentially the same roles (in some cases, playing themselves, which is not acting at all) over and over and over again. This is deplorable. It's boring. It's not good for the area's cultural development. It keeps a lot of people home, so it's not good for business. A wicker basket may be good for gathering oranges, but you'll never boil water in one.
Left an intermission. Could not wait to get out. God-awful would be praising it.
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