Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Meet the 2013 Anne Dittrick Sonnet Winners!!

          After our three wonderful sonnet judges toiled over countless sonnets, they proclaimed two AMAZING sonnet winners and four wonderful honorable mentions for our 16th Annual Anne Dittrick Sonnet Contest. Below are the winning sonnets and honorable mentions for your reading pleasure.


By Neil Brothers 

Some sonneteers imbibe as they compose, 
Without they murder meter, torture rhyme. 
A few of them display a bulbous nose— 
Still, red and veiny isn't yet a crime. 
Their pages sometimes blush with crimson spots, 
With ever more as evening turns to night. 
That's not surprising—counting emptied pots, 
Amazing that the poets stay upright. 
A sonnet's measured by the words contained, 
The sum of which should far exceed the parts. 
The yardstick isn't glasses never drained, 
But do the words engage our minds and hearts. 
It doesn't matter much what poets drink, 
For truth's not found in bottles but in ink.

Neil P. Brothers lives with his wife Jan, and cat Rocky, in Battle Creek, Michigan. Semi-retired now, he's had many careers. A very abbreviated list includes: reluctant soldier (in the late Nineteen Sixties); taxi driver; manager of two consumer loan offices; owner of two antiquarian bookstores; editor/publisher of a magazine for book collectors and librarians; antique dealer; debenture salesman; and so on—and on. He explains this restlessness by saying that he's never had much interest in excessively repeating the same life experience. In recent years, Neil's principal interests have included watching films at his favorite multiplex; technical analysis of the stock market; attending public auctions; furthering his understanding of creative writing generally, poetry specifically; and trying to ignore birthdays.


One Smitten 
By Bradford Lussier

The sighing, swelling sea sings winter songs
While whitecaps on the waves wash into shore.
Foul winds fast chase away the wingèd throngs
Till naught hear I save wind and ocean’s roar.
Within warm visions waft mid reverie
And welcome, Siren songs thrill I to hear:
The first, your portrait in my memory,
The next, the rush your voice brings to my ear.
As seabirds helpless ’gainst the winter gale
And ragged dunes ’gainst waves that ne’er relent,
No mast, no rope so strong that shall not fail
Against the strength of love’s abandonment.
While Sirens wrought sweet songs men to entice,
One smitten knows your whisper to suffice.

Sonnet Four 
By Arthur Cohen

I counted stars within the darkest skies,
I counted tears each time my eyes would weep,
I counted on some people who told lies,
And counted sheep until I fell to sleep.
One hundred million billion dollar bills,
Much more than any sum I'd seen before,
Came tumbling, pouring down the mountain hills,
While rumbling, roaring, falling to the shore.
And never could I count on such high hope
To free me from the depths of misery,
But now I could not comprehend the scope
Of how my life would change its history.
Yet things are seldom that which they may seem,
And waking up, I sheared apart my dreams.

  • Adult/Post Secondary Sonnet entries were at a record high this year.


The Tempest 
By Mason Wright 
Elkhorn South High School

The clouds form into darkened masses and 
The sun is blocked out from the still black sky. 
The boughs and branches of the trees are fanned 
By gusts of wind that whoosh and wail and cry. 
A funnel forms as clouds drop down below 
The wall of imminent destructive force. 
And now the mighty winds begin to blow 
As nature’s wrath proceeds to take its course. 
The lightning strikes and thunder starts to boom. 
Descending rain soaks everything in sight. 
Tornados form and seal the fate of doom 
And every creature feels the tempest’s might. 
The storm clears up and all that’s left to feel 
Is eerie calm from damage that’s surreal.

Mason Wright will be a junior at Elkhorn South High School.  He lives with his proud parents, Mark & Terri Wright.  He is a varsity wrestler and earned a 5th place medal at the Nebraska State Championship tournament this year as a sophomore.  Mason loves video games, friends and food (especially in the off-season)!  His three brothers and three sisters love to pester him and cheer for him!  He is the proud owner of a five-month-old black Boxador named Tipper!


I: Prélude 
By Timothy Rayner
La Jolla High School

Complexity of rhythm, somber notes
So ripe with raw emotion, pain and joy
Humanity, arranged with mastered strokes
The artist, feeling hurt—distraught, but coy.
Eyes closed, he opens doors that ere were shut
And brings to mind a time and place once dead
The movement of the bow across the gut
Vibrations through the grain assault my head
Mere human, coaxing screams from ancient wood
Makes steel weep, its deep voice cracks with grief
Performing mastered runs as best one could
He tells a story, beautiful, but brief.
What’s left of me is visions of his pain
Yet inspiration courses through my veins.

Endless Winter 
By Drew Dee
Elkhorn South High

The cold winds bite the frigid air around
The only sound that’s heard is frosty winds
It is a truly sad and mournful sound
It is a land where winter never ends
No life grows here in this resourceless land
No animals do graze in barren fields
And no man will extend a helping hand
In hopes that this forgotten land will heal
Not everything is lost in this cold place
For hidden beauty is within the ice
The ice welcomes the sun’s toasty embrace
And does escape the endless winter’s vice
But even though the winds of winter bite
Its beauty can be found beneath the light

We had many wonderful sonnets to choose from this year.  Thank you to all of our many sonnet writers!  We hope to see you all On The Green!

Have a Great Wednesday
Sarah Carlson-Brown
Director of Education

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

The Object of Art: Stage Management

Jessica Humke 
The costume and scene shops have been running for the past two weeks, working on the set in Elmwood Park and on the costumes for both shows. We just wrapped our first week of rehearsals and I think it's high time we met our stage management team.

Jessica Humke is currently studying theatre at Iowa Western Community College. She is our assistant stage manager for Titus Andronicus this year. In addition to taping out the set (marking out our rehearsal hall as it will appear in the park) and setting up the rehearsal spaces each day, Jessica is in charge of tracking line notes and cues for the actors. Any changes that are made to the script are noted by her and made into a report that the entire cast receives and reviews before the next rehearsal. She is 'on-book' during rehearsals which means that she watches the script, and as actors working onstage call for assistance, she feeds the beginning of their lines to them.
Natalie Kammerer

Natalie Kammerer is our assistant stage manager for Twelfth Night this year. She is currently studying at Creighton University to be a costume and props designer. She is in charge of props tracking for the show, setting up anything that the actors work with onstage and organizing where the props need to be at the right time. She considers herself 'a freakishly-organized person', proudly sporting a color-coded daily planner and 'enjoys being a part of the rehearsal process. Watching a show come together.'

Ephriam Harnsberger
Ephriam Harnsberger is also a student at Creighton University. He is the assistant stage manager for both shows. He watches the script for Twelfth Night and manages props (and weapons) for Titus Andronicus. There are over 20 different weapons during the show (short swords, spears, daggers, bows and arrows), and Ephriam makes sure each actor has what they need when they need it. He is looking forward to setting up the running elements in the 'wonderland' of the park, a monumental task that includes all scene changes in addition to props. Between Natalie and Ephriam, our coffee needs have sky-rocketed!

Suzanne Withem, a graduate of UNO, is the head stage manager for Twelfth Night. Suzanne has worked as an actress, designer, director, and stage manager around Omaha, including at The Omaha Community Playhouse, the Rose Theatre, Opera Omaha, and the Omaha Theater Company Ballet. She runs the daily rehearsals for Twelfth Night, making sure they stay to schedule; she also communicates between the director, designers, and actors- keeping an eye on the larger picture, making sure that everything runs smoothly both onstage and behind-the-scenes. Suzanne, on the rehearsal process, 'I love problem solving. I think of rehearsals as a long string of problems to be solved. The actors have their set of problems to solve (how to motivate their action and tell the story). As do designers (how to help tell the story through the inanimate objects they place on the actors or on the stage.) The crew solves the problems of how to move all of the pieces around so that we can tell the story together in a smooth and seamless way.' Through the director's vision, Suzanne manages how the costumes, set pieces, props, actors, music, and lights are integrated into one cohesive show.

Suzanne Withem

Richelle Harrington Calin
Richelle Harrington Calin currently hails from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where she works as an Equity (Theatre Union) Stage Manager for Milwaukee Rep. Since 1991 she has worked professionally; including nine years at Playhouse on the Square in Memphis, Tennessee. She estimates that Titus Andronicus is the 147th show she has stage-managed professionally and she brings a wealth of experience to our company as our Production Stage Manager. She oversees the entire stage management team in setting schedules and work plans, in addition to her daily duties for Titus Andronicus. She likens the job to being an air-traffic controller, as when we get to the park all aspects of the show transition form the director's hands to hers in the run of the show. A favorite quote? '“The play’s the thing.” Sure, it’s a quote from Hamlet, but, in this case, I take it out of context of the Shakespeare play to mean …

The heart of everything we do in live theater is all eventually based in the script, the words on the page. We can add all the smoke and mirrors and helicopters and flying Spidermen an audience could want, but good theater still comes down to a great script. That’s what makes Shakespeare so brilliant! You can add all of those things (except maybe Spiderman) or none of them and you will still have the foundation for great theater. '

I couldn't be happier with our Stage Management team this year. The director would get lost in the minutiae of the daily details, and our job is made possible by the hard work of these individuals that help to make what we do as a team so fulfilling. One week down, three to go, until we open Twelfth Night On the Green June 20th followed by Titus Andronicus on June 27th. Free Admission. See you soon.

Have a Good Week Gentles,
Vincent CB

Check out to see the evening's nightly schedule for Shakespeare On the Green.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Shakespeare on Television: "The Hollow Crown" to air in September

Our partners, NET, have announced that PBS will be airing The Hollow Crown as a part of the year-long Shakespeare Uncovered Series.

This ambitious four-part miniseries assembles four of Shakespeare’s history plays — Richard II, Henry IV Parts I & II, and Henry V — into a single chronological narrative. 

The original “Game of Thrones,” has inspired bold film adaptations with a cast of leading British and Hollywood talent including Jeremy Irons, Tom Hiddleston, Ben Whishaw, Rory Kinnear, Patrick Stewart, John Hurt, Julie Walters, David Suchet, Michelle Dockery and David Morrissey. 

Fridays, September 20 through October 11, 8:00 p.m.
  • “The Hollow Crown – Richard II” – September 20
  • “The Hollow Crown – Henry IV, Part I” – September 27
  • “The Hollow Crown – Henry IV, Part II” – October 4
  • “The Hollow Crown – Henry V” – October 11

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Omaha Gives!

Today's the day!  

Make a donation to Nebraska Shakespeare through Omaha Gives (below and at anytime today. Each hour will be an opportunity to increase our chances for prize money.

We need your support, in dollars. Our goal is to generate $10,000 for the day. You can help increase our chances for additional prizes by spreading out donations a couple times a day. Minimum donation amount is $10. 

All day today, check out our Facebook for updates and hourly challenges. Surprises to be found.



           Omaha Gives is right around the corner, since there are so many wonderful organizations to donate to tomorrow, I am going to give you some reasons to make Nebraska Shakespeare an organization on your giving list for May 22nd, 2013.

Reason to Give #1:
Every Spiderman bedsheet needs its day in the Sun
Camp Shakespeare offers opportunities for students to explore all aspects of theatre and Shakespeare.
Through our two weeks of camp our creative instructors produce fun and inventive ways of making Shakespeare accessible and understandable to their students.  Above is just an example of a student taking the bold (and hilarious) choice to play the epic role of Brutus in a Spiderman sheet proving that Shakespeare can be fun, silly and his characters can shoot webs from their wrists. 

Reason to Give #2:
Shakespeare on the Go!
After 7 years of touring, Nebraska Shakespeare OnTour has reached over 50,000 students.  
50,000th attendee Matt Cummins and 50,001st Attendee- Genna Cottrell with the cast of Julius Caesar at
Bellevue East High School (10/10/2012)
Many of our performances are funded by sponsors and generous donations just like Omaha Gives.  We have reached so many schools and communities and we can't wait to get back on the road this October, with Twelfth Night

Reason to Give #3:
Shakespeare in a classroom doesn't need to induce sleep
Along with our OnTour programming we offer workshops about Shakespeare's Text, Acting and Stage Combat

These workshops are aimed at showing students and teachers that Shakespeare isn't boring, but it can actually be a lot of fun.  (P.S. The lovely students at Brownell-Talbot in the bottom picture are not sleeping through the workshop, they are learning how to "melt" to the ground safely after receiving a stage punch)

Reason to Give #4:
Medieval Weapon+Kids= Education!
Stage Combat Tutorials will be a part of Shakespeare on the Green's Shakesperience Tent

The Shakesperience tent has been a presence On The Green for years, but this year we thought that we would add Stage Combat training to the list of activities   So grab you sister, your dad or your wife and head to the Shakesperience Tent this summer and learn how to create your own epic sword fight.

Reason to Give #5:
As we all know it gets super hot outside- so if we get enough money donated we could provide mini air conditioning units to every patron in the park
(Actual picture during opening night of The Comedy of Errors in 2012)
They only run about $50 per person with an average of 2,000 people a night, we just need $100,000!  Come on people, dig into your pockets for SUMMER COMFORT!!

Have a Great Wednesday!
Sarah Carlson-Brown
Director of Education

PS: Listen to NET Radio's Friday Live! at 10am this Friday, May 24th to hear the WINNING 2013 SONNETS!!

Friday, May 17, 2013

The Object of Art: Director's Profile

Anthony Clark-Kaczmarek, director of Twelfth Night sits down for an interview with Artistic Director Vincent Carlson-Brown.  Apparently it's a good idea to have a hyphenated name if you want to direct plays for Nebraska Shakespeare.

VCB:  After working with you on last year's The Comedy of Errors (I directed, you played one half of the Antipholi twins), I was interested in having you work with us again.  I began my search for a director for 2013's comedy, Twelfth Night, and brought you in as a candidate last fall.  I met with you to discuss the possibility and after three or four meetings; discussing style, concept, approach, and schedule, brought you on board.  As we enter our first week of rehearsals next week, I want to introduce you to our audience.

ACK:  That was all very weird, the way you said that, me sitting here.

VCB:  Be quiet, it was just the intro.

ACK:  Just saying.

VCB:  What's your background?  Where do you come from?

ACK:  Where do I come from?  I am originally from North Platte, NE.  

VCB:  Yes.  And?

ACK:  Ok, I went to Nebraska Wesleyan University in Lincoln and earned my Bachelors in Theatre (emphasis in directing) and Education.  I have lived in Omaha for about 17 years with my wife, Kim.  We have been active in the Omaha theatre community both professionally and as community theatre members.  I taught theatre at Bryan High School for 10 years, before getting my Master's in Administration from UNO and moving on to that side of the public school system.  Kim started the Living Picture Project (LPP) in the year 2005 as part of her Master's in Theatre from the UNO.  The LPP was a theatre company that we worked on for five years; writing, acting, and directing.

VCB:  I built the set for one of your shows.

ACK:  That's right, you did.  
           Dogs Playing Poker.

VCB:  Really, I just hung a green billiards lamp over a table.

ACK:  We couldn't have done it without you.

VCB:  I know.  What's your history with Nebraska Shakespeare? 

ACK:  My very first experience, I had a horrible audition, having just graduated from Wesleyan.  I auditioned with a piece from Macbeth that I threw together a few days before.  I went up (forgot some lines) during the audition, but tried to cover it.  The result was the most hesitant and modern sounding MacDuff speech ever performed.  To everyone's shock and dismay, I was not cast.  Ah youthful choices...

VCB:  There are stories told about how bad that audition was.

ACK:  Seriously?

VCB:  No.  Nobody remembers it.  That's how bad it was.

ACK:  Thanks.

VCB:  Just saying.

ACK:  My first actual work with Nebraska Shakespeare was as an instructor for Camp Shakespeare in 2004; I directed the Players (high school age group) in the Romeo and Juliet section of The Compleat Shakespeare Abridged script.   Great fun.  
Then, I was asked by Bill VanDeest (then Associate Artistic Director) a few years later (2006) to be the Assistant Technical Director for the 20th Anniversary shows, The Taming of the Shrew and Antony and Cleopatra.  I had a great time working outside and building with the crew.

Last year I was fortunate enough to play Antipholus of Syracuse in The Comedy of Errors. It was one of the first times that you and I got to work as actor/director.  It was a great time creating and laughing.  Hopefully, the beginning of a future of collaboration between you and I. 

VCB:  I recall, in the sweltering heat of last year's summer, you sweating through your pants in the first act.

ACK:  My daughter, Stella, thought I peed myself, as the sweat marks grew from my waist-
VCB:  -To your ankles, yeah.  It was gross.

ACK:  There were a lot of stairs.

VCB:  And you were in long pants.

ACK:  Thanks for that.

VCB:  You bet.  We've ordered some cooler weather this year.

ACK:  Hope they get the memo.

VCB:  What attracts you to Shakespeare? 

ACK:  I have directed Shakespeare numerous times and everytime I do it is an amazingly satisfying process and product.  The work is tremendously vigorous but the payoff is marvelous.  I am attracted to the way Shakespeare developed relationships.  His use of language is so precise and at many times, an actor's blueprint.  I am intrigued by what was working for an actor during the time he was also an actor/playwright and what works for us today.  I think if you do the work and listen carefully he tells the actor much of what he/she needs to know.   

VCB:  What attracts you to Twelfth Night?

ACK:  I love it because it is one of Shakespeare's most accessible and real comedies.  It is magical and romantic.  It is funny and silly.  Twelfth is a beautifully balanced piece.  It has balance in structure as it starts with music and ends as well.  It has balance between riotously funny clowns and passionate lovers.  It's very storyline is based upon the imbalance between an individual.  Everyone in the play is searching at some point for their other half, their true love.  But, Shakespeare strikes a balance by bringing individuals together and developing relationships that allow them connect.  For many they find their other half, for some there is disappointment.

A piece of Dr. Seuss concept art Anthony brought in for the
designers, showing the whimsy, color, and feel of his production.
But, the thing that strikes me most about Twelfth and that I have chosen to focus our production on is MUSIC.  The music is so vital and important to the story.  There is a character, Feste, who is a performer.  Shakespeare gave us this character in my opinion so that he could explore the love story and the comedy with music.  To me, it is an added dimension to the play that we will explore.  I have exploited it, really.  My adaptation has much more music than Shakespeare's original.  But, I think Shakespeare's soliloquies and dialogue were like a music to the Elizabethans who would have seen the original play.  I think he wanted the music to tell the story and so I am taking a cue from him and letting music speak to our modern audience much as it might have those Elizabethans.

VCB:  What's your favorite line in Twelfth Night?

ACK:  I am fixated on music and it's power in Twelfth.  So, I love Viola's response (as Cesario) to Orsino's question, "How dost thou like this tune?"
"It gives the very echo to the seat
Where love is throned." (Act 2, Scene 4)
I think it is key to our work.  The characters in Twelfth communicate in ways beyond simply words.  They are lyricists and musicians.  And, when they emote, they sing.

VCB:  So, elaborate on that.  What should we expect?

ACK:  Expect a Twelfth that is full of music and singing.  

VCB:  Well, that's pretty clear.

ACK:  One actor said, "I heard you are developing the musical version of Twelfth Night."  In many ways, I have developed a Twelfth that tells the story both traditionally and with music.  Part love song...part dance party. 
Nearly all of our characters will sing. As they are disguising either their identities and/or their emotions, they will break into song.  Love songs.  I chose music that is recognizable, fun and at times outlandish.  It is playful and emotional.
I want the audience to be able to sing as the character's tell the story.  I want them to feel the story through music.

VCB:  What informed your music selections? 

ACK:  I chose music that was modern and familiar.  I wanted audiences to be able to recognize the tunes and even sing along.  I gave myself a rule that all music had to represent the demographic in the park.  Well, that is a big demographic.  So, I looked at everything from 70's rock to hits in 2012/13.  

My choices were always based in the text as well.  I chose music that I felt told the same story as the originals that Shakespeare wrote.  If Feste sang a song of lost love, well, then I found a song that had a similar sentiment.  I also made choices for speeches.  There are soliloquies that have been replaced with music.  The "willow cabin" speech for example has been replaced by a tune that is beautiful and poetic.  It resonates with similar emotion.  

Most importantly, I wanted the music to advance the plot.  I didn't want the songs to be performed for their own sake.  So, rule number two was that all music must tell the same story that was originally told.  Music for music's sake was not an option.  So, there are times that we use music to express heartfelt desire, woeful pain and even raucous joy.  

But, in all cases, it tells the same story, just in a modern manner.

VCB:  Do you have a sneak preview or tidbit from this year's show that we can have an inside look at?

ACK:  I won't give too much away, but let's just say that the #1 YouTube cover song can also be found in our show.  And regardless of your opinion of that works!     

VCB:  Thanks for the sit-down.

ACK:  You bet.

VCB:  You ready to get to work?

ACK:  Can't wait.

VCB:  Good Friday Gentles.

ACK:  What's that?

VCB:  That's my tag-line.  I was signing off.

ACK:  Good Friday?

VCB:  Yeah.  Good Friday Gentles.  I bid you a Good Friday, gentle people of the world.

ACK:  Oh, ok.  Good Friday.

VCB:  Gentles.

ACK:  Good Friday Gentles.

Twelfth Night opens June 20th in Elmwood Park.  Shakespeare On the Green is free to the public.  To learn how you can help through Omaha Gives!  CLICK HERE.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Think About Nebraska Shakespeare On May 22nd

Omaha Gives! is one day to raise as much as you can for your favorite nonprofits.

The charities that get the most support will win matching money and prizes. Celebrate generosity and help Nebraska Shakespeare get to the top.

It’s simple! Nonprofits create online profiles to participate in the event. Anyone in the community can give on the day of the event by going to — the minimum donation is just $10. Then, matching money and awards amplify the charitable donations from the community!


  • Donate to the matching money pool or sponsor a prize award. Contact Sara Boyd for more information.
  • Partner with a local participating nonprofit to host an Omaha Gives! event on May 22nd.
  • Promote Omaha Gives! in your communications – both externally and internally.
  • Encourage your employees to participate in Omaha Gives!
  • On May 22nd, host an event for employees with computer donation stations set-up for the Omaha Gives! site.

Community Members
  • Check out the Donor FAQ to learn more about your donations during Omaha Gives!
  • Plan an Omaha Gives! event for May 22nd – a happy hour, lunch, a group bike ride – to get people excited and aware of the give day.
  • Share Omaha Gives! information to your followers on social media.
  • On May 22nd, support your favorite causes (Don't forget Nebraska Shakespeare) and show Omaha’s generous spirit by giving and cheering on your supported organizations - especially through social media!
Your support on May 22nd will help NS to continue to keep Shakespeare On The Green FREE and accessible to the community.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Thought is Free. And so is Shakespeare on the Green.

"Thought is Free." The Tempest Act III Scene II

Do you know what else is Free?.... Shakespeare On The Green, of course, but also the wonderful supplementary programs that Nebraska Shakespeare provides in Elmwood park each summer. The one I want to elaborate on today is Nebraska Shakespeare's Scholars Forum.

What do people think of when they hear Scholars Forum???...



Ok, so the baby is a little cute, but other than that, most people hear the word "Scholar" and they run for the hills or get ready for a good nap.

But this Scholars Forum that is sponsor by the Nebraska Humanities Council is not like that at all. 

 It is more like...



Ok, well there isn't a whole lot of jumping during the forums, but there is engaging conversation, hilarious anecdotes and great behind-the-scenes conversation.  Here are just a few of the Scholars Forum topics.
Get ready to start jumping.

Scholars Forums 2013 Topics

The Return of Two Minute Shakespeare!! 

 Direction of Twelfth Night 

Twelfth Night as Love Triangle 

Twelfth Night as a Musical 

Direction of Titus Andronicus 

Stage Combat- From Carnage to Campy 

The Andronici Family 

Shakespeare and the Silver screen 

Titus Themes-Shakespeare on Revenge and Violence 

Twelfth Night's Clowning, drinking and revelry! 

2013 Nebraska Shakespeare Designer Night 

Titus Andronicus: The Goths 

Nebraska Shakespeare Education Programming

So you are hooked now, right?
You can't wait to arrive to Elmwood Park at 6:30pm for the nightly Scholars Forums?


Well only a few more weeks to go.  Shakespeare On The Green Countdown....

36 more days!!
Have a Great Wednesday!!
Sarah Carlson-Brown
Director of Education

"He was a scholar, and a ripe and good one;
Exceeding wise, fair-spoken, and persuading:
Lofty and sour to them that loved him not;
But to those men that sought him sweet as summer." Henry Viii Act IV Scene II

Read more about how to take part in all of the events surrounding Shakespeare On The Green HERE.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

The Object of Art: The Audition Process

After the directors have been chosen, the designers hired, and the production meetings are under way, it is time to find a cast.  As Artistic Director, it is my job to oversee the Audition Process.  The first step for each director, after cutting and adapting their play, is to assess the casting needs for each show.  Directors look to formulate a preference type for each role, a slew of variables being considered in creating the idea of the character: gender, age, race, size (height, body shape) and type (i.e. comic, 'hero', character).  Needs specific to the show are established at this point.  

Similar to Othello, Titus Andronicus has a Moor (African) character that is an outsider to the world and it was important for me to establish that role as exclusive from any other type in the play.  I am a strong proponent of colorblind (and genderblind) casting; using the best person for the role regardless of race, gender or any other defining characteristics; but if a specific quality is important for the story I look to honor that reality.  Therefore, it was important for me to cast an African-American in the role and exclusively so, creating for the character in that society a strong sense of isolation.  Conversely, Anthony found a role that is typically cast as male (I myself played the role 12 years ago for NS) and created a strong justification within Twelfth Night for a female to play Curio.

Once the directors have their cast types, a Doubling Possibilities chart is made.  Since we perform two shows in 'rep' (repertory- consecutively and alternating) we need to hire actors that can be in both shows.  In some cases, depending on cast size and specific needs within a show, an actor may be brought on for a single production, but most of our actors double and play a role in each show. What's interesting about this step is discovering the similarities in the shows.  Shakespeare was writing all of these plays for his own acting company, and it's really fun to decipher which type of actor from his time originated each role, and how he created a career out of playing an archetype. (I say 'he', because woman weren't allowed onstage yet, and female roles were played by young boys; a remarkable fact considering that Shakespeare wrote such amazing roles as Lady Macbeth and Rosalind- As You Like It's lead.  And for further enjoyment, in Twelfth Night, where a young boy actor would play the female Viola, disguised as a young boy Cesario, who falls in love with Orsino, a man, but is chased by Olivia, a female- also played by a boy.)

Once the doubling possibilities are organized, it's easier for each director to go into the audition process with an idea of a cast in place.  We knew that we wanted the actor playing Aaron the Moor to also play Orsino in Twelfth Night.  Due to the size of the role of Titus Adronicus, we wanted that actor to have a lighter load in Twelfth Night and considered smaller cameos within the play to fulfill the double-contract.  There were three females written in each play, but with Anthony's addition of Curio, we were looking for a fourth.  The challenge for us became finding the best actors for each show that could also be the best actors for both shows.  I needed strong Roman men across the board, and Anthony was looking for comic singers to fill out his concept.  

The cast has turned out to be, as it is (interestingly enough) every year, almost 50% local professionals, and 50% non-local, in addition to half being new to our company, and the other half being 'veterans', or returning members.  Our Audition Circuit began in January as we traveled to the Equity (AEA professional theatre union) offices in Chicago, the Milwaukee Repertory theatre and its professional community, the University of Minnesota, Florida St., the University of Illinois, and to Lincoln for both ITC (high school International Thespian Convention) and ACTF (American College Theatre Festival).  We finished in February at home, in Omaha, auditioning our local professionals and university students from the region.  We found an immensely and diversely talented cast and can't wait for you to meet them On the Green.  For a preview:

Meet Beethovan Oden: an AEA professional from California making his debut with Nebraska Shakespeare.  We met Beethovan via video submission.  Roles:  Aaron in Titus, Orsino in Twelfth Night.

Meet Moira Mangiameli (left): a professional actress from Omaha, who also chairs the Theatre Dept. at Iowa Western Community College.  Moira is an NS veteran (from our very first year), having last played Queen Margaret in 2004's Richard III.  Roles:  Tamora in Titus, Maria in Twelfth Night.

Meet Veronica Benton (right): a recent graduate of Creighton University, this is her second year with NS having appeared in last year's The Comedy of Errors.  Roles: Curio in Twelfth Night.

Meet Richard Marlatt:  an AEA professional based out of Chicago.  Richard was in The Taming of the Shrew as Petruchio and The Tempest as Trinculo in Year One of Shakespeare on the Green.  We are proud to bring him back 26 years later for this summer's plays.  Roles:  Titus Andronicus in Titus, Sea Captain/Priest in Twelfth Night.

Meet Dan Chevalier: Omaha's native son, a professional actor who also runs around town as a live-action muppet.  He also wrote the Emancipation Proclamation, and was influential in ratifying the 13th Amendment, abolishing slavery in the United Staes Constitution.  Roles:  Bassianus in Titus, Sir Andrew Aquecheek in Twelfth Night.
Good Weekend Gentles,
Vincent CB

Head to to see What's On!

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Let's Get Ready to RUMBLE!!!!

And, of course, by "RUMBLE"-I mean Learn about Shakespeare!!!
         We are thrilled to have a stellar Camp Shakespeare Instructor Staff this summer.  This group of Shakespeare educators will be guiding our young campers in Shakespeare's:




       and of course sword fighting!!
              - So I guess "rumble" was sort of accurate. 

Let's meet our Camp Shakespeare 2013 Staff:

Camp Staff Picture May Not Be 100% Accurate....
but it's close. 

Camp Director
Suzanne Withem
Assistant to Camp Director
Raydell Cordell III
Player Instructor
Ashley Spessard
Apprentices Instructor
Sean Carlson
Apprentices Assistant
Alex Glow
Jester Instructor
Shannon Lampkin
Jester Assistant 
Clare Jasnowski*

* Clare Jasnowski is a graduate of the Camp Shakespeare program.  Look for her this summer in the Two Minute Company: Pre-Show at Shakespeare On The Green.

        Not only will our Camp Shakespeare attendees be working with these fabulous afore mentioned instructors, but also our Shakespeare On The Green professional actors, directors, and designers will be visiting the classes to teach workshops or lead discussions about their work in theatre.

       Camp Shakespeare is a wonderful way to spark your love of theatre and Shakespeare as well as learn the inner-workings of an established professional theatre.  Finally, two weeks of hard work culminates in Camp Shakespeare performances in Elmwood Park during the last weekend of On The Green.
Just look at that audience.  All those people who came out to see our Campers do their stuff.  Look at the balloons!!  Ok... so maybe something else is also happening there that night (Happy 500,00 attendee Shakespeare on the Green), but Camp Shakespeare gets a pretty awesome audience too!
 Come Join us for the Camp Shakespeare Performances:
July 5th (Jesters- Age 8-11)
July 6th (Players-Age 15-18)
July 7th (Apprentices-Age 12-14)
                                                                  -6pm-UNO's Weber Fine Arts Theatre
-7pm-Libby Lauritzen Education Stage-On The Green

      Sign-up your student, join us for the Camp Performances and stay for Shakespeare on the Green.  
Shakespeare on the Green opens June 20th with Twelfth Night! Summer is so close! 
Count down to Summer!  Countdown to Shakespeare!  Only 43 Days!!

       Have a Great Wednesday. 
          Sarah Carlson-Brown
          Director of Education