Sunday, June 23, 2013

Twelfth Night On Tour Auditions- July 1st

            Nebraska Shakespeare is holding auditions for its 8th annual Fall production, Twelfth Night On Tour next Monday, July 1st at 7pm at the Lied Center on the campus of Creighton University.  The full-time day/evening touring contract dates are September 8th-September 28th(rehearsals) and September 29th-October 25th(touring performances).  Cold readings will be available for the audition, no monologue required. 

The cast will be comprised as follows:
Female Roles:
                                               Maria- Must learn to speak a portion of role in Spanish
                                               Feste- Singer

Male Roles:
                                               Toby Belch
                                               Sir Andrew

           As an educational tour, teaching workshops and participation in post-show discussions will be a part of the actor's job as well. Education experience is desired, but not required.  This is a professional acting/educator position.  All roles are paid weekly wages as well as per diem while touring over-night.

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact Director of Education, Sarah Carlson-Brown
 Taming of the Shrew Tour Company 2006
Romeo and Juliet at Lincoln's Pioneer Park 2007
A Midsummer Night's Dream 2008
Macbeth at Cozad High School 2009

Romeo and Juliet (in Dress Rehearsals) 2010
Much Ado About Nothing 2011
Julius Caesar 2012

To see more previous touring productions, click here.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

In case you missed it

            The Omaha's Theatre Arts Guild published an article in their monthly newsletter about Nebraska Shakespeare's upcoming On The Green productions, Twelfth Night and Titus Andronicus.
Here it is- in case you missed it.


Taglines- The newsletter of the Theatre Arts Guild
Nebraska Shakespeare to do Titus Andronicus
by Tressa Eckermann

         Beginning as a nonprofit organization in September of 1986, the Nebraska Shakespeare Festival always tries to find a new way to bring Shakespeare to the community. This year’s productions will be Twelfth Night and the rarely produced Titus Andronicus.

         Vincent Carlson-Brown has spent fourteen years with the company but this is his first year acting as artistic director for the company. In addition to his work he is also directing Titus Andronicus. The company, although only having five year-round employees, plans to hire upwards of 150 people during the show’s production; including actors, designers, and technicians. Often, they have about 50 volunteers for staff and park maintenance and operate through donors and grants year round. Every season is planned three years in advance and Carlson-Brown said that they are planning their 2017 season.

          For Carlson-Brown his new season has been a way to provide new experiences for the people who come out and for the people involved in the activities.

         “One of my goals has been to explore plays we’ve never done before,” he says. His new goal is to one day perform all of Shakespeare’s 37 works – both traditionally and by speaking to modern audiences with interesting show concepts. To reach this goal they are approaching Twelfth Night as a Seuss punk musical with modern songs by the likes of Queen and Carly Rae Jepsen.

          Carlson-Brown thinks that Titus Andronicus will be an interesting choice for viewers. Even though it’s one of Shakespeare lesser performed plays it is widely considered one of his best and was one of his most popular when first written. Carlson-Brown feels like there is the same “thirst for revenge fantasy” style entertainment that there once was. “It’s a great play in terms of language,” Carlson-Brown adds.

          In addition to the two plays there will be multiple workshops available and events for children.    “We’re one of four events that offer free admission,” Carlson-Brown says. “Things like Shakespeare on the Green is a real community event. We also manage to do high quality work for theatre lovers but it’s still accessible.”

         You can learn more about Nebraska Shakespeare’s work and for details about their upcoming events please visit their website here. Shakespeare on the Green runs from June 20th to July 7th."

          Thank You to TAG for all they do to support Omaha Theatre.

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

Sunday, June 9, 2013

The Object of Art: Two Minute Shakespeare

  Are Shakespeare's plays too long? Do you wish that there were more comedy, even in the tragedies? Do you actually want more Shakespeare, and wish you could see five or six plays in one night? Well have no Shakes-fear! Two Minute Shakespeare is here!
  Two Minute Shakespeare is a small ensemble (6 actors) that performs Shakespeare's plays in two minutes or less. In years past, we have presented Two Minute Shakespeare as a pre-show entertainment before the Shakespeare On the Green Mainstage productions. Through the generosity of an individual sponsor, we were able to expand Two Minute Shakespeare as we took it On the Road to present a preview at multiple venues before we see it On the Green.

The original idea for Two Minute Shakespeare was conceived by company member Moira Mangiameli, as she wrote and directed the first iterations of the two-minute plays. The idea was to rehearse the condensed version of fourteen of Shakespeare's 38 plays, and present them as a choose-your-own order entertainment for the crowd. (The plays that didn't have two minute versions would conveniently be 'not heard' by the performing ensemble, if ever called for by the audience). 

This year's ensemble was directed by Kim Clark-Kaczmarek as Moira and I added a few more plays to the repertoire. (Previously unwritten King John, Much Ado About Nothing, The Tempest, The Comedy of Errors, and Titus Andronicus). We rotated some scripts out, so that the group will still work on just 14 plays to have ready for performance. The 2013 Two Minute ensemble features: Michael Conroy, Raydell Cordell III, Clare Jasnowski, Anna Jordan, Steve Krambeck , and Jake Vann. Lauren Akers stage manages, and actually takes part in a few productions while announcing a one sentence plot summary for the audience as various props and costume pieces are gathered for each play by the ensemble.

Each Two Minute play is timed by an audience member to make sure that the performance comes in under 120 seconds. For every second over, the ensemble promises a push-up. Hamlet was last timed at 2:06. So that was six push-ups for every member of the ensemble. But all in all, six extra seconds for what could be a four-and-a-half hour play isn't bad at all. We just need to eliminate those William Shatner pauses. 

Look for Two Minute Shakespeare On the Green at 7:30 before each Twelfth Night and Titus Andronicus performance, June 20-July 7. Check out for more info.
See you there!

Good weekend Gentles,
Vincent CB

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Titus Andronicus: A map of woe.

          When most scholars discuss Shakespeare's Titus Andronicus, they are usually speaking on the cycle of revenge that revolves around the Andronici family and the tribe of the Goths.   This, Shakespeare's bloodiest revenge tragedy, was one of the earliest and most popular of his lifetime.  Its popularity waned after his death, but it has been having quite a renaissance in theatres in the past 40 years.  Though the high death toll and violence is not unique to Titus Andronicus (King Lear, Macbeth, Hamlet and Romeo and Juliet- also boost large body counts), there is one aspect of this early play that is quite exclusive to this story; the character of Lavina is raped, her hands and tongue cut away. Though this occurs off-stage, it is this act of violence and the re-entrance and presence of the wounded Lavinia that makes Titus Andronicus a play that is feared, remembered, and used as a ready tool for reflection and discussion on our current society.

Costume Renderings for Lavinia
(Act I and II) by Lindsay Pape

Costume Renderings for Lavinia 
(Act III, IV, and V) by Lindsay Pape

        As the actress playing Lavinia this summer, I was set with the task by the director, Vincent Carlson-Brown, to research and explore the physical and emotional consequences of violent acts against Lavinia.  Along with our Assistant Director, Maggie Fisher, I started to work through the mountains of journals, thesis papers, and scholarly works that have been written on this subject. 

       As helpful as each book, video and article was, we were still looking to speak with some experts that deal with violence and trauma on a day-to-day basis.   I looked to the Domestic Violence Coordinating Council and the Women's Center for Advancement to continue this discussion and exploration.  Luckily, I was put into contact with Dr. Tara Muir from DVC and we arranged a meeting with her and her colleagues.  Prior to our meeting, Maggie and I met with Vincent and were given a map of the the character and the violence she deals with from which to structure our conversation with the experts.  We poured over what questions and details we could request from this opportunity.  With our heads and hearts full, we met with staff members from both DVC and WCA, prepared to be given a barrage of technical information and practical facts that we could work into our rehearsal process.  Instead we received an open conversation, a meeting of minds that informed more than countless hours with text books did.  With passion and experience, these women offered their thoughts on Lavinia's trauma; they asked questions of me that I had not thought of, offered ideas, images and personal experience.  We spoke for hours, losing track of the time, as five women sat and discussed one of the most violent theatrical acts against a woman in literature.

      After this experience we knew Nebraska Shakespeare had to give our audince the opportunity to take part in a similar discussion.  This play is not one to be trifled with lightly, nor one to present without dicussion and critcal thinking, so we have asked DVC and WCA to join us on July 2nd at 6:30 for the Nebraska Shakespeare Scholars Forum- 'Titus Andronicus: Themes of Violence' to openly speak on the tragedy of this play and what we can take away from such a horrific act.

        Below are talking points created by the director in response to the so-often asked question: "Why is Nebraska Shakespeare producing Titus?"  These questions are what we wrestle with everyday in rehearsals.  These questions and more will be discussed at the Scholars Forum on July 2nd.  We hope you can join us in finding some answers to Shakespeare's continuously and shockingly relevent questions.

Titus Andronicus Talking Points from the director, Vincent Carlson-Brown:
What can be more profitable than watching on the stage a reflection of human life; to be made wise from their example, those who have trod the path of error and danger before us?  How do we choose to connect with each other in light of our most horrible depravity?  How do we re-establish our humanity, and recover from the grief and loss having been through our darkest hours?    

Shakespeare asks the questions that can help us discover a truth about ourselves.

Have a great Wednesday.  
Hope you will join us on the Green on July 2nd
Sarah Carlson-Brown

Saturday, June 1, 2013

The Object of Art: The Nightmare

Titus Andronicus is a play about family, power, grief, and revenge.  This play is a nightmare.
Tamora, Queen of the Goths, is brought to Rome as a prisoner of longtime War-General, Titus Andronicus.  However, within 4 pages of the opening, she is made the Emperess of Rome as the wife of new Emperor Saturninus.  An ever-plummeting cycle of vengeance leads to a scene in Part Two of this, Shakespeare's earliest tragedy in which Tamora disguises herself as the embodiment of Revenge and visits Titus, promising destruction on his foes.  Her sons, Demetrius and Chiron are disguised as Murder and Rapine (an alternate word form of Rape).  I have labeled this scene (Act V, Scene 1) as The Nightmare, and have decided to stage it in a way that suggests that perhaps some or all of it takes place in Titus' mad-addled mind.

A major element of the scene is the disguise in which Tamora and her two sons, Demetrius and Chiron visit Titus in his home.  I have used the animal imagery within the play to conceptualize the Goths in this moment.  A crow, a wolf, and a stag were suggested to our Props Master, Charles Fisher, as starting points for these Nightmare figures.  I brought images to share; these animals in moments of attack and rage.  I found a fantastic deer skull that had been painted black with gold highlights.  In the production meeting we spoke through ideas on how the human actors might use these as a disguise in some sort of mask or through puppetry.

We decided that Tamora, as Revenge, would become an abnormally large crow that haunts Titus; mounting a wing on one shoulder, a crow's skull in one hand, the other arm operating the remaining wing.  In early literature (Greek, Roman, Shakespeare), birds serve as harbingers of evil, and omens of foreboding.  We thought it an appropriate fit.  We attached Demetrius, as Murder, to the wolf, as he was the elder brother; the first to strike and kill Titus' son-in-law.  And we then suggested that Chiron, as Rapine, would wear a deer-skull; the stag drew significant parallels to Shakespeare's cuckolding metaphors where sexual deviancy was literalized with sprouting horns.

Charles drew some sketches to give me an idea how these disguises might look on the actor's body and head.  From there, we finalized the look of each element.  We explored the idea of having Tamora use an albino crow head and wings, but found that it actually led to a resemblance of a dove; not exactly the horrifying bird I wanted to present as Revenge.  But the white wolf was certainly a possibility.  I felt strongly that I wanted the deer skull to be painted black, as in the original image I had presented.  With the gold accents, it tied nicely into the royal Roman family to which these brothers had been adopted.  With the white wolf, and the black stag-skull, we decided on black crow wings, but a white crow skull that would be painted black at the beak with a gold accent.  I was excited to see that all the elements were tied together into a cohesive design.  Charles created renderings on his computer, incorporating the established costume design of Lindsay Pape into the final looks.

When the final renderings were approved, Charles began to construct the Nightmare Disguises.  He created the structure of the wolf and stag heads on bike helmets, using a moldable plastic that, when heated became flexible, and as it cooled, maintained shape.  He then glued a synthetic fabric (made to look like fur) to the outside of the wolf head.  He painted each to match the specifications of the final renderings; also creating wearable shoulder-cowls to match.  If you look closely, you can see the blood-soaked drool hanging from Murder's flashing teeth; a very specific, artistic touch that speaks to Charles' attention to detail.

We tried the heads and cowls onto the actors for a publicity photo-call and what you see is the result of that session.  As we work through the rehearsal process, Michael Frishman (Demetrius, right) and Eric Weiman (Chiron, left) are working with these masks to create a truly horrifying moment for Titus' Nightmare.  The final moment onstage speaks to the fascinating collaboration of the theatre: from Director to Props Master, taking input from the Costume Designer and working with the actors.  Final elements from the Lighting Designer and Sound Designer will combine with what takes place on a stage created by a Set Designer.  And that is the unique and special relationship between theatre artists and audience; I can't wait for you to see it all come together in the park.

Titus Andronicus opens June 27th in Elmwood Park at 8pm.  Free Admission.

Good Weekend Gentles.
Vincent CB

For more information on opening weekend of Titus Andronicus and Twelfth Night on June 20th, visit