Malfi light and noir

Malfi light and noir

For all sorts of reasons, I’m really looking forward to tonight’s BBC Four broadcast of The Duchess of Malfi recorded at the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse. First off, John Webster’s revenge tragedy is one of my favourite plays (along with his other masterpiece The White Devil). Then there’s the fact that this is the first television broadcast of a play from a theatre for at least a decade – and the first Jacobean drama to be seen on the small screen since The Changeling back in 1993. And of course, since I am deeply involved in translating stage to screen producing the RSC’s Live from Stratford-upon-Avon broadcasts, I have a strong professional interest as well. I saw the production on stage and I plan to live-blog this evening’s broadcast. All of which meant that I was also fascinated to see James Shapiro’s curtain-raiser documentary last night, The Mysterious Mr Webster.
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Better read

Better read

To Shakespeare’s Globe – or at least to the Sackler Studios just round the corner – for a wonderfully jolly staged reading on Sunday of Philip Massinger‘s comedy A New Way to Pay Old Debts. Probably written in 1625, this is one of the more popular dramas from the theatre just after Shakespeare’s death. Even so our theatre companies invariably seem to prefer yet another Romeo and Juliet to presenting this comedy – or indeed to exploring the contemporary repertory of nearly 500 surviving plays from the period 1576 to 1642 that are not by Shakespeare. Which is exactly why Globe Education’s excellent Sunday afternoon series called Read not Dead came into being seventeen years and two hundred performances ago.
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Three Henrys, two hits

Three Henrys, two hits

To Shakespeare’s Globe on a sunny Sunday morning. This is my first live encounter with the Globe to Globe season of all 37 plays by 37 companies in 37 languages. (I have also been watching recordings of some of the productions on The Space.) There are only the three today: Henry VI parts 1, 2 and 3, performed in Serbian, Albanian and Macedonian. These plays are among the most under-performed and under-valued in the canon, the latter adjective a judgement that once again has been confirmed nearly ten hours after we start. By which time we have seen two strong, innovative productions and one that disappoints. Once again, too, I have found that after all these years (I have been going to the Globe since 1998) I remain ambivalent about it as a place to watch plays.
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