A message from our Summer Intern

This summer, college freshman Sydney Berk came to work with Antaeus.

She was a tremendous asset to our organization, from managing our Box Office and Assistant Directing some of the ClassicsFest workshops, to just being an all around life-saver.

Here are her words about her summer experience:

Dear Jeanie Hackett,

I hope all is well at Antaeus and with you. The summer was such a great success and I’m happy I got to witness it all unfold. I want to say thank you for the wonderful opportunities you gave me this summer. I feel incredibly lucky and so appreciative for all I learned and the experience I gained. I could not have found a better company to work with. Antaeus is truly one of a kind. Every moment I was there I could see how invested every company member and friend was in the success of the mission. There is always a feeling of support; people help each other, listen to each other and grow with one another. Antaeus showed me what it means to be in a company and gave me a model of the kind of company member I want to be in the future. This summer, I learned boundless amounts about acting, directing and managing a theater. Watching the actors prepare, work and perform was a blessing. Observing the way the different directors interacted with their casts was so beneficial. It was one of my first professional theater experiences and I feel that I could not have been luckier.

I also want to personally thank you because I learned so very much about running a theater from watching you. The way you make decisions, the way you take every opportunity and the way you are always efficient. Thank you for constantly communicating with me, for showing me how to properly run a theater but also for explaining to me why each step you took was important. I really appreciate it.

I miss Antaeus already and am really forward to seeing Autumn Garden later this fall. It was a truly inspiring place to work. The actors, directors and crew all welcomed me so lovingly. The way so many made a point to say hello to me daily meant a lot. It is such a wonderful place to work. I feel so grateful that I got to witness and be a part of the success. I hope I will be back in the future. It is definitely something I would love.

Sincerely,
Sydney

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Dakin Matthews Responds

Antaeus’ Founding Artistic Director, Dakin Matthews, wrote a satirical response to Sunday, August 8th’s LA TIMES article, “Dialogue: Critics Charles McNulty and Steven Leigh Morris discuss the state of L.A.’s small theaters.”

Over a tube of Pringles recently, actor-martyr Genisio Santo and director Meiningen Sachs began a dialogue on the state of theatre reviewing in L.A.; and this give-and-take, subsequently pursued over a second tube of Pringles, seemed worthy of a larger forum.

MS: I think it’s a shame the way not just the major critics like Nutty McCharles tend to be marginalized, but even the—shall I call them minor?—critics like Maury Lee Stevens.

GS: For the record, we don’t tend to think of the latter as “minor”—we prefer “waiver journalists.”  But be that as it may, how do you mean “marginalized,” Meiny?

MS: Well, literally.  I mean, they have to write in columns, they have to stay inside the margins. It’s sad, really; they’re treated like three-year-olds forced to stay inside the lines in coloring books.  I’d love to see their stuff spilling all over the page.  Wacky fonts!  Occasional gibberish!  I mean, what about their creativity?

GS: I hadn’t looked at it that way.

MS: I blame the marketplace.  They’re required by their public to write syntactically and coherently—

GS: Well, I’m not sure that’s true. . . .

MS: And to pander to that 99.5% of their readers who actually read, by having to conform to the stifling, old, traditional spelling and punctuation rules.

GS: Yes, what about that other half a percent who can’t read?  They’re the real cutting edge.  They’re the future.

MS: Yes, print reviewers these days can’t really write what they want; they’re so font- and format-whipped by their editors.  I look forward to the day when they can really cut loose, you know, dump those style sheets in the wastebaskets and write something I could honestly call a McCharles review or a Stephens review instead of that conformist boilerplate stuff that passes for reviews these days.

GS: I agree.  I mean, come on, who needs paragraphs?  What’s in a paragraph?  A screed by any other name, , , ,  But now, Meiny, let’s think even further outside the box.  I’m thinking interdisciplinary reviewing.

MS: Hmmm. How would that work, Genisio old chap?

GS: Well, all the big papers have websites—why shouldn’t Nutty or Maury sing their reviews in streaming video?  Or better yet, write them and then have somebody else deconstruct them, you know, pick out a line here, a line there, reassemble them into a collage, and then stage them as puppet shows?

MS: Yes, Travesty Presson might be just the person to do that!

GS: Whoa, wait—here, let me open that second tube of Pringles, Meiny old boy, I’m a trained actor.  What if we throw away the box entirely, and let the reviewer go to one play and review another one entirely?

MS: But don’t they do that already?  I mean, I often get the impression that they tend to review the play they wanted to see or thought they should have seen—or the one they would have produced (if they actually were in the producing business)–instead of the one they actually saw.

GS: Okay, then how about this—they don’t even see plays.  They just write reviews.

MS: Now you’re talking.  I’ve always thought the ideal situation would be for a reviewer to call me when a production was announced and I could explain to him my concept and what I wanted to do, and he could just review that, without have to deal with all those pesky playwrights and actors.  (Beat.)  No offense, Gen.

GS: None taken.   I mean, who do we think we are?

MS: Or, back to the interdisciplinary idea, how’s this for a picture? All the reviewers in spandex tights with lots of artificial fog, posturing their reviews to pretentious music—Critique de Soleil!

GS: Or–wait a minute—how about a mime review–live and in streaming video; and you could print it in the paper as well.

MS: Yes, fabulous!  And then—no, wait a minute—a mime review in the paper?  Then it’d just be a blank column.

GS: Exactly.

Peter van Norden on ‘King Lear’

One of the benefits of an ensemble company is the wisdom and insights of those offstage as well as the talents of those appearing in a particular production. Throughout the run of our production of King Lear and ClassicsFest 2010, we’ll be sharing thoughts from Antaeus company members about their experiences of the shows they see.

Peter Van Norden on King Lear
Okay. Lear. I’ve done the play twice and seen it countless times, so it’s the small, interesting choices that I’m drawn to – that fascinate me. So, here’s two moments that I found quite striking…one an image and one a “surprise” that I found quite affecting.

‘Lear’ before the hovel, at the end of the storm, III, iv.
It’s a famous speech, of course, ‘Lear’ praying in the tempest – “Poor naked wretches, wheresoe’er you are…” — but both Dakin and Harry have found a fully realized moment with “O, I have ta’en too little care of this.” It becomes a sudden, surprising revelation to both Kings — and it humanizes ‘Lear’ in a visceral, beautifully moving way. In both performances, this sudden self-realization quite literally took my breath away. I’ve never seen the moment presented as clearly or as movingly.

Another “surprising image” that startlingly brings the depth of the play into a shattering focus is provided by both our ‘Edgars’ and ‘Edmunds’ — at the very end of their fight. When ‘Edgar’ finally has the upper hand in the battle…he suddenly and viciously goes for ‘Edmund’s’ eyes, as if to pluck them out. For me, this horrifying image brought an extra level to their struggle – a level that I found quite affecting and that reflects on all that’s gone before it. Not only is this a political battle (for power), and not only is it ‘Edgar’s’ personal revenge for what’s been done to him…but it’s ‘Edgar’s’ uncontrollable response to what has been so unjustly done to their father (‘Gloucester’). It solidifies the ‘Gloucester/Edgar’ relationship in one startling, almost unbearable moment. Kudos to Bart and Ramon/John/Seamus/Daniel for coming up with this idea. Great moment….

‘King Lear’ Announces Cast – Official Press Release

NEWS RELEASE
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Lucy Pollak (for media only)
(818) 887-1499 lucy@lucypr.com

Antaeus Company opens ClassicsFest 2010 with Shakespeare’s tale of madness, tyranny, loyalty and love:
Bart DeLorenzo directs  KING LEAR.
Harry Groener and Dakin Matthews are double cast in the title role.

NORTH HOLLYWOOD, CA – May 18, 2010 – “Blow, winds, crack your cheeks! Rage! Blow!” The Antaeus Company, L.A.’s classical theater ensemble, opens ClassicsFest 2010 with its first full production of a Shakespeare play. Bart DeLorenzo directs King Lear with renowned scholar, actor and Antaeus founding artistic director Dakin Matthews and Broadway veteran/three-time Tony nominee Harry Groener heading two fully double-cast ensembles. Two gala openings, one with each cast, take place on Saturday, June 26 at 8 pm and Sunday, June 27 at 4 pm, with performances continuing through August 8 at Antaeus’ interim home, Deaf West Theatre in the NoHo Arts District. Low-priced previews begin June 12.

King Lear is the politically resonant, timeless and searing story of an aging monarch, a kingdom divided and a family in turmoil. Lear’s decision to divide his kingdom among his three daughters ignites a firestorm of greed and betrayal. Displaced as king and cast out as patriarch, Lear discovers the fragility of familial bonds as he descends into madness. Shakespeare’s sublime poetry infuses this towering tragedy, a tale of family, duty, politics and mortality.

King Lear marks the first full production of a Shakespeare play in The Antaeus Company’s 19-year history.

“We chose Lear because it’s a fantastic ensemble piece, and because we wanted to feature our founding artistic director, Dakin Matthews,” explains artistic director Jeanie Hackett. “Dakin is one of the country’s foremost interpreters of the Bard, and this is an opportunity to explore a Shakespearean play with the master. We double-cast all our productions, a technique that strengthens the way we collaborate and work together as an ensemble, so we’re incredibly fortunate to have the equally superlative actor Harry Groener to share the title role.”

Widely regarded as Shakespeare’s greatest tragedy and arguably one of the greatest English-language plays ever written, King Lear explores domestic, spiritual and political themes in a primal world and an ambiguous time that could just as easily be hundreds of years ago or hundreds of years from now. Harold Bloom, writing in “The Invention of the Human,” calls King Lear a play that shows “an apparent infinitude that perhaps transcends the limits of literature.”

“Many productions are opening in the U.S. and around the world this year, and that’s not a coincidence” notes DeLorenzo. “Everything is in flux: the economy, health care, the political power structure. When the world is changing, theaters do Lear.”

In addition to Matthews and Groener, the ensemble features Allegra Fulton and Kirsten Potter as Goneril; Francia DiMase and Jen Dede as Regan; Rebecca Mozo and Tessa Thompson as Cordelia; Ramon De Ocampo and John Sloan as Edgar; Daniel Bess and Seamus Dever as Edmund; JD Cullum and Stephen Caffrey as the Fool; Robert Pine and Norman Snow as Gloucester; Morlan Higgins and Gregory Itzin as Kent; Kevin Daniels and Adrian Latourelle as Cornwall; and John DeMita and Thomas Vincent Kelly as Albany. Rounding out the cast are Adam Meyer, Brett Colbeth, Gabriel Diani, Jeff Doba, Drew Doyle, Jeff Gardner, Bruce Green, Jason Henning, John Francis O’Brien, Renata Plecha, Jeremy Shouldis and Paige Wilson.

A multiple award-winning director, DeLorenzo is working with Antaeus for the first time. “This is an opportunity to explore one of the world’s great plays with a company of actors who can do the work justice,” he says.

Adds Hackett, “Antaeus is unique because we do weeks, months, sometimes years of exploratory work on a single play before even beginning to rehearse. It’s a very intensive and in-depth process, and perhaps one of the reasons that many of our productions are so successful.”

Set Design for King Lear is by Tom Buderwitz; Lighting Design is by Lap Chi Chu; Costume Design is by A. Jeffrey Schoenberg; Sound Design is by John Zalewski; Prop Design is by Jen Prince; Production Stage Manager is Deirdre Murphy; and Young Ji produces.

Bart DeLorenzo is founding Artistic Director of the Evidence Room in Los Angeles where he has directed many plays over the last 15 years including local and world premieres by Charles Mee, David Greenspan, Kelly Stuart, Philip K. Dick, Gordon Dahlquist, Martin Crimp, David Edgar, Naomi Wallace, and Edward Bond, as well as his own adaptation of Dickens’ Hard Times, Chekhov’s The Cherry Orchard, and Schiller’s Don Carlos, among many others. His recent freelance work includes the world premieres of Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa’s Doctor Cerberus and Donald Margulies’ Shipwrecked! An Entertainment at South Coast Repertory (later revived at the Geffen Playhouse); the world premiere of Joan Rivers: A Work in Progress by a Life in Progress at the Geffen; Sarah Ruhl’s Dead Man’s Cell Phone at South Coast Rep; Racine’s Britannicus at Cal Rep; and Around the World in 80 Days at the Cleveland Playhouse. Most recently, he directed Charles Mee’s bobrauschenbergamerica for TheSpyAnts at Inside the Ford, Adam Bock’s The Receptionist and Caryl Churchill’s A Number at the Odyssey, and the world premieres of Justin Tanner’s Voice Lessons at the Zephyr, and Michael Sargent’s The Projectionist at the Kirk Douglas. For his work, he has received five LA Weekly awards and three Back Stage Garlands.

The Antaeus Company, L.A.’s classical theater ensemble, has a 19-year history of providing quality classical theater in Los Angeles. Through productions, readings and workshops; through educational outreach to the community; and through acting training programs for young professionals, the Antaeus mission remains steadfast and simple: to keep classical theater vibrantly alive in ourselves and in our community. Members of the company and its board span a wide range of age, ethnicity and experience; they have performed on Broadway, at major regional theaters across the country, in film and television, and on local stages, and are the recipients of multiple accolades including Tony, Los Angeles and New York Drama Critics Circle, Ovation, LA Weekly, and Back Stage Garland nominations and awards.

King Lear is the centerpiece of The Antaeus Company’s 5th biennial ClassicsFest. Beginning July 6 and continuing for six weeks through August 15, ClassicsFest offers an invigorating “summer splash” of actor-initiated workshops, readings, and special events on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday evenings and Saturday afternoons, including Peace In Our Time by Noël Coward; Les Femmes Savantes by Molière; Puntila and Matti by Bertolt Brecht; The Helen Fragments by Euripides and others; Les Blancs by Lorraine Hansberry; Arcadia by Tom Stoppard; The Malcontent by John Marston; Juno and the Paycock by Sean O’Casey; The Merry Wives of Windsor by William Shakespeare; Faith Healer by Brian Friel; and The Capulets and Montagues by Lope de Vega.  The Festival features over 100 actors, and all readings and workshops have a very accessible $10 ticket price.

King Lear has two openings, each with a different cast, on Saturday, June 26 at 8 pm and Sunday, June 27 at 4 pm. Performances continue through August 8 on Fridays and Saturdays at 8 pm and Sundays at 2:30 pm and 7:30 pm. There will be one Thursday performance on July 1 at 8 pm, and no 7:30 pm performance on Sunday, July 4. Previews take place Tuesdays through Fridays at 8 pm, June 12 through June 25. Tickets range from $30.00 – $34.00 except Opening Nights which are $75.00 and previews which are $20.00. The Antaeus Company’s interim home is located in Deaf West Theatre, 5112 Lankershim Blvd., North Hollywood, CA 91601 (in the NoHo Arts District). For reservations and information, call (818) 506-1983 or visit online at http://www.Antaeus.org.

DETAILS FOR CALENDAR LISTINGS
KING LEAR

WHAT:
King Lear – The Antaeus Company, L.A.’s classical theater ensemble, presents its first full production of a Shakespeare play, the second offering of the troupe’s inaugural subscription season and the opening of ClassicsFest 2010. This timeless masterpiece of domestic tragedy is a tale of fathers and their unloved sons and daughters, of catastrophic change, and of the individual at the mercy of a hostile world. Bart DeLorenzo directs renowned scholar, actor and Antaeus founding artistic director Dakin Matthews and Broadway veteran/three-time Tony nominee Harry Groener, who are double cast in the title role.

WHO:
Written by William Shakespeare
Directed by Bart DeLorenzo
Ensemble: Daniel Bess, Stephen Caffrey, JD Cullum, Kevin Daniels, Ramon DeOcampo, Jen Dede, John DeMita, Francia DiMase, Allegra Fulton, Harry Groener, Morlan Higgins, Gregory Itzin, Thomas Vincent Kelly, Adrian Latourelle, Dakin Matthews, Rebecca Mozo, Robert Pine, Kirsten Potter, John Sloan, Norman Snow, Tessa Thompson
Also featuring: Adam Meyer, Brett Colbeth, Gabriel Diani, Jeff Doba, Drew Doyle, Jeff Gardner, Bruce Green, Jason Henning, John Francis O’Brien, Renata Plecha, Jeremy Shouldis Paige Wilson

WHEN:
Previews: June 12 – June 25
Performances: June 26 – August 8
Tuesdays at 8 pm: June 15, 22 (previews)
Wednesdays at 8 pm: June 16, 23 (previews)
Thursdays at 8 pm: June 17, 24 (previews); July 1
Fridays at 8 pm: June 18, 25 (previews); July 2, 9, 16, 23, 30; August 6
Saturdays at 8 pm: June 12, 19 (previews); June 26 (Opening); July 3, 10, 17, 24, 31; August 7
Sundays at 4 pm: June 13, 20 (previews); 27 (Opening)
Sundays at 2:30 pm: July 4, 11, 18, 25; August 1, 8
Sundays at 7:30 pm: July 11, 18, 25; August 1, 8 (dark July 4)

WHERE:
THE ANTAEUS COMPANY
Deaf West Theatre
5112 Lankershim Blvd.
North Hollywood CA 91601
(one block south of Magnolia – ample street parking)

HOW:
(818) 506-1983 or http://www.Antaeus.org

TICKETS:
Opening Nights* (June 26 & 27): $75
Thursday, Friday and Sunday night: $30
Saturday night and Sunday matinee: $34
Previews: $20
ClassicsFest Workshops and Readings: $10

*Antaeus has two opening nights, as all productions are fully double-cast.

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Name That Lear

Giants of the theater have tackled the role of Lear.  While we await the announcement of The Antaeus Company’s cast of KING LEAR, we offer you:

Name That Lear!

Antaeus Diary: Gregory Itzin on KING LEAR

For the last several months, Antaeus Shakespeare Thursdays have been focused on KING LEAR. While not officially billed as preparation for our Summer 2010 production of KING LEAR, having the chance to delve deeply into the text will only enrich our work when it comes time to mount the play.

Ensemble company member Gregory Itzin initiated the LEAR sessions, which began with a full down & dirty reading of the play. After that, we spent each LEAR night combing through the text, inch by inch, exploring, debating, laughing and – often – surprising ourselves with where the discussions led. Now that the process is coming to a close tonight with our last LEAR session, I asked Greg to lay down some candid thoughts about the journey…which in turn yield some interesting insights into the Antaean process.

~Tamara

At the beginning of the process of working on Lear I felt that I/we could be on a bit of a mission. This is, after all, a classical company, and as I said in an opening email salvo in a looonnnnng missive about “mission statement” and objectives (not always realized but I have always enjoyed where it has gone week by week), a Classical Company SHOULD be working on arguably THE master theatrical work in the English language. I wanted to dig deep, as deep as time and inclination and focus and ability would allow, and I figured the Antaeus crowd was just the group to tackle it.

The first hurdle, and perhaps the toughest one to clear, was casting the first, cold, reading. The personnel shifted right up to the evening of the event, and, as I recall, some people were pressed into service with little or no prep. But the first night’s reading went swimmingly, perhaps as well or better than could have been hoped for, and everyone seemed energized by the outing.

Since then, in a way, it has been harder to muster the kind of, oh, let us say drive and ego excitement that a “performance” has built-in, because everyone likes to do their work for an audience. “Just” coming and doing text work, with no immediate production in mind, made it a bit more difficult to excite people into showing up and participating.

Also, I think people thought that they could come and would come later, or somewhere along the way, and many did make it a sporadic habit. But after you miss X amount of the event, I think it gets harder to make yourself come. “They’ll be so far ahead of me.” “I don’t want to feel I am coming late to the party.” This and time and schedules that are all over the map: it is a company of, hopefully, working actors after all.

BUT every week yielded some tremendously valuable or at least scintillating information, many things were learned, and, fortunately, the presence of always a core contingency kept the momentum going forward. Also, the fact that Dakin [Matthews] came in with his wealth of knowledge and his experience with the play itself was a joyous addition to the goings on. Armin [Shimerman] and Peter Van Norden’s presences in the early goings were a steadying, insightful help, as they have invaluable experience with the piece and definite opinions about how to skin the cat. Everybody’s input and curiousity and enthusiasm and talent and expertise as Shakespearean actors and just plain actors was a joy to behold. This is quite a bunch.

SO we learned a lot, or talked a lot, uncovered many approaches to many characters. How much of this will stay in the brain pan remains to be seen, but a worthier undertaking I cannot quite imagine. It was always a place to go to do something different than anything else I was/am doing with my life. AND working on something I love in a way I love is pretty damn special.

So I thank one and all for being excited by the project and for the approbation I received, since I am writing this, after all. I hope, and I sense it was, a worthwhile use of your talent and time.

Sincerely, and with love and respect,
Gregory Itzin

All’s Welles in this King Lear

True to form, I prepare for Antaeus to begin study sessions on KING LEAR by watching every version of the play I can

Welles as Lear, Peter Brook directed for TV

Welles as Lear, Peter Brook directed for TV

get into my grubby hands.  I started with the DVD library at Antaeus, and a TV version I’ve never seen which seemed like a recipe for a fascinating evening: Peter Brook directs Orson Welles in 1953.  It would be theatrical, at the very least!  I couldn’t wait to get home and pop it into the DVD player, especially after reading what Welles said about Lear, even back then: In our consumer society we are encouraged to forget that we will ever die, and old age can be postponed by the right face cream. And when it finally does come, we’re encouraged to look forward to a long and lovely sunset.
Without going too far into how obsessed Welles was with Lear throughout his entire career (staging it as a schoolboy, and various attempts at staging it until the disastrous City Center of New York production in 1956, marking the end of his theatrical career).  My expectations were high.
The opening scene didn’t disappoint.  Welles as Lear looked like a pretty nightmarish version of a storybook king, one whose pages had perhaps been left out in the rain a few too many times.  He literally ripped a crudely drawn map of his kingdom into pieces with a large carving knife, throwing it at his daughters’ husbands after they proclaimed their ‘love.’  There has yet to be a truly satisfying translation of the aside on the TV or movie screen, so I let go of Cordelia’s concerns being a VO while Natasha Perry looked pensive in white among her dark sisters.

Everything moved along pretty well until about fifteen minutes into the story: where was Edmund?  No “Why bastard,” no “Excellent foppery of the world”—how can you do Lear and omit the “excellent foppery of the world?”

When we got to the storm and all my fears were confirmed, I turned it off.  I’ll soon move on to the recent RSC’s version with Sir Ian McKellan; even though I’ve heard mixed reviews, at least I’ll see the play, the story Shakespeare intended.

-Cindy Marie Jenkins

Artistic Associate

The Antaeus Company