Last Wednesday night I spent from 7 PM- midnight at the Irondale Ensemble in Fort Greene in Brooklyn at one of the most unusual performance spaces - Lafayette ave Presbyterian church - watching 4 Shakespeare plays, each boiled down to about an hour or more, with a box dinner and a few intermissions. I think one of the most impressive acting feats I've seen since all the actors were in all 4 plays. I didn't get back to the apartment until almost 1AM and had to get up the next morning for the UFT vote count - I ended up sleeping only 3 hours.
I found out about this performance in the NY Times: Review: '1599,' a Mini-Marathon Devoted to Shakespeare's Work tha
based on the book "1599" by James Shapiro:
I was excited because I had spent months last summer/fall reading the often dense book. I knew about it from hearing James Shapiro talk about his new book - "1605" on Leonard Lopate and wanted to read the earlier book first.
Shakespeare wrote 4 plays in one year - Henry V, Julius Caesar, As You Like It, and Hamlet (finished in 1600). I learned so much from the book - how current events in England had a major influence on what Shakespeare was writing. How roles were created for specific actors. And so much more. So to find out that Irondale, which I had never heard of had taken on this immense task.
The performance space was vast - no theater but chairs placed in on open space in various locations based on which play. Henry V was downstairs in he midst of chairs arranged in a horseshoe shape. Then we were moved upstairs to the balcony for Julius Caesar where we sat on chairs, couches, boxes, the floor as the actors mingled among us, sometimes asking people to move so they can sit down.
Then we went back downstairs to pick up our dinners which we ate during As You Like It.
Then a short break while they set up for Hamlet in a different area of the space. It was already close to 11PM and this was a long one - and I began to fade in the middle before recovering for the gore in the last 20 minutes.
The shows have ended but at the end they made an appeal for contributions and said they might revive the show if there is interest.
I was so impressed I am contributing to Irondale right now.
Below are some links to the book and the Irondale performance.