Academic journal article Shakespeare Bulletin

Shakespeare in Chicagoland

Academic journal article Shakespeare Bulletin

Shakespeare in Chicagoland

Article excerpt

Troilus and Cressida

Presented by Chicago Shakespeare Theatre at the Courtyard Theater on Navy Pier, Chicago, Illinois. April 13-June 24, 2007. Directed by Barbara Gaines. Scenic Design by Michael Philippi. Costume Design by Nan Cibula-Jenkins. Lighting Design by Robert Wierzel. Sound Design by Lindsay Jones. Music composed by George Stiles, and arranged by David Shrubsole. Fight Choreography by Robin McFarquhar. With Stephen Ouimette (Pandarus), Kevin O'Donnell (Troilus), Chaon Cross (Cressida), James Harmes (Nestor), Greg Vinkler (Ulysses), Ross Lehman (Thersites), and Mark L. Montgomery (Hector).

Othello

Presented by Writers' Theatre at the Woman's Library Club of Glencoe, Illinois. May 15-July 15, 2007. Directed by Michael Halberstam. Scenic Design by Keith Pitts. Costume Design by Nan Zabriskie. Lighting Design by Brian Sidney Bembridge. Sounds Design by Josh Schmidt. Properties Design by Ross Moreno. Fight Direction by David Woolley. With Kelly Cooper (Roderigo), John Judd (Iago), Kevin Gudahl (Brabantio, Lodovico), James Vincent Meredith (Othello), Braden Moran (Cassio), Chris Cantelmi (Duke of Venice, Gratiano), Suzanne Lang (Desdemona), Karen Janes Woditsch (Emilia), Audrey Francis (Bianca), and David Dastmalchian (Montano).

Other productions discussed in this review

Hamlet and Cymbeline, also at Chicago Shakespeare Theatre

King Lear presented at the Goodman Theatre

Hamlet presented by Signal Ensemble Theatre at the Chopin Theatre

Richard II presented by Actor's Revolution Theatre at Angel Island

In rural Indiana where I work, the dissonance Erwin Panofsky identified as Virgil's singular contribution to the pastoral literary tradition is often in evidence. The land is beautiful: I drive each day between corn and soybean fields, on a road slightly elevated above the fields, marked by occasional copses, windmills, farmhouses, and gentle rises and depressions (northern Indiana is not quite flat). Just north of campus the southern shore of Lake Michigan, where it has not been appropriated by steel manufacture, is sandy and idyllic. There are enormous dunes protected by the state. This is where my students spend their free time all summer long.

But the land is also not without visible signs of the suffering of its inhabitants, reminders that we are part of the old rust belt where steel production has contracted enormously. Most of the farms, local farmers will tell you, are owned by large corporations. And the census figures for nearby communities and the information my school collects from its students back up the eye's impression. Opportunities for high-paying jobs are scarce; my students, many from households with incomes less than $25,000, work full-time and come to school when they can.

Seventy miles west and north up that coast one arrives in Glencoe, Illinois, a community so exclusive that one feels the need for a pass or identifying badge to park and walk there. The houses are uniformly large and the lawns all tended closely, without any visible deviation. No one here seems in danger of flailing off, of getting distracted and letting the lawn go to seed. The Starbucks feels like a concession to vulgar taste, tolerated but not quite approved of. There are no bars, no fast food, no signs of economic distress or privation of any kind. The harshness of life in Indiana seems a dream, the dissonance between sublime landscape and struggling humanity quite resolved. What dissonance one feels (and when I first arrived there, to see Othello, I felt dizzy, reached for my camera to try to capture the green glow of the air, the immaculate streets) comes only from the memory of the short journey it takes to reach this place.

This was one among several such dizzying journeys seeking out productions of Shakespeare in the vicinity of Chicago over about a year and a half. I saw good productions, that served their plays well, helped audiences, students, and others unfamiliar with the plays to get to know them; and one production that left me full of new ideas and impressions about a familiar play. …

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