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Shakespeare Festival Celebrates 70 Years

Scott Mathews as Richard, Duke of Gloucester. Photo by Phil Hinds

Hofstra’s Shakespeare Festival celebrates 70 years with a production of Richard III performed on the University’s stunning Globe Stage replica, March 1-10, 2019. Performances take place at the Toni and Martin Sosnoff Theater at the John Cranford Adams Playhouse. Hofstra’s Globe Stage is considered the most authentic recreation of Shakespeare’s original stage in the U.S.  

This year’s Shakespeare Festival also includes What Fools! – a one-hour adaptation of Midsummer Night’s Dream, suitable for young audiences – and a concert of early music by the Hofstra Collegium Musicum.

Richard III was last performed at Hofstra in 1972. Believed to be one of Shakespeare’s earlier plays, the plot revolves around the physically deformed, evil, and manipulative king, who is relentless in his ascent to the throne.

Director Jean Dobie Giebel found inspiration in recent discoveries about the ruthless monarch. “The remains of Richard III were discovered buried under a carpark in 2012. This led to a number investigations into the real Richard, including a PBS documentary, Resurrecting Richard III, and the series Secrets of the Dead which explores his disability, analyzes his DNA, and sheds light on some of the myths about the real man behind the character in Shakespeare’s play,” she said. “Using that information and other articles and documentaries that try to uncover the truth about Richard, I hope to present a character that is in some ways more human, and therefore perhaps more frightening, because he has the ability to draw the audience into his machinations.”

70th ANNUAL SHAKESPEARE FESTIVAL

RICHARD III

Directed by JEAN DOBIE GIEBEL

“Now is the winter of our discontent…” Crookbacked Richard of Gloucester invites us into his confidence as he outmaneuvers everyone on his murderous path to the throne. Dates/Times: March 1 through 10

Friday, March 1 and 8, at 8 p.m. Saturday, March 2 and 9, at 8 p.m. Sunday, March 3 and 10, at 2 p.m.

WHAT FOOLS! – A One-Hour Midsummer Night’s Dream

Adapted by MAUREEN MCFEELY. Directed by Hofstra alumnus RICHIE PEPIO.

Lovers, fairies, and fools, oh my! The Shakespeare Festival Touring Company proves that “the course of true love never did run smooth” in this excellent one-hour adaptation of Shakespeare’s comedy, suitable for young audiences.

Dates/Times: Thursday, March 7, at 11 a.m. and 8 p.m.; Friday, March 8, at 11 a.m.; and Saturday, March 9, at 2 p.m. – Special Performance with The Collegium Musicum.

This production features fight choreography by Associate Professor Robert Westley, who was part of the creative teams for Broadway’s A Bronx Tale and Hand to God. Also featured is lighting design by Brian Canese and original music by Arthur Solari, who has been a frequent collaborator with famed choreographer Martha Clarke.

Richard III marks the first time Giebel is working on the new Globe, Hofstra’s second replica of the historic stage. She says, “I directed on the old Globe stage, which was, in some ways, easier because of its configuration.  The new Globe reflects the Elizabethan emphasis on a rhetorical style of acting.  While the Globe creates a beautiful picture, the architecture can make movement challenging, particularly because Richard III ends in a representation of the Battle at Bosworth Field.  Collaborating on that battle with Robert Westley, Arthur Solari, costume designer Meredith Van Scoy and Brian Canese has been exciting.” 

The first Hofstra Globe Stage was built in 1951, based on the meticulous research of John Cranford Adams, Hofstra’s third president and a renowned Shakespearean scholar. For many decades, the Shakespeare Festival was presented on that Globe and featured many students who went on to success in the performing arts –among them were the late Madeline Kahn, Joe Morton, Susan Sullivan, Susan H. Schulman, Phil Rosenthal, Tom McGowan, Peter Friedman and Margaret Colin.

In 1989 archaeologists in London uncovered the almost-intact foundation of the 16th century Rose Theatre and a partial foundation of the Globe. These discoveries, along with modern imaging techniques and computer analysis of original documents, created a much clearer picture of how the Globe was built, what it may have looked like, and how it functioned.  Ultimately, new research led to Hofstra’s decision to retire that first Globe Stage in 2008.

Almost immediately, Hofstra faculty and alumni began an effort to build a new Globe stage, because they believed the experience of performing on the replica is  vital to the education of Hofstra’s drama students and to the tradition of the Shakespeare Festival.

Hofstra Drama Professor David Henderson, the designer of the Hofstra Globe Stage reconstruction, spent time abroad in consultation with the archivists and design staff of Shakespeare’s Globe in London. He is the only American college professor to have had the opportunity to study the original plans.

In 2017, nine years after Hofstra’s original Globe Stage retired, the new stage made its debut with Hamlet, becoming the most accurate reconstruction in the country.

“The Hofstra Globe Stage gives us an opportunity to explore Shakespeare’s plays the way they were originally presented,” said Hofstra Professor Christopher Dippel, who directed 2016’s production of Hamlet. “The Hofstra Globe Stage helps us to understand how the stories were told and look at some of the challenges Shakespeare’s company was wrestling with. For example, [the students] learn how long it takes to go from the Lords Gallery upstairs down to the stage. That is why certain scenes have an extended ending – because one character has to exit and then enter immediately afterward. There are so many discoveries you make working on a stage like this.”

Ava Grace (Richard, Duke of York), Rosemary Loiacono (Duchess of York), and Caroline Orlando (Elizabeth, Queen of Edward IV)

Tickets for Richard III and What Fools! and the Hofstra Collegium concert are $10, $8 for senior citizens. Members of the Hofstra community receive two free tickets upon presentation of a current HofstraCard. For tickets and information call the Hofstra Box Office at 516-463-6644, or purchase tickets online. If seats are still available on the day of performance, tickets will be sold at the door starting 90 minutes prior to show time at the theater box office window. (Please note, free tickets for Hofstra community members cannot be reserved online. They may be picked up at the Box Office.)

Read the Long Island Herald article

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