Friday, December 18, 2009

More Pictures from our Past

Before Gary Anthony Williams went on to become famous, he did one of our first productions of Much Ado About Nothing.

One of our early rehearsals.

This is what the very first food bar looked like. That wall there is actually now the wall to the back of the theatre, before you get to the added-on kitchen.

-posted by Jeanette

Friday, December 4, 2009

Another bad poem

Here's another bad poem that didn't win, but I enjoyed a lot!

Roses are Red
Pumpkins are Orange
I hit my head on the top of the door-hinge

Because I was looking at Rosalind
My head's got a dent and
I was almost done-in'd

by Erin Maurer, age 11

posted by Jeanette

Friday, November 6, 2009

Our "oldest" club members talk about their favorite Tavern memories

We asked a select group of Club Members (those who have been members for more than 10 years) to tell us their favorite Tavern memories:

David Rood says: Heidi Cline's production of Two Gents, which ended with a Florentine-style duel on a stage in the round VERY close to the audience. It was on a small island, almost too small for the action, and Brik [Berkes] actually fell off one night during a spin.

The repertory with Galileo on a raked stage and Doug Kaye's version of The Frogs with Tony Brown and Pete Hauenstein, a cameo by [Chef for a Night Caterer] Nancy Myers, and a frog named Berthold who said "Brecht" instead of "brek-ek-ek-ek".

Bo Ketchin's "Cathedral" with Marc [McPherson] narrating also made a strong impression. It was such a tight story, with such vivid imagery.

Fran Stewart says: One favorite memory is of the scramble we had--staff and volunteers alike--to get the Tavern opened for the first show after the last renovation. We worked all day, and as the audience was filing in, we were still moving tables and sweeping. I was the one on the broom. Everything was ready except for the lights. So, the show ran with the work lights on. No special effects, no mood lighting, no nothing but stark overhead bulbs. The power of Shakespeare's language truly came through. His words and the superb acting skills of the Atlanta Shakespeare Company actors showed us the time of day, the weather conditions, the settings. I'm often proud to be a supporter of this company, but never more so than that particular evening.

STAR* remembers a different side of the Tavern-experience: I remember trying to get there early enough so I could score a pillow to put on those very hard, very uncomfortable, wooden chairs. During the summer, when I could not perspire enough in the sweltering [theater] to rid myself of excess body fluids, I had
to stand in a very long line for the privilege of sitting on one of the 3 bathroom [stalls] to rid myself of the rest of my retained body fluids! Took up the entire time of intermission just to accomplish that simple task. Then- back to the [theater] to perspire some more for the remainder of the play.

What are YOUR favorite Tavern memories? Let us know at!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

One of my favorite poems from the Bad Poetry Contest

This poem was one of the first ones submitted. I'm sad it didn't win (though the author did eventually submit a winning poem), but I'm happy to share it with you all:

Rosalind: Sonnet I-285
By Gordon C. Callaway

You are as hott as a humid Atlanta evenin’.
You make my vision hazy and it’s hard to breath.
Tornadoes shake the dogwood blossoms of April,
And short shorts grace the skaters of Piedmont Park.
Sometimes too greasy the rings of the Varsity drip,
Yet they’re the answer to “What’ll ya have?”.
The win streak of the luckless Braves declines,
And Bobby Cox says he ain’t to blame.
Like “Hot Doughnuts”, your beauty will not fade,
It klings to you like Krispy Kreme’s hot glaze.
And when your time comes to join Willie B,
You’ll be as well loved as Stone Mountain’s three.
So long as Shakespeare’s Tavern has a fee, (shameless plug)
I will try to win free tickets for thee.

-posted by Jeanette Meierhofer

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Jeff and....Jeff?

Recently Artistic Director Jeff Watkins and our Chairman of the Board David Weiss had a lunch meeting in my & Jeff's office. I walked in to this:

They really do look alike, don't they?

-posted by Jeanette

Sunday, September 27, 2009

A Great Monologue on Shakespeare by Craig Ferguson

If you're a fan of Craig Ferguson and The Late Late Show on CBS like I am, then you'll love this:

-Posted by Jeanette

Friday, September 18, 2009

Welcome to 'Hell'

Ever wondered where the people who pop out of the trap doors on stage are coming from? Take a look:

Posted by Kristin Hall

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Our Rehearsal Room Receives a Makeover

Hey everyone, remember how I said that we would try to put up some videos showing the backstage changes that we made as part of the Phoenix Project this summer? Well, here's Jeff Watkins talking about the renovations in 'Rehearsal Hall 1.' This is the main space used by our company not only for rehearsal of our productions, but also for Education programming such as our summer camps and classes for the Apprentices (many former Apprentices have told us that they're particularly jealous of the beautiful new wood floor!)

Posted by Kristin Hall

Saturday, September 5, 2009

A Shakespeare Funny

(Click on it to read the small type. No offense to you "Twilight" fans...)

Posted by Jeanette Meierhofer, Marketing Manager

Early Tavern Photos

We've got some great photos from our past 25 years as The Atlanta Shakespeare Company and our 20 years at The Shakespeare Tavern. Here are two:

This is our lobby when we first opened 20 years ago. See that table? That's the Box Office!

Here's Jeff Watkins in rehearsal many many years ago!

Is there a picture from our past you'd like to see? Let me know!

Posted by Jeanette Meierhofer, Marketing Manager

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Update on Paul Hester

About ten minutes before the show tonight, our beloved Paul Hester was feeling a wee bit off. His stomach was hurting him a little, but he thought he would be okay and we started the show as usual. Complete Works is a very fast paced show with a lot of running around. Paul has a lot of costume changes. As he came off for each change, he said that his stomach was getting worse and worse, and he was concerned he was going to pass out. At this point he was also getting very sweaty and shaky. He was asked if he wanted to stop and he was determined to keep going, but after we got to The Scottish Play, it was clear that he wasn't going to make it and he barely made it to the bathroom in the mens dressing room before vomiting.

We stopped the show to take care of him, and a lovely nurse named Leighanne who just happened to be at the show came down and helped us out. It was determined that he would need to go to the hospital and we took him across the street (yay for proximity!) to the Emergency Room. As we waited there for him to be seen, he started feeling a little better and his color started coming back. He was taken back to be seen and all of his vitals were normal. The doctors took blood and ran some tests, and determined that it was either a nasty case of food poisoning, or the result of some antibiotics he was taking for an ear infection. They decided to discharge him so he could go home and rest.
He will be just fine and he felt absolutely awful about having to stop the show. Actors never like to give an audience a bad performance, and he is beating himself up quite a bit for that. But, as we kept telling him, he is human and when most people get sick at work, they get to take themselves home. It's a little harder when you're one third of a three man show.

So, Paul will be just fine but please do send him happy healing thoughts. We apologize for any inconvenience to those patrons and thank you very very much for your patience and understanding. We hope that we'll see you at the Tavern again soon.

Also a huge thanks to volunteer Josh for helping us get Paul across the street, and to Nurse Leighanne for helping us take care of Paul. You are both so very very appreciated by all.

-Redd Horrocks

Complete Works Assistant Stage Manager (Paul's Dresser)

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Two Quick Videos of the first rehearsal for As You Like It

Bear with me as I get used to using the camera! Here are two quick videos I shot as the cast & crew of As You Like It gathered for their first rehearsal of our 20th season on Peachtree Street. And let it be known that though this is our 20th season at The Shakespeare Tavern, The Atlanta Shakespeare Company has been performing for 25 years (the first 5 years we performed at various venues like The Roxy, Masquerade and, of course, Manuel's Tavern!)

posted by Jeanette

Friday, August 14, 2009

Of Superheroes, Swords and Humorous Suitors, Part II

You'd never know that high school students can have inhibitions about Shakespeare when watching the productions put on by both sessions of our summer Shakespeare Intensive for Teens. The intensive (or 'SIT' for short) is open to rising 9th graders through rising college freshmen, and the name fits: it's intense.

These dedicated teens give four weeks of their summer to spend 7 hours a day with us, 5 days a week, to get a taste of just about everything there is to know about performing 'Original Practice' Shakespeare. They do in-depth analysis of Shakespeare's text and study Elizabethan dance, madrigal singing, audition technique, clowning, stage combat...the list goes on. Then the really cool part: at the end of the four weeks they perform a nearly full length production of a Shakespeare play on our professional main stage (not to brag or anything, but as far as I can tell we offer the ONLY theatre summer camp in town that lets participants perform on our professional stage, in our professional costumes, with lighting design by our professional lighting designer, you get the picture.)

This summer SIT Session I performed Macbeth, while Session II performed The Merchant of Venice. And the best thing about these two productions? Secondary characters from both plays, and the young actors playing them, really had a chance to shine. After watching the SIT Macbeth you remembered not just Macbeth and his wife but the Porter too (and Malcom, and Hecate, and plenty of other juicy roles that don't normally get a lot of attention.) Likewise, in many professional productions of Merchant the roles of the Prince of Morocco and the Prince of Arragon, two unsucessful suitors hoping to marry Portia, either suffer drastic reduction or can come across as deadly dull. Yet as one of many examples of 'no small parts' in SIT's production, the two princes' scenes showcased some of the most memorable moments in the play thanks to a crew of fabulous young comedians. In our education programs we do our best to drive home for students that everyone, every single person, involved in a production is's great when we can drive that home for the audience, too.

Just a few of many favorite shots from Merchant and Macbeth:

-Kristin Hall, Education and Development Coordinator

Of Superheroes, Swords and Humorous Suitors, Part I

While the tail end of this summer might have seemed all quiet on the mainstage production front, at the end of July we wrapped up our most successful summer yet here at the Shakespeare Tavern's Education Department.

For one thing, this year we had enough demand to create a second session of our newest summer day camp, "Shakespeare Superheroes," for ages 8-13. The camp uses pieces of Shakespeare's text as a gateway to explore the arts: acting, singing, dancing, and even arts and crafts (for example, the masks worn by Macbeth's witches in the sessions' final performances were made by the students.) At the end of two weeks, the 'superheroes' get to produce a final performance on our professional stage that's based on two of Shakespeare's plays. This year, the plays selected for both sessions to explore were Macbeth and Much Ado about Nothing...and can you say 'adorable?' What really struck me during the final Superheroes performances for each session, though, was not how cute but how good these kids were, how well they took to Shakespeare's language. To watch a fifth grade girl deliver a Lady Macbeth soliloquy in a way that clearly tells you she comprehends and feels everything she's saying just as much as an actress three times her age--that's something pretty special.

Which brings home something that the Education Department has known for a while now: elementary and middle school students take to Shakespeare just as well as, and at times maybe even more readily than, high school students. They have boundless enthusiasm, few inhibitions and--as our Superheroes instructors learn anew each session--inexhaustible amounts of energy. Personally, I think it also helps that younger students probably haven't had as much time yet for parents, teachers, and society in general to tell them that Shakespeare is 'difficult' and 'boring.'

These are three of my favorite pictures of the performance by Session 2, a fun action sequence that shows Macbeth slaying Young Siward (with an air broadsword, of course.)

-Kristin Hall, Education and Development Coordinator

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Long Time No Write: or, I Know What We Did This Summer

Hey there Tavern blog readers! Things have been whatever lies beyond crazy while we were leading up to, and then making it through, this summer.

What was so special about this summer, you ask? Many of you probably noticed that after our run of The Mystery of Irma Vep, the Shakespeare Tavern closed for the month of July and the first week of August, which is pretty unusual for us. But not everyone knows the motivation behind the close...and it was such a neat idea that we just have to tell you about it.

Summer is normally the toughest part of the year for us financially in the best of times (no school matinees, for instance, which means 2 fewer performances each week,) and in the current economic climate this summer was looking particularly grim. But while looking ahead to a range of unhappy scenarios our Artistic Director, Jeff Watkins, came up with an outside-the-box idea. See, in addition to being a leading actor, director, and entrepreneur, it just so happens that Jeff is also a master carpenter--in 1999 he designed and oversaw the building of the Tavern stage that many of you are familiar with, as well as that stage's previous incarnation. For a few years now the stage built in 1999 had needed repair: the lumber was cracked and old (some had been around since 1989,) the steps were creaky, the paneling had gaps in it, etc. And the backstage areas needed some help, too.
Jeff's main goal for this difficult period was to keep as many staff members employed as possible.

Since many of our artistic staff members also have carpentry and other technical theatre skills, Jeff's idea was to close the theatre for a few weeks and, during that time, to direct the Atlanta Shakespeare Company in rebuilding and renovating our own Shakespeare Tavern stage and playhouse. While we are still finishing up some of the renovations backstage, thanks to a lot of hard work and patience on the part of our staff and a desperately-needed booster shot of donations and support from our audiences, we made it through the summer and our new stage is ready for viewing! The stage was 'christened' by the cast of the second session of our Shakespeare Intensive for Teens summer camp, during their final performances of The Merchant of Venice July 25-27. Now it can be seen starring as its beautiful self in The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged,) our pre-season production during August.

Because we have kept the same basic design inspired by the stage of Shakespeare's own Globe Theatre, the differences might not seem obvious at first. But much of the lumber is new, the stairs are sturdier, the paint has been refreshed and, most exciting of all, it is designed to be much more malleable to suit the needs of different plays--when all is said and done, it can be configured into six different Elizabethan playhouses!

Soon we'll have pictures up here of some of the off-stage summer renovations that audiences don't normally get to see, such as the new actor-friendly hardwood floor in our rehearsal hall, but for now you can use this link to check out photos of the renovation process that we posted to our Facebook page (by the way, did you know that we have a Facebook page? Be sure to become one of our Facebook fans! Look for us under “Atlanta Shakespeare Company”:

-Kristin Hall, Education and Development Coordinator

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Irma Vep: a photo

Last week we had a very fun photo shoot for The Mystery of Irma Vep (which opens June 6!). Here's an outtake:

Jeff McKerley and Dolph Amick, hamming it up.

-Jeanette Meierhofer, Marketing Manager

Saturday, March 14, 2009

March Featured Actor - Mike Niedzwiecki

How did you get into acting? Where did you go to college?

I was in church plays when I was in elementary school, but I really got into acting in high school. My first role was the Ray, the detective, in Rebel Without A Cause. I realized that it was easier to get noticed by girls if you were working on a play with them. Plus I really needed the compliments on my performances at the time.

I went to college for the first two years at the University of North Florida in Jacksonville. I was studying journalism as it seemed like a more practical career path. It proved to be too dull and restrictive for me. I decided I should study something that interested me instead so I decided to study Theater at Florida State University in Tallahassee. I got my degree in December 2005, stayed in town to finish my last play (Amadeus) at FSU and then moved to Atlanta.

How did you get your start at the Shakespeare Tavern?
Which takes me to the Shakespeare Tavern. My first professional audition out of college was for the apprenticeship at the Tavern. I thought for sure I hadn't impressed anyone because of how nervous I was.

What is your favorite Shakespeare Role that you have performed?
My favorite Shakespeare roles have been Dr. Caius in Merry Wives, Dick the Butcher in Henry IV, part 2, and like most people Tybalt as it is what recently played.

What is your favorite non-Shakespeare Role that you have performed?
I really enjoyed playing the Herald in the college production of The Persecution and Assassination of Jean-Paul Marat as Performed by the Inmates of the Asylum of Charenton Under the Direction of the Marquis de Sade (you can call it Marat/Sade by Peter Weiss). It was especially interesting because I was playing a mental patient who was in turn playing the narrator of the play within the play.

What is your dream role in Shakespeare?
I, of course, would love to play Hamlet before I get too old. I am also interested in Michael Cassio and Iago in Othello and Orlando in As You Like It.

What is your dream role in non-Shakespeare?
I couldn't say specifically what my dream role is of all time. I don't know what kind of older person I will become so I have a mostly limited vision of characters I would like to play at my age now. I would love to be Algernon or Jack in The Importance of Being Earnest, I would love to play Wolfgang in Amadeus. I would be anything in anything by Pinter, Stoppard, Beckett, LaBute, Durang, honestly anything pretentious.

What challenges you as an actor?
The obvious answer is the economy. Not knowing whether not I can afford to be an actor or if I will be someone with a minimum wage job that lets me take off whenever I want for rehearsal. Nothing really romantic there, but its definitely the biggest challenge.

What would you like to do in the future?
I love film. I just know better than to try and cattle call my way into acting. I am much more inclined to write my own material and give myself the best roles. Shakespeare did it and I think he had it right.

Tell me about your role in Canterbury Tales
I guess what's interesting about the Miller is that there is the Miller character at the top of the show, who is drunk but somewhat in control and persuasive, then he comes back in his rival's (the Reeve's) tale and is thereafter described as kind of an ass at the butt end of a joke he told about the Reeve.

I also enjoy cutting a rug, as the kids say, in the Merchant's Tale as Sir January.

What is one thing that a lot of people don't know about you?
My younger brothers are triplets. I often site this as one of the reasons I got into acting. My parents had a very long stroller built to accommodate three babies that was quite a sight rolling through the malls. I was three when they were born and old enough to be walking on my own at that point. I would walk next to the stroller and people would always come up to my parents and ask if they were "twins." ( My parents would politely point out that there are three of them and only about half the time would anyone notice the mistake). And I was ignored. So my parents had a bright yellow T-shirt made with big block letters that read: "I'm the big brother." So, that might be why I crave the limelight.

-Redd Horrocks-Maier

Thursday, January 22, 2009

What is with All the Insects?

By Amee Vyas

Savvy blog readers will have noticed that former Apprentice company members sometime make reference to the insect they were, for instance my apprentice class was nicknamed “Butterflies.” Why and how did this practice start?

Technically, the practice didn’t begin until the 3rd Apprentice class was at the Tavern. Kirk Seaman (a 2nd year Apprentice company member, a “grasshopper”) and I were working in the Tavern offices, mostly by ourselves, when I started laughing. I was working on some grant narrative and in the place for achievements/education was listed “Pre-Professional Emerging Artist Training Program” – this was a grandiose way of listing “Apprentice Company.” What struck me as funny, and what I turned to Kirk to say, was the “Pre-Professional” description, considering that both Kirk and I (prior to joining the Apprentice program) had both been professional actors. When I shared the phrase with Kirk, he laughed and said “Emerging...what like pupa?”

From that we started joking about what our years would be named, and then a tradition emerged with each most recently graduated Apprentice class naming the current group.

Here’s a breakdown of what we have so far, as for the reasoning behind each name...well, let’s just say that’s an Apprentice/Tavern secret.

1st year: Butterfly
2nd year: Grasshopper
3rd year: Cicada
4th year: Worker Bee
5th year: Fruit Fly
6th year: Praying Mantis
7th year (current class): Silverfish.