Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Congratulations to the Best Shakespeare Mo!

Movember has come to a close. The month-long fundraising initiative boasted 854,120 registered participants and raised $108,681,136 for men's health!

The Philadelphia Shakespeare Theatre charged our audience to submit their best Shakespeare Mo and we have a winner!

Congratulations to Kevin Denison Kohler Jr. for winning our Movember contest! 
Did you participate in and enjoy this contest? Please email your questions and comments to and check back soon for more information.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Show Us Your Mo!

The Theatre is joining forces with The Movember Foundation to support the awareness for prostate cancer and men’s health.

We are giving away:
To win, simply show us your best Shakespeare inspired moustache.

Step 1) Grow your Mo. Visit the Movember website for details.
Step 2) Shape it like Shakespeare's. Note: there are several styles.

Step 3) Upload your photo to our Facebook Wall; tag yourself and anyone else who is in the photo. Feel free to write a 1-2 sentence caption.

The contest ends December 10, 2011 at 11:59 pm. The Philadelphia Shakespeare staff will then choose their favorite photo and contact you for your FREE tickets and t-shirt. The winner will be announced December 15, 2011.

Good luck and have fun!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Excellent Interpretations

Shakespeare scholar Natalia Razak takes a look at the Folio in, "a 4-part series exploring the reasons why actors use the earliest rather than the latest editions of Shakespeare’s plays."

Modern editions of Shakespeare are full of nifty things – definitions of arcane words, translations of outdated phrases, notations by editors, introductions and essays by very smart people. If you’re in the classroom or curled up in your bed reading Shakespeare (which we all do, right?), then by all means pick up the Arden edition and enjoy. But if you want to perform Shakespeare, then you have no need of definitions and notations (that’s what dictionaries and the internet are for). You need a roadmap for making interpretive choices; you have to delve into the text and find not just understanding and comprehension but the human experience as well. You have to make it yours. This is by no means an easy feat, even if the plays in question hadn’t been written 400 years ago. Thankfully, Shakespeare gave us a map: the verse.


Monday, October 17, 2011

The Great ANONYMOUS Debate

Was Shakespeare a fraud? Roland Emmerich seems to pose that question in his new film, ANONYMOUS (Sony Pictures) that opens Friday, October 28, 2011.

There seem to be several arguments surrounding this topic, many in Shakespeare's favor. However we have been hardpressed to find anyone who can attest to the fact that  Edward de Vere is the true author of the classic plays that we have come to love. Despite there being little evidence, ANONYMOUS is claiming just that.

Was Edward de Vere (or someone else) the true brilliance behind the plays, or is William Shakespeare still due the credit of writing these remarkable works?

What do you think?

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Congratulations to our Photo Contest Winner

After heavy debate, the staff at Philly Shakespeare has chosen the Romeo and Juliet act V, scene iii photo of apples and oranges. We also enjoyed that Juliet was bleeding orange juice (Blood Orange anyone?) and that Romeo is the fabled poisoned apple. Well done Giana Marinelli, a student in Temple's Shakespeare in Movies class! 
 Did you participate in and enjoy this contest? Please email your questions and comments to and check back soon for more information.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

9/11 and Titus Andronicus: Remembering - Article in Foreign Policy

"It was Sept. 13, 2001, and I was 21 years old. Two days earlier, I had walked into Kastan's Shakespeare class before the attacks began and walked out after the second tower had already fallen. Columbia canceled classes for two days. I spent my time at the daily student newspaper, the Spectator, where I was managing editor. On Thursday morning, the first class back was Shakespeare.

"'I will not make a political statement today,' Kastan continued. 'But I will say this: This play we will discuss today is about revenge -- and what demanding revenge can do to a person. I only hope that the people who will be making decisions on how to respond to Tuesday's attacks read Titus Andronicus.'"

Reading Shakespeare in Kandahar - By Nick Schifrin | Foreign Policy

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Fringe Photo Contest!

One face, one voice, one habit, and two persons!
A natural perspective, that is and is not!
-Twelfth Night
The Philadelphia Shakespeare Theatre is launching our 15th Anniversary Season by giving away a Season Subscription!

Here is all that you have to do to win a 6-Ticket Bard Card that you can use for any Twelfth Night or Titus Andronicus performance:

Step 1) Stage a photograph of a specific scene, quote, or theme in your favorite Shakespeare Play.

Step 2) Upload your photo to our Facebook Wall; tag yourself and anyone else who is in the photo. Feel free to write a 1-2 sentence caption.

The contest ends September 30, 2011 at 11:59 pm. The Philadelphia Shakespeare staff will then choose their favorite photo and contact you for your FREE Bard Card. The winner will be announced October 7, 2011.

Here is an example of the balcony scene from Romeo and Juliet:
Good luck and have fun!
Fortune brings in some boats that are not steered.

Friday, June 24, 2011

"Small cheer and great welcome makes a merry feast."

It's Friday and you want some fun news. 

This summer our Classical Acting Academy is going to bring you a lot of fun with The Comedy of Errors.

One of Shakespeare’s earliest and most vibrant comedies, The Comedy of Errors is a whirlwind adventure of mistaken identities that ends in the reconciliation of a family that has been torn apart by a shipwreck.

That said, we are really going to take you for a ride! 

Our Classical Acting Academy is full of wonderful, bright, and extremely talented individuals. They will soon embark on an immersion experience in classical acting techniques and performance. Over a period of eight weeks, actors work with Director Rosemary Hay, text and acting coaches and a combat director in a professional setting, allowing them the unique opportunity to be with professionals who are working in the field. Actors have the chance to be considered for the mainstage spring productions.

2011 Classical Acting Academy Cast:

Keith Wallace Antipholus of Ephesus

Aaron Lofton Antipholus of Syracuse 

Robin Stift Dromio of Syracuse 

Daniel Harward Dromio of Ephesus

Rose Fairley Adriana 

James Lepone Egeon 

Amy- Helene Carlson Luciana 

Judy Feingold Courtesan/ Abbess

Mary Decarlo Duchess 

Anat Eshel Luce 

Caleb Wimble Dr. Pinch/ Balthasar 

Jason Singer Angelo 

Sara Group Waitress

Joining this wonderful cast, our crew:

Gary Gogol
Production Manager 

Ken Jordan
Company Manager
Lighting Designer 

Janelle Caso
Stage Manager 

Sara Prince
Assistant Stage Manager 

Rosey Hay

Brey Ann Barrett
Assistant Director 

Paul Winnick
Sound Designer 

Jill Keys
Costume Designer

Andi Sharavsky
Props Designer 

Heather Lucas

Also, one more little treat!

Ken Jordan, the Lighting Designer, has shared paintings with us that will give you a sense of what this show will look like!

What do you think?

Monday, May 16, 2011


Well, there you have it. The 2010/11 Season of The Philadelphia Shakespeare Theatre. We made you laugh and dance with As You Like It. We opened up your mind with a female Hamlet. We offered our stage to the artistic community with our Classical Cabaret Series. Broke box office records with our free Classical Acting Academy show of Henry V. Not to mention brought our touring production of Hamlet to no less than 14 schools! Readings, symposiums, connoisseur series, and reading groups! Scholar-in-Residence, teaching artist residencies, learning, growing, discovering.

We hope you enjoyed this season and would like to thank you all for your continued support!

Thank you.

But it doesn't stop. Nope.

We are already hard at work creating a new and exciting season for you. This one's a doozy.

Welcome to our 15th Anniversary Season. 

Ready. Set. Go.

Directors Carmen Khan and Aaron Cromie conducting auditions:

Friday, April 15, 2011


Here we are! Opening Night of two complete shows in repertory. One is arguably the greatest play of all time, mysterious, and multi-layered, allows the audience to tap into their humanity. The other, in contrast, vibrant, lyrical, and poignant, provides a whimsical escape.

Join us for discussion forums after the shows!

Hamlet - April 17th
As You Like It - April 24th

Thank you for all of your support this season! Enjoy the shows!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

New Video!!

How do we put on two shows at the same time, you ask? Well, watch this video and see how we change the set from the Denmark castle of Elsinore to Duke Frederick's court in France. Our fabulous crew – comprised of Stage Manager - Cherie Tay (member of Actors' Equity Association), Assistant Stage Manager - Meredith Sonnen, Company Manager - Ken Jordan, and Production Assistant - Joseph Fox –
work hard to change aspects of the David Gordon's set to create a completely different environment for the audience. Two plays, one set, infinite possibilities.


Sunday, March 27, 2011

We're Likin' As You Like It

Even though Hamlet is up and running, our crew has not stopped creating. Rehearsals for As You Like It are continuing and becoming more creative each rehearsal! We want you to be creative as well. We want you to send us a picture of one of your favorite childhood toys and tell us why you liked it! We will pick our favorites and add them to our next Blog!

Send Us Your Memories:

Monday, March 21, 2011

An Interview with our Hamlet

Interview: Female Hamlet Mary Tuomanen

The actress on gender, how Hamlet’s a bit of a misogynist, and manning up

Actress Mary Tuomanen has played Shakespearean characters of dubious gender with The Philadelphia Shakespeare Theatre—lately, the androgynous fairy Puck in A Midsummer Night’s Dream and cross-dressing Rosalind from As You Like It. She’s continuing on to the most famous role in theater in the PST’s production of Hamlet, which opened Friday and runs in repertory with As You Like It through May 14; Tuomanen will be the first woman to take the lead role in the city since legendary stage actress Charlotte Cushman in 1861. The A.V. Club talked with her about manning up, why female Hamlets are more controversial today than they were in the 19th century, and how the Prince of Denmark’s dick behavior actually makes it easier to relate.
A.V. Club: Hamlet’s one of the most famous roles in drama. Did you ever expect to play him?
Mary Tuomanen: Never. I’ve always admired Charlotte Cushman, Sarah Bernhardt, but it never occurred to me that I would play the role. My introduction to theater was through Shakespeare; I used to have audio tapes of Kenneth Branagh, Romeo And Juliet, and Hamlet, and I was so excited just sitting around listening to him speak. Hamlet is one of the first plays I ever fell in love with, but it never occurred to me that I would ever play the role.
AVC: Have you been any other characters in the play?
MT: No, but I did audition first for the role of Ophelia; then [director] Carmen [Khan] had the funny idea of having me read for Hamlet. It was out of the blue; I had one day to prepare, then I came in and read for Hamlet, and that was that.
No, wait—in high school I did play Rosencrantz, in this overly sexy dress—this very sexed-out Rosencrantz. It was pretty funny.
AVC: You mentioned Kenneth Branagh—do you have any other favorite Hamlets?
MT: There was a production at Trinity Repertory in 2006; it was the only perfect production of Hamlet I’ve ever seen. It was this man named Stephen Thorne, and he performed Hamlet in Providence, Rhode Island. It was utterly inspiring; it will always be my favorite Hamlet, I think.
He portrayed a Hamlet whose best friend was the audience—he was this modern man trapped in a crazy revenge fantasy, and he would look out at the audience in the middle of a scene, like, “Do you see this guy? What’s going on? What’s happening to me?” (Laughs.) You felt so bad for him! It was so funny, there was such warmth and humor and desperation in his performance. It’s the only Hamlet where I wept—outrageously—at the end.
AVC: Did you draw from Thorne, or any other Hamlets?
MT: As soon as I knew I had the role, I tried to stay away from other people’s performances so that they wouldn’t influence mine, so that it would be utterly mine. The advice I keep getting from older actors who have played Hamlet is, “Make it you, he’s you.” But Stephen Thorne’s performance cannot help but be an influence, because it was the first time I looked at Hamlet and said, “That’s me.”
AVC: My next question was going to be if you’d drawn from any particular female Hamlets, and I guess you haven’t. This is disappointing, because in doing research for this interview, I came across this Turkish Hamlet from 1978 with a woman in the lead, and, well, it is totally insane, and I was hoping to discuss it.
MT: No, but that sounds awesome! I should check it out after this!
AVC: I’ll email it to you—it is out of control.
MT: Thank you!
You know, I’m a theater person, I go to the theater all the time, but I’ve never seen a female Hamlet. It’s much rarer than you’d think, especially because there’s this great legacy of Bernhardt and Cushman. Bizarrely, I think doing it now is more provocative than it was, at least in the United States.
AVC: Why do you say that?
MT: With gay civil rights in the news, it’s more salacious to have a woman kissing a woman onstage, even if she’s playing a man. Especially in something as traditional as Shakespeare.
AVC: So back in the day of Bernhardt, gay rights were so far from people’s minds that it wasn’t seen as sexual? Like, the idea of two women wanting to have sex with each other was too preposterous to cross people’s minds, even when there were women kissing onstage?
MT: The term lesbian (even though Charlotte Cushman was a lesbian herself) wasn’t a common term. It existed, but it wasn’t very… loud in popular culture. So you could get away with more things with a wink, because everything was a wink, everything was in shadow. Now everything’s out on the table, and America actually has to deal with a population of people who are demanding civil rights, and I think that changes the climate around productions like this.
AVC: You’re also playing Rosalind in As You Like It, who spends much of the play disguised as a page. What are the differences between playing a woman pretending to be a man and just playing a man?
MT: “How good of an actor is this character?” With Rosalind, you have to be very aware that she’s having fun, and the moments where she forgets herself are the moments where she becomes more feminine. The baseline is the softness of someone who has always lived at court, who has always had pretty dresses. In Carmen’s production, the girls at court hang out in an attic full of girly toys, they live in this hyper-feminized world.
So she’s definitely trying on a role. The swagger is a little more swagger-y, and the punch on the shoulder has a little too much thrust in it; she’s trying slightly harder. Which is really fun to play with.
AVC: So in this production, if you’re standing still and not speaking, what in the makeup and costuming is marking you as male?
MT: They have me in a really, really nice suit. It’s modern dress. It’s a women’s suit, but it’s cut in a way that makes me look pretty legitimately masculine. And I have a tie. [Laughs.]
There’s a lot to be done with my hair, because it’s very easy for me to look like a little boy, and Hamlet needs to be a little more than boyish. The transformation of my hair over the course of the play has been fun; we tried slicking it back, and I had a part, and I looked like I was from Hogwarts… (Laughs.) But it turns out the crazier I get, the more I pull at my hair and make it explode and look bizarre, the more I look like Hamlet. As we go through the production, it’s becoming less important that I look like a man and more that I look like Hamlet.
AVC: The director said that she wants to show how universal the character of Hamlet is, how it’s about being human rather than male or female. What are some things that you find universal about the character?
MT: Definitely the complex relationships of children and their fathers, what it means to make your father proud—it’s so universal, and so intense. Especially now that women are expected to succeed in similar ways as men; if I go over to a classroom at Wharton business school, I’ll see people of all genders.
And also the problem of a thinking person, a sensitive person, living in the world and seeing how horrible people are to one another and saying, “Yeah, I’ll continue to live,” and justifying that. I think everyone has periods like that.
AVC: There are a lot more female Hamlets than there are female King Lears, for example; in part because Hamlet seems to be regarded by a lot of people as sort of feminine to begin with. I guess because he’s all full of feelings and stuff?
MT: [Laughs.] Apparently only girls do that.
AVC: But I remember reading this for the first time in high school and thinking he was a total dick to women.
MT: Right?
AVC: He uses a lot of words that suggest he doesn’t like women very much—like “whore,” or getting mad at himself for crying like a woman. How do you feel about saying those things?
MT: I think you’re absolutely right—there’s a virulent strain of misogyny in the character of Hamlet. But I actually really, really related to it. When you’ve gone through childhood not particularly thinking about your gender, then you hit puberty and all of a sudden you’re constrained to this role, it can be very, very frustrating. Especially if you grew up a tomboy, and you don’t want to suddenly be different from your male friends. It’s thrust upon you, and it’s difficult to deal with.
So that rage I felt against my own gender was really easy to put into Hamlet. He catches himself crying, he catches himself whining, he catches himself being an absolute coward—like, I man up all the time. I don’t want to act sensitive; I don’t want to cry in front of people. I think that pressure exists all the time, especially as women go into fields of business, et cetera; there’s pressure to man up.
AVC: So now you’re under more literal pressure to man up; what do you do with your voice and body language to appear more masculine onstage, and were there any characters or real people that you drew from?
MT: [Laughs.] I have a lot of male friends, and I’ve been told I have that playful, talking-among-boys manner with them anyway. In the scenes with Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, it was really easy to access. Another nice thing is that my real-life dear, dear friend is playing Horatio, so all of that affection is easy to access, too. As far as studying particular men, I feel like my manner is already pretty androgynous in life.
My mother tried to raise me pretty non-gender-specifically; she didn’t get me girly toys, and I think that affected my bearing as I grew up. In Paris, I went to a world where gender roles are very clear and so fixed; my female friends were very precise with their femininity. And it was fun to live in that culture for a while, to wake up and put on a dress, to experiment with that costume. As I’ve grown up, it’s been more of a quest for my feminine side than my masculine side, I guess.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Presenting: Hamlet

 So, here we are. This is where it all comes together. The sound, the props, the rehearsing, the script- all combining to produce an experience that allows the audience to join us on a journey through the human spirit. Our preview performances of Hamlet begin this evening and we invite all of you to join us for the coming weeks. Below are some gorgeous production photos to offer a sneak peek at what is in store.


Friday, March 11, 2011

With a hey and a ho and a hey nonny no!

Music is filling the air here at The Theatre! Actors are singing, dancing and rejoicing. Sound Designer, Fabian Obispo is creating a fabulous musical atmosphere. Music Directors John Jarboe and Kate Raines, pictured below (along with Eric Wunsch), rehearsing exciting songs for the productions.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Meet Louise Grafton's Properties!

Louise Grafton has been making props for more years than she cares to admit. The Philadelphia Shakespeare Theatre is thrilled to have Louise crafting props for Hamlet and As You Like It. Here is a sneak peek at some of the amazing pieces that you will see!

Friday, February 25, 2011

Come, where is this young gallant that is so desirous to lie with his mother earth?

Orlando and Charles. Hamlet and Laertes. Fight! This week our rehearsals have started to get exciting. Sword fighting and wrestling.  Our fight choreographer, Mike Cosenza, has been working with our actors to design epic fight scenes. Take a look!

Dan Higbee shouldering Mike Cosenza

Jason Greenfield* prepares to attack
Mary Tuomanen understand the point
Jason Greenfield* and Dan Higbee try a maneuver
Mary Tuomanen and Mike Cosenza duel

*Members of Actors' Equity Association

Thursday, February 17, 2011

The Philadelphia Shakespeare Theatre Presents Hamlet and As You Like It

Rehearsals have begun and we are swinging into high gear. Artistic/Executive Director Carmen Khan is working with the actors, designers, and staff to craft an amazing season. Below are some pictures of the first rehearsal. The Theatre will be giving a behind the scenes peek at what we do to bring Shakespeare to you. Enjoy!

Mary Tuomanen and Jason Greenfield* 
Stage Manager Cherie Tay* 
John Little*, Ames Adamson*, and Terry Gleeson

Johnny Smith and Kate Raines
are reading along

Mary Tuomanen is Hamlet and Rosalind
John Jarboe as Horatio and Amiens



Mary Tuomanen

Victoria Rose Bonito as Ophelia and Celia
John Jarboe
Ames Adamson*, John Little*, John Jarboe, Dan Higbee, Victoria Rose Bonito

Amanda Grove, Mary Tuomanen, and Jason Greenfield*

*Members of Actors' Equity Association