A Moment with: Alison C. Vesely

Richard III is a masterpiece.” – Encore Michigan.

“We recommend this show to anyone.” – Examiner.

Richard III is heading towards its final performances!  You can catch the bloody good Shakespeare tonight, or you can get your tickets to see any of the final four performances (not including the final morning matinee on February 22nd at 10am) for a discounted price.

For the last four evening performances of Richard III (Feb. 3, 19, 24 and 25) WSU Theatres will be offering $5 off the regular price for internet buyers. Simply enter the coupon code NETR into the coupon box at www.wsushows.com

Here’s a bit more about how director Alison C. Vesely worked with the cast to bring Richard III to life!

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By: Jillian Zylinski

Back when William Shakespeare was writing and directing plays there was no such thing as copyright law. Actors never had access to entire scripts; instead they were given scrolls with the lines and stage directions of their parts only. As a result, Shakespeare wrote “clues” into the text of each scroll to draw his actors’ attention to rhythm, breath, expression, and emphasis on certain words and phrases. These original Shakespeare texts are known as Folios.

Guest director of the Hilberry’s production of Shakespeare’s Richard III, Alison C. Vesely, specializes in the Folio method, an approach that allows actors to work with the Folios and discover Shakespeare’s clues.

Vesely and her husband, David Rice, founded First Folio Theatre of Chicago in 1997. Both Vesely and Rice were inspired by Folio workshops taught by Barbara Gaines (founder and Artistic Director of Chicago Shakespeare Theatre) in the late 1970s. Gaines’ workshops in Chicago (inspired by work with Patrick Tucker of London’s Royal Shakespeare Company) were American theatre’s first taste of the Folios.

Vesely and Rice were so taken with the process that they went on to start a year-round classical producing theatre company dedicated to Folio work. Vesely believes the Folios reveal Shakespeare’s original intentions to actors and audiences in a way that modern texts miss.

“Editors are paid to make changes,” Vesely says.

Original capitalization, italicized words and phrases and punctuation are changed to fit modern notions of grammar. As a result, sometimes the original meaning is skewed.

Note the differences between these two excerpts from Hamlet:

Cambridge Shakespeare:

What a piece of work is a man! how noble in reason: how infinite in faculty! in form and moving how express and admirable! in action how like an angel! in apprehension how like a god!

The beauty of the world! the paragon of animals! and yet, to me, what is this quintessence of dust? man delights not me: no, nor woman neither, though by your smiling you seem to say so.

First Folio:

What a piece of worke is a man! how Noble and
Reason? how infinite in faculty? in forme and moving how
expresse and admirable? in Action, how like an Angel? in apprehension, how like a God?

the beauty of the world, the Parragon of Animals; and yet to me, what is this Quintessence of Dust? Man delights not me; no, nor Woman neither; though by your smiling you seeme to say so.

Copyright 2008, David M Rice and Alison C. Vesely.

Vesely has shared the Folio method with the Hilberry Acting Company while constructing Richard III for the Hilberry stage. While access to the original scripts of more recent plays is scarce, the Folio method challenges actors to look at scripts differently. Vesely considers this perspective to be a useful tool for the actor’s toolbox.

“I so enjoyed working with the Hilberry Company; there’s something about this program, people just give their all,” Vesely said.

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