Commonwealth Shakespeare Company Announces PlayOn@CSC

Boston, MA – Commonwealth Shakespeare Company (CSC) is excited to announce a slate of upcoming online programming called PlayOn@CSC.  The new initiative comprises three series of digital programs that feature actor performances, live conversations, film screenings, and much more, giving our audiences a unique behind-the-scenes look at how productions are put together, how actors bring their characters to life, and how filmmakers have used Shakespeare’s stories as a springboard to realize their own visions.  

Founding Artistic Director Steven Maler said, “The pandemic has forced us to cancel in-person performances, but we want to stay connected to our artists and audiences until we can be together again in person.  Over the coming months, we’ll share some provocative, enlightening, and entertaining performances, films, and conversations that we hope will give people insights into the creative process, explore the power of storytelling and storytellers, and bring us all a little joy along the way.”

The program includes:

The Actor’s Craft: Bringing a Character to Life

Hosted by CSC Artistic Director Steve Maler

 How does an actor take words on a page to bring a character to life on stage? It’s a complex and little-understood bit of alchemy that requires training, practice … and just a bit of magic. The Actor’s Craft series explores this process with accomplished guest actors who have developed their own in-depth relationships with the works of Shakespeare, facing and conquering the complexity of some of his most towering characters. 

Each event in the series includes readings of passages from a play, interspersed with lively and provocative discussion of how each actor brings his or her own personality and world view to the interpretation of the character.   

Seth Gilliam on Macbeth, October 29

The series opens with Seth Gilliam, who performed the title role in CSC’s production of Othello in 2010 and returned for our “Theater in the Rough performance of Yasmina Reza’s Art in 2015.  He will be sharing his view of Macbeth, both the play and the man, and the challenges he faces in preparing to inhabit the character on stage. 

Seth Gilliam is best recognized for the role of Sergeant Carver on HBO’s critically acclaimed series, “The Wire,” and for his work as Father Gabriel Stokes on AMC’s cultural phenomenon, “The Walking Dead.”  Other notable feature credits include the beloved Starship Troopers with Neil Patrick Harris and Casper Van Dien; Courage Under Fire with Denzel Washington, Meg Ryan and Matt Damon; as well as Did You Hear About the Morgans?; Punks; Jefferson in Paris; and the Sundance Grand Jury Prize-winning film, Personal Velocity: Three Portraits.  Gilliam landed his first recurring television role portraying Aaron Dexter on the classic hit series “The Cosby Show.” Additional television credits include a break-out performance on HBO’s “Oz,” “Teen Wolf,” “Assault On West Point,” “Bronx Is Burning,” “The People vs. Leo Frank;” and guest starring roles on “Homeland,” ”Damages,” “Nurse Jackie,” “Law & Order,” “Law & Order: Criminal Intent,” “CSI: Miami,” “Person of Interest,” “Criminal Minds” and “The Good Wife.”  Gilliam has also appeared in numerous stage productions including Othello, King Lear, Father Comes Home From the Wars, Topdog/Underdog, Romeo and Juliet, Girl Gone, and Richard III, to name a few.  He is a graduate of S.U.N.Y. Purchase.

The series will continue with Janet McTeer and Jason Butler Harner on Beatrice and Benedick in MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING on December 3, 2020.  Additional dates and guests coming soon!

All events begin at 7:00 p.m. Events are free of charge, but advance registration is required and a donation of $10 per event is suggested.  A VIP post-show reception with the artist(s) is available with a donation of $100.  Reception is limited to the first 25 participants to sign up.  Dates, topics, and speakers subject to change.

Shakespeare Reimagined: Bringing His Stories to the Screen

In partnership with the Coolidge Corner Theatre, hosted by Coolidge Corner Theatre

The plays of Shakespeare have been translated into more than 100 languages, and his timeless stories have inspired great works in many art forms.  CSC and the Coolidge Corner Theatre are teaming up to take an in-depth look at how some filmmakers have reimagined Shakespeare’s work to create compelling cinema that is as relevant today as it was 400 years ago.  Each event in the series focuses on a particular film and includes a pre-recorded advance talk by a leading film critic, historian, or actor; and a follow-up conversation in which experts and audience members together can explore the themes in the films, and how the films relate to the original plays.  One of the first films in the series is Ran, a 1985 reimagining of the story of King Lear, directed by renowned Japanese filmmaker Akira Kurosawa.

The series begins in January and runs once a month for four months. Specific films and dates TBA.  Ticketing will be available in December.

Tempest Talks: Looking Behind the Curtain

Hosted by CSC Associate Artistic Director Bryn Boice 

In anticipation of the summer 2021 production of The Tempest on Boston Common, Tempest Talks give audience members the opportunity to get a unique look at the play itself and a peek behind the scenes with the creative team that is working to bring the play to life. The series focuses on the various elements that come together to put a great production on the stage: direction, design, performance.

The series begins in March and includes one event per month. Events are free of charge, but advance registration is required and a donation of $10 per event is suggested.  Registration will open in January. Dates, topics, and speakers subject to change.

Commonwealth Shakespeare Company (CSC), best known for its annual free performances on Boston Common, is a non-profit theater organization founded in 1996, dedicated to artistic excellence, accessibility, and education. CSC’s Free Shakespeare on the Common has served over one million audience members over its 25-year history and has become a beloved summer tradition enjoyed by over 50,000 people annually. Due to the continued effects of COVID-19 on Boston and its community, Commonwealth Shakespeare Company recently postponed its production of ​The Tempest​ on the Boston Common to July 2021 (utilizing the same artistic and design team). Instead of the annual production on the Common, CSC presented an online script-in-hand performance as a benefit to support CSC’s 2021 production on the Boston Common, with the previously announced cast led by John Douglas Thompson in the role of Prospero. The event was watched by 3,500 people in 26 states. CSC also presents fully-staged indoor productions including past productions of the world premiere of ​Our American Hamlet, Beckett in Brief, Death and the Maiden, Old Money​, Caryl Churchill’s​ Blue Kettle a​nd​ Here We Go,​ and Naomi Wallace’s adaptation of William Wharton’s novel ​Birdy.​ In 2018, in partnership with Google, CSC created a Virtual Reality (VR) experience of William Shakespeare’s classic play ​Hamlet,​ entitled ​Hamlet 360: Thy Father’s Spirit,​ released in partnership with Boston public media producer WGBH; it can be viewed exclusively on the WGBH YouTube channel. The video has been shown at multiple venues and educational institutions in the US and abroad. CSC also produces “Theatre in the Rough,” semi-staged readings featuring some of the most acclaimed actors of our time, including Paul Rudd, Cote de Pablo, Denis O’Hare, Ruben Santiago-Hudson, Chris Cooper and Marianne Leone Cooper, Tony Shalhoub and Brooke Adams, Anthony Mackie, Charles Busch, and Leslie Uggams, among others. CSC fulfills its educational mission with actor training programs for pre-professional and professional actors through the summer Apprentice Program and CSC2, as well as its Stage2 performance series for middle and high school audiences. To learn more, visit ​commshakes.org​ or call 617-426-0863. 

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