Director, Richard III at the American Shakespeare Center (ASC). July 7 – December 1, 2018, in repertory with As You Like It, Emma, and Man of Mode. #ASC
#ASCRichardIII Here’s my Director’s Note.
DC Theatre Scene review. “The effect is as if a cobra came into your house and rubbed affectionately against your leg. You are eager to be on his side, in the hopes that he will bite someone else. You can guess how that works out.”
Here’s drama blogger Aili Huber saying nice things about R3. “I’m just going to start out by saying that Jenny Bennett is 100% my kind of director, in that she lets the text speak, she trusts the actors, and she doesn’t show off. She’s brilliant, but not in your face about it.”
(Photos by Lindsey Walters, Miscellaneous Media. Costumes: Tory Depew; Props: Lauren Ballard Reed; Scenic: Brandon Cook; Fights: Jeremy West. Actors: Greg Brostrom (R3), Shunté Lofton (Anne), Chris Johnston (Buckingham), Allie Babich (Elizabeth), Jessika Williams (Margaret, Norfolk), John Harrell (Duchess, Richmond), Brandon Carter (Stanley), David Anthony Lewis (Hastings, Blunt), Benjamin Reed (Edward, Ratcliffe), Zoe Speas (Prince, Lovell) Briana Gibson Reeves (George, Catesby), Meg Rodgers (Dorset, Jane Shore), David Meldman (Northumberland), Katie Little (Grey).
Much Ado About Nothing
Yes, another one! I love this play. Great stuff with Titan Theatre Company, 2018.
The production, under the direction of Jenny Bennett, who also did the adaptation, is distinguished by its hip, fresh vibe… At last Friday night’s opening, the spectators, including many children, filled the intimate space with laughter nearly from start to finish.
The Fall of King Henry (3 Henry VI)
The Three Musketeers
Classical Theatre of Harlem, 2017. By Catherine Bush, adapted from the novel by Alexandre Dumas. We’ve just been honored with ten AUDELCO awards nominations, including Director. The Three Musketeers at The Classical Theatre of Harlem ran all of July in Richard Rodgers Amphitheater in Marcus Garvey Park, NYC. 3M Directors Statement. #All4Harlem #CTH3M #Theatre4All New York Times review.
Much Ado about Nothing
Director, Much Ado about Nothing at the American Shakespeare Center (ASC). June -Thanksgiving 2017, in repertory with Peter & the Starcatcher, Love’s Labour’s Lost, and 3 Henry VI: The Fall of King Henry. #ASCMuchAdo Here’s a blog post interview. And here’s my director’s notes.
American Shakespeare Center. 2016.
Costume Design: Jenny McNee. Fight Choreography: Jeremy West. Cast: René Thornton Jr (Lear), John Harrell (Gloucester), Zack Powell (Edgar), Alli Glenzer (Regan), Lauren Ballard (Cordelia), Patrick Earl (Edmund), Jessika Williams (Goneril), David Anthony Lewis* (Kent), Chris Johnston (Fool), Benjamin Reed (Cornwall), Shunté Lofton (Oswald), Alex Sovronsky (Albany). Stage Manager: Sarah Dale Lewis. Photos by Lindsey Walters, Miscellaneous Media.
“When you watch the American Shakespeare Center’s current production of William Shakespeare’s King Lear at the Blackfriars Playhouse, you are watching as pure a presentation of this great tragedy as you are ever likely to see… Bennett approaches the play not only from the perspective of an early 17th century audience, but from the probable perspective of the playwright himself. Our 21st century minds approach King Lear as Shakespeare’s most nihilistic tragedy with its desolate landscape, depictions of insanity, extreme greed, political and family dysfunction, violent cruelty, total disintegration of social order, and shocking, lachrymal ending. Yet, this production plays as a comedy as much as it does a tragedy.” – Shakespeareances. Full review here.
The Winter’s Tale
American Shakespeare Center , Summer/Fall 2015
My Director’s Note.
Costume Design by Jenny McNee. Cast: James Keegan, Abbi Hawk, Sarah Fallon, John Harrell, René Thornton Jr, Patrick Earl, Stephanie Holladay Earl, Chris Johnston, Alli Glenzer, Patrick Midgley, Rick Blunt. Photos by Lindsey Walters, Miscellaneous Media Photography.
Here’s a Guest Director Spotlight the ASC did with me for The Winter’s Tale. Thumbnail pic is hilarious.
Typical of Shakespeare’s other late romances, The Winter’s Tale is a roller coaster of comic heights suddenly rushing into tragic valleys. Bennett smooths out the ride, presenting it as a progression to great joy with unbearable, unnecessary heartache along the way. She nevertheless maintains Shakespeare’s ballsy juxtapositions.
This reviewer noticed a ‘subtly feminist slant’ that he credited to me, though I didn’t change anything in the play to deliberately achieve what he noticed. I do think the women in this play are pretty badass, though. And they are definitely people.
Full review here.
In staging William Shakespeare’s genre-defying play The Winter’s Tale, companies face three main obstacles: the bear, the time, and the statue. If the production successfully addresses those problems with a coherent and committed cast, the production flourishes. Luckily for audiences at the American Shakespeare Center, guest director Jenny Bennett crafted a heartwarming and heartbreaking fairy-tale, that barely flinched at the imposing challenges…
The contrast of the regal, honorable, and wronged with the clownish, absurd, and endearing threatens to overwhelm or to confuse, but this play, and this production, relishes in the contradictions and contrasts, thrusting audiences from tragedy to comedy to romance with unrepentant abandon. The result is what the title of the play promises: a fairy-tale full of transformation, darkness, true love, and redemption.
Full review here.
“Director Jenny Bennett helms the proceedings with bold theatrical savvy. Her stylized depictions of the battles of Harfleur and Agincourt are models of well-conceived economic staging. She uses the wide-open playing space, bordered on three sides by the audience, almost like a gymnasium, which her actors inhabit with athletic prowess. Most of them take on multiple roles, switching characterizations without missing a beat, giving both language and action their due.”
“Director Jenny Bennett serves up a decidedly creative, 90-minute take on William Shakespeare’s Henry V,… and it’s one the Bard would likely have approved.”
“[I]n a thoughtful production marked by a string of nontraditional elements and brave choices, director Jenny Bennett mines Henry V for disaffection rather than chest-thumping loyalty to king and country, bringing to the surface the more sardonic aspects of Shakespeare’s ambivalent historical epic.”
Photo: Ty Cacek/ The New York Times
“As directed by Jenny Bennett… it has an engaging immediacy, conveying a sense of what can be done in a theater with limited means… Henry… is a man of action. And Ms. Bennett stages action well.“