Monday, August 19, 2013

Yale Westchester Shakespeare "Ends Well"

YWAA hosted alumni and friends at the Boscobel production, Aug. 18
Perhaps the climax at Sunday's (Aug. 18) Boscobel production of Shakespeare's "All's Well That End's Well" was an impromptu encounter near the end of the play.  The character Diana pouted about the possibility of becoming the wife of an old man. Diana paused and looked for an elderly gentleman in the audience to taunt and pointed at Yale professor Murray Biggs, seated in the audience on the first row.  Biggs laughed, played along, and pointed behind him, as if to say, "Not me. You must be referring to someone else!" 

Boscobel before the curtain call
Moments later, Diana (played by male actor Jeff Gonzalez) approached Biggs again. And on cue and being expertly familiar with the play, Biggs lifted, hoisted and danced with Diana, as the production approached its conclusion.

And thus came to an uproarious end a Sunday of Yale and Shakespeare at Boscobel (in Garrison, NY), featuring a pre-production lecture to Yale Westchester alumni from Biggs, an associate professor of English and Theater Studies. The production from the Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival was directed by Russell Treyz '65 MFA, himself a graduate of Yale Drama School.

Prof. Biggs talks to Yale alumni
On campus at Yale, Bigg teaches courses in film and acting with special attention to Shakespeare. He is also well known to alumni groups around the country, reminding them in lively lectures and cozy gatherings why they should have read Shakespeare more closely and with more passion back in English 129. Last year, he taught courses in Shakespeare acting and tragedy to Yale undergraduates.

Biggs' lectures at Boscobel are a Yale Westchester tradition. He has launched many Shakespeare afternoons with an alumni talk and reception, a pep session to get the audience eager and prepared for Shakespearean nuances and comedy.  Once again, the Yale Westchester outing--including lecture, reception, play, picnic on the scenic grounds of Boscobel and stunning, southern views of the Hudson River--was organized by YWAA director and former president Bruce Jennings '71. Yale Westchester hosted alumni and friends earlier this summer for the Hudson Valley group's production of "King Lear."

As for "All's Well," director Treyz said in program notes, "The best way to understand the events of the play is to view it not as realistic, but as a fable of a young woman facing the challenges of the world," describing the character Helena in the play (actress Jessica Frey) and her desperate ploys to woo and win over Bertram (played by Dan Tracy).

An interlude during the evening
Matt Andrews called the production "an original, hilarious, and touching interpretation with countless comedic styles," when he reviewed the play in the Poughkeepsie Journal after its June opening.

Dozens of Yale alumni and friends under the sold-out tent applauded the production, too, but couldn't have conjured a better ending than seeing Biggs leap from his seat to celebrate a jaunty happy ending with Diana.


(Photos courtesy of Kaminsky, Williams)

Boscobel guests enjoy a picnic before the evening's production

Yale alumni and friends meet Prof. Biggs after the lecture

Jennifer Colville '86 (L) and Susan Kaminsky '86 with Prof. Biggs after the lecture
The afternoon affords sensational views of the Hudson River
Yale professor Murray Biggs lectures on "All's Well Ends Well"
Boscobel patrons during intermission, Aug. 18

On the grounds at Boscobel in Garrison, NY
Yale alumni and guests (above) enjoy a picnic after the lecture and before the performance
YWAA former president Bruce Jennings '71 (above) with Prof. Murray Biggs

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