Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Murray Biggs AYA Theater

Yale professor Murray Biggs, well known to Yale Westchester audiences for his Boscobel Shakespeare lectures, announces his 2015 schedule of AYA Theater around the country. (YWAA photos)
To Yale Westchester alumni, Yale professor Murray Biggs is best known for his lecture series before YWAA's annual Shakespeare outing at Boscobel. His pre-performance presentations are a Yale-Westchester tradition. This past summer, he lectured on Othello before alumni and other arts patrons saw the performance by the Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival. 

Biggs, now a special lecturer for the AYA in English and Theater Studies, recently announced his featured events and lectures in the upcoming year. 

Biggs will speak at a first-time theater weekend in San Diego Feb., 2015. On Feb. 13, Biggs will introduce the Alice Childress African-American class, Trouble in Mind, at the Moxie Theater in San Diego. The next day, Feb. 14, he will lecture before an evening production of Sons of the Prophet (Pulitzer Prize finalist, 2012) at the Cygnet Theatre in Old Town, San Diego. On Feb. 15, he will introduce You Can't Take It With You at Lamb's Players on Coronado Island.

(The charge for this program is $725/person, $875/single occupancy ($450/person for those not requiring hotel arrangements). To secure a place, alumni interested will need to make a $175 deposit by Nov. 24. Those interested in the programs, the lectures, and the package should contact Biggs at murray.biggs@yale.edu. (Checks should be payable to Education Theater Weekends, 36 Morse Street, Hamden, CT 065517)).

In May, Biggs heads to Montgomery, Ala., for the Alabama Shakespeare Festival. He will introduce the production of The Importance of Being Earnest on May 8. On May 9, he will review the performance of the prior night and give a pre-performance talk on As You Like It. On May 10, he will introduce the matinee of King Lear. (The charge for double occupancy at the Renaissance Marriott in the historic district is $725/person, and $875 for single occupancy; for those not requiring hotel accommodation, $450/person.)

In July, Biggs' journey will take him to the Oregon Shakespeare Festival July 23-26 in the beautiful small town of Ashland. This is the country’s premier Shakespeare theatre, celebrating its 80th season. On July 23, Biggs will speak to alumni audiences before performance of two of Shakespeare’s master works, Antony and Cleopatra and Much Ado About Nothing, and a more recently reclaimed late piece, Pericles (prophetically lauded by T. S. Eliot).

Each morning at the historic downtown Ashland Springs Hotel (three minutes’ walk from all three theatres, one of them an outdoor Elizabethan reconstruction), Biggs will introduce the play of the day and lead a group discussion of the previous day’s performance. The town itself, at 2,000 feet, is bracketed by the Cascade and Siskiyou mountains just north of the California border off I-5. It boasts an ideal dry summer climate.

(The charge for the weekend is $1,215/person double occupancy and $1,485 single. For those not requiring hotel accommodation, it is $885 a head. A non-refundable deposit of $250 per person is due by Feb. 15 to secure a place on the program, with balance due by May 1. Checks should be made out to Educational Theater Weekends and mailed to 36 Morse St, Hamden, CT 06517. All payments will be acknowledged by e-mail. E-mail Biggs at murray.biggs@yale.edu; 203-432-0391).

Biggs heads to Southern Ontario in Canada Aug. 6-14. This program runs Thursday through the following Thursday at the twin Festivals in Stratford and Niagara-on-the-Lake, home of the most accomplished stage productions in North America. For this 25th consecutive year of the flagship theater program, on schedule will be the usual stimulating mix of Shakespeare at Stratford and modern works at the Shaw Festival in Niagara. The Festivals operate seven theaters.

In Stratford, the following will be performed:  Hamlet with Jonathan Goad; The Taming of the Shrew with Canada’s favorite stage (and real-life) couple, Deborah Hay and Ben Carlson; Ben Jonson’s Jacobean cash comedy The Alchemist; and the recent Canadian piece, Possible Worlds. Also available will be Carousel and The Sound of Music (Stratford being famous for its musicals).

In Niagara the likely slate consists of two surefire Bernard Shaw comedies, Pygmalion and You Never Can Tell; Henrik Ibsen’s vivid rarity, The Lady from the Sea; contemporary British Caryl Churchill’s most effective play, Top Girls; and the little-known one-act by J.M. Barrie, The Twelve-Pound Look.

There’s still room on this program, the first half of which will be set at the sparklingly renovated Parlour Inn in pleasantly walkable downtown Stratford, the second at the elegant Queen’s Landing in Niagara-on-the-Lake. The Stratford Festival is home to the premier Shakespeare theater productions on the continent, the Shaw to their equivalent in modern work. Niagara-on-the-Lake, the former colonial capital of Upper Canada and beautifully maintained, is a half-hour drive from Niagara Falls. With its unique climate, the Niagara Peninsula also boasts several world-class vineyards.

To sign up, click Yale Ed Travel. and click on “theater” under “programs” by type.

For any questions about details and schedules for any of the 2015 packages, e-mail Biggs at the above address.

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