Arkansas Shakespeare plans two lectures in advance of 2013 season

Arkansas Shakespeare Theatre will host lectures later this month by a noted Shakespeare scholar as well as an acclaimed director of the Bard’s plays.

Both events are free and open to the public.

On April 18, Dr. Paul Menzer, associate professor at Mary Baldwin College, where he is director of the MLitt/MFA Program in Shakespeare and Performance, will present “Shakespeare, Anecdotally”, tracing and exploring some of the most durable anecdotes to accompany Shakespeare’s plays in performance across the last 400 years.

Menzer’s lecture will be at 7 p.m. in the Art Lecture Hall, next to the Baum Gallery in McCastlain Hall.

On April 24, Robert Quinlan, who directed the wildly successful Richard III last season for AST, will speak in the Brewer-Hegeman Conference Center on the UCA campus (next to Reynolds Performance Hall) at 7 p.m. about his particular process and explorations involved in directing Shakespeare.

“We are thrilled to welcome these gentlemen to Central Arkansas to enhance our audience’s understanding of Shakespeare in a way that is current and relevant,” said Mary Ruth Marotte, executive director of AST.

The Menzer event is co-sponsored by the UCA Foundation and The Arkansas Literary Festival. The Quinlan event is sponsored by the UCA Foundation.

Menzer will also participate in a panel at the Arkansas Literary Festival in Little Rock on April 20 following a staged reading of his original play, Invisible, Inc. The play will be performed by AST actors and notable Arkansas writers Trenton Lee Stewart and Graham Gordy. The event is set for at 4 p.m. in the Argenta Community Theatre, 405 Main St., in North Little Rock.

Menzer’s credentials have gained him an international reputation in early modern studies, and his insights into both the play and the performance will guide the audience toward a clearer understanding of what they will witness. Menzer has also worked for the Folger Shakespeare Library, the American Shakespeare Center, and the University of North Texas. He is the editor of Inside Shakespeare: Essays on the Blackfriars Stage (2006) and author of The Hamlets: Cues, Qs, and the Remembered Texts (2009), which was named a “Book of the Year,” by the Times Literary Supplement.

He has contributed essays on text, performance, and theatre history to journals such as Shakespeare Quarterly, Renaissance Drama, Shakespeare Bulletin and others and has published essays in more than 10 edited collections. He has also written three full-length plays that have appeared on the American Shakespeare Center’s Blackfriars Stage and elsewhere. His play The Brats of Clarence was nominated for an Austin Critics Table award for best new play following its 2008 run at the Salvage Vanguard Theatre in Austin, Texas.

Quinlan directed last summer’s production of Richard III to sold-out crowds and rave reviews from critics. He is a freelance director based in Chicago. His other recent directing credits include the world premiere of The Magic Bicycle by John Olive at First Stage Milwaukee; the world premiere of #thisrocks for Fifth House Ensemble in Chicago (now touring); A Midsummer Night’s Dream for the Illinois Shakespeare Festival; and The Illusion, Iphigenia and Other Daughters, 44 Plays for 44 Presidents, and Killer Joe for the Professional Training Program at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Quinlan was the assistant director to theatre visionary Tina Landau on productions of Superior Donuts on Broadway and The Tempest at Chicago’s Steppenwolf Theatre Company. For several years, he was the associate artistic director and director of education for Milwaukee Shakespeare, in which capacity he was able to introduce Shakespeare to thousands of young people in southeastern Wisconsin. Internationally, he has directed The Maids andProof at the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts in Singapore, and he toured Taiwan with the American Shakespeare Theatre’s production of Hamlet. He holds an MFA in directing from Illinois State University.

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