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Maggie Young is Back on Stage in As You Like It.

Nine years have passed 12043086_10208043655676173_6438960501198998979_nsince Maggie Young was last on stage. In that time, she graduated from Casper College, found a husband, started working in occupational therapy, and, most notably, perfected the art of making a mean Crab Rangoon. Maggie has previously entertained audiences in such rich and varied parts as Lina Lamont in Singin’ in the Rain, a Witch in Macbeth, and Patty Symcox in Grease. Maggie is eager to get back on stage this summer, this time as the dim and homespun Audrey in As You Like It. “I wanted to act again because I missed the community of it,” Maggie explains, “At first coming back was intimidating and there were a few times I wondered if I lost all my acting skills, but once we started rehearsing and I let loose and a lot came back.”

Maggie asserts this production of the pastoral comedy As You Like It has a lot to offer. “There is something so fun and magical when a play is based in the forest,” says Maggie. The play will be set in the depression era, will include bluegrassy/folk music, and a few southern accents. “[With Shakespeare], a lot is up to interpretation, so no two groups will do a Shakespeare play in the same way,” Maggie says, “This leaves a lot of room for creativity.” This production also includes actors from ages 15 to 27, all in different stages in their lives. This, Maggie thinks, will give the play “a genuine depth to the play that not all plays have.” More than anything, the play is just full of fascinating and hilarious characters. “There is never a dull moment in this play,” Maggie remarks, “I think it will keep the audience at the edge of their seats. Mainly because they will be laughing so hard!”

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As a 14 yr old in 2005’s Young Shakespeare Players Romeo and Juliet as The Apothecary.

As You Like It actually reminds Maggie a bit of her favorite childhood mini-series:  The 10th Kingdom (If you are one of the unlucky few to have missed out on this piece of television genius, Maggie implores you to watch it immediately, but accepts that nostalgia is perhaps partly responsible for her obsession with it.) “It is similar because 10th Kingdom starts out, like, super realistic with a typical, you know, adult in New York; And then all of a sudden there is all this fantasy stuff going on,” Maggie explains, “And every character is a funny character. There are no plain characters.” Who would be the equivalent of Maggie’s character Audrey in 10th Kingdom? “The female troll?” she jokes, “Actually, maybe the guy with the wart face in the prison. He is so nice, but you feel so bad for him.”

Don’t miss Maggie Young (and her dazzling dancing) on stage in  As You Like It,  August 3 – 6 at Lewis and Clark park. “Come hither, come hither.”

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Rehearsing for AS YOU LIKE IT.

 

Chandler Duncan on Shakespeare:

A77Q9980-2-2.jpgIn April 2015, while waiting for one of his friends to finish his audition for a Black Swan play, Chandler Duncan was encouraged by  the producer, Chris Card to audition for their production, Brush Up Your Shakespeare. With no experience with Shakespeare, Chandler jumped right in and found he was a natural with the language despite the fact  that at school English felt horribly boring.

Chandler, like many American students, had no idea that once lifted off the page, and taken out of the classroom, Shakespeare’s plays become very alive when presented by a group of actors who understand the language and character. “Since my first exposure to Shakespeare, I’ve started to see the beauty more prominently,” and he adds, “The language may seem difficult to understand at times, but once you analyze and get familiar with the words, you see the beauty.”

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Rehearsing for As You Like It/

In this third Shakespeare production of Chandler’s, he is ready to take on one of Shakespeare’s beloved characters, Orlando deBoys, the chivalrous and romantic hero of  As You Like It who is forced to runaway to the forest of Arden. Orlando’s love for the intelligent and fun-loving Rosalind creates moments of hilarity throughout the play. “This play gives me an amazing experience as an actor to feel the emotions that Orlando is hit with, which is a lot considering Orlando is a roller coaster of feelings,” Chandler explains, “This role has made me grow as an actor and as a person; That’s the magic of Shakespeare.”

With this being the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death, it’s an ideal play to celebrate the greatest playwright of all time. As Chandler adds, “Even though Shakespeare’s amazing, beautiful, hilarious and tragic plays were written hundreds of years ago, they still teach us many valued traits such as acceptance and kindness.”

Come see Chandler as Orlando as well as the rest of the talented cast of As You Like It. August 3-6th at Lewis and Clark State Park. You can buy tickets HERE.

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As Ross in MacBeth, September 2015.

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The Shakespeare Lover: Mallory Spanjer

IMG_3211Mallory Spanjer once saw Jude Law as King Henry – storming Harfleur and rousing his troops on St. Crispin’s Day – in Shakespeare’s Henry V. It remains the most powerful Shakespeare performance she has seen. “Jude Law restored my faith in Jude Law,” she says, “It made me realize that was where he belonged: on the stage!” Mallory herself wouldn’t necessarily posit that she “belongs on stage” in exactly the same way Jude Law does. Yet, she’s been involved in theatre since age nine and now, at 27, she keeps coming back to it. There is one simple reason for this: Shakespeare.

Mallory’s fascination with Shakespeare stems from a literary and historical perspective, as well as a love of the language and characters. She contends that her involvement in theatre over the years has fostered her love of literature. “Actually,” she jokes, “The first timne I ever saw a Harry Potter book was backstage during a Shakespeare play.” (Her friend was reading it voraciously between her scenes.) So you are really giving Shakespeare the credit for your love of Harry Potter?
 “Yes!” she laughs, “Well, no, but yeah, sure.” Mallory also argues that Shakespeare’s plays are meant to be performed rather than studied, which is why she continues to act. “I think I like trying to understand Shakespeare, and acting is a necessary part of that,” she explains, “And I also simply support keeping the world aware of Shakespeare.”

This summer, 400 years since Shakespeare’s death, Mallory will do her part in keeping the world (or at least the Portland area) aware as she plays the role of the Duchess (originally the Duke) in As You Like It. To Mallory, this character is slightly reminiscent of parts she has played previously, characters like Friar Lawrence in Romeo and Juliet, Quince in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and King Richard in Robin Hood. “They are all old and wise, never anyone’s love interest, and get to make fun of the . . . something of youth . . .” She says, reaching for the right word. “Capriciousness?” Her sister Caitlin suggests. “Yes!” returns Mallory, “That’s not the word I was looking for, but it is basically exactly the meaning of the word I wanted.”

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Mallory (left) as Fabian in Twelfth Night in 2002/2003.

The play’s title – As You Like It – appeals to Mallory. “It is simple,” she explains,” It doesn’t give anything away.” It also hints at the fact the play contains a smattering of everything and you can take away what you want from it. The play is packed with music, comedy, villains, heroic deeds, fighting, philosophy, dancing, confusion, myriad types of love, and some strong female characters. Do you think Shakespeare was a feminist? “I don’t know,” Mallory considers, “but Rosalind [in As You Like It] certainly seems to be.”

And why should we all continue to watch Shakespeare plays? “Okay, I think I got this,” Mallory begins, “[His] characters and the way they interact and treat each other and the decisions they make are wonderful reminders that humans haven’t changed as much as we may suspect. Their stories are just as relevant to us as they were to those watching in The Globe more than 400 years ago.”

Come see Mallory entertain as the Duchess, hiding out in the Forest of Arden with her band of followers, in As You Like It at Lewis and Clark Park, August 3-6th. Tickets can be purchased HERE.

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Mallory (left) as Witch 1 in Macbeth in 2015,

“All the world’s a stage”for Jaques and Matt Hammel:

IMG_3231After a  seven year acting hiatus, Matt Hammel is back on a stage, and this time in Black Swan Theatre’s celebration of Shakespeare’s 400th anniversary with the witty and comical play, As You Like It.

Matt Hammel started acting with Susan Scott as a six year old in a summer acting camp in her backyard. He was there at the very beginning of Corbett Children’s Theatre with Susan Scott and acted in ten plays with her throughout his childhood to high school years. Matt did many other plays with CCT as well as Northwest Children’s Theatre.

One of his favorite memories of being in a play with Susan was being Feste in Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night.  The cast traveled around to schools in western Oregon with the play  for a four months.  “ I will never forget  our last school performance at the coast .  We went overtime and school was over so the high school auditorium started  emptying out about mid way through the final scene of the play. A few of us broke character and giggled as we finished the play to a nearly empty room.”

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Matt as Feste in Twelfth Night in 2002/03.

18 years later, he’s back in Susan’s backyard, rehearsing the role of the melancholy Jaques in As You Like It.  Matt says, “ I’m really obsessed with Jaques.  I think his character has so much to offer for how we relate to wisdom/blindness and our efforts to cleanse the foul body of the infected world. Jaques makes  me think a lot about the way melancholia feels like truth and the kind of arrogance and blindness that goes along with that. He’s a lovable and sympathetic character even with all his pontificating and going on. “

Matt enjoys Shakespeare as he demands an actor to delve into a character and likes  puzzling over the meaning lines, their motivations and weakness . “It’s an opportunity for so much generosity and understanding,” he adds.

Matt is a graduate of Vassar College in International Relations. He loves “when two things look the same and end up being completely different, or when things look different and end up being the same.”   He finds happiness in learning and being inspired by God.

Dont’t miss Matt as he commiserates on “All the world’s a stage…” ,7 pm, August 3-6th and Lewis Clark State Park. Tickets can be purchased here:

The Multitudinous Rosalind and the Actor Who Will Play Her:

Version 2For anyone who has seen Jessica Scott Messmann act on stage, they would classify her a a comedic character actor  (defined as one who “specializes in playing eccentric or unusual people rather than leading roles.”) With Black Swan’s  upcoming  alumni production of As You Like It,  Jessica is excited for a different challenge as one of Shakespeare’s greatest heroines, Rosalind. This atypical leading female role is what attracted Jessica to the part as she thinks, “not only was Shakespeare ahead of his time, he is ahead of our time: It continues to be rare to see such an interesting, real, and complex female character as a lead. Rosalind is really on a journey to figure herself out, so she seems to be constantly changing and sometimes even contradictory. There is line from a Walt Whitman poem – ‘I am large. I contain multitudes.’ That is Rosalind.”

This year is the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death, and Jessica believes his popularity still continues because Shakespeare is “still so relevant today as he just  gets it. He gets what it means to be human, and he is able to explain this better than anyone else. Some people foolishly think the complexity of his writing make it less clear, but once you understand it, it is far more direct, far-reaching, and meaningful than anything else. Also, each play can be reinvented every-time it is performed, and they do not have to be constrained by race, class, country, etc. and that means they will always be relevant for everyone.”

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As Puck in A Midsummer’s Night Dream 2004 with Young Shakespeare Players

She loves that the  comedic play, As You Like It gets to the heart of all types of love: sisterly love, selfish love, love at first sight, marital love, love of unselfish sacrifice, etc. in a way that is utterly honest.

Although she grew up acting and had a few opportunities while in college, she’s become an even more devout student of the art as she thinks it makes all the difference to understand your character in depth. ” I study the play as many times as possible. I also tend to search desperately for inspiration – in books, articles, movies, art, etc, but the language itself is truly the best guide.”

Jessica is a Liberal Arts graduate of Southern Virginia University. She and her husband recently moved to Bellingham, Washington.  She’s a lover of books, music, mountains, learning, and a good Indian curry but says she spends, “most of my time these days playing with my one year old, Cedric.”

Don’t miss the opportunity to see Jessica and the rest of this talented cast in this special production, August 3-6th, at Lewis and Clark State Park.

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As the Porter in last summer’s production of MacBeth.

Meet Drew Lewis: Touchstone in AS YOU LIKE IT:

This August, Black Swan will join in the world wide celebration of the 400h anniversary of Shakespeare and his plays. This celebratory performance will be an event not to miss as many actors Susan Scott has directed over the past 18 years are returning to be a part of  the comedic play. As You Like It.

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One of those actors is  the very hilarious, 23 year old, Drew Lewis. Drew  performed with Black Swan his senior year of high school in The Monty Python Show in 2011 as well as acted while at Barlow High School. Drew was always an impeccable impersonator and says he can impersonate anyone from Bullwinkle to Christopher Walken to Kermit the Frog to our very own President of the United States. He also loves learning accents.

Drew is so excited to play the very sarcastic fool, Touchstone in As You Like It  as he says, “we are both hilarious, occasionally sarcastic, and love making people laugh.. I wonder if Shakespeare wrote this part just for me?”  Drew really enjoys ” the poetic language and the diverse array of characters in all of Shakespeare’s plays. I am always influenced by his writing style whenever I write stories myself”.

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Drew in a 2011 theatre production at Barlow HS.

Drew loves playing music, being creative with drawing and story writing, acting and coming up with fun characters, playing video games, and being a funny guy who brings laughter to others. His ultimate career goal would be to preferably create my own content and get paid for it or be able to present my brain of ideas and creativity and use that for a company/business/whatever and get paid… “and it would be fun which is really important for a job. I would honestly rather get paid less for something I love than get paid more for something I hate.”

Don’t miss seeing Drew as Touchstone in As You Like It, August 3-6th at Lewis and Clark State Park. Tickets on sale soon.

Shakespeare and Dance Classes!

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ACTING FOR SHAKESPEARE:

Preparatory classes for our summer production of As You Like It. Actors new and experienced with Shakespeare will benefit with this refresher course as we work on voice, language, prose, blank verse, character and monologues.

April will be a introductory class. 7-8:45 pm , Thursdays (April 7, 14, 28 & May 5th.)   May classes will be more advanced.     ( May 12, 19, 26th) Ages 13 and up. (includes adults!)   Sign up for one month or two. Sign up today @ blackswanyt@me.com.

$20 per month. Taught by: Susan Scott

EMAIL: blackswanyt@me.com to sign up today! 

AN INTRODUCTION TO SHAKESPEARE CLASS

for ages 9-12:

Get to know about William Shakespeare, his times and what makes him to greatest playwright of all time. Actors will learn the basics of language through play and his plays.

THURSDAYS: 6:15-7:30. 

Taught by Mallory Spanjer and assisted by Susan Scott

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Beginning Ballet:

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An ideal class for any actor wanting to improve dance skills and begin their dance foundation:

Tuesdays,  from 4-5pm, April-May

$40 per month or $60 for two months

Ages 5-10

Taught by Elizabeth Laurent

EMAIL: blackswanyt@me.com to sign up today!

Classes held at The Olympic Gym Yoga Room, 23500 SE Stark St, Gresham, OR 97030

 

Dance for  Theatre:

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For any serious actor who wants to learn basic dance movements from Broadway to Shakespeare.

Ages: 10-18

Coming in May!  Thursdays: time TBA (either 4-5pm or 8-9 pm)

$35.oo

Taught by Elizabeth Laurent

EMAIL: blackswanyt@me.com to sign up today!

Classes held at The Olympic Gym Yoga Room, 23500 SE Stark St, Gresham, OR 97030

Meet the Teachers:

11261845_10152992827322737_2107884912342666346_nSusan Scott, is the Artistic Director at Black Swan. She has directed theatre for 18 years, with prior experience at Gresham Little Theatre, Corbett High School’s Young Shakespeare Players and five years as director and founder of Corbett Children’s Theatre. She has lead several theatre trips to the U.K. over the past 12 years where actors participated in theatre classes at RADA, The Old Vic and the RSC.  Susan has received extra training at OSF in teaching Shakespeare as well as studying Shakespeare extensively as a English Literature major at Brigham Young University and as a life passion.

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Mallory Spanjer, has been a director’s assistant at Black Swan on and off over the past four years . She was also an actor, Susan directed for 8 years and most recently was Witch 1 in Black Swan’s cast of MacBeth. She has a great love of Shakespeare and sharing the beauty of his plays wIth new actors.  Mallory has her B.A. in History from Seattle Pacific University and her Masters in Modern History from York University in the U.K.  Mallory will be teaching the Introduction to Shakespeare class. 

 

DSCN0987Elizabeth Laurent, is the choreographer /dance instructor at Black Swan.  She has choreographed 8 plays at Black Swan.  She and her family recently moved back to the Portland area from Salt Lake City, Utah.  Elizabeth also was a past actor of Susan Scott’s and was most recently seen as the older Wendy in Black Swan’s Peter Pan.  She has also received extensive ballet training  for 16 years in the Portland area as well as at Western Oregon University.  Elizabeth has her B.A. in Theatre from Southern Virginia University.  She has taught ballet and a variety of other dance classes in Virginia and Utah over the past seven years.

 

 

 

 

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