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THEATER

Bard haters, all will be explained

September 04, 2003|Joe Rhodes | Special to The Times

He's always been a scary guy, that William Shakespeare, partly because of his enormous forehead, but mostly because of all those plays he wrote, you know, the ones with the big words and long trance-inducing Elizabethan speeches that you can't understand, but the English teacher asks you questions about them anyway, which, as required by federal law, goes on your permanent record.

But, buck up, Bardophobes. You need cower in fear no longer. Renowned English theater director Tony Tanner and an ensemble of actors from the Classical Theater Lab are going to guide you through the thorny bits of "Macbeth" on Sunday when Tanner kicks off his "Who's Afraid of William Shakespeare?" series.

"For an audience to enjoy Shakespeare, they have to understand it and be comfortable with the language," says Tanner, who is best known as a performer and director of Broadway musicals (including 1982 Tony Award nominations for directing and choreographing "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat") but has been directing, performing and teaching about Shakespeare on both sides of the Atlantic for more than 40 years.

"I've seen audiences in a considerable state of confusion," he says, "simply because they didn't know what was going on."

So Tanner and his ensemble do highlights from the play (you'll get your scheming witches, your murderous swordplay, your descent into madness) explaining the story, paraphrasing some scenes and taking questions from the audience.

Regrettably, he will not be explaining the California recall process. Some things are just too scary to talk about.

*

Beginning Bard

What: "Who's Afraid of William Shakespeare?"

When: Sunday, 3 p.m.

Where: Community Center, Plummer Park, Santa Monica Blvd. at Vista Street, West Hollywood

Cost: Free

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