Celebrate Shakespeare on 2/7 at The Players

On Friday, February 7 at 5:30pm at The Players (16 Gramercy Park, New York, NY), Elements Theatre Company of Orleans, MA will present an original work, Labyrinth: A Legacy of Language, exploring Shakespeare's influence on playwrights through the past four and a half centuries, from Sheridan to Ibsen to Stoppard. The production will be a springboard for a 7:00pm discussion in the ARTS IN CONVERSATION panel series, on How Shakespeare Humanizes Our Culture: The Transforming Power of His Work. Panelists include George Drance, SJ, Artist in Residence at Fordham University, Louis Colaianni, author of How to Speak Shakespeare and Teacher/Coach, Rob Weinert-Kendt, Associate Editor at American Theatre, and Josh Cabat, Co-founder of the New York City Student Shakespeare Festival. Danielle Dwyer, CJ, Elements Artistic Director, will moderate. Admission is FREE to both the performance and panel discussion. Reservations are recommended; call 508-240-2400.

Honoring Shakespeare's 450th birth anniversary year, this timely panel will explore how the Bard's work challenges our modern concepts of reconciliation and forgiveness, in a world where school shootings, bullying, and acts of terrorism make the headlines with alarming frequency. "Shakespeare has a tremendous understanding of human nature and concepts of revenge, forgiveness, accountability, making amends, and taking responsibility for our actions," observes Danielle Dwyer, CJ, Elements Artistic Director. "His grasp on the complexities of what it means to be human gives us a deeper, longer view on life. He understands the importance of living in harmony with ourselves and each other."

Other events in the New York area include workshops and performances at the Notre Dame School, Nyack College, and Blessed Sacrament School in NYC, and St. Francis Cathedral in Metuchen, NJ. With this tour, Elements Theatre Company launches a 3-year tribute to Shakespeare that includes a week-long August Shakespeare Retreat on Cape Cod based on Julius Caesar, "Word Made Flesh," an online video collection of Sonnets recorded by people of all ages and walks of life, and continuing Shakespeare symposiums, among other events. (Details at www.elementstheatre.org.)

George Drance, SJ currently serves as Artistic Director of the critically acclaimed Magis Theatre Company, praised for its artistic skill and daring, and for bringing lively, accessible stage adaptations of neglected classics to a popular audience. More noted work includes Off Broadway productions of C.S. Lewis' novel "The Great Divorce," Kalidasa's 4th century classic "Shakuntala," and most recently "Occupy Olympus," a musical rendering of Aristophanes' comedy "Plutus, god of Wealth." New York credits include The Public Theatre/New York Shakespeare Festival, The Metropolitan Opera, La MaMa's resident company the Great Jones Rep. With La MaMa, he has toured Europe and Asia, working on several of Ellen Stewart's original pieces and performing in the Andrei Serban/Elizabeth Swados' epic Fragments of a Greek Trilogy. He is an artist-in-residence at Fordham University has been a guest artist and lecturer at Columbia University, Marquette University, Hebrew Union College, Boston College and the Marist International Center in Nairobi, Kenya.

Louis Colaianni is a Voice and Speech innovator and coach for Broadway and regional theatre. He recently served as Will Ferrell's vocal coach for the Broadway and HBO productions of "You're Welcome, America;" dialect coach for the feature film "Little Red Wagon" (2012) and dialect coach for Will Power's "Fetch Clay, Make Man" with Ben Vereen and Evan Parke, directed by Des McAnuff. He has been Voice and Text Director for productions at: Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Seattle Repertory Theatre, Milwaukee Repertory Theater, Arizona Theatre Company, Shakespeare Festival of St. Louis, Shakespeare & Company, Trinity Repertory Theatre, Kansas City Repertory Theatre, Shakespeare Santa Cruz. He has taught in numerous theatre programs including Pace University/Actors Studio; Vassar College; SUNY Purchase; The O'Neill Theatre Center; Columbia University; Ohio University, Dartmouth College, and Trinity Repertory Theatre/Conservatory (Anne Bogart, Artistic Director); among others. Louis has acted with Shakespeare & Company, American Shakespeare Theatre and New York Shakespeare Festival.

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