February 20, 2015

Actors Michael Pennington, Norma Aleandro are among this year’s edition highlights

The fifth edition of Buenos Aires Shakespeare Festival kicks off today with a wide range of activities to enjoy for free until February 28. The spirit of the Bard of Avon’s immortal works — from Hamlet, Romeo and Juliet and Othello to Much Ado About Nothing and A Midsummer Night’s Dream — take the city by storm.

Only five years ago, the Buenos Aires Shakespeare Festival emerged as a small event organized by Patricio Orozco. It took place at El Extranjero theatre, in the Abasto neighbourhood. Year after year, the event took new dimensions, offering innovative activities and inviting more people to participate.

This year’s edition, which was presented yesterday at the Residence of the British Ambassador to Argentina John Freeman, is sponsored by the Buenos Aires City Government, the British Council and the British Embassy in Buenos Aires.

Freeman said that the embassy will work to have “Shakespeare as a fundamental base of the cultural bonds which unite Argentina with the United Kingdom.” He added that next year there will be lots of activities to commemorate the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death.

Buenos Aires City Culture Minister Hernán Lombardi pointed out the diversity and attractiveness of the festival’s programme, from academic to popular performances.

Orozco highlighted that the festival continues to expand. “We are presenting the Shakespeare Festival of Uruguay between March 3 and 7. We won’t be the only Latin American Festival anymore; but we will still be the first one,” he joked. In addition, the Romeo Foundation opened an annual educational plan at shanty town Ciudad Oculta last year and this year they are opening another one at Villa 20.

National and international figures. Celebrated British actor-director Michael Pennington — founder of the English Shakespeare Company — will present Sweet William, a one-man show inspired by the Bard’s works, on February 27 at 8pm at Usina del Arte. The show will be in English with optional simultaneous interpreting into Spanish.

A day before, Pennington will deliver an intimate talk about his television, theatre and film career, at the Centro Cultural de la Cooperación. Pennington film’s credits include Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi and The Iron Lady.

The grand dame of Argentine stage and screen Norma Aleandro will read Venus and Adonis (Part 1) — which was Shakespeare’s first great success, published in 1593. Malena Solda and Miguel de Olasso will collaborate with a preview of their new show, which include Shakespeare’s texts and Renaissance music. María Comesaña and Daniel Miglioranza will present Shakespeare’s and Jorge Luis Borges’ texts. The performance will take place tomorrow at 5pm at the Usina del Arte.

In addition, Aleandro will be honoured with the Shakespeare award.

For the opening night, there are two interesting proposals: Oh, Celo! at Teatro El Tinglado at 8pm; and Niño en estado adulto at Teatro Beckett at 9pm. Oh, Celo!, directed by Mariel Lewitan and starring Rodrigo Gagliardino, Héctor Luján and Lucía Miani (on video), is the story of Tomp and Zach, two clown brothers who decide to make their first show based on Othello. This play repeats tomorrow, same time and venue.

Niño en estado adulto is a radical, apocryphal parody of the Elizabethan Tragedy, a vertiginous and sharp view of Hamlet. The play, which can also be seen tomorrow at 11pm, is written and directed by Amalia Tercelán and starring Mariano Echeconea, Martín Gross and Antonella Grosso.

On the following days performances will include Hamlet, la obra (on February 27 and 28); Las mujeres de Shakespeare (tomorrow and Sunday); Qué sueñito que tengo en esta noche de verano (tomorrow and next Saturday); and Romeo y Julieta, una obra en construcción (tomorrow and Sunday.)

Music + narration. The Anglican Cathedral will be the perfect venue for two innovative events. The cello ensemble Arre! will perform, while actor Marcelo Delgado will interpret monologues and some of the passages of Richard II, tomorrow at 9pm and next Saturday at 5pm.

Period dresses and instruments, music and Shakespearean texts will help to create the appropriate atmosphere to transport the public back in time. A group of musicians will play while Cristina Pérez — journalist-actress and patroness of the festival — will narrate stories, on Sunday at 6pm and next Saturday at 5pm.

A new proposal. Three different films will be screened at the Centro Cultural Paco Urondo: The Two Gentlemen of Verona, a production of the Royal Shakespeare’s Company (tomorrow at 2pm, only in English); Now, a documentary of the backstage of Kevin Spacey’s Richard III tour (February 27, 8pm, with Spanish subtitles); and Romeo and Juliet, the theatre production starring Orlando Bloom, staged last year in Broadway (February 28, 6pm, with Spanish subtitles.)

Outdoor activities and others. Don’t miss the traditional healthy options, the Bicicletada and Caminata Shakespeareanas. The bike ride will take place on Sunday at 11am, starting at the Museo del Humor. Those who don’t have a bike may opt to join the activity on foot. The Shakespearean Walk will take place next weekend, on Saturday at 10.30pm. Meeting point: Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes. For schools, there will be online activities and the presentation of the Shakespeare Festival at School. There will be workshops organized by the Latin American Association William Shakespeare and the IES Lenguas Vivas.

Note that, although all activities are for free, some require previous registration at www.festivalshakespeare.com.ar.