I first encountered The Three Musketeers via the Disney-produced movie version in 1993. As a fifteen year old boy, and part of their ideal viewing demographic, I was immediately captivated by its spirit of adventure, the bravura, the banter. Soon afterward, I read the novel and was delighted by the humor, and its use of history, the back and forth of its intrigue, and panache. For the next few years, I watched as many screen and stage adaptations as I could find. I read fencing manuals, studied stage combat, and even ran a long-standing roleplaying campaign (loosely) inspired by the books. And when I finished college, I stepped away from this obsession, and turned my attention elsewhere.
When I first suggested writing a new stage adaptation of The Three Musketeers in 2012, I was in the midst of an emotionally turbulent year of loss and change. I was excited to take on something playful, light-hearted, and adventurous -- perhaps as a way to reconnect with my younger, more optimistic self.
I bought a new copy of the book, and began reading it aloud to director Amy Rummenie. For the next several months, we were quite literally on the same page. We reveled in the thrilling moments and bogged down in the boring parts, we delighted in Dumas' humor and rolled our eyes at his overblown melodrama. I also found a lot more nuance than I noticed in my teen years. The spirit of adventure was still there, but beneath the bluster and bravura that so intrigued me when I was younger, I found characters filled with depression, desperation, uncertainty, and fear.
I also became aware of the immense challenge I faced in distilling this six hundred page novel into a relatively faithful two hour stage play for ten actors. The book was filled with complex political machinations and a carefully nuanced plot. It had hundreds of characters, a constantly shifting point of view, and some surprisingly unscrupulous heroes. What had I done!? I had no idea how to begin. I was terrified by the immensity of the task. But a musketeer cannot let himself be daunted by insurmountable odds. He must persevere. With panache.
Sentence by sentence, paragraph by paragraph, chapter by chapter, I worked my way through the book, cutting, shaping, honing, clarifying, and rewriting. I removed the boring bits, honed the melodrama, and tried to leave the original plot intact wherever possible. With the help of the director, cast, creative team, and some helpful readers, I've worked to craft a performance text that's truer to the book than any other adaptation I've seen or read, but not without a few delightful liberties of my own. I hope you enjoy our theatrical romp through this epic adventure.
All for one, and one for all!
Charlie Bethel is an actor/writer with five critically acclaimed solo shows to his credit: The Odyssey, Beowulf, Gilgamesh, Seven Poor Travellers, and Tom Thumb, or, The Tragedy of Tragedies. He has also worked as a stage manager, producer, electrician, milliner, director, and properties and set dressing artist.
He has performed for Orlando Shakespeare Theater, Trinity Rep, Utah Shakespearean Festival, North Carolina Shakespeare Festival, Illinois Shakespeare Festival, Econo-Art Theater Company, Red Bones, Next Theater Company, Apple Tree, The Jungle Theater, The Guthrie Theater, The Childrens Theatre Company, Hey City Stage, Minnesota Opera, Opera Memphis, Southwest Shakespeare Company, Walking Shadow Theatre Company, Chopping Block, Key City Public Theatre, Baltimore Shakespeare Festival, Cape May Stage and CalibanCo, to name a few.
In addition to the theater work, Charlie has worked as a creative consultant for the Diamond-Star/Mitsubishi Motors Company (Normal, IL), as a writer for Red Farm Films (Seattle), and as a filthy joke generator for the Innovisions Greeting Card Company (Chicago). He's also, naturally, been a barista at Starbucks, a beggar in Daley Plaza, a cleaner of baby poo, an angry sonneteer, and a propagandist for the Shedd Aquarium.
His solo performances have been presented all over the US: from The Clay Center for the Arts & Sciences (Charleston, WV), to Cincinnati Playhouse, and a couple of Fringe Festivals, to Joseph Campbell's Centenary Celebration at the Esalen Institute (Big Sur, CA), to the Mythic Journeys Conference in Atlanta. Charlie's solo work delights audiences large and small, educated and not, well-heeled and plain spun.
Charlie is a graduate of the North Carolina School of the Arts, and he comes from a long line of talkers. Recently he was featured on the History Channel's series, Clash of the Gods as a commentator on, you guessed it, Beowulf.
Elizabeth Tudor was born to King Henry VIII's second wife, Anne Boleyn. Two years later, Anne Boleyn was declared guilty of infidelity and executed, and Elizabeth deemed illegitimate. After Henry's death, the English throne passed briefly to Edward VI and Lady Jane Grey before reaching Mary Tudor, Elizabeth's half-sister. Mary Tudor, a staunch Catholic, became renowned as “Bloody Mary” for her violent persecution of Protestants. She imprisoned Elizabeth in the Tower of London on the suspicion that she was supporting Protestant rebels, and Elizabeth remained there until her half sister's death.
Elizabeth assumed the throne, outlawed Catholicism, and declared herself supreme head of the Church of England. Under the guidance of William Cecil, Baron Burleigh, she used diplomacy, intrigue, and spectacle to secure her reign and defend herself from the ever-growing threat of Catholic rebellion.
Mary Stuart was six days old when she became Queen of Scotland. She spent her childhood in France, and married King Francis II, becoming Queen of France until his death in 1560. Widowed, Mary returned to Scotland and married Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley – but the marriage was unhappy and Darnley was found murdered in his garden.
A month later, Mary married the Earl of Bothwell, who was believed to be her husband's murderer. This unpopular decision prompted a public uprising, and Mary was forced to abdicate the Scottish throne. She fled south to ask protection from her cousin Queen Elizabeth – but because many English Catholics considered Mary to be the legitimate sovereign of England, Elizabeth had her arrested.
But since Mary Stuart had done nothing illegal on English soil, Elizabeth couldn’t charge her with any crime. Now, after more than a decade of Mary's confinement, England has finally found the means to rid itself of this troublesome Queen...
1533 Elizabeth Tudor born, becomes Queen of Scotland
1542 Mary Stuart born
1558 Elizabeth Tudor becomes Queen of England
1568 Mary Stuart flees from Scotland to England and is imprisoned
1587 the events of this play occur
1800 Friedrich Schiller, a German Romantic playwright, writes Maria Stuart
2005 Peter Oswald creates this adaptation of Schiller’s play
The One-Minute Play Festival (#1MPF) is America’s largest and longest running short form theatre company in the country, founded by Producing Artistic Director, Dominic D’Andrea. #1MPF is barometer project, which investigates the zeitgeist of different communities through dialogue and consensus building sessions and a performance of many moments. #1MPF works in partnership with theatres sharing playwright orcommunity-specific missions across the country. #1MPF creates locally sourced playwright-focused community events, withthe goal of promoting the spirit of radical inclusion by representing local cultures of playwrights of different age, gender, race, cultures, andpoints of career. The work attempts to reflect the theatrical landscape of local artistic communities by creating a dialogue between the collective conscious and the individual voice.
In each city, #1MPF works with partnering organizations to identify programs or initiatives in each community to support with the proceeds from the work. The goal is to find ways give directly back to the artists in each community. Supported programs have ranged from educational programming, youth poetry projects, teaching artists working in prisons, playwright residencies and memberships, and community arts workshops.
Annual partnerships have been created with theaters in close to 20 cities including: New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Trenton, Atlanta, Philadelphia, Washington, DC, Baltimore, Boston, Miami, Minneapolis, New York, Seattle, Dallas, Austin, Indianapolis, Anchorage, and more, with partnering institutions like Primary Stages, Victory Gardens Theatre, Cornerstone Theatre Company, The Playwrights Foundation, Boston Playwrights Theatre, Actor’s Express, InterAct Theatre, Mixed Blood, Passage Theatre, Phoenix Theatre, Kitchen Dog, Salvage Vanguard, ScriptWorks, ACT, Perseverance Theatre, and others.
Notable #1MPF contributors have included: David Henry Hwang, Neil LaBute, Tina Howe, Donald Margulies, Nilaja Sun, Lydia Diamond, Phillip Kan Gotanda, Kristoffer Diaz, Rajiv Joseph, Sam Hunter, Karen Hartman, José Rivera, Craig Lucas, Mike Daisey, Greg Kotis, Michael John Garcés, & close to 600 famous, emerging, and midcareer playwrights.
For more information visit: www.oneminuteplayfestival.com
Thursday, November 14th is Give to the Max Day. This year a group of donors have presented Walking Shadow with a generous matching offer of $10,000, with a leading pledge from Laura & ErikPeter Walker.
This means the first $10,000 of donations made on Thursday, November 15th through our online giving page will be matched dollar for dollar, making your tax-deductible gift have an even greater impact.
Donations to Walking Shadow help support our mission of staging intelligent, thought-provoking work in Minnesota by making our 2013-2014 season possible, including The Sexual Life of Savages, Schiller's Mary Stuart, The Odyssey, and our new adaptation of The Three Musketeers.
We're delighted to be part of a community where so much good work is being done. We hope you'll take some time on Thursday to support the many worthy non-profits that make Minnesota great.
Give to the Max Day is a Minnesota-wide non-profit giving campaign, sponsored by GiveMN and Razoo. During this day, many donations will be matched and every donation gives your favorite organization the chance to win even more money. Your gift makes a BIG difference!
The play itself is set in the United States today, and instead of examining remote tribes, serves as a kind of darkly hilarious anthropology of ourselves.
Playwright Ian MacAllister-McDonald picks up on the book's fascinating idea that, regardless of culture, how we act is a balance between our individual desires and our society's moral principles: "the compromise between rule and impulse." Especially when it comes to sex, nobody can ignore their primal inclinations.
We're sad to report that our production of Cabal, scheduled for this summer, must be postponed. The latest in our series of interactive plays-with-puzzles (see also 1926 Pleasant and Saboteur), Cabal requires a nontraditional venue: multiple rooms for the audience to explore, a solid infrastructure to handle the large-scale challenges, and an owner willing to let a theater company take over for several months to let us keep our audience size at just 15 people per show. We couldn't lock down the right space in time for this year, but we know it's out there somewhere in the future.
The good news is that this gives our electrical engineer, computer programmer, videographer and sculptor extra time to research and develop our newest puzzle ideas!
Gross Indecency: The Three Trials of Oscar Wilde is Walking Shadow’s 28th full-length production, and unifies several major themes we’ve explored over the past two seasons: society’s views on homosexuality, the role of government in determining morality, the value and danger of opposing an unjust law, the public’s desire to see the mighty brought low, and whether art should address issues of morality or simply be beautiful.
In 1895, Oscar Wilde was at the height of his career – his plays The Importance of Being Earnest and An Ideal Husband were both running on the West End, and his reputation as England’s preeminent man of letters seemed secure. On February 18 the Marquess of Queensbury left a card at the Albemarle Club, accusing Wilde of being “a posing somdomite.” (The Marquess here misspelled "sodomite," both a slur and a legal term in the Victorian era referring to someone who performs "unnatural" sexual acts such as oral or anal intercourse.)
Wilde chose to prosecute the Marquess for libel, which led to a series of three ill-fated trials. Throughout the trials, Wilde’s art was denounced as "immoral" and used as evidence of the author’s corruption. Wilde took the stand and defended his literature with characteristic wit and skill. Despite this eloquent defense, the Crown convicted Wilde for “gross indecency with male persons,” leading to his imprisonment, disgrace, and ultimately his death.
Gross Indecency uses primary sources to tell this story: trial transcripts, memoirs, newspaper clippings, Wilde’s published works and personal letters, reminiscences from George Bernard Shaw, and interviews between the playwright and historians. These weave together, creating dialogue between texts, and allowing scenes that never actually occurred to spring out of the documents. The resulting play is an exciting courtroom drama, a tragedy, a significant historic event, a celebration of language and wit, and an exploration of morality in a highly politicized society.
At its core, Gross Indecency: The Three Trials of Oscar Wilde is a story about how art and morality are perceived by society and personified in the legal system, as framed around one man’s struggle to defend his own artistic and personal identity – issues that are as vital today as they were in 1895.
The Legend of Sleepy Hollow is the third collaboration between playwright John Heimbuch and director Jon Ferguson. Or The White Whale, their rough and lyrical adaptation of Moby Dick, premiered in 2007 at the Southern Theater. In 2009, also at the Southern, they created S. Gunter Klaus and the Story Before, a charming yet challenging re-imagining of traditional folklore surrounding the Santa Claus story. As with those productions, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow will blend a rich and exciting text with evocative movement and imagery - and has been created in Ferguson/Heimbuch's signature collaborative style, being written and devised entirely in the room during the rehearsal process, with frequent contributions from the original cast.
The Legend of Sleepy Hollow is the playwright John Heimbuch’s seventh script for Walking Shadow (Drakul, The Transdimensional Couriers Union, Squawk, William Shakespeare’s Land of the Dead, 10-Speed Revolution, and The Lives of the Most Notorious Highwaymen). A founding member and Co-Artistic Director of Walking Shadow, he is regarded for scripts simultaneously entertaining and thought-provoking. His recent direction of Jeffrey Hatcher's Compleat Female Stage Beauty for Walking Shadow received an IVEY Award for "Overall Excellence".
This production marks director Jon Ferguson's Walking Shadow debut. He is the Artistic Director for Theatre Forever (formerly Jon Ferguson Theater), and his numerous previous projects include the wildly popular Super Monkey at the Guthrie Theater, Animal Farm at the Southern, and Please Don’t Blow Up Mr. Boban at the Minnesota Fringe Festival. Known for physical theater, modern clowning, and ensemble-based creation, Ferguson was called a “local treasure” by the Star Tribune.
The Legend of Sleepy Hollow was originally staged in November 2010 at the Hassler Theatre in Plainview, MN. Walking Shadow is delighted to be staging the Twin Cities premiere of this production.