All posts by Brandon Vernon

Well-Tuned Shakespeare


A Little Conversation About Art
In this illuminating new series of lively conversations,
Founding Artistic Director Ian Gallanar exchanges ideas
with Chesapeake Shakespeare Company’s leading artists.

No. 2: “Well-Tuned Shakespeare” 

with Isabelle Anderson, Distinguished Artist-In-Residence

IAN: You are a U.S. citizen, but you were born in Australia and worked and trained as an artist in France, England and India. Do you find something unique about American artists?

ISABELLE: It’s the same thing that I find in the general culture in this country. Great energy. In my first visit to New York in 1990 I found the energy of possibility and striving was amazing. When I went back home to Australia, I missed it. So I came back! There is definitely a daring and a can-do energy here.

When I first encountered the Chesapeake Shakespeare Company many years ago, it was exactly their energy in performance that was so appealing and delightful. Still is! Sometimes though, as a teacher, I notice that the striving to get things right and do it the best (Reach for the moon, as it were) can get in the way of American student actors just having a deep experience, right now, or even of failing and learning. That’s where teaching clown work is helpful and a great technique for American actors. I taught a clown course for many years at Michael Howard Studios in New York, not to create  “clowns,”  but to give freedom and courage for creativity.

The actors here have great physicality. They seem to love improvisation and comedy. The comedy here is fantastic and powerful.  They are brave. I think actors were the original “start-up” kids. So many brave ventures into new theater groups reflect the innovative and individual style of American actors. I love and admire that. Then there’s the American actor’s love for Shakespeare. So much Shakespeare is done here. I was stunned, and delighted by that. 

IAN:  We’re so proud and grateful that you have lent your significant talent and outlook with us over the years. I remember meeting you that very first summer- when our work was accompanied by work lights and lots of folding tables. Now, we have this bright shiny theater and other toys, but, in many ways, we’ve held on to some values. What do you notice has changed with CSC? What has stayed the same? I mean, in terms of the art work?

Isabelle Anderson as Cleopatra, in Antony and Cleopatra (2013)

ISABELLE: The camaraderie of the CSC actors is still fantastic. Their willingness to do whatever is needed. Their humility and playfulness. Their genuine connection to and liking for their audience. They are a daring lot. They will pull a show through.  When I had to leave my production of rather intricate stage adaptation of Pride and Prejudice, two weeks before opening night, and fly to Australia for a family emergency, they all pulled it together and pulled it through. Amazing. And done very generously. They are what we in Australia call “Real Troupers.” 

In the gorgeous new theater, there is still the energy and celebration-spirit in performance, the welcoming openness. But I also see, hear and feel a deep desire to grow with the demands of a “home” theater, with its levels and acoustic requirements. It needs skills to fill beautifully and they are up for that. I am super-impressed by their desire to always grow and learn. They are simultaneously a laid-back, likeable, unpretentious bunch AND a driven, keen, growth-seeking group.

IAN: I’ve been thinking about painting and painters a lot lately. Painters seem to work so differently than actors and theatrical artists, but I’m curious about the similarities. I read recently that Jackson Pollock liked to work with a giant roll of canvas so that he wasn’t limited by “the rectangle.” He never wanted to see the edge of the canvas. Do we as theater artists have a rectangle?

ISABELLE: Yes and no! Ha. This is where my two voices, as teacher and director, answer!
Yes, there are the limits of discipline and technique. Actors have to understand their individual strengths and weaknesses and work hard on them, be it voice or body or nerves. Then, what those disciplined skills give possibility to… is infinite. The artistic soul of an actor needs skills to give pathways for it to flow outwards and create infinite possibilities. A solitary actor on a bare stage can evoke a space as far as the horizon, or a tiny airless cell, can summon up heaven or hell, all through what she or he does with body, breath, eyes and mind … and contagiously the audience feels it.

Only if we work our technique can we surpass our limits and fly. It’s the same with ballet, which is the other art I know well. So many hours at the barre doing rather unattractive things like plies and tendus… but then… you can let go and d-a-n-c-e, transporting an audience. It’s when people forget technique is just the vehicle, not the destination that things get boring or egotistical. Or, conversely when the desire for “freedom” dominates and a lack of technique means it’s just personal self-expression or therapy, not art.

I teach actors at the ACA, Academy for Classical Acting in Washington, D.C. and I always say on the first day. “You must become masters of time and space!” That’s beyond all rectangles! I’m in love with Matisse and Diebenkorn as artists. I read how many, many months and versions they would go through for what seems like a marvelously spontaneous slap and a dash of paint. Same thing.

IAN:  I think the rectangle is something to deal with/wrestle with so that someday you can, maybe, find small ways to expand beyond it. But I like producing Shakespeare because you wrestle with the rectangle every day. What is it that has led you to Shakespeare?

ISABELLE: Well. Yes. To continue the metaphor or image… Shakespeare’s plays give us the “rectangle” of form – so many components of form. There is the text. The specific words. The rhythm of the lines. Scansion. Juxtaposition of scenes. Rhetorical devices galore… and on and on. The first response is to find all that rather an obstacle course, a difficulty to be overcome or simplified, so we can “get it.” But my experience, thanks to masterful teachers like Cicely Berry and Bill Alexander, is to bow to the form and enter into every detail, like a treasure hunter looking for clues. Clues abound. One asks. “Hmm, why this word? Why that extra beat? Why a broken, shared line? ” It’s really very Sherlock Holmes stuff and totally, utterly riveting. Shakespeare tells you everything. I remember when Cicely Berry told me… if you find all the clues, you don’t really have to “act,” because the form holds the truth. Just bring it to life and the audience feels it.

I wonder sometimes if I love Shakespeare so much because of its complexity, the search for his intention, the search for the clues. It’s like the intricate choreography to a ballet. Every move is in there. Just find it and repeat it every night …and twice of Saturday’s. It stays alive and fresh. The form gives life to vast and varied experience.

And I am deeply drawn to the insights Shakespeare has into us humans. Comparing him to his contemporary playwrights I wonder at Shakespeare’s depth of humanity, understanding and poetry. How did he get to be so wise and insightful?

IAN: You have worked and studied with some of the great theatrical figures in the world, Peter Brook, Jerzy Grotowski, Jacques Lecoq, Cicely Berry and Bill Alexander. What, if anything, do they have in common?

ISABELLE: Interesting question. I suppose if you put them into a room together (What a great thought!) they would agree that theater is all about creating profound experience for the audience. Not just any experience, they all believe in the depth of experience possible. They would also agree that it is the actors who generate that experience. A painter can give a painting to a gallery and go on vacation while we all look at it and experience the painting’s art and profound beauty or impact. Actors have to do it all in real time, and twice on Saturdays. Move well, speak, be musical, sing occasionally, dance, be coordinated, convey emotions. Their instrument has to be incredibly tuned and above all… brave and open. Because it all happens NOW. In real time and space. Magic. The audience must feel something NOW.

All those teachers you mentioned, that I was so fortunate to have known and learned from, all believed there was massive experience possible for the audience. Not simply diverting, or novel, or spectacular experience, but transformative, life-changing experience. The creative force itself could be harnessed through the actor in the theater space. Whether through laughter, tears, thrill, awe or whatever the style of play, electricity between audience and actors could create a third, shared field where both would feel something powerful.

I think that gathering humans together and going on an agreed plunge into some pool of story is one of the few truly healthy, fabulous things we do in our society. I believe in theater as a muscle for strong societies. And it is beautiful, fun and engaging. I love it.

IAN: Thank you Isabelle!


PHOTOS:  Isabelle Anderson by Teresa Castracane. Isabelle Anderson as Cleopatra by Mindy Braden.

A Christmas Carol – with a Baltimore Twist

A Christmas Carol – on stage now through December 23, 2016


BALTIMORE (November 27, 2016) – Catch the holiday spirit:  Chesapeake Shakespeare Company’s original adaptation of A Christmas Carol delights kids of all ages as it celebrates Baltimore’s heritage.

Spiced with local history, joyous carols, and dazzling special effects, A Christmas Carol is a best-seller and crowd-pleaser. Reservations are strongly recommended: Performances close to Christmas tend to sell out.

This isn’t a “hon” Christmas Carol. Founding Artistic Director Ian Gallanar brings the play’s timeless message home by setting it in Victorian Baltimore. The script closely follows the plot of Charles Dickens’ novella: Scrooge awakens to visits from the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, and Yet to Come.  They spirit the lonely miser away from his bedroom  to help thaw his frozen heart and teach him a lesson about the  importance of giving.

Scrooge & Marley’s counting house has the address of the 1885 Mercantile Safe Deposit & Trust Company building in Baltimore’s old financial district. Chesapeake Shakespeare Company converted this bank building into a gorgeous theatre for the classics in 2014.

“We placed the story in the Baltimore business district of the 19th Century in honor of this magnificent building housing our theater, and this amazing city in which we perform,” says Gallanar.  The script includes references to familiar streets, watermen, and the diverse cultures of the early port city.

Gregory Burgess, a Chesapeake Shakespeare Company resident company member known for his great warmth, returns for his third season portraying the irascible and ultimately redeemable Scrooge. Associate Artistic Director Scott Alan Small directs a professional cast of local artists, including company members and 11 child actors from area schools.


A Christmas Carol runs December 2 through December 23, 2016, at the Chesapeake Shakespeare Company, 7 South Calvert Street (at Redwood Street), Baltimore, MD 21202. 

There will be two public preview performances, on November 30 and December 1.   

Ticket prices range from $25 – $65 for adults, $25 – $59 for seniors, and $19 – $33 for children and students.

Group discounts are available for parties of 10 or more.

For a complete schedule and tickets, visit or call the Box Office at 410.244.8570. 

Box office hours: Tuesdays-Fridays, 11am-3pm, and 45 minutes before every performance.


MEDIA CONTACT: Jean Thompson, Communications Manager, 410.244.8571, ext. 116, or 443-845-6130 or



Anne of the Thousand Days

A Legendary Queen

The fiery courtship of Anne Boleyn and King Henry VIII rends their nation in the splendid and surprisingly topical play Anne of the Thousand Days by Maxwell Anderson, October 21 through November 13 at Chesapeake Shakespeare Company. 
annelizziforwebAnderson gives Boleyn her due, capturing her duality as both a victim of the womanizing Henry VIII and as a leader of a changing England.  Audacious, sparkling, intelligent, obstinate Anne refuses the advances of the most powerful man in England, gambling everything in her bid to be more than a mistress. At great cost, she becomes Henry VIII’s second and most legendary queen.
Anne of the Thousand Days is about Henry and Anne’s passionate and ultimately tragic love story. Though written in 1948, its theme of women and power is surprisingly current.
       “When I chose Anne six months ago, I could not have predicted the recent headlines of the political campaigns,” says Lesley Malin, Managing Director at the theatre company and producer of the play. “Those issues are powerfully reflected in this particular play, with its protagonist declaring, ‘I, too, can say no,’ to a predatory and controlling monarch.”
       Award-winning director Kasi Campbell leads a cast that includes the theatre’s Resident Acting Company Members Lizzi Albert and Ron Heneghan as the royal couple. 


The production also features Chesapeake Shakespeare Company’s first all-women design and technical team, chosen to showcase local talent in theatre trades and bring their insights to the design of a nuanced story about a powerful woman. The result is a period-piece blockbuster, a re-creation of the Tudor court for the eyes and ears. The music of the play will include compositions by Henry VIII and sound designer Sarah O’Halloran.
         Anne of the Thousand Days will be performed Thursdays-Sundays, from October 21 through November 13, 2016, at Chesapeake Shakespeare Company’s downtown theater at 7 South Calvert Street, Baltimore, 21202. Tickets are $19 – $49 adults, and $15 -$25 students. Click here for tickets and details.

Two community events are scheduled with Anne of the Thousand Days.

DESIGNING WOMEN On Saturday, October 29, at 6:30pm,  meet the women of our design and technical team who have helped bring this tale to life. Admission to a pre-show panel discussion is free. The designers will discuss their contributions to the play and career opportunities for women. Audience members are welcome, as are college professors and students interested in theatre tech and design fields.  Combine the free event with a paid ticket to the 8pm performance for an evening of insights and entertainment. Get details here.

SEDUCTIVE TEMPTRESS or RELIGIOUS AND POLITICAL CHANGEMAKER? On Saturday, November 5, at 6:30pm, learn all about the real Anne Boleyn.  Join us for a conversation with Professor Amy M. Froide, a historian of women in early modern England. She’ll help us separate the fact from the legends about the fascinating Anne Boleyn. Admission to the pre-show conversation is free. Combine it with a paid ticket to the 8pm performance. Get details here. 

 For tickets, visit or call the Box Office at 410-244-8570.


SEASON ANNOUNCEMENT: Our 15th Anniversary Season


Chesapeake Shakespeare Announces its 15th Anniversary Season
BALTIMORE (April 6, 2016) — Innovation and imagination are cornerstones of Chesapeake Shakespeare Company and hallmarks of the theatre company’s 15th season, coming in 2016-2017.
Founding Artistic Director Ian Gallanar announces today a richly diverse 15th Anniversary Season with bold firsts and imaginative stagings of classic plays that build on its record of success. Highlights include the company’s first mounting of Shakespeare’s great tragedy, Othello, and its first musical, a revival of off-Broadway’s 20th century romance by Tom Jones and Harvey Schmidt, The Fantasticks.

“There is a momentum here at our theater. You can feel it,” Gallanar says, celebrating the company’s continuing expansion of its artistic, education, and community outreach programming. The plays this coming season will feature members of the CSC Resident Acting Company and a growing roster of Baltimore-area talent recruited since the theater moved here from Howard County in 2014.

“We’ve always prided ourselves on the variety of the work we present,” Gallanar said. “In our first 14 seasons, we have presented quite a diversity of styles and content. Like our namesake Shakespeare, we believe in big themes freshly presented in a wide range of styles. This season reflects that.”

Chesapeake Shakespeare Company’s 15th season will open with its first production of Shakespeare’s Othello. While the company’s production history includes 55 productions mounted over 14 seasons, “Othello is the most famous Shakespeare play we haven’t yet presented,” says Gallanar, who will direct it. This monumental tragedy, with its potent and timely themes of jealousy, power, and racism, is “a tough play, about some of humanity’s darkest qualities,” he says. “We are in the heart of a community that sometimes suffers as a result of some of those qualities, so we are anxious to explore this play with our audiences.”

Turning the focus to historical drama, Chesapeake Shakespeare will produce Maxwell Anderson’s Anne of the Thousand Days. It’s the story of King Henry VIII’s pursuit of bewitching young Anne Boleyn with a scandalous love that betrays his Queen and rends his country. Anne’s point of view is spotlighted, making the play a showcase for talented actresses. “This is a great historical drama that, like Shakespeare’s work, often concerns itself more with drama than history,” Gallanar says. “Some people might be familiar with the 1969 Richard Burton movie that was loosely based on the play but eliminated Maxwell Anderson’s blank verse. Much like Thornton Wilder’s Our Town, the play asks for little or no scenery, but relies on the skills of the actor and his or her words.”

Chesapeake Shakespeare’s holiday tradition, A Christmas Carol presented with a Baltimore twist, will return in December 2016. Gallanar’s adaptation of the Charles Dickens classic has Ebenezer Scrooge living and working in the heart of Victorian Baltimore.  It has become a family favorite.

Taking the stage next is one of Shakespeare’s best-known and most-reviled villains. Richard III is the playwright’s concluding chronicle of the Wars of the Roses. As fascinating as he is horrifying, Richard III marries and murders his way to take the crown of England. Gallanar will direct an innovative staging that sets the story in World War One, and was first produced outdoors in Ellicott City in 2012. “Complete with gas masks and barbed wire, this delightfully frightening production is one of the most popular from our first 14 seasons,” Gallanar says. “It’s fun to bring back one of our favorites for this special anniversary season.”

Is any man worthy of razor-tongued Kate? A spring offering will be Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew, a rollicking send-up of marital power struggles, as topical as it is comical. “The Taming of the Shrew is one of the most popular comedies in the history of the theater,” Gallanar says. “Why? Because we can all relate to the bumpy road love takes us on. Our company has a special knack for comedy, and we look forward to sharing one that the whole family can enjoy.” 
“Try to remember the days of September when life was slow and oh, so mellow.” Even if you don’t know the play, you probably have heard this song from The Fantasticks, off-Broadway’s longest-running musical. The Fantasticks, with its universal themes and sentimental book and lyrics by Tom Jones and music by Harvey Schmidt, tells of a boy and girl next door and their meddling, matchmaking fathers. Chesapeake Shakespeare has incorporated original and live music in its productions since its first production in 2002, which was Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night.  For Season 15, the company is poised to take the next step and mount its first musical. “We’ve been immersed in recent years in live music,” Gallanar says. “It’s become an important part of our aesthetic. Our Christmas Carol includes almost 20 live songs. A musical seems a natural step forward.”  The director will be Curt L. Tofteland, who from 1989 to 2008 was producing artistic director of the Kentucky Shakespeare Festival and who is the founder of the much-acclaimed Shakespeare Behind Bars.

On its summer stage in the PFI Historic Park in Ellicott City in 2017, Chesapeake Shakespeare will present The Tempest, Shakespeare’s magnificent tale of storm and shipwreck, mystery and magic. It will be directed by Lizzi Albert, a CSC Resident Acting Company member. “We love creating an island at the PFI in our beautiful outdoor home,” Gallanar says. “The Tempest is a play with a little bit of everything — drama, romance, wildly comic characters, spirits, creatures, magic. It’s Shakespeare’s last great play.”

Subscription renewals begin today. Subscription sales for new subscribers will begin May 6, online at or by phone at 410-244-8570. The Box Office is open Tuesdays-Fridays, 11am to 2pm, at the Baltimore theater, 7 South Calvert Street, Baltimore 21202.

Chesapeake Shakespeare Company’s
15th Anniversary Season, 2016-2017

Othello                                             September 16 – October 9, 2016
Anne of the Thousand Days         October 21 – November 13, 2016
A Christmas Carol                           December 2 – 23, 2016
Richard III                                         February 10 – March 5, 2017
The Taming of the Shrew              March 17 – April 9, 2017
The Fantasticks                               April 21 – May 21, 2017
The Tempest                                   June 16 – July 23, 2017




Encouraging Young Artists at Chesapeake Shakespeare

“You are their heir; you sit upon their throne;
The blood and courage that renowned them
Runs in your veins; and my thrice-puissant liege
Is in the very May-morn of his youth,
Ripe for exploits and mighty enterprises.”
                     -Henry V, by William Shakespeare

Blood & Courage: 
Chesapeake Shakespeare’s Under-30 Company Starts 2016
with a New Name — and an Exciting Original Production

BALTIMORE (January 14, 2016) – Blood & Courage, a Baltimore-based ensemble of emerging artists launched by Chesapeake Shakespeare Company, challenges the notion that there is only “one right way” to perform the classics. 

This month, Blood & Courage members will present UNSCENE, an original adaptation of scenes typically cut from productions of Shakespeare’s plays.  UNSCENE will feature a cast of seven women using performance techniques associated with commedia dell’arte, including masks, clowning skills, improvisation, and audience involvement.

Click here to learn more about UNSCENE.

“I launched the Blood & Courage company to provide an educational opportunity for early career professional artists,” says Ian Gallanar, Founding Artistic Director of Chesapeake Shakespeare Company. “In theatre, the craft and business are learned by practicing, and I worry that there are not enough professional opportunities for young artists to get that experience.  So we created an environment where they can experiment, stretch their skills, take pride in their achievements, and learn from their mistakes – in other words, a place where they can grow.”Unscene_BloodandCourage2

Blood & Courage productions are mounted entirely by artists who are in their 20s, from the scripting, costuming, and performing to the fund-raising, promoting, and ticket-selling.  They receive mentoring and encouragement from Chesapeake Shakespeare Company staff and professionals.
Last year, the group debuted as the Under-30 Company with a performance of Shakespeare’s All’s Well That Ends Well.  Now with a new name inspired by a line from Henry V — Blood & Courage, and the confidence that comes with some experience, the ensemble is taking on a more experimental work. UNSCENE is being adapted and directed by Seamus Miller, 26, a Baltimore actor who studied Theatre Arts and English at Cornell University. He has had several professional roles on stages in the region and appeared with Chesapeake Shakespeare Company in Titus Andronicus in 2015.

Four performances of UNSCENE are scheduled:  January 29 and 30 and February 5 and 6, 2016, at 9pm, in the Chesapeake Shakespeare Company Theater, 7 South Calvert Street at Redwood Street, Baltimore, 21202. Tickets are $10 (cash only) at the door. 

For details about UNSCENE and Blood & Courage, click here, or contact Amanda Bennett, the ensemble’s spokesperson, at or Robby Rose, production manager, at

For more information about Chesapeake Shakespeare Company, contact Jean Thompson at 410-244-8571, ext. 106, or

Photo by Seamus Miller.




Ian Gallanar has been welcomed into the National Theatre Conference


BALTIMORE (December 4, 2015) – This morning in New York City, Chesapeake Shakespeare Company’s Founding Artistic Director, Ian Gallanar, was inducted into the distinguished National Theatre Conference.

The National Theatre Conference, founded in 1925, is comprised of executives, artists, and scholars who are leaders in American theatre. Membership is by invitation only. The members exchange ideas about major issues affecting the nation’s theatres. Also, the National Theatre Conference initiates, encourages, and supports projects intended to strengthen and broaden the influence of theatre in this country. It has been a leader in national theatre diversity initiatives including a movement to celebrate and perform plays by American women.

“It’s an honor to spend time with so many people I’ve admired for so long in my career,” Gallanar said.

At the organization’s annual meeting today, Jim Volz, former National Theatre Conference president, and current president of Consultants for the Arts, introduced Gallanar to the members. 

“The National Theatre Conference is thrilled for Ian Gallanar to join our national theatre think tank and advocacy group that has been supporting artists since 1925,”  Volz said. “NTC is comprised of theatre leaders nationwide and Mr. Gallanar will fit right in as a noted Shakespeare producer and champion of all things Baltimore.”

During the induction festivities this morning at The Players club in New York, Gallanar delivered an address, “Theatre as a Bridge,” about the vital role of theatre arts in city renaissance. He discussed Chesapeake Shakespeare Company’s response to unrest in Baltimore this spring, and the company’s continuing outreach and education programs. Chesapeake Shakespeare Company welcomed Frederick Douglass High School to the theatre for a matinee performance of Romeo and Juliet immediately after the uprising in the school’s neighborhood. In addition, the theater opened its doors to the city for a free matinee performance when imposed curfews interrupted the evening performance schedule.
Gallanar has directed more than 120 professional productions during his 30 years in the profession. His original adaptation of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol sets Ebenezer Scrooge in Baltimore on German Street, the original address of the landmark bank building that the theater company has transformed into a theatre for the classics. The play debuted in Baltimore in December 2014 and returns for the 2015 season, opening tonight.

He founded Chesapeake Shakespeare Company in 2002 with a mission to create innovative performance and education programs that bring the works of William Shakespeare and other classics to life.  Ian has been Artistic Director of The Repertory Theater of America, the National Theatre for Children, and the Minnesota Shakespeare in the Park. He is a recipient of the Telly, Helen Hayes, and Howie (of the Howard County Arts Council) Awards, and has written a number of plays for children. He lives in Silver Spring, Md.
MEDIA CONTACT: Jean Thompson, Communications Manager, 443-845-6130 (cell)

10 Halloween Tips…Scare, or Be Scared!

10 Best Halloween Costume Tips, Hacks, Tricks & Treats

from Chesapeake Shakespeare Company’s Costumers and Designers

cleaverLOWRESforweb1The costumes will be over-the-top fabulous when the Chesapeake Shakespeare Company presents ShakesFEAR, a Halloween Costume Party and Contest on October 23, to celebrate the Opening Night of Shakespeare’s horror play, Titus Andronicus. Professional theater artists and designers are coming to the party. (That’s so unfair!) To even the playing field, we asked Chesapeake Shakespeare Company’s costumers, wig designers, special effects designers, and prop masters to share their best Halloween tricks of the trade. Get ready to scare …or be scared!

10 Best Halloween Costume Tips, Hacks, Tricks & Treats

DEATH is DELICIOUS  Here is an easy recipe for stage blood to make at home using store-bought ingredients: Mix equal parts Karo syrup and chocolate syrup. Add 1 tablespoon of flour for each cup of the combined liquids.  Add red food coloring (make it as red as you like.)  “I prefer less red and more brownish from the chocolate,” says Mindy Braden, Props Designer for Titus Andronicus, and Resident Technical and Design Company Member at Chesapeake Shakespeare Company. If you want to get really gross (like someone’s cut your tongue out), she says, add a couple of tablespoons of crunchy peanut butter. It looks really nasty and tastes like peanut butter cups.

KITCHEN WIZARDRY Take a look at everyday objects from another perspective, says Kristina Lambdin, Resident Costume Designer at Chesapeake Shakespeare Company.  Plastic spoons can become scale armor.  Cut off the handles, paint the spoon tops silver, and hot glue them to a T-shirt. Not battle-worthy, but trick-or-treat worthy!  Last year, Kristina sewed glittering beetle wings on a jacket for the fairy king Oberon in A Midsummer Night’s Dream.  (Hint: Painted press-on nails can achieve a similar effect.


I VANT TO BITE YOU  It’s just not sexy or scary if your fangs keep falling out. When Chesapeake Shakespeare Company performed Dracula, Mindy’s best source for fangs was


 LIGHT UP THE NIGHT Incorporate glow sticks or battery-powered lights in your costume to turn it up a notch, Kristina says. In Chesapeake Shakespeare Company’s upcoming production of A Christmas Carol (Dec. 4 – Dec. 23), the Ghost of Christmas Past wears a white gown that glows with tiny battery-powered lights sewn into the skirts.

The Ghost of Christmas Past_LOWres

BEHIND THE MASK Consider the scale and proportions of your costume, says Chester Stacy, of Chester Creates LLC, who has created set and special effects for Titus Andronicus and A Christmas Carol. He created the head of Jack Skellington by covering a beach ball with papier mache. “By using a construction helmet mounted low inside the papier mache ball, I look through the mouth — and ‘grow’ 10 inches taller,” Chester says. He bolted shoes to 7-inch wooden blocks to grow taller still, and added a thrift-shop tuxedo. “Interpreting a familiar character accurately means getting proportion right and then adding details where they will make the most impact,” he says.


 BEST FOOT FORWARD Don’t forget the importance of accessories, Kristina says. Shoes can make a big impact, so try painting a pair to coordinate with your costume. She uses Angelus brand acrylic shoe paints.

SCARY HAIRY  For Titus Andronicus, our scariest actors shaved their heads.  There’s another way you can save money on Halloween hair: Refresh last year’s costume wig instead of buying a new one. Comb out the wig, and separate the hairs into sections. Braid, tie, or sew in ribbons, or fake ivy, or toy snakes to achieve a new look. Want to add color? Haley Raines Young, Wig and Makeup Designer, says many polyester costume wigs can be enhanced with floral spray paint (a specialty aerosol spray paint used on silk flowers and available at craft and fabric stores). Style or shape the wig first, then spray paint as a final step to add color and help hold the style. Remember to follow manufacturers’ instructions, give the wig time to dry, and avoid open flames such as cigarettes and candles — spray paints are flammable. Haley created the amazing wigs used in Chesapeake Shakespeare Company’s production of The Comedy of Errors this past summer. 


BEST DRESSED ZOMBIE For quick-and-dirty zombie costumes, here are tips from Kristina and Haley:  Take an old shirt and pants and rough them up using sandpaper and a cheese grater (fashion clothiers call this look “distressed”). Then give the clothes a patina of blood, mold, and dirt using a spray bottle filled with food coloring.  Smear on your fake blood.

ADD SOUND EFFECTS  Empty a small plastic bottle of drinking water. (Deer Park is preferred. Yes, several brands were tested for this, very scientifically.) Place the empty bottle under your armpit. You can hide it with a shirt, cloak, or shawl. Now, as you pretend to break your neck (or someone else’s), crush the bottle between your arm and your side to achieve the sound of bone and cartilage snapping. For this gem, we thank Chris Niebling, the Violence Choreographer for Titus Andronicus and Co-Artistic Director of Live Action Theater.

SPLAT! Why stop at zombie blood? Here’s a recipe for Zombie Brains, from Jacy Barber, who is the Costume Designer for Titus Andronicus and a theatrical artist specializing in costume, puppet, and object design.  In a small bowl, gently blend a mashed ripe banana, a packet of instant oatmeal, and a little bit of water, just enough to give the oatmeal lumpy but not liquid texture. Pour stage blood over this, and fold it together lightly — don’t stir too much. Now you can spill your brains on the table, or let it ooze from fake gunshot wounds or head injuries. Jacy says that she has used a slingshot to hurl brain-splatter against a wall or tree, but let’s leave that to the professionals.

Happy Halloween!

ShakesFEAR is Chesapeake Shakespeare Company’s Halloween Costume Party celebrating the Opening Night for Titus Andronicus, William Shakespeare’s horror play for the Halloween season, October 23 – November 15, 2015.

Tickets to the Opening Night performance at 8pm on October 23 include free admission to the costume party, which follows immediately after the show. Ticket holders are invited to wear their costumes to the Opening Night. (Please check your headgear at the cloak room so you don’t obstruct other patrons’ view of the stage.)

Adults: $19-$49. Students: $15-$25. Mature content: Not recommended for children.

Get details and tickets here or call 410-244-8570. 

MEDIA CONTACT: Jean Thompson, Communications Manager, Chesapeake Shakespeare Company, click here to contact by email.

PHOTOS:   Jack Skellington photo courtesy of Chester Stacy; all other photos by Teresa Castracane.



All’s Well — CSC’s Under-30 Company


Under-30 Company presents All’s Well That Ends Well

Photo by Amanda Rose
Photo by Amanda Rose

Date:   May 15-16, 22-23
Showtime:  10pm
Location:  Chesapeake Shakespeare Company, 7 South Calvert St., Baltimore MD 21202

BALTIMORE (May 5, 2015)—Chesapeake Shakespeare Company’s new Under-30 Company bursts onto the scene with a fresh take on one of the Bard’s oft-neglected plays, All’s Well That Ends Well. Clever, middle-class Helena loves the aristocratic Bertram. When her ingenious plan to snare him goes awry, she conceives a daring trick to win his love. Join us for this late-night presentation of one of Shakespeare’s dark comedies, as our young lovers struggle with desire, rejection, and growing up.

Performances are scheduled for 10pm on May 15, 16, 22, and 23 at the new Chesapeake Shakespeare Company Theater, 7 South Calvert Street at Redwood Street, in Downtown Baltimore.  Tickets are $10 and only available in cash at the door.

For more information, visit the Under-30 Company page at or contact Robby Rose at to reserve a seat.

“All’s Well That Ends Well shows what happens when a fairy tale crashes into reality,” says CSC company member and All’s Well director Lizzi Albert. “The things Helena and Bertram struggle with—love, sex, parents, friendship, identity, betrayal—are the questions that consume young people. I can’t think of a better way to launch the Under-30 company than with this surprisingly modern love story.”

“All’s Well that Ends Well is considered one of Shakespeare’s ‘problem plays,’” says dramaturg Catherine Ritter. “Containing elements of both comedy and tragedy, this play doesn’t fit neatly into a genre category. It’s dark yet funny, daring and at times a little unsettling; it rings true to the reality of life and the human condition.”

About the CSC Under-30 Company:

CSC Under-30 Company members are emerging artists affiliated with the Chesapeake Shakespeare Company. The company was formed in 2015 to provide opportunities for young artists ages 18 to 30 to take risks and hone their skills in a professional setting. 

Media contact:  Lizzi Albert, Director, All’s Well That Ends Well,
cell (240) 505-6250  For Theater Reviewers:  Contact Robby Rose to request press tickets at

Free Matinee on Friday, May 1, 10am

  • Romeo and Juliet matinee performance,  Friday, May 1, 10am
    Chesapeake Shakespeare Company Theater, 7 South Calvert Street

Chesapeake Shakespeare Company will perform a 10am matinee of Romeo and Juliet on Friday, May 1, FREE and open to the public. Doors will open at 9:30am.

This performance of William Shakespeare’s timeless love story will run for 1 hour and 45 minutes, with no intermission. The address is 7 South Calvert Street, at the corner of Calvert and Redwood streets. 

This is a regularly scheduled matinee performance, which would normally serve the children of the city and county school systems. Chesapeake Shakespeare Company has been performing morning matinees for public and private schools on weekdays since April 7, in a continuing outreach program that supports the curricula of high school and middle school English and Drama departments. More than 5,000 students had tickets to attend these shows, and about half of the matinees were completed before recent protests and unrest prompted many city and county schools to cancel field trips. Efforts are being made to reschedule as many matinees as possible through May 12.

Tomorrow’s matinee show will go on — as our gift to our beloved city.  CSC’s faith in Baltimore and the spirit of peacemaking is unshaken. Opening the doors to the public tomorrow is our statement that art can be a healing force. At this time when Baltimore’s community yearns for peaceful gathering, the arts also provide an essential connection to our shared humanity.  Shakespeare addressed the issue of civic unrest in many of his plays, never more eloquently than in Romeo and Juliet. In the play, Verona’s prince appeals to clashing clans to find common ground and make peace on his city’s streets, as he mourns the dire cost of their failure.

CONTACT:  Jean Thompson, Communications Manager, Chesapeake Shakespeare Company,, 410-244-8571, Ext. 106

To our Friends and Ticketholders

After careful consideration, and in light of the curfew imposed by Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, Chesapeake Shakespeare Company is choosing to cancel evening performances on Thursday, April  30; Friday, May 1; and Saturday, May 2.  

At this time we are planning on performing the Sunday, May 3, matinee and all performances scheduled between May 7 and May 10.

We are offering liberal ticket exchanges for Sunday, May 3 – Sunday, May 10, if you would prefer to see Romeo and Juliet the final week.

We hope very much that you will be able to exchange your tickets for one of the remaining Romeo and Juliet performances. They are:

Sunday, May 3, at 2 pm
Thursday, May 7, at 8 pm
Friday, May 8, at 8 pm
Saturday, May 9,at 8 pm
Sunday, May 10, at 2 pm (Mother’s Day!)

To reschedule your ticket, please contact the Box Office with your preferred date at: 

If you cannot reschedule your visit, the donation of the ticket cost will go to support our many outreach programs, including our educational matinees.

We have been in constant communication with the Mayor’s Office and the Downtown Partnership Safety Coalition, and our decision to cancel reflects our goal of assisting the city’s effort to keep streets clear for safety efforts to continue. Many of you have called us and expressed discomfort with coming to the Inner Harbor at this time. Due to the length of our show, we also want to ensure that our audience, cast, and crew members can get home without anxiety of breaking the curfew.

Our commitment to Baltimore is unshaken and we believe that the arts are more important than ever at this difficult time. The arts are about shared experiences and can be a healing force. Shakespeare spoke eloquently about the cost of civic unrest and the need for peaceful streets to sustain precious communities, nowhere more eloquently than in Romeo and Juliet.  That’s why we urge you to see this production. We have already performed this play for 2,000 schoolchildren during our school matinees. Their enthusiastic and thoughtful responses give us all hope that art can change minds and hearts.  

We are working closely now with school systems to reschedule the student matinees canceled by school closings and by field trip cancellations, as we believe this work is among our highest missions as artists.

We ask for your patience as we process the hundreds of phone calls and emails that we will be receiving in the next few days. Thank you for your understanding. 

Lesley Malin, Managing Director

Ian Gallanar, Founding Artistic Director

Kelly Broderick, Audience Services Manager