The UW–Madison Arts Institute and the Wisconsin Union Directorate are pleased to present the world premiere of Randall Duk Kim and Anne Occhiogrosso starring in The Pleasure of His Company: Our 40 Year Love Affair with William Shakespeare, an evening of personal recollections, dramatic scenes and stories of Shakespeare’s influence on Kim and Occhiogrosso’s lives and careers for more than four decades at 7:00 p.m. on Friday, October 21, 2016 at Shannon Hall in the Wisconsin Union Theater (800 Langdon St., Madison).
The two-character performance piece, conceived and written by Kim and Occhiogrosso for the celebration of Shakespeare’s 400-year legacy, combines performance of signature Shakespearean dramatic scenes with performance pieces that celebrate Shakespeare’s contribution to world literature. The evening is also a tribute to the First Folio, the 1623 collection of Shakespeare’s plays which scholars cite as the most authentic and reliable versions of a majority of the playwright’s texts. The performance is a prelude to the Folger Shakespeare Library’s national exhibition of an original edition of the First Folio in Madison from November 3 – December 11 at the Chazen Museum of Art (the only location in Wisconsin).
The October 21 performance will include signature scenes from Hamlet, King Lear, Macbeth and many other Shakespeare plays. The performance will be followed by a Q&A session with the artists. It is free to the public with reservations required. On the morning of the performance (10:00 a.m. tentatively), Kim and Occhiogrosso will teach a Shakespeare Masterclass to UW–Madison Department of Theatre and Drama students using the First Folio. The public is welcome, though seating is limited (details available in September).
Occhiogrosso states: “We are delighted to be returning to Madison and have the opportunity to perform once again before the most wonderful audience we have ever played for over the course of our 40-year careers.” Professional partners onstage for over four decades, Occhiogrosso and Kim are married in real life.
The First Folio
The First Folio, according to modern scholars, commonly refers to the 1623 collection of “William Shakespeare’s Comedies, Tragedies and Histories.” Although 18 of Shakespeare’s plays had been published to prior to 1623, the First Folio contains the only published version of Macbeth and is arguably the most reliable text for 20 of Shakespeare’s most signature works including: Julius Caesar, The Tempest, Measure for Measure, The Taming of the Shrew, The Comedy of Errors, All’s Well That Ends Well, Twelfth Night, Antony and Cleopatra, The Winter’s Tale and Coriolanus, among others.
Occhiogrosso enthuses: “The First Folio brings the plays of William Shakespeare to life in a way that no other text does. Over the centuries, Shakespeare’s works were “grammaticized” by scholars who edited texts for the reader. Through our analysis of punctuation, capitalization, and unique spellings in the original texts, we have discovered that the First Folio provides clues to stimulate the actor’s imagination and encourages a more spontaneous performance of Shakespeare’s plays. I have never seen any actor work with the First Folio that wasn’t overwhelmed by the discovery of this new insight into Shakespeare’s texts and its powerful impact on audiences. Shakespeare’s plays were meant to be performed and not read.”
For over 40 years, Randall Duk Kim and Anne Occhiogrosso have devoted their lives to the classical theater through acting, directing, teaching, commissioning new translations of classical works and developing a singular approach to classical text interpretation, which combines research, training and production. Central to their work with William Shakespeare is their dependence upon the First Folio as an interpretative guide. This life-long dedication to classical theater led to their founding, in 1979, along with founding partner Charles J. Bright, now deceased, of American Players Theatre (Spring Green, Wisconsin), the only professional, outdoor classical rotating repertory theater company in America at that time. Most recently, Kim and Occhiogrosso performed Then Came Each Actor a two-character tribute to the legendary actors and actresses of the great classical tradition.
On Broadway, Randall Duk Kim has performed in The King and I, Golden Child and Flower Drum Song. In a career spanning nearly 50 years, he has appeared on stage with the New York Shakespeare Festival in In The Jungle of Cities (The Public Theater), The Tempest (Lincoln Center), Pericles and Cymbeline (Delacorte Theater) – all in New York City; the American Place Theatre (New York City) in The Chickencoop Chinaman, The Karl Marx Play, The Year of the Dragon and Nourish the Beast; the Jewish Repertory Theatre (Buffalo) in A Majority of One; the Champlain Shakespeare Festival (Burlington, Vermont) in The Taming of the Shrew, Julius Caesar, As You Like It, Titus Andronicus, The Merry Wives of Windsor, Romeo and Juliet, A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Richard III; the American Conservatory Theater (San Francisco) in King Richard III, Street Scene, The Taming of the Shrew, The Threepenny Opera, Marco Millions and When We Are Married; the Guthrie Theater (Minneapolis) in The Pretenders, Teibele and Her Demon, Hamlet and Marriage; and the Singapore Repertory Theatre in Golden Child and ART.
In 1979 with Anne Occhiogrosso and Charles Bright, he co-founded American Players Theatre, serving as artistic director and playing such Shakespearean roles as Puck, Titus Andronicus, Petruchio, King John, Friar Laurence, Shylock, Brutus, Malvolio, Falstaff, Prospero, Hamlet and King Lear. He has also been in the following productions: Marlowe’s Tamburlaine the Great, Chekhov’s Ivanov, Sophocles’ Oedipus Rex, Ibsen’s An Enemy of the People and Molière’s Tartuffe. His television credits include Hawaii Five-O, Nourish the Beast, Prisoners in Time (BBC), The Lost Empire, 100 Centre Street, Thief, New Amsterdam, Cashmere Mafia, Fringe, Elementary and Person of Interest; and film credits include General Alak in Anna and the King, The Keymaker in The Matrix Reloaded, Dr. Crab in Memoirs of a Geisha, Grampa Gohan in Dragonball: Evolution, the Tattoo Master in Ninja Assassin and Master Oogway in the animated franchise Kung Fu Panda. Kim is a recipient of an Obie for “Sustained Excellence of Performance.”
Director Anne Occhiogrosso received national attention for her body of work at American Players Theatre where she was co-artistic director. An acclaimed director, dramaturg, acting coach and actress, her focus has always been classical theater with a special emphasis on the works of William Shakespeare. At the American Players Theatre, she directed 16 Shakespearean plays along with works by Molière, Ibsen, Plautus and Chekhov. She also performed the roles of The Nurse in Romeo and Juliet, Gertrude in Hamlet, Natalya in The Proposal, Madame Arkadina in The Seagull, Jocasta in Oedipus Rex and Anna Petrovna in Ivanov, a production which was co-directed by Morris Carnovsky and Phoebe Brand who have served as career mentors to both Kim and Occhiogrosso. She has also taught at the Stella Adler Conservatory (now the Stella Adler Studio of Acting) and the New York Shakespeare Festival.
Date/Time: Friday, October 21, 2016 | 7:00 p.m.
Location: Shannon Hall, Wisconsin Union Theater
800 Langdon St., Madison, WI
Cost: Free, but advanced registration is required. A convenience fee applies for online and phone orders
Tickets online: go.wisc.edu/shakesaffair_tix
Tickets by phone: (608) 265-ARTS (2787)
Tickets in person: Box Office in Memorial Union, 1st Floor, 800 Langdon St.
Box Office in Vilas Hall: 821 University Ave., East Campus Mall side of the building.
The Kim and Occhiogrosso visit is made possible by the UW–Madison Arts Institute and the Wisconsin Union Directorate in association with the UW–Madison Department of Theatre and Drama, the Ten Chimneys Foundation and additional funding from the Anonymous Fund, the Brittingham Fund and the Jay Ruth Halls Scholarship Fund. Additional support is provided by the Wisconsin Book Festival and Wisconsin Public Radio.
This event is part of Shakespeare in Wisconsin 2016.