April Shakespeare Workout with Armin Shimerman!

Shakespeare Seen Through the Elizabethan World View

The class will incorporate period thinking, history, religion, language and the classical study of rhetoric and context. You will be given a method of approaching ANY English classical playwright, and an acting technique that will help you explore character and convey meaning to a modern audience. Class will focus on monologue study.


Classes will take place Tuesday afternoons,
April 5-26 from 1:30-5:00pm.

For more information:
Deirdre Murphy, Artistic Coordinator, at deirdre@antaeus.org

About Armin Shimerman:

Armin Shimerman

With a degree in English from UCLA, Armin Shimerman apprenticed at the San Diego Old Globe Theater and eventually took over the lead comic roles. He emigrated to New York where within a year he was performing for Joseph Papp in the highly acclaimed production of “3 Penny Opera” at Lincoln Center. Armin went on to work many years on Broadway in “St. Joan” with Lynn Redgrave at the Circle in the Square, “Broadway” with Teri Garr and Glen Close, and finally Richard Rogers’ last musical “I Remember Mama.” Years of work in Regional Theater followed including Stage West, Connecticut Shakespeare Festival, Vermont Champlain Shakespeare Festival, Indiana Repertory, Rutgers’ Mason Gross Theater, Los Angeles Mark Taper Forum, Los Angeles Theatre Center, Tyrone Guthrie Theater, Seattle’s ACT, and the San Diego Repertory Theatre production of “King Lear”. He was nominated for lead performance by the prestigious Los Angeles Ovation Awards for his performance in Pinter’s “The Birthday Party” at the Matrix Theatre. Last year, he returned to San Diego Rep. to play the lead in “Seafarer” and for his performance won the San Diego Critics Award.

Armin moved to Los Angeles in the early 80’s, where he started his television and film career. He has guest starred in over 80 different TV shows and had major recurring roles as Pascal in Beauty and the Beast, Cousin Bernie in Brooklyn Bridge, Tommy Walker in the Invisible Man, Judge Hooper on Boston Legal and, of course, Principal Snyder in Buffy the Vampire Slayer. However, he is perhaps best known to the public for his seven years as the incorrigible QUARK on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.

Mr. Shimerman is also a published author: The “34th Rule” ,“Merchant Prince,” “Outrrageous Fortune,” A Capital Offense” . His writings are a product of years of teaching Elizabethan Rhetoric to classical actors and a lifelong study of Shakespeare. Among others, he has taught at UCLA, The Guthrie Theatre, Theatricum Botanicum, the High School for the Performing Arts, Claremont College, and Antaeus. He has directed several of the Bard’s plays. He is currently a board member and director for the Antaeus Theatre Company, L.A.’s classical company.


The Antaeus Company announces 2011 Line-Up

Contact: Lucy Pollak (for media only)
(818) 887-1499 lucy@lucypr.com

Hot on the heels of LADCC Award for “Outstanding Season” in 2010, The Antaeus Company announces 2011 line-up.

NORTH HOLLYWOOD, CA – March 16 2011 – The Antaeus Company will offer double-cast productions of The Malcontent by John Marston and Peace in Our Time by Noël Coward in 2011, as well as a new installment of ClassicsFest, Antaeus’ signature, six-week festival of classical work. Presenting classical plays in Los Angeles since 1991, the company known as L.A.’s classical theater ensemble offered an inaugural season in 2010 that garnered the Los Angeles Drama Critics’ Circle’s (LADCC) Polly Warfield Award for Outstanding Season at last Monday’s awards ceremony.

“This year, once again, we chose productions based on ongoing work we’ve been developing over the past year or two,” explains Antaeus artistic director Jeanie Hackett. The Malcontent was the hit of last summer’s ClassicsFest; and we’ve been working on Peace in our Time for over two years. Both plays use a wide range of actors, and are great vehicles for our ensemble company. And this summer’s ClassicsFest is full of gems-in-process.”

The Malcontent is John Marston’s viciously funny, filthy and surprising Jacobean masterpiece. The former Duke of Genoa takes the disguise of the outrageous Malevole (the titular Malcontent) to spy on the corrupt foibles of the new Duke and his unctuous cronies. Disguises, false deaths, seductions, deceptions, and adulteries all drive the plot of this enormously entertaining play. Elizabeth Swain will direct. Performances will take place May 5 through June 19, with previews beginning April 28.

Until now a biennial event, Antaeus’ popular festival of the classics, the vehicle through which the company develops much of its work, is going annual. Classicsfest 2011 marks Antaeus’ sixth, six-week “smorgasbord” of actor-initiated workshops, readings, and special events: a different project will take place almost every night of each week, July 12 through August 19.
Peace in Our Time is Noël Coward’s one and only anti-war propaganda play. Directed by Casey Stangl and choreographed by Harry Groener (recipient of the LADCC award for Performance for the title role in last season’s production of King Lear), Antaeus presents a new adaptation by company member Barry Creyton of this rare Coward work that has never before been produced in the U.S. What might life in England have been like if the Nazis had won the Battle of Britain? Performances are set for October 20 through December 11, with previews beginning October 13.

The Antaeus Company strives to keep classical theater vibrantly alive by presenting professional productions with a top-flight ensemble company of actors. Taking their company name from the Titan who gained strength by touching the Earth, Antaeus members – many of whom are familiar to movie and television audiences – regain creative strength by returning to the wellspring of their craft: live theater performances of great classical plays. All Antaeus productions are fully double cast, with two equally talented actors sharing every role. This means that audiences rarely see an understudy and frequently come back to see each show a second time in order to see the same play in the hands of an equally good but very different set of actors. Members of the company and its board span a wide range of age, ethnicity and experience; they have performed on Broadway, at major regional theaters across the country, in film and television, and on local stages, and are the recipients of multiple accolades including Tony, Los Angeles and New York Drama Critics Circle, Ovation, LA Weekly, and Back Stage Garland nominations and awards.

For more information about The Antaeus Company and the 2011 Season, call 818-506-5436 or visit online at www.antaeus.org.


Company Member Jonathan Lynn’s hit TV show is now a hit in the West End!

We can’t help but brag about Antaeus Company and Board Member Jonathan Lynn.  He has directed the adaptation of the popular BBC series Yes, Prime Minister for the stage (written by Lynn and Antony Jay), now playing at the Gielgud Theatre in London to rave reviews.

Henry Goodman as Sir Humphrey Appleby and David Haig as Prime Minister Jim Hacker

Here is the review by John Lahr from the New Yorker, dated October 11, 2010:

“Brief Encounter” aside, seriousness was no Coward’s ozone; even in his humor, he was no thinker.  The same can’t be said of Jonathan Lynn and Antony Jay, the co-authors of the brilliant nineteen-eighties British TV series “Yes, Minister” and “Yes, Prime Minister,” which, taken together, are the smartest and funniest political-science course anyone has ever attended.  Now, in a new stage version of “Yes, Prime Minister” (expertly directed by Lynn, at the Gielgud, in London), the scornful, lazy, loquacious Sir Humphrey (Henry Goodman) and the hapless, cunning, vainglorious Prime Minister Jim Hacker (David Haig) return to the West End just in time to skewer Britain’s Tory-led coalition government and its instinct for turning a crisis into a catastrophe.  With a plot that juggles all the current political deliriums–energy, the euro, the European Union, illegal immigration, global warming, the BBC, pedophilia, and more–the play bears exhilarating witness to Mark Twain’s droll observation that honesty was the best policy.

The story revolves around a deal being made with the foreign secretary of the oil-rich Kumranistan to run a pipeline through Europe, thus solving Britain’s economic problems and insuring the P.M.’s future.  On the eve of signing the deal, however, the foreign secretary asks for a sexual partner for the night; his sweet tooth turns out to be for schoolgirls.  This request generates an extravaganza of hilarious pettifogging.  When a willing girl is finally found, she turns out to be an illegal immigrant.  “Oh, my God! What do we do? We can’t ignore the facts,” Hacker says in abject terror.  His assistant answers, “If you can’t ignore the facts, you have no business being in government.”  Like Nixon and Kissinger praying together at the White House, Hacker and his pols get down on their knees to ask for guidance, a moment that gives the line “the secret ambush of a specious prayer” a whole new meaning.  “So my question is: which is the greater evil, O Lord? Is it really O.K. for me to authorize procuring some little scrubber for him to have sex with?” Hacker asks, adding, I look forward to hearing from you at your earliest convenience. Amen.”

In the late eighties, after a tenure as a director at the National Theatre, Lynn left England and built a successful career in Hollywood, where he has made a series of star-driven studio comedies that rarely allow him to show the full range of his sharp intelligence.  His return to the West End is something to cheer about.  Lynn, who directed the best production of Joe Orton’s “Loot” I’ve ever seen, is a dab hand at Orton’s game of drawing pure water from poisoned wells.  Almost every paradoxical line of this vivacious play challenges the audience to think against received opinion.  To end with one piquant potshot: “We don’t approve of blackmail as an instrument of government policy,” Sir Humphrey sniffs. “Blackmail is criminal, Prime Minister.  We use leverage.”

ClassicsFest 2010: ‘Faith Healer’

As ClassicsFest 2010 unspools, we’ll be featuring insights from the project initiators about what inspired them to choose their plays and their experience of working on them.

Faith Healer
by Brian Friel

I have been a Brian Friel fan, if that is the correct word for the feelings I have for his work, for a looonnnngg time. I have written a letter of praise and appreciation to this man, and he has written back, so there is a personal feeling as well as a connection to the material. The first play of his I performed in was Lovers: Winners and Losers. We did the Winners portion and I always wondered at the “winners” appellation as the two protagonists are dead. The implication is that they killed themselves. This was a “victory.” They were the “Winners.” I performed this over forty years ago.

My first theatrical success upon arriving in Los Angeles many moons ago was in Philadelphia, Here I Come! and I have performed in Translations in LA, and performed the part of ‘Teddy’ in Faith Healer with my dear friend the late Charles Hallahan performing ‘Frank.’ This was done for Warner Shook at the Intiman Theatre in Seattle. My wife claims to have fallen in love with me again while assaying the ‘Teddy’ character. That is more than a little bit special.

Every time I do a Friel piece something magical happens. They speak to my Irish side. They scream to my Irish side. Ever since performing Faith Healer I have had the notion, dream, plan, what have you, to perform it in the following way: two actors switch off playing Frank and Teddy. I, of course, want to be one of the actors. They would have to be pretty devoted theatre creatures because each of the two roles is back-breakingly difficult in the memorization department—and two so totally different people, a huge challenge and undertaking. The part of ‘Grace’ (“grace”, indeed) is also daunting both in size and scope—a match for Frank, an inspiration for Teddy.

The play appeals to me to this day because of the subject matter and what I perceive as the main focus. It is a “Roshomon” play, where everyone expresses their point of view, and the audience has to decide who is telling the truth—if anyone. Just like in life, their stories vary, and collide, and contradict. But for me the prime dilemma of the play is Frank’s; he is the title character, and the others his….satellites. His central conceit I find so compelling: What do you do when you “don’t have it”? When the muse is absent, when the power of your craft, your gift, is not present? How to conquer the fear? The disappointment? The shame? How to live with the diminution of your power? The question(s) of the pointlessness of existence. The “why go on”-ness of it all. So it speaks strongly to the doubts a performer has—about every facet of his/her life. And while there is a form of salvation in the play, at what cost?

I have had producers say, “oh it’s an ACTORS’ play,” as if it is a pejorative. I say, “Yeah? What is the problem with that?” Perhaps what they really mean is that it is not a commercial piece. I think they worry that you won’t sell tickets with this piece. I know that that is a consideration, but dig in, says I.

And so we are. Let us know what you think. Is a full production something to pursue?

We will give this away and see.

– Gregory Itzin, Actor and Project Initiator

Faith Healer
plays as a “First Look” on July 31 at 3pm

ClassicsFest 2010: ‘Les Blancs’

As ClassicsFest 2010 unspools, we’ll be featuring insights from the project initiators about what inspired them to choose their plays and their experience of working on them.

Les Blancs
by Lorraine Hansberry

CLASSIC: The word classic means something that is a perfect example of a particular style, something of lasting worth or with a timeless quality.

Why didn’t I think of it before? Please, forgive me Ms. Hansberry for not seeing what was right in front of me.  We have had many encounters, your play and I.  The first was in school.  Flipping through a theatre history book, fantasizing about a life in the theatre, and there it was staring at me, in the face; A black and white photo of a powerful actor in traditional costume, masks creeping out from the dark of the stage, the caption read Les Blancs by Lorraine Hansberry.  It showed a particular style and I believe it was taken from a production at the Negro Ensemble Company. I may even have read it, but it was your other play, ‘the famous one’, which drew my naive artistic attention.

Our next encounter was some 20 years later.  I pursued my dreams and found myself preparing for a role in your ‘famous play’ at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival.  I read everything you wrote and everything I could find about you, including more photos of an OSF production of Les Blancs.  I read it again, and wondered, “Why hasn’t this play of lasting worth been done more often? What’s wrong? Are we afraid?” Since your time, our native brothers and sisters have gone through enormous changes: famine, drought, genocide, disease, discovery, reconciliation, industry, and yes, independence.  Apartheid no longer exits. But, as you predicted in the ‘famous play,’ we still find our once revered revolutionaries resorting to greed, anger, and stupidity.  Forgive us for not paying attention sooner to the timeless quality of your artistry.

The third encounter is happening now, the 21st Century. A time contemporary scholars call ‘A Century of Africa.’  We’re a courageous troupe of performers, varied individuals, dedicated to the classics, rediscovering and unlocking treasures of art.  For some, the classic, Les Blancs, will be a new discovery, for me, well; it’s been with me all along, anxiously waiting.  Thank you Ms. Hansberry.

– Mirron Willis, Actor

Les Blancs plays as a “Work in Progress” on August 3rd and 4th at 8pm.

ClassicsFest 2010: ‘Juno and the Paycock’

As ClassicsFest 2010 unspools, we’ll be featuring insights from the project initiators about what inspired them to choose their plays and their experience of working on them.

Juno and the Paycock
by Sean O’Casey

Many years ago I saw a wonderful film called Zorba the Greek. The most wonderful sequence in the movie for me was when Zorba, whose new wife has just died, whose whole life is in ruin, suddenly runs outside and begins to dance. He dances till he is exhausted. His young English friend is bewildered and asks him why, when his life has become such a disaster, why he was dancing. Zorba’s reply is, “Sometimes a man feels so much all he can do is dance.” That’s what I feel about O’Casey, only his characters sing in the midst of calamities. And if they’re not singing O’Casey is in his writing. Called “the greatest prose writer in our time,” O’Casey’s writing sings for his characters. With humor and song he blasts the political forces at work in Ireland in 1922 and gives us indelible human beings who meet, who clash, who drink, who love, and who sometimes survive. Juno and the Paycock is one of his greatest plays, and is as pertinent today as it ever was.

– Allan Miller, Director

Juno and the Paycock plays as a “First Look” on July 17 at 3pm.

ClassicsFest 2010: ‘Mr. Puntila and His Man Matti’

As ClassicsFest 2010 unspools, we’ll be featuring insights from the project initiators about what inspired them to choose their plays and their experience of working on them.

Mr. Puntila and His Man Matti
by Bertolt Brecht

“There are bad people who would be less dangerous if they had no good in them”
— La Rouchefoucauld

I’ve always been a fan of this wonderful Brecht comedy. The theme of how the working man is exploited not by an iron fist but by ol’ boy charm, is a time-tested and all-American approach (Google ‘the Bacon Rebellion’ in 1670s Virginia).  It’s how our politics have always worked, since the days when a candidate threw a barbecue and provided a keg of rum to the locals.  Today they get a Facebook page and get photographed at a basketball game.

Lee Hall’s 1990s adaptation brings its own level of charm, so when I read it I knew I wanted to do it for the Company.  I assembled a great group of actors, and I talked the songwriting team of Paul Peglar and Ben McLain and our own Matthew Goldsby into writing a few new tunes for us.  We had a total blast doing it last August as a Potluck Reading.

When it came time for the next step, this ClassicsFest workshop, I learned I couldn’t both play one of the leads (I was Puntila) and direct it.  Since I had very specific designs on how to do the show, my choice was either to find a director who would be willing, basically, to not direct, or to give up acting the role and direct it myself.  I chose to do the latter, knowing I could find an excellent Puntila among my Antaeus brethren.

I’m certain this show won’t make a damn bit of difference in the real world — no minds will be changed, and the revolution will still not be televised — but it’s funny and entertaining and has a few ideas to share.  And you never know what mischief a few subversive ideas and a bit of charm can create…

– John Apicella, Director and Project Initiator

Mr. Puntila and His Man Matti plays as a “Work in Progress” on July 20, 21, 22 at 8pm.

ClassicsFest 2010: ‘Les Femmes Savants/The Learned Ladies’

As ClassicsFest 2010 unspools, we’ll be featuring insights from the project initiators about what inspired them to choose their plays and their experience of working on them.

Les Femmes Savantes
by Molière

In the dinosaur age after World War II, I attended a performance at the Comédie Française in which an actor returned to the House of Molière in the role of Alceste. When he entered the audience stood and yelled. He stood still for what seemed like an eternity. Then he wept. The audience wept. And when he finally began to speak he had lost his voice. Who was this author that had such an effect on the public? Sixty years later I chose to do Les Femmes Savantes (The Learned Ladies) because it is Molière’s last great verse play, the one he felt was his most “finished” work, and because it is the only major play of his which I have never seen. More importantly, because my wife, Angela Paton, and my daughter-in-law, Gigi Bermingham, wanted to do a play together.

– Robert Goldsby, for Angela Paton, Project Initiator

The Learned Ladies plays:
July 13, 14, 15 at 8pm

ClassicsFest 2010: ‘Peace in Our Time’

As ClassicsFest 2010 unspools, we’ll be featuring insights from the project initiators about what inspired them to choose their plays and their experience of working on them.

Peace in Our Time by Noël Coward

When Jeanie Hackett approached me about adapting Peace in Our Time to include music, a moment’s consideration was all I needed to agree.

With the international success of London’s Knee High Company’s Brief Encounter in mind, I’ve edited Peace and integrated some of Coward’s lesser known songs – most of them of, or around the period in which the play is set.

As exemplified by Brief Encounter, I see this exercise not as a “musical” in the Broadway sense of the term, but as a serious play with musical elements. In editing the play I’ve trimmed about thirty minutes from the text to accommodate the music. Over a period of three weeks, I read and re-read the play to determine how much of the wartime political polemic was relevant to 2010 and abridged some of this along with some of the lengthier arguments between allies and collaborators.

Given that most London pubs of my youth contained a sturdy upright piano, there is a logic to including music, some springing from the text, some sung by characters at the piano. An added joy is to be working once again with the talented and enthusiastic members of the Antaeus Academy.

My devotion to the work of Noël Coward has lasted as long as my own career in the theatre and I’ve had the pleasure of performing several of his plays and many of his songs in cabaret. My London doctor and good friend was Patrick Woodcock, Noël’s doctor, and Gladys Calthrop, Noël’s celebrated designer, was a friend and theatre-going companion of ours; so it seemed inevitable that I met the Master socially in 1970 just prior to his knighthood. It was like meeting God – except, I think, that Noël Coward had a better sense of construction.

-Barry Creyton, Project Adapter and Production Supervisor

Peace in Our Time plays:
July 6, 7, 8 at 8pm
July 10 at 3pm

Peter van Norden on ‘King Lear’

One of the benefits of an ensemble company is the wisdom and insights of those offstage as well as the talents of those appearing in a particular production. Throughout the run of our production of King Lear and ClassicsFest 2010, we’ll be sharing thoughts from Antaeus company members about their experiences of the shows they see.

Peter Van Norden on King Lear
Okay. Lear. I’ve done the play twice and seen it countless times, so it’s the small, interesting choices that I’m drawn to – that fascinate me. So, here’s two moments that I found quite striking…one an image and one a “surprise” that I found quite affecting.

‘Lear’ before the hovel, at the end of the storm, III, iv.
It’s a famous speech, of course, ‘Lear’ praying in the tempest – “Poor naked wretches, wheresoe’er you are…” — but both Dakin and Harry have found a fully realized moment with “O, I have ta’en too little care of this.” It becomes a sudden, surprising revelation to both Kings — and it humanizes ‘Lear’ in a visceral, beautifully moving way. In both performances, this sudden self-realization quite literally took my breath away. I’ve never seen the moment presented as clearly or as movingly.

Another “surprising image” that startlingly brings the depth of the play into a shattering focus is provided by both our ‘Edgars’ and ‘Edmunds’ — at the very end of their fight. When ‘Edgar’ finally has the upper hand in the battle…he suddenly and viciously goes for ‘Edmund’s’ eyes, as if to pluck them out. For me, this horrifying image brought an extra level to their struggle – a level that I found quite affecting and that reflects on all that’s gone before it. Not only is this a political battle (for power), and not only is it ‘Edgar’s’ personal revenge for what’s been done to him…but it’s ‘Edgar’s’ uncontrollable response to what has been so unjustly done to their father (‘Gloucester’). It solidifies the ‘Gloucester/Edgar’ relationship in one startling, almost unbearable moment. Kudos to Bart and Ramon/John/Seamus/Daniel for coming up with this idea. Great moment….