Humanities Decanted: Irwin Appel, Naked Shakes

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October 12, 2021 @ 4:00 pm - 4:45 pm


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Humanities Decanted: Naked Shakes Twelfth Night

Join us online for a dialogue between Irwin Appel (Theater and Dance) and James Kearney (English) about Appel’s theater company, Naked Shakes, and their recent production of Twelfth Night, staged outside at UCSB’s Commencement Green in front of the lagoon. Audience Q&A will follow.

Naked Shakes derives its rather provocative name from the principle that an actor in a bare theatrical space, along with meticulous attention to language, few technical elements, and the collective imagination of the audience, can create what Prospero in The Tempest calls “rough magic,” hopefully revealing the true heart, meaning, driving force, and original inspiration behind a Shakespeare play. This theatrical style demands actors who are highly skilled in voice and text, and simultaneously greatly expressive with their physicality and imaginations. Entrances and exits are not necessarily literal or linear; an actor can simply exit by pulling down a mask or picking up a musical instrument. With the inspiration and creative power of our choreographers and designers, Naked Shakes blends wild, actor-generated theatricality with razor sharp attention to language and imagery. As an audience member, one may, at times, experience a veritable visual feast while also being able to close one’s eyes and absorb the sound and text as if one were listening to a radio play or podcast.

Irwin Appel (he/him/his) is Professor and Chair of the Department of Theater and Dance at UCSB. As a professional director, Equity actor and composer/sound designer, he has worked with the Shakespeare Center of Los Angeles, Shakespeare Santa Cruz, Orlando Shakes, the New York, Oregon, Utah, New Jersey, and Colorado Shakespeare Festivals, Southwest Shakespeare Company, The Acting Company, Theatre For a New Audience, Hartford Stage, Indiana Repertory Theatre, Arizona Theatre Company, PCPA, both the National Theatre Conservatory and Colorado New Play Summit at the Denver Center of the Performing Arts, the Bread Loaf Acting Ensemble, and other prominent regional theaters. In Europe, he acted the role of Pandarus in Troilus and Cressida in the Czech Republic with the Prague Shakespeare Company at the renowned Estates Theatre where Mozart premiered Don Giovanni in 1787. He is the founder and artistic director of Naked Shakes, producing Shakespeare’s plays at UCSB, in the United States, and internationally since 2006. For Naked Shakes, he has created two major adaptations of Shakespeare’s plays: first, The Death of Kings, combining eight Shakespeare history plays from Richard II through Richard III into one event that has been performed in California, Arizona, and the Czech Republic. Second and most recently, he combined Shakespeare’s Antony and Cleopatra and Julius Caesar, along with parts of George Bernard Shaw’s Caesar and Cleopatra, into one play entitled Immortal Longings. He has also has led workshops and lectured about Naked Shakes in China, Greece, Switzerland, Poland, and the Czech Republic. He is a graduate of Princeton University and the Juilliard School.

Sponsored by the IHC’s Harry Girvetz Memorial Endowment


October 12, 2021
4:00 pm - 4:45 pm
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(805) 893-3907
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