Backstage hosts ‘Shakespeare and Me’ this weekend
Ryan Summerlin September 20, 2012
The Denver production, “Shakespeare and Me,” comes to Breckenridge this weekend, tonight through Sunday. Produced last April at the Byers-Evans House in Denver to coincide with the probable birth date of Shakespeare, as well as the April anniversary of his death, the show is a collection of scenes and experiences from playwright and actor Joey Wishnia.
Originally from South Africa, Wishnia has performed in 19 of Shakespeare’s plays and directed five in South Africa, England and the U.S. In that time, he made the acquaintance of “the greatest Shakespearean actor of the last century,” Sir Laurence Olivier, as well as David Frost and Noel Coward.
In one amusing anecdote, Wishnia and his friend Zoe met Coward backstage after a performance. “How droll,” Coward said, as reported by the Westword. “Joey and Zoe. It sounds like a vaudeville team.”
In another, Wishnia describes an early experience in a high school production: “The 14-year-old playing Sir Toby Belch had a large false military moustache and was constantly quaffing ale (actually Pepsi Cola). He drank so much from his large mug that huge drops were dripping off the end of his moustache. When he turned to me rather quickly, he slung a bead of Pepsi into my eye, and I burst out laughing and broke the scene. I disgraced myself in the eyes of my Cape Town High School English teacher – and William Shakespeare himself. I was not allowed in the next production.”
Colorful stories like these, along with a collection of scenes from Shakespeare’s plays, comprise the septuagenarian’s one-man show, which evolved from Shakespeare readings at the Denver Vic and the Grant-Humphries Mansion into “Shakespeare and Me,” created for the Byers-Evans House at the urging of Maggie Stillman, the Westword reports.
The storyteller weaves Shakespeare’s words into his own stage experiences for a dramatic and comedic recollection of his career relationship with the Bard.
Wishnia studied at Rhodes University and received a teaching diploma in speech and drama from Trinity College in London. He is a recipient of a Henry Award for Lifetime Achievement in Theatre from the Colorado Theatre Guild and has experience as an actor, director and teacher, with appearances in opera, music hall, cabaret, revues, movies, television and radio.
“Shakespeare and Me” runs three days at the Breckenridge Theatre. The show is performed without intermission; all seats are $15.
Next up after that is “The Belle of Amherst,” which comes to Breckenridge on Sept. 28-29 and Oct. 4-6 from the Miners Alley Playhouse in Golden.