New Ensemble Takes on the Bard

"People are starving for something cultural that is a work of genius"
Morgan Vaughan Tristan Vaughan

   The Round Table Theatre Company and Academy, a new classical theater ensemble, will hold its first staged reading on Saturday at 7:30 p.m. at LTV Studios in Wainscott. A full production of “Macbeth” is planned for January.
    With outdoor summer productions of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” by the Hamptons Independent Theater Festival and Naked Stage, and the Green Theater Collective doing its own pared down Shakespeare performances, there is an embarrassment of riches after a very dry period for the Bard on the East End.
    Morgan Vaughan, producing artistic director of the company, said that the formation of the ensemble was the realization of a vision she and her husband, Tristan Vaughan, had when they moved back here a few years ago. He is artistic director of the group. The fact that so many new theater groups are attacking Shakespeare just seems part of the “collective subconscious. People are starving for something cultural that is a work of genius as a remedy to all of the fluff and sparkle sparkle that rules the culture right now.”
   “Double Falsehood” is a classical English play believed by some to be at least partially penned by William Shakespeare himself. Arden, the British Shakespeare publisher, included the play in its 2010 edition of the works of Shakespeare, attributing it to the Bard and John Flet­cher. It is considered to be a version of “The History of Cardenio” the so-called “lost” play performed by the King’s Men in 1613.
    Ms. Vaughan said, “We wanted our first reading to be something old and new.” She is with the scholars who have questioned the attribution of the play, but said it was chosen to be a point of departure for “a lively discussion and an entertaining evening.” A talk will follow the reading.
   “It was sort of a strange decision, but it was something nobody’s done. We’re not doing just another reading of ‘Measure for Measure.’ It’s questionable if any of it is by Shakespeare, but glimp­ses of him can be sensed, then it gets clunky and not that. It brings up the question, What is genius? You recognize it when you see it, but yet it’s hard to define.”
   Stephen Hamilton, who directed “Uncle Vanya” at Guild Hall last May, will serve as stage director for this piece. The cast of professional actors includes Tom Gustin, Michael Bartoli, Kenny Kilfara, Gerard Doyle, Mr. Vaughan, Hal Fickett, and Gina Rivera, with a few more to be announced.
    “Macbeth” could be considered another odd choice given the superstitions around the play’s bad luck. Ms. Vaughan said the play appealed to her because it is such an apt reflection of the unbridled ambition and self-promotion so prevalent in our current culture. “We want to do a great ‘Macbeth.’ ”
    The reading on Saturday will benefit LTV and the group’s Shakespeare acting class and reading workshop to be presented at Guild Hall this fall. “Speaking Shakespeare: A Classical Acting Class” will be taught by Ms. Vaughan and her husband on Mondays Oct. 22 through Dec. 10 from 6 to 9 p.m. Final presentations will be held on Dec. 13 at the John Drew Theater. Actors of all levels from age 16 up are invited. The course will cover sonnets, monologues, mask work, scene work, and other facets of performing Shakespeare. The cost is $300 and $275 for members.
    A reading and discussion workshop, to be taught on Wednesdays beginning Oct. 24, is designed for non-actors and actors who want to broaden their knowledge of Shakespeare. One or two plays will be chosen to examine deeply through their prose or verse, history, contemporary culture, and other aspects intrinsic to understanding them.
    The Vaughans both hold M.F.A.s in classical acting from the Shakespeare Theatre Company’s Academy for Classical Acting at George Washington University and have studied at the Circle in the Square Theatre School in New York City and the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts in London.
    The reading, which will have a $5 suggested donation at the door, will be the first of a regular series of up to five events during the off-season. In addition to “Macbeth,” another full-production Shakespeare play is planned for the spring and a contemporary play for next winter. The company’s Web site is roundtabletheatrecompany.org.