Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Who is King James I?

King James I of England
England's King James I was born in 1566 in Edinburgh Castle in Scotland as the only son of Mary Stuart, Queen of Scots and her second husband Henry Stewart. He became king of Scotland at the age of one when his mother was defeated by Scottish rebels and she abdicated the throne to him. His mother was eventually executed by England's Queen Elizabeth in 1587. James was very well educated and married Anne, the daughter of King Frederick II of Denmark in 1589. In 1594 Anne gave birth to the royal couple's first child, Prince Henry.

When England's Queen Elizabeth died after an astonishing 44 year reign without any children to leave the throne to, James was tapped to become the new king. He was welcomed by the public because he was male, which represented a return to the normal order of things, he spoke English (though with a Scottish accent), he had a pretty Danish wife with many children and one on the way, and as the son of Mary Queen of Scots might be more sympathetic to the plight of the Catholics in England.

James' rule was truly notable for three things (aside from the infamous Gunpowder Plot): the Bible that bears his name, his fight against Parliament, and the execution of Sir Walter Raleigh.

In 1604 James ordered a new translation of the Bible into English be written. While not the first ever English translation, it was reputed to be both a better translation and was noted for its flowing language and prose rhythm. English translated Bibles were revolutionary because it broke the Catholic Latin mold and allowed common folk access to a Bible in their own native language. The King James version quickly because the standard for English-speaking Protestants and is still in heavy use today.

As for Parliament, they began to assert themselves more firmly against the royal house and demanded more power to shape policy. This happened in conjunction with Charles and Anne's lavish lifestyles and James' propensity toward granting peerage to his favorites. In four years of peace James very nearly double the debt that Elizabeth left behind. Unfortunately for James, the royal monies were controlled by Parliament and they refused to grant his request for a special fund for the family's extravagances. James retaliated by setting new duties on merchants, and got the courts to proclaim his actions as law. This feud with Parliament carried into his son's, King Charles I, reign and ultimately resulted in the gradual weakening of the monarchy in favor of the Parliament.

As for Sir Walter Raleigh, he had been a great favorite of Queen Elizabeth but quickly fell out of favor when she learned he'd married in secret one of her maids of honor. Raleigh and his wife Bess were briefly imprisoned by the Queen in the Tower of London. Upon his release he declared that he'd find the legendary El Dorado to win back the favor of the Queen. These expeditions greatly angered the Spanish as he was poaching on their colonized lands. Elizabeth died and the angry Spanish complained fiercely to the new King James. Raleigh was charged with treason and was due to be executed but was instead imprisoned in the Tower again. Upon his release and without royal permission he raided and plundered some Spanish territories. James re-arrested him when he returned with nothing to show and reinstated the original charges of treason and Raleigh was executed in 1618.

Sources: and Antonia Fraser and

Monday, July 23, 2018

What is Equivocation and how does Father Garnet connect to it?

equivocate /ɪˈkwɪvəkeɪt/From the Latin word aequivocare which meant "called by the same name."
To equivocate is to use ambiguous language so as to conceal the truth or avoid committing oneself.

Father Henry Garnet
Equivocation was a term that was used quite often as a complaint by the prosecution against Father Henry Garnet in his trial in 1606 for his participation in what's now called The Gunpowder Plot. It was a technique said to be often used by Catholics in Protestant England to obscure their true faith and protect the sanctity of the confessional. Equivocation in this sense was to tread the line between lying and incriminating oneself and others from violation of the law, as Catholicism was more or less illegal in England at the time. It basically boils down to the idea of not telling the WHOLE truth while avoiding telling a lie. For example, if a (Catholic) woman was interrogated for harboring a priest in her house she could say, "No sir, there's not a priest in my house." This could be TECHNICALLY true because a number of prominent Catholics had built what are called priest-holes that were hidden rooms UNDER the house. So technically it's not a lie and it's a cover to likely save lives. Conscience clear. 

This was particularly important for priests because the sanctity of confession was not at all recognized in England (because Catholicism was basically illegal there), so priests needed a way to equivocate to answer more or less honestly while protecting their confessed. 

Father Garnet's involvement to the Gunpowder Plot was a true tragedy, though you wouldn't have known that in 1606. Contrary to what the prosecution alleged during the trial, it's now believed that Garnet was approached by a Father Tesimond, another Jesuit priest in hiding in England, because Father Tesimond was disturbed by a confession he'd recently taken from one of his flock. Robert Catesby, who we now know to be one of the primary conspirators in the Gunpowder Plot, confessed to Father Tesimond some of the details around his participation in the brewing Plot. Because both Catesby's discussion with Tesimond and Tesimond's conversation with Garnet both occurred during an official confession, neither priest believed that they could alert the crown to the threat without divulging key information obtained in confession that would put their Catholic members at risk. Garnet actually later claimed that he urged Catesby to NOT continue with the plot and it's said that he'd written to his superiors in Rome warning them of the treachery and asked the Church to officially warn the English government of the plan. 

England, however, believed that Garnet and many Jesuits were involved in the conspiracy, which was sometimes contemporarily referred to as the Spanish Treason. There was a common rumor that the Jesuits, acting with instruction from the Spanish Catholics, were moving to undermine the Protestant rule of King James. Garnet was a particular target of the government because he was said to have written a treatise entitled A Treatise of Equivocation, but it's interesting to note that the treatise was originally titled A Treatise against lying and fraudulent dissimulation. 

In any case, Father Garnet spent weeks in hiding, a number of long days in a very small priest-hole, and was eventually arrested, tried, and executed by hanging, drawing, and quartering. 

Shakespeare's line in Macbeth "who committed treason enough for God's sake, yet could not equivocate to heaven" is believed to be an allusion to Father Garnet. 

Equivocation: Meet the Playwright

Playwright Bill Cain
A native New Yorker, Father Bill Cain is a Jesuit priest and writes for the stage and screen. Mr. Cain grew up in Queens during the civil rights era, attended Jesuit schools, and tutored in Bedford- Stuyvesant  as a young man. He graduated with a bachelor’s degree from Boston College. After graduation, Mr. Cain founded the Boston Shakespeare Company where he directed most of Shakespeares’s canon from 1975-1982. Mr. Cain then moved to Lower East Manhattan to teach and write. He landed a contract to be the writer and producer of the ABC series “Nothing Sacred” about a Catholic priest who begins to question his faith. It won the Peabody Award in 1998 and was also boycotted by the Catholic League as blasphemous. Equivocation is Mr. Cain’s second play – it workshopped in Palo Alto at Theatreworks and premiered at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival and then opened in New York at the Manhattan Theatre Club. His third play, 9 Circles, premiered at the Marin Theatre Company, and his latest play, How to Write a New Book for the Bible premiered at Berkeley Rep in their 2011-2012 season. For the small screen, Mr. Cain has written an adaptation of “Clover” for the Hallmark channel and HBO, “Nightjohn,” which was named best American film of the year by The New Yorker. He also wrote “Thicker Than Blood” (TNT), which was an adaptation of Stand-up Tragedy, his first play, then “Everything That Rises” (starring Mandy Patinkin), “Papa’s Angels” (starring Scott Bakula, Cynthia Nixon, and Eva Marie Saint), and “Sounder.” Awards include: Steinberg New Play Award (first ever recipient two years in a row), multiple Edgerton grants, Helen Hayes Awards , the Joe A. Callaway Award, a Peabody, the WGA Award for Episodic Drama and a Christopher Award, among others.

Equivocation: Meet the Design Team

Jenny Hollingworth (Director/Producer) – Originally from the U.K., Jenny moved to the Bay Area in 2004. She has worked with several Bay Area theatre companies including San Jose Repertory Theatre, Dragon Theatre Productions, City Lights Theatre Company, The Pear Theatre, Tabard Theatre, Arclight Repertory Theatre and Santa Clara Players, as, variously, director, producer, associate artistic director, writer, dramaturg, acting coach, dialect coach and house manager. A long-time Harold Pinter aficionado, her production of Pinter’s Betrayal was awarded the Silicon Valley Small Theatre Award for Standout Adult Contemporary Drama (2012) and her direction of The Birthday Party led to her nomination for Best Director, Theatre Bay Area Awards (2014). Most recently, she directed George Orwell’s 1984 at Los Altos Stage Company, which was a recommended Theatre Bay Area production.

Jenny has a career in PR and communications for a global business consulting firm. She is also President of the Dragon Theatre Board. As always, she extends much love and thanks to her husband and sons for their unwavering support; additional thanks to Meredith Hagedorn and the Dragon staff, and most of all to her awesome cast and production team for daring to take this ride with her and bring Equivocation to life!

Seafus Chatmon-Smith (Scenic Designer) Seafus is thrilled to work with Dragon Productions and this marvelous cast, amazing design team, and production crew to pull you into the world of Equivocation. After sound designing for Las Positas Collage production of Shakespeare’s Hamlet in 2008. This will be his second run in with Shag as a designer. As a teaching-artist and sound engineer for Bay Area Children's Theatre, he enjoys sharing his passion for the arts with students in hopes to inspire young dreamers to create new worlds of possibility. From sound designer, music director, lighting designer, as well as humble stage hand and much more. Wearing the scenic designer hat is one of his favorite choices.

Sean Kramer (Lighting Designer) - Recently graduating from Foothill Community College 2017, with honors in Theatre. As a Designer, Lighting, is Sean’s Compulsory, but not his only study. Sean is Always looking for new projects. Very Recently he has also Painted with light 1984 with Los Altos Stage, Bless Me Ultima with Opera Cultura, Boom at City Lights, and Norma with West Bay Opera.  Between designs, you might catch him building and staging the scene, running the show. Special thanks to Rover Spotts. Please enjoy the show. 

Kathleen Qiu (Costume Designer) is excited to be returning to Dragon Productions for Equivocation after working on Cirque Exotique du Monde and Insignificance. Previously in the Bay Area, she has designed with Ferocious Lotus (Two Mile Hollow), Quantum Dragon Theatre (Universal Robots), Foothill College (A Midsummer’s Night Dream), Pear Theatre (Enemy of the People), Custom Made Theatre Co (The House of Yes, How I Learned to Drive), the SF Playhouse (You Mean to Do Me Harm), and Palo Alto Players (The Graduate), among others. Her credits also include In the Heights, Jesus Christ Superstar, Pirates of Penzance, Steve Martin’s The Underpants, Dracula, War of the Worlds, and Picture Imperfect, among others, with a variety of theatres in Tallahassee and Chicago. She graduated from the University of Chicago with degrees in Chemistry and Psychology. She would like to thank the production team for this opportunity and her family and friends for their continued support.

Jonathan Covey (Sound Designer) - Jonathan is an aspiring sound designer and broke musician. A perfect fit for Dragon Theatre! This is the fifth play that Jonathan has made noise for with Dragon, the other four being And Miss Reardon Drinks a Little, Rich & Famous, Caeneus & Poesidon, and most recently Insignificance. Covey also did sound for Hillbarn Threatre’s production of The Elephant Man. He also worked in the stage crew for the Palo Alto Theatre Company’s productions of Zombie Prom and I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change, was the assistant director for Crystal Springs Player’s production of The Bible: Abridged, and even tried his hand at acting, playing Detective Sargent Trotter in Crystal Springs’ production of Agatha Christie’s The Mouse Trap. But in the end, he felt much more comfortable alone in a dark room with a microphone and a guitar then on a lit stage in front of a few too many people.

Beth Covey-Snedegar (Properties Master) - Beth has been involved in theatre from a young age on stage and off.  She is thrilled to be back at Dragon for Equivocation and working with this amazing cast and crewWhen she is not searching for life like fish and severed heads, she is busy running her floral design and event planning business, Sassy Diva Designs and Events. And when she isn't knee deep in flowers she is chasing her two adventurous boys and keeping them out of danger.

Rachel Nin (Stage Manager) - Rachel is excited to return for her second show in a row at Dragon, where she has served as stage manager for Three Days of Rain and rehearsal stage manager for Anna Christie.She has worked as a stage manager and ASM for companies around the Bay, including Opera San Jose, Merola Opera Program, Sunnyvale Community Players, and Western Ballet, and toured children’s shows throughout California as a stage manager with California Theatre Center. She is an alumna of the Professional Training Company at Actors Theatre of Louisville, where she was stage manager for That High Lonesome Soundin the 39thHumana Festival of New American Plays. She holds a B.A. in Theatre and Creative Writing from Denison University in Granville, OH.

Steaphen Fick (Fight Choreographer) - This is Steaphen Fick’s second show with the Dragon Theater. Steaphen choreographed the theatrical violence for Insignificance. He has also choreographed plays for Milpitas High School as well as performing on "Somebody’s Gotta Do It" with Mike Rowe and Modern Marvels ‘Built by Hand’ in armor. Steaphen also choreographed the action sequences for the Disney band Allstar Weekend’s music video.  Steaphen, also known as Davenriche, owns and operates Davenriche European Martial Artes School,; one of the largest sword fighting schools in the world with chapters in Santa Clara, CA, Midland, TX and Las Vegas NV. With over 100 students learning Medieval, Renaissance and Modern martial arts.  Steaphen has worked on pilots of TV shows called FIGHTCRAFT, DORKCORE and a movie called Terra.  He also performs at middle schools bringing history alive for the students that are studying medieval and renaissance history. He has also done motion capture for EA Sports video game.

Equivocation: Meet the Cast

Max Tachis (Shag) - Max is excited to make his debut performance at Dragon Productions, having participated as both a writer and actor in several Monday Night Play Space events in the past. He has been seen most recently in The Merchant of Venice (Gratiano) at City Lights Theater Company, The SantaLand Diaries (David/Crumpet) at TheatreWorks Silicon Valley, and The Crucible (John Proctor) at Los Altos Stage Company.

Brad Satterwhite (Sir Robert Cecil/Nate/Thomas Percy) - This is Brad Satterwhite's first production with Dragon. He has most recently played Ethan in The Full Monty at Hillbarn Theatre, Jedidiah Shultz/Aaron McKinney in The Laramie Project at Palo Alto Players, and Dr. Givings in In the Next Room, or, the Vibrator Play at The Pear. When he is not acting, he writes books under his pen name, Hal Emerson.

Paul Rosenfield (Sharpe/Thomas Wintor/ King James) - Equivocation is Paul’s debut to the Dragon’s stage. Still a rookie, his only previous role was in Bertolt Brecht's Galileo, by the Stanford Repertory Theater. He has taken acting classes through the Berkeley Repertory Theater. He holds a master's degree in statistics from Stanford University, and when he is not acting, he is a data scientist for a fast-growing startup in San Carlos.

Michael Weiland (Armin/Robert Catesby/ Sir Edward Coke) - recently performed as Lewis in Pippin at Los Altos Stage Company. Other credits include Jules in Boom! at Minilights, Geeks vs Zombies at the Pear Theatre, and Rocky in Rocky Horror at City Lights Theater Company. Michael is a company member at Play On Words San Jose, a stage reading company for new works by local authors, playwrights, and poets. See Michael perform next at Los Altos Stage Company in The Legend of Georgia McBride.

Paul Stout (Richard/Father Henry Garnet) - Paul Stout is grateful to return to Dragon Theatre for the first time since 2014 when he appeared in three shows (The Birthday Party, Smash, The Other Place). In his 9 years in the Bay Area, he has performed in productions with over 20 theater companies including San Jose Stage and Marin Shakespeare. Paul is a longtime company member at Custom Made Theatre in San Francisco and will be directing there in the fall. He is a Chico native with a B.A. in Theatre Arts from California State Chico.

Alika U. Spencer-Koknar (Judith)- Alika is thrilled to return to Dragon’s stage with such a killer cast and crew of Equivocation. She last appeared high in the sky at Dragon in Cirque Exotique Du Monde as the trapeze artist, Boshka and the infamous Magda Goebbels. She graduated from the Pacific Conservatory of the Performing Arts in 2006. She also teaches theater to youths in the Bay Area and is honored to be stepping into Meredith Hagedorn’s shoes as Artistic Director of Dragon Productions along with her husband, Max “Bora” Koknar. Her past theatrical credits include; Walt Disney in Walt & Hans are Frigid  with Dragon Productions, Pamela in The 39 Steps and Mina in Dracula with California Theater Center,Hannah in the South Bay premier of Collapseand Evelyn in the Shape of Things with Renegade Theater Experiment, Maureen in The Beauty Queen Of Leenane with Northside Theater, Johnna Monevata In August: Osage County with City Lights Theater Company and Alice Bloomfield in Kinan Valdez’s production of Zoot Suit with El Theatro Campesino.

Equivocation: From the Director

London, November 5th, 1605, midnight. The King’s guards, acting on a mysterious tip-off, have just discovered Guy Fawkes skulking in a chamber below the Houses of Parliament. Next to him stand thirty-six barrels of gunpowder. In a few hours’ time, King James I of England (formerly James VI of Scotland), his Queen, their oldest son, the cream of the English nobility and the leaders of the Anglican Church are due to gather there for the annual Opening of Parliament.

When the story breaks and the enormous implications of the miraculously-avoided catastrophe become apparent, the whole of London is feverish with speculation about who’s behind it. For a wily politician like Robert Cecil, still struggling to find a way to stabilize the country after putting James on the throne, the chaos presents a perfect opportunity. But he needs the right narrative.

As the thirteen Catholic plotters are hastily rounded up, among their possessions Cecil’s men find a book by Jesuit priest Henry Garnet, titled A Treatise of EquivocationIn it, Garnet explains how devout Catholics can avoid telling the truth even when questioned under oath and still keep a clear conscience.For Cecil, its promotion of deliberate deception can easily be interpreted as threatening the nation’s entire social contract. And if the plotters can be framed as pawns in a game played by the Catholic Church, Cecil has the story he’s been looking for. Now he just needs to convince England’s most popular playwright to tell it.

Over at the Globe Theatre, Master Shagspeare is busy wrestling with his new ‘experimental drama’ King Lear. Much to the consternation of his theatre company, he’s trying to write the truth of what it really means to be human. Can he put that aside and write a blatant piece of propaganda about what happens to those who plot and deceive to kill a king - especially when it becomes clear that the government story includes some decidedly ‘alternate’ facts? 

As fiction, truth and other people’s perceptions of it increasingly blur together, Equivocation explores the personal cost of perpetuating what we know to be a lie - and our deep moral investment in telling the real truth, especially in difficult times.

Jenny Hollingworth, Director

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Equivocation: A Video From the Playwright

Equivocation played at the Marin Theatre Company in 2010 and this clip from Father Bill Cain discussing his script is just lovely. 

"Some people have said Equivocation is a play about religion. Religion is certainly involved as part of the plot. But for me the act of DOING a play is the religious act. It's the gathering of a community around a story. And the story that we face is the almost invariably a story of holiness, it's a story of a journey to become the person that you are called to be. So I think theatre is religious by nature. Religion is part of the fabric of this play, but so is theatre, so is politics, so is family. It's a big play in that way."