Monkeys are smart. Though they haven't created cars or trains or weapon, they are educated through simplicity. They flourish on what they have, and if something doesn't work, they don't give up, but they evolve to overcome it. Like monkeys, Shakespeare had no thesaurus, no dictionary, no laptop and no editor. But when he came to a spot where he was at loss for words, he made up his own words. Through practice, perseverance and certainly trial and error, he created works that will last forever.

I am a 13 year old kid who is trying to read and attend live performances of all 37 Shakespeare plays (plus 3 possible collaborations) in 2 years. This is a record of my experiences.

I am now a 19 year old college freshmen at Northwestern University, pursuing a degree in Theatre. The spark of love for Shakespeare that began this blog has grown into a roaring fire. That fire burns a little bit brighter each day. This is where it all began.


Thursday, April 1, 2010

Romeo and Juliet at the Arden Theater, Philadelphia


During the famous farewell when Juliet is at her balcony, Romeo ran up to the balcony and did a pull-up to kiss her. This was typical of the straightforward, active, and uncomplicated direction Brian Sydney Bembridge provided for the Arden Romeo and Juliet at its best, showing a beautifully choreographed scene and powerful moves. Unfortunately, the play is as much romance as action, and sometimes a flying pull-up is not what makes Shakespeare great.

Romeo and Juliet is both a romance and an action thriller. Both need to be displayed, but one has to prevail to characterize the particular direction. It can go successfully either way, and in this production, the action took the drivers seat. The director did a very good job getting an action aspect out of the play. But it fell a little short on the romantic side. Another example is the scene where Juliet fakes her death, everyone stands off to the side instead of all coming close around her and mourning. It was very awkward, and not what a funeral should be like. It lacked some much needed romance to complete the performance.

Evan Jongkeit was set to play Romeo in the Arden Theatre's production of Romeo and Juliet. Instead, Sean Lally, originally cast as Tybalt, played Romeo and Jesse Mcllvaine played Tybalt.

Sean Lally (Romeo): Good at all the physical aspects of his performance, as well as his facial expressions. Very out going body language. But he didn’t have he didn’t have Romeo’s swagger. He had swagger, but not Romeo’s classic ‘I’m dating a goddess that you cant compare to.’ He played the role more like a Mercutio.

Mahira Kakkar (Juliet): She showed up, knew all her lines, projected and enunciated, and knew all her cues. But she still did a very unstable job, because she acted like a swooning dove. Juliet should be a strong young woman. She seemed awkward on stage. She really just wasn’t cut out for the role.

Shawn Fagan (Mercutio): He was the brightest star of the evening. He beautifully and skillfully combined the nonsense speeches with the pain and seriousness of death. It is a short and difficult morph from careless to painstakingly realistic. Many people can't pull this off, but Shawn could. He had open, unruly posture perfectly suited for Mercutio like a tailor made suit. Almost messing up, taking risks, and exploding on stage made it all the more intriguing.

Suzanne O’Donnel (Nurse): She pranced on stage in a cute little skirt with a proud grin and twinkling eyes. Then she spoke in a heavy but endearing Texan accent. All in all she showed love treating Juliet like her own daughter as well as she showed remorse for her death. Her comforting words were as true as she was.

Acknowledgment to Arden Theater website for photos and video.

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