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.


Tuesday, June 1, 2010

King John, Guerrilla Shakespeare Project, May 20


King John isn’t often performed, and this one definitely set high standards. The cast was small, so they had to cut many lines and even characters (such as Queen Eleanor and the Austrian King). But this didn’t take away anything that I missed. On the contrary, they made up for it and more. The set, in comparison to its size, was also fantastic. It had many levels (platforms) and a few blocks. There were six ways the players could enter. The entire set was made to look like the kind of place where gangs would fight. Graffiti covered the walls, spelling things like ‘England’ or ‘King John.’ Hardly any effects, sound or lighting were used. There was one beautifully directed battle scene, where the four men reached into hidden buckets of ‘blood’ and wiped it on each other in combat. This created the illusion of inflicting wounds. The direction was accented by the ability to create levels with the platforms, especially for Constance. The play was really an ensemble play, again, brought together by the levels. It often looked like a modern photo of the annunciation, with the angels above and the humans below. Everyone would stand higher due to their stature, and hence the character of the Phillip Falconbridge the "Bastard" was always low, but high at the same time. The Bastard is one of my favorite Shakespearean characters. He is a picture perfect underdog, one of those ‘coming from nothing' stories. But instead of stealing the show like Falstaff often does, the patriotic, quick-witted prankster just contributes greatly to the performance as a whole. Kind of like a good Bolingbroke or Duke of Exeter would. He didn’t play it the way it should be played, because there is no right or wrong way to interpret it. Opinions shape good performances, and it was easier to go out on a limb with a character that doesn’t get played so often. Constance also was a reverse diva, and her constant bickering with Blanche was very effective, as they snapped back and forth like a pinball machine. Both were pretty and evil at the same time. Blanche (because the characters were consolidated) was made better than Shakespeare wrote her, because she had to be the one to tell the English lords of the Dauphin’s plans (a task normally given to a French Duke), showing her true loyalty. Old King John himself may have been the weakest link, but this was greatly because many of his lines were cut. But he did his job and was quite skillful in the beginning, until intermission and text robbed him of energy. Dauphin was a perfect calculating pretty boy. The ensemble ruled in the Guerrilla Shakespeare Project’s performance of Shakespeare’s classic King John. A better play than its reputation.