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.


Saturday, September 4, 2010

Two Gentlemen of Verona, Stratford, Ontario, CANADA. Stratford Shakespeare Festival, 9/3/2010 
                              Lance and Silvia 
Two Gentlemen of Verona is thought to be Shakespeare’s first play. It has clear roots to many of his other great comedies. Even lines are recycled. But it is also thought to be one of his weakest plays. I don’t think this is necessarily true. It really depends on the interpretation. The BBC movie played it more like a serious comedy, similar to Twelfth Night or The Tempest.  But in Stratford, the production was very different. The whole thing seemed like a joke about love. Usually, silly added things like Proteus stealing Valentine’s wallet or Silvia making cheesy lovey-dovey signs the second that Valentine turns away are considered way over the top and unnecessary. But here, the whole thing was over the top, so the cheesy gestures fit in. The different version made it almost a new play. Instead of seeming weak, it looked deliberately so. It was almost like a spoof on love, not a serious story with a moral, that Shakespeare wrote.


The stage was small, square, and with seats 270 degrees around it. This provided an ability for the actors to range around the stage without turning backs to the audience. The players also lived up to the way the director directed the play. Old-fashioned clunky props and slim suits were used. The actors overacted and used silly sound cues, perfect for the spoofy nature. Thurio at one point even used a shiny wig, putting it on onstage before courting Silvia. They all made it like an old-fashioned movie.

                                            Proteus and Lance

The real thing that made the play work was the chemistry between players. Valentine and Proteus had secret handshakes to look like friends. They were all happily together at the start. Then when the conflict came, they all had odd costume changes and Crab actually came onstage and sat there. The whole thing was extremely funny. The audience was laughing till they were in tears. Valentine had a very good stage presence. When he wasn't speaking, he didn't just stand there like a rock, but reacted to what others were saying. Proteus seemed like a crook for most of the play. He slyly took Valentine's wallet. But in the end he showed his true colors. Silvia was like a diva. she often stood on a block to be taller and spoke with arms open to the crowd. Julia seemed shy, as she was often in the corners unless she was alone. Being one of the bards rarest plays, finding a production is like finding a needle in a haystack. So finding a true gem, and if your in the area or really love Shakespeare, don't miss The Stratford Shakespeare Festival's production of Two Gentlemen Of Verona.


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