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.


Monday, October 25, 2010

Twelfth Night (in Russian), Chekhov International Theater Company directed by Declan Donnellan, Kennedy Center, Washington, D.C., Friday, 10/22

                                Front right: Viola

Curtain. Totally blank stage, slightly green. 20 men in white shirts and black pants, some with instruments. Quiet. “My Father.” Quiet. “My Father.” Quiet. “My. Father.” Flash. 19 surround one. They attach a skirt. He is Viola. 10 men exit. 8 men slide to the side. 1 stays in the center. One slides to the opposite side. He receives a skirt. He is now Olivia. The man in the center speaks. “If music be the food of love, than play on.” He is Orsino. With only skirts separating the sexes and a blank stage, there is only one thing to do. Act. Nothing to lean on. Literally. No props. No costumes. No set. Just actors, lines and a stage. And voices. Shakespeare is considered the greatest writer in the English language. But in Russian? Melodious speech, almost like a song, fills the entire hall.

                        Feste and Aguecheek

            Then there is Viola. If you’re a man, playing a woman, playing a man, can you just play a man? No, because you’re a woman. It doesn’t matter who you are: Your character’s a woman. And you are your character. So you must retain that awkwardness of a woman playing a man and not over sell it. Otherwise the little mistakes wouldn’t show and the Duke’s lines wouldn’t make sense. He obviously realizes this because his awkwardness is just the same as if a woman were playing the role. Olivia is sleek. She often seems flustered. She is also extremely awkward. But her awkwardness is directed towards her love for Cesario (Viola), not her person.

         From Left to Right: Toby, Malvolio, Feste

                Orsino is often extremely boisterous, quite unlike the sweet natured Duke. In the end it is twice as explosive because he seems to blow up. Like a volcano just waiting to erupt. It was interesting visually. They all just watch him storm out. Sir Toby has a fantastic drunkard voice as he raged around in mock-knight form.  He is most intriguing in the scenes with Aguecheek, laughing quietly but not subtle when his back is turned. Maria is the third male playing a woman. He has a beautiful sense of stage presence. He is never in the center, there by dragged the focus around the stage.

           From Left To Right: Maria, Toby, Aguecheek, Feste  

Aguecheek and Malvolio are both extremely funny, but leaves out completely the dark and serious sides of both characters. Malvolio is very smooth. Aguecheek is clueless. Feste receives all of Fabian’s lines, as there is no Fabian. He is slick in his mischievous ways but not outrageously so. He creates trouble with his looks and actions as well as his words. The Sir Topaz scene is extremely impressive because of the staging. Malvolio is over in the left back corner. Maria and Feste in the left front far corner and Toby is right and center. It filles the stage even without a center and a small number of actors.

   From left to right: Malvolio, Aguecheek, Toby, Maria

The production, though minimalist, is great because it makes something out of nothing. All of the flat set and boring costumes come alive. It is a new type of theater. And in Russian, it is even more exciting. It has been touring since 2004. Catch it if you can!

1 comment:

  1. This was an absolutely fabulous performance. It is hard to imagine a better one for sheer acting. The first paragraph of the review captures the minimalism and energy of the production. AMS