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.
PLAY COUNT: 40
Sunday, April 3, 2011
Comedy of Errors, Propeller Theater Company, March 18th, 2011, BAM Theater, Brooklyn, NY.
An all-male production of a play with mostly female roles is no easy task. Especially a play where most of the plot comes from mistaken identities of husbands and wives, and it is essential to have these mistakes seem reasonable. Therefore, impossible circumstances must be portrayed as reality in a way that can be bypassed by the audience, avoiding any major conflicts within the plot. When a man, Antipholous, and his servant, Dromio, arrive in the town searching for their respective twins, the townsfolk mistake them for their brothers! And, consequently, so does Antipholous's brother's wife. They immense confusion ensues, consisting of servants mistaking masters, masters mistaking servants, wives mistaking husbands, men pursuing women, women pursuing men, creditors mistaking bound, and finally, hookers mistaking clients!
Antipholous surrounded by townsfolk
With an all-male cast, as you can imagine, very little is easy to perceive visually. And in (director) Edward Hall's production it was even tougher to discern by ear, as words were slurred and lines lost in chaos. Though this was the only big flaw in the production, the audience accepted these blown lines as a tradeoff for slapstick gags and Mariachi (there was an actual band) sound effects. The classically clueless Italian officer wore tight leather pants, and upon each step a mocking kazoo sounded. A doctor appeared at one point stark naked with a lit firecracker inserted in his behind.
Luciana and Adriana
The play was seemingly set in a Latin-American, Spanish or Italian costal town where rich entrepreneurs and wayward travelers converge to drink away their troubles and spend away their money. The main stars, Antipholous of Syracuse and his Dromio, were tremendous physical actors. Each of them could make some unusual vocal sounds to reinforce their points. Though neither of them could really project their voices throughout the large theater, I soon forgot that because their scenes were full of jokes, gags and old-fashioned effects, which had the audience laughing so hard no one would've been able to hear them anyway.
Luciana using one of her (his) weapons
In this type of performance, every actor must have five or six talents to be able to really contribute. Therefore everyone played at least one instrument, everyone could sing, everyone could act in multiple roles, most people and gymnastic capabilities, and everyone had enough energy to tear around stage for two hours, sing an intermission concert and then sing a final song at the end. Oh, and did I mention that soon they will also play a Richard III on alternating nights? The amount of energy needed to perform two ensemble Shakespeare plays back and forth, especially such opposite ones is mind-blowing. Ensemble performances like this seldom come around, and I'm glad to have seen it.