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.


Sunday, May 22, 2011

Edward III, April 7, 2011, The New American Shakespeare Tavern, Atlanta, GA. Directed by Andrew Houchins.


As the New American Shakespeare Tavern nears full circle in its quest to compass all of the Bard's works, they are down to the late obscurities he wrote near the end of his days. Edward III was only recently deemed possibly late-Shakespearean, as it was banned from the theaters when King James took over from Queen Elizabeth I and, being from Scotland, condemned the play as 'derogatory to Scotts. Though excluded from the First Folio it has re-surfaced and been confirmed is that it is a perfect prologue to Shakespeare's histories, and therefore was subject to speculation and investigation. It tells the story of The Black Prince, father-to-be to lamb-hearted Richard II. His father, also an Edward, is waging a war to capture France, and Scotland is caught in the crossfire. Young Edward with 20 to 1 odds defeats the French army, and captures the king and his two sons. This history is tough to perform well because, unlike Hamlet or Macbeth, you have to split focus between telling the story and explaining it. It is much harder to perform a play when your audience already knows the basic story.

The Black Prince was really the star of this production. His boyish features did nothing to diminish his warrior-like demeanor. As he was knighted, he was given a suit of armor. When he donned the knightly suit, his body language changed from boy to man. His impulsive childish movements halted abruptly, giving way to thoughtful, slow, experienced motions of one who is confident but wary. His father was brilliant in the first half of the show, where he professed his love for one of his subjects, the Earl of Salisburys wife. But in the second half his unkingly swoons and mock toughness gave over to an unconvincing type of semi-bloodlust. He didn't seem to believe in his demands and orders, even though he should've. His second half, although weaker than his first, was justly centered on the development of his son, and doing his part in preserving the royal line by raising his heir.

The play is a tough one to direct because there is a lot of dialogue in-between stage combat, and the scene flips around the battle field frequently. Therefore effectively portraying a fight, which neither distracts from not smothers the lines, is required. Mr. Houchins tackled this with a brilliant roundabout scheme. All actors for three or four scenes would charge onstage from the right, and the actors who were to deliver lines would pause in a dead lock on the thrust. As the battle continued from the ensemble behind them, the actors would shout their lines during pauses in swordplay. Then all the players would charge off to the left, just as the next round of warriors bounded onstage to continue the scheme in the same manner. After three or four of these fights, the directions reversed, entering left and entering right. Thus the illusion of a battle scene was created through mere organized chaos. Edward III is rare but not necessarily a bad play. It provides a very explanatory prologue to Shakespeare's other works on the English royal family, and it is a must see for history lovers. Think of it as the way the War of The Roses should have gone. 

{photos to follow}

No comments:

Post a Comment