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

Two Noble Kinsmen, March 8 2011, The New American Shakespeare Tavern, Atlanta GA. Directed by Troy Willis

                Two Noble Kinsmen is a confusing play because, unlike many other celebrated works of art, the play’s main theme is unclear. Some traces exist of many different lessons such as honor is everlasting, and doesn’t choose in whom it resides by the side it’s on, or that family should come before all else. Or maybe its message is a warning about the consequences of lust. But I think the real message is deeper than that. Because this play was written by two playwrights, about two cousins, Two Noble Kinsman has potentially an intriguing underlying sub-theme. In the play, both men, Palamon and Arcrite, are in love with the same maid, Emilia. In reality, both men were competing for the esteem of their sovereign. Having collaborated on many other works together, the two were very familiar. This play was really a metaphor for their lives. The ups and downs the characters endure are really just adapted reality situations. When Palamon and Arcite are locked in a prison together with no hope of escape, it symbolizes the years when the playhouses were constantly being shut down. But when the two began to quarrel but decided that they were too close to end their friendship, it showed that instead of competing, the two playwrights had chosen to collaborate.

                Even without this interpretation, Two Noble Kinsmen has many sides. Only one or possibly two major subplots leave a lot of room for expansion of a few well thought-out ideas. Unlike Shakespeare’s famous comedies such as A Midsummer Night’s Dream, tons of ideas do not have to be constantly crammed and compressed to fit time limits or whatnot. Therefore in some ways lesser known, more simplistic plays should be given higher expectations.
The two kinsman should benefit immensely from this aspect, being onstage for well over half the play. Palamon (Daniel Parvis)  was very committed. In a scene where even his co-star lost his composure to mirth, he remained calm and serious. This is tough to do because the focus required to remain in character, when the wall between your world and the audience is shattered, cannot be taught, and is pure commitment. He flashed slight arrogance but sweetness when courting his lady, but his true talents showed when he displayed his love for his cousin, especially his genuine contentment when he sat in prison with his coz. Yet his co-star, (Matt Nitchie) was too uneven. Rather than stay consistent, he was sometimes teary-eyed and sometimes strong as an iron soldier. They were often at times when his changes made no sense. His composure fell apart completely in one scene, when he was considering whether or not to attend the games. He just stood and blankly recited his lines.
                Again in this performance the direction was the real masterpiece. Having a play where two or three characters occupy a blank stage for most of the production is tough. To keep the audience awake is a feat in itself. But Mr. Willis captivated his audience throughout every scene. The way he did it didn’t seem like much at first, but on second thought I realized how he’d done it: suspense! Instead of listening to the implied violence (like many other directors in any play) stated in the script, he almost did it. As the cousins began to quarrel, they drew their swords. They swung forward, but then stopped abruptly, remembering something they’d meant to say. Then they came closer to striking blades, but the same result. And once more it happened. The audience was on the edge of their seats waiting for the blows. Finally they struck. One sharp, metallic clang rang throughout the playhouse, followed instantly by shouts of halt.
 They were stopped, which, according to the text, should have happened near the end of their fight, almost instantly. This method provided little or none of the satisfaction the audience had been anticipating. Through this method, he kept his audience enveloped in the play from lights up, to lights down.
 Paired with Edward III, these two plays create a talent-filled weekend. Oh, and congratulations to The New American Shakespeare Tavern on, with this performance, becoming the first American theater company to perform Shakespeare’s cannon!

{more pictures to follow}

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