101 in 1001 {III}: 022 see at least 6 more of shakespeare's plays for the first time [completed 02.21.14]

bank of the thames, gulls, london

at some point in the '80s a community theatre company came to my elementary school and performed the pyramus-and-thisbe scene from a midsummer night's dream; i tingled both with the dead leg i always got from wearing a skirt on assembly day and having to sit sidesaddle on the carpeted multi-purpose-room floor and with the first stirrings of a serious and lifelong shakespeare jones. for the next decade i tended to scratch the itch with rental movies and questionable summer stock productions, but things got and stayed serious when i went away to college and discovered that no one would prevent me from registering for every shakespeare and shakespeare-adjacent class i could find. joe and i turned into a couple when our overseas program sent us to stratford for shakespeare's birthday and a few dozen royal shakespeare company productions; our friend jacob read sonnet 116 at our wedding. i'll fold in another playwright every now and again if i must—we roll out for shakespeare in the park twice every summer whether the second show is more shakespeare or, like, into the woods (eh) or hair (FAH), and we're turning into regulars at playwrights horizons—but i have weathered a lot of midsummers at this point, is what i'm saying. i wondered if six "new" plays could really be new to me.

happily, they can; having to chase down happenings like a matinee performance of the national theatre's fantastic post-financial-crash timon of athens when we were in london for a wedding and a crazily-edited international-collaboration version of antony and cleopatra set in colonial haiti* has been good for me. i now know, for example, that "timon" rhymes with "simon" and not "limón," and that london retirees love eating ice cream super-loudly more than i have ever loved anything. i have new favorite language on stoicism (from antony and cleopatra, act IV, scene 14)...
Nay, good my fellows, do not please sharp fate
To grace it with your sorrows: bid that welcome
Which comes to punish us, and we punish it
Seeming to bear it lightly. Take me up:
I have led you oft: carry me now, good friends,
And have my thanks for all.
...and i know never to cast a semi-mechanical water snake in a death scene (so distracting!). i have enjoyed myself immensely.

imaginary reading group discussion questions

01 how many of shakespeare's plays have you seen performed live?
02 the worst theatrical production you've ever seen?** the best?
03 would you be more likely to eat at a matinee performance than at an evening performance? (yes, i'm asking about eating in theaters again.)

*that one was just down the street at the public's snazzy new HQ on lafayette, but you get my drift.

**one of my shakespeare profs, the inimitable charles lyons, told a wonderful story about a production in which the beleaguered actor playing hamlet was unable to stab through gertrude's bedroom draperies in order to kill polonius and was finally encouraged by the audience to beat him to death.


Erin said...

1. Not enough. I've always loved Shakespeare, and rarely known anyone who would join me to watch.
2. Worst: Gounod's opera adaptation of Romeo et Juliette performed by my university's opera department. Romeo's toupee was unbelievable. Best: an outdoor summer theater production of Much Ado about Nothing seen in the woods of Wisconsin while a midwestern thunderstorm brewed in the distance.
3. No. But I'm a serious picnicker for outdoor productions.

LPC said...

1. I can't remember, any more. I know I saw Ian McKellan in Coriolanus. And I know I saw Bill Hurt in Hamlet, since he famously practiced his lines in the Ophelia scene with me. But beyond that, I do not know. Sands of time in action.
2. The production of Coriolanus that I was in, in college. I played his wife. I had 2 lines. The college newspaper liked my eyes.
3. I will eat any time and anywhere I am hungry, if it is permitted.

Rachel said...

How does one manage to eat ice cream loudly? It seems like the quietest food, cones aside (oh god, were there cones?!).

01. I'm not sure, but not nearly enough to qualify as an afficionado. But hey, I only took one Shakespeare class in college so I hardly qualify on any level.

02. I honestly can't remember the last time I went to the theater but I think it may have been back when drug reps were still allowed to take health care professionals out to woo them. i.e. Back when my mom was an NP and we were regularly wined and dined as a family. Soooooo ... over a decade? I'd say that makes me cringe, but honestly, live theater is not my thing and I've spent years feeling guilty about it but I think it's time to just admit it.

03. I think my prior comment now makes this question N/A.

ARE WE STILL FRIENDS? I did get to see Merchant of Venice in the Globe theater and enjoyed that whole experience. I did not eat ice cream.

lauren said...

@Erin clearly we need to have some sort of birdwatching-and-theatre combo excursion one of these days. i don't think i've ever seen R&J live, toupéed or otherwise: the shakespeare in the park version several summers ago was the last show i didn't see there.

@LPC i have never seen coriolanus either, actually - i think you get extra credit for involvement and hard-to-reachness.

@Rachel i'm not entirely sure how they managed it either, really. it was pretty smacky. i believe there were little tubs involved.

i understand the live theatre thing: i was decidedly anti-theatre (shakespeare being the notable exception) until very recently, which was super-awkward when my wonderful college roommate (now a fantastic stage manager) was a drama major and i thought disparaging the form was self-expression and not the bitchery it was (i thought i was a hardcore poet at the time; there was a rivalry in my head, or something). i thought theatre was unforgivably upper-class and out of touch, like skiing,* which is interesting, considering that i was writing petrarchan sonnets all day. now i have moved on to only being a brat about musicals, which really can suck it. we are totally still friends.

*i can't explain this either.