Thursday, August 19, 2010

Near the End...

Today is my second to last day in Staunton, meaning yes, in two short days I will be driving back to cold cruel Massachusetts, with no promises of Shakespearean matinees or historical research to cheer me up. However, in the spirit of making everything of the time I have left down here, this morning we went down to the playhouse to see the dress rehearsal of As You Like It, and my heavens what a show. It's a wonderful play to start, with enough cross-dressing, plot twists, lovers, tyrants, and fools to go around. But in particular, this cast really made it sing (quite literally. there's a lot of singing). Each character was given nuance (as much nuance as you can have for a Shakespeare comedy) and dimension, coming alive with subtle jokes and jabs purely for the entertainment of the audience. Being able to compare this rehearsal to the Ren Run just a few weeks ago was especially interesting. Certain characters went through drastic changes--Jaques for instance, who initially was melancholy almost to the point of parody. The Ren Run was certainly more over the top, and it was clear that the actors were really toying with their characters and seeing how far they could push them before it became downright ridiculous. The rehearsal today was a little more subdued--it felt less frantic, for one, but also more polished and sophisticated. The actors seemed more comfortable in their roles, and the choices they made contributed to the harmony of the play and the audience overall. It was a lovely performance, one in which the actors really invited us as audience members to share in the characters' experiences onstage. On a separate note, it's great to see these guys performing their touring shows--they come to my school on tour every fall, and it was during one of these performances that I was introduced to the ASC and everything it has to offer.

As far as back in the office, it's really astounding the number of sources that Elena and I have managed to put together in our joint time here. So often we hear scholars lamenting on how little we know about Shakespeare's life--and yet all it takes is a little bit of digging to really discover a wealth of information. Not just Shakespeare, but his plays and sonnets, his contemporaries, his players, his time and his (probable) lifestyle. It's wonderful to look through, wonderful to read the theories, contend with the skeptics, and attempt to recover for myself an idea of who this man was in his own time before he became the revered Shakespeare that we hear so much about today.

In addition to my dutiful scholarly research, I've also discovered a number of popular Shakespeare sources online. Bardfilm, a blog I recently discovered is worth a look for any fan of Shakespeare or film. He reviews (obviously) film adaptations of Shakespeare from around the world, but also takes an interesting look at festival performances and includes obscure Shakespeare references in popular films (Beauty and the Beast, who would have known?) In addition, Shakespeare Geek (the name says it all) is simply a wonderful resource for anyone who likes thinking or talking about Shakespeare. So, anyone who is cool. He brings up good discussion topics concerning Shakespeare and the modern world, and the way he and his plays are perceived, thought about, talked about, and performed today. After spending a ponderous few hours (oops) clicking through his posts, I also chanced upon this little gem at a softer world, an online comic.

Love it.

Carla Ricci

1 comment:

  1. This: "and yet all it takes is a little bit of digging to really discover a wealth of information" is why I sort of want to bap anti-Stratfordians upside the head. Whenever someone goes, "But we know nothing about him, therefore he can't have existed!" or similar, I want to go, "Actually, we know a ton, if you're willing to spend a few minutes learning actual facts instead of parroting back conspiracy theories." I mean, for heaven's sake, Ben Jonson could not shut up about Shakespeare (and everyone else he knew).

    Also, Shakespeare Geek is so my new favorite blog.