My Summer of Shakespeare (Part I)

It didn’t start out this way, but before the summer started, it was clear that this summer was going to be heavy with Shakespearean plays.

Next month, we have tickets to all 5 plays that the Royal Shakespeare Company will be doing in New York, at the Park Avenue Armory. When tickets first went on sale, we looked at the plays. All of them were ones that we hadn’t see or would like to see again, so I thought, Why Not? and booked tickets to go the weekend when all 5 were playing. As the dates draw closer, I’ve been following updates on various sites and I am getting more excited as the dates draw near. I would like to read (or re-read) each of the plays beforehand, but I don’t know if that will happen. I have not yet seen or read Julius Caeser or The Winter’s Tale, and I don’t think that I’ve ever seen Romeo & Juliet in performance. In order to be able to do 5 plays over a 6 week period, the RSC built a replica of their theatre in Stratford inside the Armory. By doing so, they were able to stage existing productions, without weeks of additional stage work and rehearsals. You can watch a video about this importation of the RSC’s work here.

Since I am going to be in NYC, and it has been held over until September, I will have the chance to see Sleep No More. It is an immersive theatrical experience, a 3D action-adventure film noir Hitchcockian version of MacBeth. I’ve been following #sleepnomorenyc tweets for the past few weeks — this sounds like quite a mindf*ck. Can’t wait.

Also, this summer The Globe Theatre in London is broadcasting four plays from their 2010 season. You can find out info on dates & theatres at FathomEvents. A few weeks ago they broadcast The Merry Wives of Windsor. Seeing a broadcast of a play is not the same thing as seeing the actual play — you don’t experience the energy of the cast and audience — but I thought that this was a pretty good production and I enjoyed it. The benefit of broadcasts like this, or like the Live HD broadcasts from the Metropolitan Opera (which I love!), is that you don’t have to be in NYC or London to see the performance. Especially if you live in a theatre-deprived place, they afford you opportunities that you would not otherwise have. But, they are an odd hybrid of a live performance and a film. You also can have popcorn — whether that is a negative or positive will depend on you.

The most recent Shakespeare play I’ve seen was yesterday, at the IU Summer theatre where I saw A Comedy of Errors. I don’t remember seeing this particular Shakespeare play before. It is a farce and I love farces! There was a lot of physical comedy in this particular production and I thought that the cast did a great job with their timing. Several of the characters were done in odd accents — German, East European, Italian, Scottish. I wasn’t so enthused over that. The accents did play off of certain stereotypes of the characters but the joke became stale quickly. It’s a fun play, though, and a was a pleasant way to spend an afternoon.

I’ve made up a listing of all of the Shakespeare plays I’ve either seen or read. With the 5 in NYC, plus the 2 I’ve seen this year (Comedy of Errors yesterday, and As You Like It last March at The Chicago Shakespeare Theatre), I will have seen seven Shakespeare plays this year, and bring my life list total to 21 plays read or seen in performance. You can see my list here


2 responses to “My Summer of Shakespeare (Part I)

  1. What an awesome weekend that is going to be! Call me envious 🙂

    • I’m giving my ticket to Lear to the person who is going to put up with me as a house guest for 1 week. (A bargain, considering NYC hotel rates). So, I might go see Sleep No More twice. May seem a bit obsessive given that I haven’t seen it once yet, but I am intrigued, and lots of comments on Twitter from those who have seen it multiple times suggesting that it is well worth repeat visits. May just wait until that day to see what I decide to do. Maybe instead, it will be a good time to walk along the Hudson with my camera at sunset.