Saturday, March 21, 2009

saw As You Like It by roughly the same troupe as was involved with the home school coop. the person in charge of the production today was the initial force, and director, behind the previous productions (most of which I wrote about here in Tributary Land). I think we can say that creative differences caused her to leave the aegis of the coop behind. and so...

the venue was the grange building in Groton, MA. grange!!! not a great place for a play, but that difficulty is something of a funky plus. the audience has a different involvement when performances are other than slick.

the largish room on the 1st floor was the dressing room. upstairs was a similarly-sized room, with a small stage at the end. the stage size certainly proved a logistical problem.

probably more than half of the cast had formerly been involved with the homeschool coop. Rosalind was played by the girl who played Juliet a couple of years ago. she did a great job in that. for this production she was music director and composer and was a dance coordinator. she wants to be a classicist (Latin and Greek), and is a member of a sword dancing team. zowie! she handled Ganymede's dazzling wit delightfully. her Romeo from the previous production played Orlando. he has a slapsticky presence (he is almost as tall as Erin) and likes to ham it up, but he is strong in dramatic roles, as well.

I do not want to critique the acting too much because I am impressed by all the actors. they all get their lines capably, and some few, like the above, put dimension in the lines.

there was quite a bit of music in the production, all played live. I was struck that a girl of 4 or 5 was given 2 solos. I would not have asked it of her but she did a good job with those quirky melodies and rhythms (I do not believe that the songs were composed by the Rosalind actress, probably adapted).

there was a stairway from the dressing room to the side of the stage. one can both come on stage or enter the hall. near the end of the play a girl came thru the door into the hall and marched in front of the stage and sat down in the front row. it seemed at first that she had just used the bathroom but did come up the other staircase, as we were told to do. the adult she sat next to tried to hold her in the seat but she got up and moved. then she stood at the front of the stage. then she went on stage. by this time it was clear that she was autistic. and as it happens, a member of the cast, tho not of this specific production (two full productions are run). I do not remember which character it was took the girl (9 years old) by the hand and kept her out of the way. nobody panicked or got upset, which is nice. perhaps the girl should've been dressed in her costume even tho she was not in the day's production. when the characters danced and sang together, the girl joined in.

autism and Alzheimer's are 2 shocking human revelations. engaged in the idea of normalcy, we see people who are tuned to some key that we cannot hear. and how difficult it is for us to accept that difference. we lodge in the difficulties that we see, very real difficulties. we labour with these differences. we stand stunned in front of these differences. we expect people to understand the world in the way we understand it. I think that we can take from Shakespeare the idea that we do not know what other people's role is, nor even our own, on this stage.

my reading of Shakespeare is not exhaustive, perhaps half of the plays. it is a lovely thing to see productions, e'en such amateur ones as this. his work has life, still. this life may muchly owe to his rep, the cultural ok that he has. imagine the Mermaid Tavern, and Shakespeare, Marlowe and Jonson, plus whoever else (no scholarship talking here), talking brilliant whatnot. they were not gods. and remember the Monty Python skit in which Whistler and Wilde exchange bon mots, which devolves to mere vitriol. maybe the brilliance of Shakespeare is the same as is evinced in Lost, or whatever other hot tv show that I have not seen. Shakespeare seems supercharged now but there were cheap seats then as now. I cannnot answer any of that, but these plays are mighty instigations, for sure.
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