Wednesday, July 3, 2013

All The World's a Stage

Ah Shakespeare.

As any respectable English loving person should, I hold the Bard in high esteem. My Shakespeare class in college was one of the most influential and intellectually stimulating experiences of my life, and I consider him a philosophical and comedic genius.

But I must confess, I tend to like the Bard much more in short pieces, quotes, and sound bites, than in full length glory. I mean, reading through a Shakespeare play is a slog, isn't it? (Although I don't fault the Bard personally for that; it's just I have a distaste for reading scripts in general). I must confess that I have never in my life looked forward to the opportunity of sitting down to read a Shakespeare play from beginning to end.

But watching them? Oh yes, please!

As genius as Shakespeare was with words, he never meant for them to be read. They are meant to be heard, seen and experienced. Give me the chance to see a Shakespeare play, and my enthusiasm is through the roof. Combine the experience with family, good food, and zero cost? Recipe for my dream evening.

I can't remember what the festival is actually called. "Shakespeare in the Park" or "Free Will" or something like that, but my in-laws go every year. We spread out a blanket, pull out the fired chicken and potato salad, and get our dose of culture for the summer. It's a lovely time.

Forgive the blurriness. My poor camera does not do low light. And yes, this is a shot of an empty stage during intermission, because you can't actually take pictures of the performance, don't you know?

This year's play was As You Like It (thus the forest stage scene), which I had never seen nor read before. It's definitely not one of his most popular plays, and there's a reason for that. It's heavily formulaic, not incredibly imaginative, and rather cliche. But it does have the famous "all the world's a stage" speech, plus some pretty nasty hilarious insults. And I must say, the reinterpretation of the play by this company into a 60's-hippie-flower-child-forest-orgy was pretty ingenious. The image of Hymen (the God of Marriage (?), this random character that makes an appearance in the last scene) decked out in a golden loin cloth with a flower garland gyrating his hips to some psychedelic tune during the finale is an image that will probably be burned into my mind forever. I will never be able to think of anything else when I see this play again. So at least it was memorable.

Yes William, I liked it quite a bit.

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