#Shakespeare

The Gap of Time

Okay look, I know there has been an onslaught of Shakespeare Anything "because 400th", but the Hogarth Shakespeare Project is actually a great thing.  A bunch of award-winning authors are writing novels based on Shakespeare plays.  Like peanut butter and chocolate, put two great things together and there's just no downside. 

Jeanette Winterson's novel is called 'The Gap of Time', based on 'The Winter's Tale'.  I have my own reasons for wanting to read this particular story at this particular time.  But I'm compelled to tell everyone I know to read it too, whether or not you ever intend to see a production of this play again. 

Winterson's modern take will crack this old fairy tale open like crazy for you.  In London's financial district: a digital camera lens into Leontes' insane and terrifying jealousy.  In Louisiana: piano bars, car repairs, and families.  The confusing and complex nature of love. 

And in the end, the possibility that what is lost can, in fact, be found. 

Play Dead

 

Waking up this morning, it drifted through my mind how Shakespeare liked to have actors play dead. Of course, the actual death toll in the Complete Works is substantial, and people have compiled lists, created pie charts, and performed new plays to illustrate the many ways characters are sliced, diced, pummeled and poisoned.

But there are also characters who only pretend to die, and that event is usually the turning point in the story. There’s Hero in ‘Much Ado About Nothing’: she ‘dies’ because of being shamed at the altar, and so that Claudio can feel the grief and loss and regret for his mistaken punishment of her. In ‘A Winter’s Tale’, Hermione is another virtuous woman accused of being false. She too must appear to be dead until her husband truly recognizes her innocence and mourns his loss.

This summer at Bard on the Beach, you will see Juliet pretend to die to avoid marrying Paris. In ‘Pericles’, Marina will be thought to be killed by the evil Dionyza’s henchman, and Thaisa, believed to have died in childbirth, is thrown overboard a ship by Pericles.

Sometimes the audience is in on the secret although the characters are not. The deaths, real or pretended, are always important. Men really die and their ghosts often return to haunt the killer (or an indecisive child). When the women die they don’t haunt anyone. And sometimes they have to pretend to die just so the men can grow up. 

That Was Then, This Is Now

Here's a photo I found in a old file folder, taken when I was coaching ‘Romeo & Juliet’ at the Bard on the Beach Shakespeare Festival in 2007.

Here's a photo I found in a old file folder, taken when I was coaching ‘Romeo & Juliet’ at the Bard on the Beach Shakespeare Festival in 2007.

...and here's another one, taken recently by the genius Mark Halliday, during rehearsals at Bard on the Beach again this summer.

...and here's another one, taken recently by the genius Mark Halliday, during rehearsals at Bard on the Beach again this summer.

These pictures track a decade of my coaching life.  I'm now bespectacled, goofier, and apparently still unable to speak without the hand.