Blogging Challenge: Day 5
1. I mentioned that this is the Summer of Shakespeare at our house. Last night I got the chance to see the production of King Lear that my husband is performing in for the third time. Incredible play, incredible production. I wasn't that familiar with Lear, though I saw it once a few years ago at the big repertory theatre in town. This recent production has so much more impact. Part of that is packing a gigantic Shakespearean tragedy into a tiny 60-seat store-front theatre, but much more of it has to do with the performances, directing and design.
2. Speaking of Lear, my new idea is to write something (maybe a short play, maybe a novella) inspired by Lear about a family struggling with the challenges of an elderly parent with early to mid stage dementia. I've been around those particular challenges quite a bit in my almost three years working at a retirement community, and in seeing the play these past few times have recognized a lot of very common family dynamics that often result. My husband's production allowed the characters of Gonneril and Reagan, Lear's eldest daughters, to be a little more sympathetic than in most productions, emphasizing the strain that their father's past abuse and current mental health have put on them. It would be interesting to explore further.
3. My husband has also started rehearsals for a production of Hamlet that will take place at the Villa Terrace Decorative Arts Museum. This venue is a replica of a classical Italian villa, with an enclosed courtyard and extensive gardens. It's an incredible setting for the play, and it really sounds like they are taking advantage of the distinctive features of the building and grounds in their staging. I'm excited.
4. Shakespeare project #3 is a short film adaptation of Richard II, one of the lesser-known and seldom performed histories. My husband is playing Harry Percy, who in later plays is known as Hotspur. My favorite history is Henry IV, Part I in which the fiery, somewhat rash, but brave and passionate Hotspur is defeated in his quest for the crown by Prince Hal, the lazy, smug wastrel who later becomes Henry V, of "Crispin's Day" fame. Or at least that's my read on the play. Other interpretations have something to do with Hal's development into a king and hero, blahblahblah. HOTSPUR.
5. We're currently watching "Slings and Arrows," a Canadian TV show that ran from 2003-2006. The story centers around a Shakespearean theatre festival (inspired by the Stratford Festival in Ontario) and the various people that make up its little community: actors, administrators, corporate sponsors, critics. I've seen it before, but it's just as good the second or third time around. It's whip-smart and hilarious - each season is built around the production of one of Shakespeare's major tragedies, and themes from the play being produced shape the plot. Highly recommended.
6. Has anyone seen the new Joss Whedon Much Ado About Nothing yet? We were excited about it but haven't found the time, and now I'm afraid it's probably gone from our local art house theatre. I was in a student production of Much Ado in high school and loved the Branagh film adaptation, but have never seen it professionally staged. I'm curious to see what a director who has spent most of his time on vampires and superheroes will do with it. To be fair, superheroes are awesome and The Avengers was one of the best superhero movies of all time.
7. For a few years, Milwaukee had its own professional theatre company focusing on Shakespeare's works. Then the funding was pulled for one of its major grants, and it folded. It was discouraging when it happened, but in the last few years a number of Milwaukee theatre companies have risen up to fill the void. Clearly we as a city have a passion for classical theatre. One of our most active local critics recently wrote on his blog that he had seen 4 Shakespeare productions in 8 days. Just another sign of the way the arts are exploding in our beautiful city.
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