November 15, 2013

Shadowcon Mini-Views- As You Like It

     I do not like reading Shakespeare. There is something about reading a thing that is meant to be seen and performed that leaves me feeling like I’ve only experienced a fraction of what I’m meant to experience. Shakespeare’s plays aren’t meant to be read, they’re meant to be seen, to be lived, and in that respect, I think teaching his plays as texts without at least seeing a version or two alongside the text is a mistake. That’s one of the reasons I think my school’s education is so good. We teach Shakespeare’s plays by both reading and analyzing them and seeing the various versions that are out there. My school also has the added benefit of producing our own versions of various plays, and tonight I got to see such a production of Shakespeare’s As You Like It, a romantic comedy of sorts that really had me on the edge of my seat, laughing my ass off! It was so good.

     What made this work was by far the subject of the play: young love, impetuous love bursting with lovely innuendo, so it was just perfect for a high school setting! I have a rather difficult time critiquing my peers in anything (I feel elitist when doing so), but here, I have nothing but praise. I could sense a quirky off-beat awkwardness coming from the actors on stage, but it didn’t detract from the play at all. In fact, I dare say it enhanced it, as this made the comedy all the more ripe. The way the actors played off of each other through most of the production really had me in awe and made me respect and admire everyone involved more than I ever thought possible, because being a high school production, these people didn’t even need to do that. They all could have skated by with just delivering their lines and it would have been just fine because this is high school acting. But that wasn’t good enough for them. I sensed that everyone in the play wanted to make this the best play they could make it be, and unlike most high school productions of Shakespeare where the lines are forced and not delivered correctly (by that, I mean that the actors themselves don’t know what they’re saying), the actors here knew what they were saying and as such made the play accessible to everyone without having to dumb it down in delivery. That is such a tricky thing to do, and my peers pulled it off masterfully.

     When I write a play, I find it difficult to imagine my scenes and settings being able to be produced on stage; just the logistics that would need to go into producing what I’m envisioning just gives me a headache. So I’m always impressed with the tech and set crew of my school, who are able to shrink everything down to be able to fit into a small black box theatre without losing any of what the set piece needs to convey. Again, a great job. The actors made good use of the stage. They played out their dramatic roles with appropriate gusto, striding all about the stage in mockery of what their characters were supposed to be feeling, much to the audience’s amusement, and this gave me the sense that I was far more a part of the experience than if I had just sat down and read this as a text. It was a great evening, and surefire way to end the week/kick off the weekend. I’m so proud of my school and the talent therein!

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