What an event! 🙂 🙂 🙂 When I think about it, I just can’t stop smiling.
For those of you that aren’t here, this year’s Shakespeare in the Park was a collaborative effort, involving all sorts of different performing arts organizations in our community. Our fearless leader, Jin Hi, had the terrific idea to give the arts community a theme (love) and let us choose scenes, soliloquys and sonnets to interpret and present however we wanted. When the ideas started pouring in, she divided the show into acts, Act I focusing on Love at First Sight, Act II as Lust and the others as Conflict, Resolution and Commitment. With so much freedom, the show ended up as a wonderful conglomoration of different styles and interpretations – some classical, some contemporary, some totally off the wall – so that this year there was something for everyone to enjoy. Shakespeare became accessible and enjoyable, at least in part, by everyone in our community. There was a hip-hop translation of Romeo & Juliet’s first meeting that flowed seamlessly from an urban dialogue to the classical text and back again, there was a modern ballet of three key scenes from Othello with the most beautiful pas de deux I’ve seen in a long time. To set the new mood, each act began with a sonnet, performed in the original text, and then reinterpreted by a freestyle poet. There were scenes set as Tennessee Williams’ dramas (the lover’s quarrel from Midsummer’s), James Cagny-esque film noir (Much Ado ‘would that I were a man…’), 1950’s beat poetry (Hamlet’s ‘get thee to a nunnery,’ feauturing yours truly), punk rock (Taming of the Shrew), and many, many others. It was a true celebration of music, dance and spoken word, all performed on one perfectly clear, full-mooned night in Forsyth Park. Magical.
Did I mention that the kids rocked the house? Because…damn…they did. No, their scene had no great ‘meaning’ or ‘message’ and yes, it helped that they had their own cheering section front and center, but I really believe that they gave a great performance. I know I need to stop gloating, but I feel really proud that I pushed this project through, despite people trying to discourage me from being involved at all, much less with the kids. I know that they had a life experience this week that they will never forget – and who turns down free publicity like that anyway? For the most part, they handled themselves with great aplomb, both on and off the stage, and I would do it again in about twenty seconds, roadblocks and all.
What I appreciated most about this experience was the way that it truly brought our arts community together on one project that we could all enjoy with equal representation. Backstage was just beautiful, filled with people of all different backgrounds who all love the same basic principles of theatre and community. I reconnected with old friends, hung out with my current favorites and made many new acquaintances that I hope can turn into great friendships, possible theatre collaborations and even potential coworkers. Being involved in Savannah Shakes both on stage and off for several years, I feel like this was a great homecoming for a lot of people. Having Alan as the prologue (breathtaking) and Jim as the epilogue (heartwrenching) was so moving to me and to many others who have a history with this event. I hope that it continues and thrives, with their blessing.
I also hope that everyone on the planet gets to experience some of the amazing sensations of this week. Firstly, nothing compares to that entirely humbling feeling you get of standing on that large stage in front of that invisible crowd…by yourself. You can feel yourself standing in light, but all around you is darkness and stretched out in front of you are flickering candles, going back, back into the night. You’re outdoors, so there is nothing for your voice to bounce off of, and it just kind of looks and sounds like you’re in a vacuum…yet you are completely and totally aware of the sensation of not being alone. Oooh…powerful stuff. Secondly, I hope that every performer who hear’s Prospero’s soliloquy (‘we are such stuff as dreams are made on’) gets chills up and down their spine, knowing that every word he speaks is the truth in the most joyous and most sad of ways. Theatre is an ephemeral art. Every moment has the potential to pass by in a second without any meaning or anyone’s notice. Or it can linger in your mind and in your heart, preserved perfectly in a safe place for all time. Mmm.
Lastly, I hope that everyone gets to know the kind of genuine cameraderie that existed back there, crossing over age, gender, cultural and racial barriers. We all went out there to do what we do…together. And that means a great deal.