Monday, August 18, 2008

Shakespeare In a Park

On Saturday we took The Tempest on tour to Sycamore Park in Riverside, California, a beautiful little park that sits atop a hill and gives a nice view of the surrounding valley. About 100 people spread their blankets and lawn chairs beneath the late afternoon sun on a section of grass. We actors performed on another piece of the grass.

It was theatre as basic and raw as theatre gets. There were no lights other than the sun and no special effects; the set was minimal. It was just actors and Shakespeare, actors and the word.

If you think such a thing is impossible in this MTV age of shortened attention spans and video games, let me assure you the performance was a hit. The audience sat quietly and listened intently. Not a one of them left at intermission.

It was just actors and words, but it got through to the audience. The flame that was lit in Shakespeare's soul when he wrote this play was lit in the souls of the audience.

In this depressing time, when America teeters on the precipice, we must make an extra effort to celebrate our values, lest we succumb to despair. I am rejuvenated to have been part of the creation of a beautiful work of art.


Stella said...

That's awesome. I love this sort of "Shakespeare in the Park" -- no frills, just a great story and good actors portraying it.

Bravo to you and your troupe!

Myrhaf said...

Thanks, Stella!

Jim May said...

I've seen "A Midsummer Night's Dream" in the outdoors twice -- once in Toronto at High Park, and again at the Will Geer Theatricum Botanicum in Topanga Canyon.

The latter, unfortunately, is often the vehicle for certain kinds of loony leftist moonbattery ( to be expected given its board of directors), but it's easy to walk past that stuff and simply take in the beauty of the locale -- and the words.

If you ever find yourself touring out this way, post it so I can catch your performance!

(Just down the road from there is the Inn of the Seventh Ray, a restaurant which also makes use of the local scenery. That area is so beautiful I proposed to my fiance there).

Myrhaf said...

I've considered auditioning for the one in Topanga Canyon. It's a heck of a drive for me, though, some 70 miles one way.

Stephen Bourque said...

That sounds great, Myrhaf!

LB and I used to go see the troupe Shakespeare and Company near Tanglewood in western Massachusetts, and some of the plays were done outside. Like your description, it was so pleasant and intimate on a summer afternoon and evening. There's nothing quite like it!

Kelly said...

Thanks for your little bright light today, Myrhaf!

I've never been big on Shakespeare, but your post makes me want to give it a try!

Myrhaf said...

Thanks, Stephen, Jim and Kelly.

Kelly, you're not alone in not being a big fan of Shakespeare. My Mother and my sister hate Shakespeare, but they endure him to watch me act. They were thrilled when I did Agatha Christie last year.