April 21, 2010

All Shakespeare, all the time.  That’s what’s going on in La Crosse this week.  The idea is an around-the-clock reading of all of Shakespeare’s plays in a little empty storefront in downtown.   I’d seen posters for it but was feeling oddly reluctant to go check it out until yesterday when someone at work had a little flier with the order and times of the plays.  Seeing the titles with times beside them finally kicked me into action.  I decided to go see Richard III at 8pm and I walked downtown to see what it was all about after dinner.

As it happened the schedule was a typo and they were actually reading Richard II which I knew nothing about.  The setting was fairly unprepossessing – a rough circle of tables with a mismatched assortment of table lamps and a number of battered hard cover copies of The Complete Works of William Shakespeare.  I’d arrived a little late so I sat down and started paging through the book in front of me trying to find the scene.  A dozen people were hunched over their books reading out the dialogue.  The language is always a touch obscure to me at first and I was unfamiliar with the plot and didn’t know what was going on.  But as I listened for a few minutes I started to fall into the meaning of the words.  I asked for a part and jumped right in with a small role.   It was really energizing to be a part of the reading. I’m resolved to get back over tonight (Romeo and Juliet at 8PM) and spend as much time over there as possible before Sunday.  Tonight I plan to bring snacks!

If you’re in the area do come down and check it out.  There’s a schedule of which plays will be read when as well as a link to the organizer’s website here.  I forgot to mention – the whole event is being organized by the Fairbanks Shakeable Theater … from ALASKA.  Small world, I guess.

[And as a serendipitous bonus, I identified new Dorothy L. Sayers quotation during the reading.   I’m listening to the audio-book of  Gaudy Night (again) at the moment so I feel re immersed in the world of Lord Peter Wimsey.  I’ve often thought that a good substitute for  a classical education would be just to read the entire Sayers cannon and then follow up all of her literary references and read them.   I come across new references occasionally and its always a little thrill and last night I ID’d a new one from Richard II: “For God’s sake, let us sit upon the ground and tell sad stories of the death of kings” which Sayers (or Jill Paton Walsh, perhaps) quotes in Thrones, Dominations.   Hooray for the Bard-A-Thon!]


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