Monday, May 15, 2006

spontaneous sonnets

i love shakespeare. i've always wanted to direct a shakespeare house - where audience members walk through halls and "accidentally" eavesdrop on scenes from different plays. you could do a whole show like that, actually, depending on the house or property you used. i know other theater companies have done projects like this before, but it doesn't stop me from wanting to do it myself. well, maybe someday.

until then, there's this awesome bit of creative brilliance concocted by the new shakespeare's globe.

have you heard about the new globe? it's the recreation of the original globe theater that was shakespeare's home venue - destroyed by fire in 1613, rebuilt, shut down in 1642 by the Puritan parliament, and finally demolished in 1644 to make room for tenement buildings. i had heard some rumors now and again, but i didn't know they had actually managed to pull it off. (and now i have a new visit on my british isles vacation agenda.)

so anyway, this is one of slate's correspondents talking about how sad she is to have missed seeing anything at the globe when she went to visit, but checking out something called a "sonnet walk" instead. this is Just Too Cool:

As we shambled down the Victoria Embankment, a bum on a bench started to harangue us for money. Suddenly, his requests for spare change segued into Sonnet 91, "Some glory in their birth, some in their skill/ … Thy love is better than high birth to me/ Richer than wealth, prouder than garments' cost." The transformation was incredible—menacing to captivating in two lines. We carried on—a more cohesive group by now—and as we picked our way through the tourists in Whitehall Gardens, a blind man stumbled and fell. Naturally, we ran over to pick him up, only for him to launch into a sonnet. And so it went, through winding little roads, past ancient pubs and Middle Temple Hall, all the while being surprised by 12 stealth sonneteers posing as: a needy guy on crutches (Sonnet 89, "Speak of my lameness, and I straight will halt"); more street people; a woman talking to a cheating lover on her cell phone; workmen; lost tourists seeking directions; and, as we grew increasingly suspicious of everyone we saw, a guy in a chicken suit. After two hours, we found ourselves at the Globe, where we placed our roses on the stage in a hokey sign of respect to the bard.

It was fantastic! Some of the sonneteers were clearly students, not entirely confident in their recitation. But the really gifted actors needed just a word or two to connect with intensity. The supposed difficulties of "understanding" poetry or Shakespearean language disappeared as soon as they started to speak. And because we never knew where the next sonnet was coming from, we connected, too—actually looking into the faces of the people we passed and making eye contact with homeless people. After all, they might have gone to drama school.

Give me a plane ticket, someone. Or, no - let me wait until Duckie's old enough to go with me. Mom and I never went to London, although I think she may have meant to take me someday. I'll take Duckie for her.

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