Thursday, May 17, 2012

Stratford: Shakespeare Land

Between the last week of classes and finals week, ASE took us to Stratford upon Avon for 3 days to see 3 different Shakespeare plays, all performed by the Royal Shakespeare Company.  Stratford is about a two hour bus ride from Bath, so we got there around noon on Tuesday.  Two of the Shakespeare professors for ASE came with us, Ruth and Brian Hazel (yes, they are married and adorable) and gave us a briefing before each show and a "talk back" the morning after.  The first show we saw on Tuesday night was "The Comedy of Errors", one of Shakespeare's earliest plays, written in the 1590's.  Now, I am not well versed in Shakespeare (see what I did there?) but I will try and give the best overview of each of the plays.

"The Comedy of Errors" is a comedy about two sets of twins, all separated at birth.  Antipholous of Syracuse and his servent, Dromio of Syracuse, arrive in Ephesus, which turns out to be the home of their twin brothers, Antipholus of Ephesus and his servant, Dromio of Ephesus (yes they have the same names, which I was confused about.) So the Dromio's are twins and the Antipholus' are twins. Confusing, I know.  They ended up getting mixed up and mistaken as the other throughout the play, providing comedy because their friends and families think them to be the other one. This was probably the most entertaining of the three plays we saw, and the acting was fabulous.

The second play we saw was "Twelfth Night", again based on twins and supposed to be, in a way, in conjunction with "The Comedy of Errors".  Also, one of my favorite movies, "She's the Man" is a popular, recent adaptation of "Twelfth Night", so I was familiar with the story.  It was performed by the same cast as "Comedy" so we were familiar with the actors, which was nice.  So the story of "Twelfth Night" follows Viola and Sebastian, twins, who were forced from their homeland and separated.  Viola pretends to be a man named Cesario and befriends the Duke Orsino, who she falls in love with, but she is in drag so she is supposed to be a man.  The Duke wants her to befriend Olivia, his love, and try and get her to be with the Duke, so its this big love triangle.  Then Sebastian comes along and things get even more confusing.  I was not as convinced by these actors, and the actress who played Viola was not convincing at all.  I was more interested in the subplot with Toby, Olivia's drunk cousin, Sir Andrew, a silly knight, and Malvolio, who was also trying to woo Olivia. I think this might have been my least favorite play, but just because I wasn't invested in the characters. 

The last play we saw was "Richard III", which was more of a drama and tragedy rather than a comedy like the others were. It was also the longest of the plays, running 3 hours and 15 minutes.  I was very apprehensive when I saw that, thinking to myself "how in the world will I survive a 3 hour Shakespeare play??" I did survive, however, and I loved it.  I liked it the most because it was based on King Richard III who murdered his way to the crown and was eventually defeated by Henry Tudor.  I am a history major and I took a class on the Tudors so I knew the background of the story much better than the other plays. 

 The Stage for Comedy of Errors. There is a fish tank in the center and open water in the left hand corner!
 Outside the Royal Shakespeare Theatre 
The Stage for 12th night (its the same as comedy of errors) you can see the open water on the right hand part of the photograph 

Keep Calm and be Cultured 

No comments:

Post a Comment