Last night I took my young daughters down to the Evergreen Cultural Centre for the Monster Theatre presentation of A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
The production was geared towards children and it was cool to see how readily kids broke through the fourth wall that traditionally separates the players on the stage from the audience.
As a “seasoned” theatre goer, I tend to see the fourth wall as an impenetrable wall. So that even when the players on the stage look into the audience and ask a question, I realize I am not to reply. Nor is anyone in the theatre to reply. Unless you are a kid at a Monster Theatre presentation.
Last night, the players on the stage called into the audience and the kids replied. It was a somewhat risky move that worked well.
The kids replied when expected and became quiet observers for the other parts of the show.
As for the play, it is worth noting that it was not actually a performance of A Midsummer Night’s Dream but a play about the play of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Confusing? It wasn’t. It was actually really neat. Although not a “tight” performance, it was a very entertaining performance.
The performance had two women and one man on the stage. These three people were able to change from one character to another in a blink of the eye. One second she was Demetruis and then Hermia and then Lysander and then Helena.
The characters changed personas with a simple twist of the wrist to change the mask but more importantly, it was not just the mask that changed. The voice, the demeanour, and the body movements were also changed instantaneously. It was really amusing to see the characters changing so quickly. The best part was how the quick role changes kept the kids in the audience transfixed. As was I!!
I will definitely be taking my kids to check out more of the Monster Theatre productions. Especially if they come back to my local theatre, the Evergreen Cultural Centre.
And you probably also know that I am not an expert on describing theatre in the sense that I really understand how all that fancy theatre language really works other than the fact that a performance MOVES me or it does not. And, the Bard on the Beach production of Elizabeth Rex MOVED me.
It was also interesting to note that the opening scene of the play and the closing scene were the ones I most vividly recall.
The opening scene was wild with obscenities and I could not help but look around at the rest of the audience, particularly the significant number of white-haired people in the tent and wonder how they were taking the almost over-the-top, jarring use of obscenities. To me, the language absolutely worked.
And then there was the breath-taking closing scene. The best word I can come up with is that the closing scene was cathartic. Although I am grasping for words here, I know that at the end of the play I felt like myself and the rest of the audience had not taken a breath for an eternity.
If you can, get your butt down to the Bard on the Beach Shakespeare Festival and see Elizabeth Rex. You will not be disappointed.
You can buy tickets to the Bard on the Beach by visiting their website or by phoning them at 604-739-0559. The season typically sells out so call soon. And, they now have reserved seating so there is no more of that lining up business!
On May 5th the Bard on the Beach Shakespeare Festival will celebrate Shakespeare’s 447th birthday with its annual fundraising event: BILL’S BIRTHDAY BREAKFAST. This festive and informative morning will take place from 7:30 to 9:00am at the Sheraton Wall Centre.
While guests enjoy a delicious breakfast, the four directors who will stage this summer’s productions of As You Like It – David Mackay, The Merchant of Venice – Rachel Ditor, Henry VI: The Wars of the Roses – Christopher Weddell and Richard III – Kathryn Shaw, will share exclusive insight into their unique visions for the plays. There will be chances to win door prizes and to purchase prize balloons for tickets to cultural events, restaurants, weekend getaways and more. All proceeds will benefit Bard Education programs.
Tickets to this gourmet and artistic feast are $40 per person. To reserve a seat at Bill’s Birthday Breakfast, call the Bard Box Office at 604-739-0559 or book online at Bard on the Beach.
If you are anything like me and have assumed that The War of the Roses was originally a movie starring Michael Douglas and Kathleen Turner and not actually related in any way to Shakespeare’s Henry the VI, then this free lecture series is for you (and me).
The first lecture features Bard on the Beach’s Director of Education Mary Hartman. I have been told that Mary will bring her unique style and insight into the world of Shakespeare. You will hear about life in Shakespeare’s London, the playhouses, the staging and theatrical conventions of the period and the vitality of Shakespeare’s language. The world of Shakespeare will be explored with enthusiasm and wit.
As well Mary Hartman’s lecture, SFU’s Dr Paul Budra is back and this time he delves a little deeper into what makes Shakespeare well…Shakespeare. Bringing his signature charm and extensive knowledge, Paul will get you primed and ready for Bard’s 2011 productions and will keep your mind limber for a great season of Shakespeare.
While these lectures are free, pre-registration is required. To pre-register you can either call the Bard Box office at 604-739-0559 or book at www.bardonthebeach.org – you can click on the “Lectures” link on this page.
Bard on the Beach Shakespeare Festival’s 2011 season runs from June 2 to September 24 under the tents in Vanier Park. Full details can be found at www.bardonthebeach.org. Tickets are available on the Bard website or by calling the Bard Box Office at 604-739-0559.