Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Where Art Thou

When I was in high school, my friends complained about studying Shakespeare. Even today many people who I talk to who love theater in general have no great affection for Shakespeare. But to me, Shakespeare has always been a rich mix of investigative discovery (specifically around the language) and hard-core stage theatrics. The language holds so many weird and wonderful gifts that pop up at unexpected times.

The most famous passage from “Romeo and Juliet” – Juliet’s balcony scene that includes the line “Wherfore Art Thou Romeo?” as well as the “rose by any other word would smell as sweet” assertion – may be familiar to even the most casual theater lover but still has surprises. For instance, for many years I thought the first line was Juliet pining for Romeo and essentially asking “where are you, Romeo?” in fancy Elizabethan speak.

It wasn’t until well after my college years that I picked up an annotated Shakespeare that explained that “wherefore” in the specific context of that scene is asking “for what purpose are you Romeo?” Once I knew that, the whole scene makes a whole lot more sense. For you hardcore Bard fans out there, this is old news. What’s unfortunate (IMHO) is that I’m sure that there are scads of people that have let that line go past them for years without giving it a second thought. I’m sure of that because I was one of them.

Anyway, if you were wondering where the Times-Dispatch review of “R&J” was, it’s in today’s paper. As I was perusing the T-D online, I also saw this picture apparently taken from a rehearsal for “The Last Days of Judas Iscariot,” the show that will close out this flurry of openings next week.

The T-D also offers a feed from the Associate Press so at the bottom of the “R&J” review you’ll see links to various national theater stories, including this one that recaps the latest on Broadway’s Spiderman. If you’d rather say “Turn off the Noise” to “Turn off the Dark” and are sick of that story, perhaps you’d like to read about fanboy conversation that’s springing up around the new Spiderman movie, specifically the organic/mechanical web spinner debate. Not to get all pedantic or anything but sometimes its kind of amazing to me that, with democracy seeming to be catching fire across the Middle East, these are the things people talk about. Oh well, as my hero Kurt Vonnegut famously wrote, so it goes.


Jeffrey Cole said...

It's telling, Dave, how much the language can still hold surprises for theatre-goers, even after years of attendance.
I'm very fortunate that I've been teaching this play to high school freshmen for the past 4 years; however, even now that I'm performing in the play, the text still holds secrets that I'm only discovering in the classroom. In explaining word usage and meaning to my students, I keep unearthing new treasures.
How fortunate we all are!

Ed Hedrick said...

Hey Dave, why have we not seen any reviews for Cadence Theatre's production of Godspell? I was at opening night and it was fantastic!

Susie said...

I filed a review of "Godspell" with the T-D on Friday night, but it hasn't shown up in print or on the website. At this point they're unlikely to print it, but I'll see if I can get them to put it on the website.

Ed Hedrick said...

Hi Susie, thanks for your comment back. I have seen a lot of reviews recently including two more for Godspell but I have not noticed yours online. Do you/can you... post reviews anywhere else as I really enjoy your take on theatre and Godspell also holds a special place in my heart. I am also excited about BFG at the Empire. I have a feeling it is going to be wonderful for my family to see.