Thursday, December 09, 2010

How to Liven up Shakespeare

The title is a joke, because I'm a complete Shakespeare NERD and I think Shakespeare plays are pretty lively as they are. But last night, Child's school managed to make it even more interesting.

Her school did Twelfth Night for their Christmas play last year, and this year they tackled Midsummer Night's Dream (abridged versions, both--this is for 1st through 6th graders to act). I was thrilled when Child was given the part of Hermia. She's never tried a major part before, but that one's perfect for her. She's "petite" like her mother, so all the "little" lines totally fit.

Because I am so dwarfish and so low?
How low am I, thou painted maypole? speak;
How low am I? I am not yet so low
But that my nails can reach unto thine eyes. 

The audience laughed loudly with the last line. She practically growled when she said it! AWESOMENESS.

Also, she was paired with her best friend who's a boy (sort-of "boyfriend" though that doesn't mean much at this age) as her lover, and Helena was played by her female best friend. The 4 of them in all those scenes have a great time together, and you can tell.

Anyway, the performance went fabulously, the audience packed full of appreciative parents and grandparents, until, in the middle of the second of the players broke the lantern, right in the middle of the stage.

Broken glass, scattered all over the stage. The whole parent-audience groaned as the play continued, the kids dancing over and smashing the broken glass. I don't think any of us were looking above the level of the floor at that point--we were all just watching where the glass was, spreading as they crunched over it.

But these kids had shoes, and they were okay. Some of us knew from dress rehearsal that the next scene was fairies. Barefoot fairies.

The quick-thinking narrator ran out and got a broom and swept the stage while delivering her lines, but she's 10 or 11 and didn't really have the knack of how to sweep glass. She dramatically swept the bulk of it off into the wings (with flourishes), but we could still see the remnants, lots of them, winking at us in the lights.

They'll stop the play, I kept thinking. They have to stop it and clean the stage. 

But the kids kept going, saying their lines perfectly. And then Puck--the oldest girl in the school, a sixth grader--came on, and stepped squarely, firmly, right in the glass, with her bare feet.

The whole audience gasped. One parent ran backstage, one ran back up the aisle to the teacher in the sound booth. Puck kept delivering her lines as we all wondered if she was cut, murmuring to each other. And then all the little kids, dressed as fairies, appeared at the back of the stage, their feet bare, and prepared for their dance--and we knew it had to stop.

The teacher ran down the aisle and jumped up on the stage, herding the little ones away from the danger area. They kept dancing, but away from the glass. Puck conveniently had to sweep the stage for her part then, and got the rest of it. Then she gave her speech, they did bows, and it was all over.

I'm pretty sure Puck did cut her feet a little. When my husband asked her in the reception line if her feet were okay, she winced. (The wife of the head teacher is a doctor, so I'm sure she also got fixed up quick if she did.)

But as it all came through okay at the end, we were able to appreciate the extra drama of the evening. My husband turned to me as we were waiting for Child and said "What do you think we should try tomorrow to top that? Boiling oil? Real swords?"

Probably not. But it did make the whole ending pretty darn exciting.


Linda G. said...

And THAT is why live theater is so exciting. Glad it all turned out okay. :)

Catherine/Suburban Vampire said...

Wow, Susan--so much drama for a children's play! I'm glad there was no major blood loss. Poor Puck!

courtney said...

omg as soon as I read that the lantern broke I was like NOOOOOooooooo! Because I had a feeling what was coming next. :)

I loved the 'Show must go on' attitude. And Puck, whoa. That's staying in character! It reminded me of my Dawn of the Dead DVD. In the commentary the director said one of the actors got real stiches by accident during a fake stitching scene and he didn't complain or mention anything about it until after they yelled CUT. I was like O_O

Susan Adrian said...

Wow, I...didn't reply to these. Sorry, guys!

Linder: You are totally right! The excitement and drama of live theater in ACTION. The next night wasn't quite as exciting. :)

Cathy: I know! But it all turned out fine in the end, thank goodness.

courtney: INDEED. I also was rather O_O through the whole thing and the Dawn of the Dead thing is WORSE!

Deniz Bevan said...

That's a great tale Susan - all the better for being true! Real swords, hee hee :-)