Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Henry V

What an amazing production! A small, outdoor theatre. (Granted, it was cloudy and in the 50s, but, hey, it was Wisconsin at the end of September.) A cast of 13 actors (which meant that Katherine's lady's maid had to be played by a balding man; it was hilarious!) Simple staging but powerful acting. It was terrific.

Can you tell I liked it? thing bothers me...

After the play a talk-back was held. I don't know if it's this way all over the country, but the companies that I have seen do Shakespeare for students will hold these. Actors come out onstage afterward to chat with the audience, answer questions, and, yes, hear one-on-one how wonderful they are. (They are actors, after all!)

The question was asked, "How does the director decide which scenes to cut? Cut Shakespeare? Yeah, they do. They may not have budget for enough actors, or time to stage the entire play, or space, or whatever. Scenes get cut. In this case, it was the speech before the battle of Agincourt, when Henry considers kingship, it's ceremonies and responsibilities. The director was not at the talk-back, but the speculation by the actors was that the scene had been cut, because, (paraphrasing) in our society, we don't have the experience of inherited leadership. Since our leaders do not have leadership handed to, or thrust upon them, as Henry did, they reasoned that it would be difficult or impossible for the audience to understand inherited leadership to be the burden Henry was feeling it to be.

Is it just me, or does that sound elitist? "We," (the cast, the members of the staff, the company) "don't think you," (the uneducated, inexperienced audience) "could grasp the depth or niceties of the emotions Henry is experiencing at that moment. So we'll just take it out of the play and pretend it wasn't there." Now, editing a scene is not the issue; I understand that parts may have to be moved or removed to make the play flow or feel "right" to the director. (Although I do understand wanted to see it unabridged.) What bothers me more is the attitude that an audience is shallow enough to be unable to pick up on the backstory of the scene. Meh--maybe I'm just too fussy or too sensitive. But lately it seems people of my ilk, my acquaintance or my class have been experienced an excess of, "You can't possibly understand..." I'm kinda tired of it, and I was having such a good time yesterday. Why did they have to pull this in and mess with it?

Well, try to mess with it, anyway. I still had a terrific time. We had lunch afterward, including frozen custard (which isn't really something we should tell Weight Watchers, OK?) The drive home was pleasant; I let Ethan drive, so I got in a nice nap. And dinner was in the crock pot when I got home, so there was no hassle there. Yeah, they tried to mess up my day. But they didn't succeed!

Small time, but in that small most greatly lived
This star of England: Fortune made his sword;
By which the world's best garden he achieved,
And of it left his son imperial lord.

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