Thanks to my sister’s granddaughter, I was at The Citizens Theatre last week, to see her ‘perform with’ none other than The Royal Shakespeare Company. The granddaughter in question had been specially chosen along with some other lucky pupils from her school, to be one of Titania’s fairies. This ground-breaking production of ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream: A Play for the Nation’ sees the company of 18 professional actors work alongside amateur actors who play Shakespeare’s ‘Rude Mechanicals’ and local schoolchildren who play Titania’s fairy train. The show is currently touring the 12 regions of the UK, working with local amateur companies in their home towns before returning to Stratford for Midsummer, as part of the fantastic programme of summer events marking the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death.
This production was set in a Britain reminiscent of the 1940s because, according to the Director, Erica Whyman, like Shakespeare’s imagined Athens, it was a place and time of great change. The play itself is full of mischief and fun but has deeper messages of community, class, love, prejudice and peace. How exciting it must be for all the amateurs participating ( well done Glasgow!) …… and I do believe they are being given the opportunity to perform again at Stratford in June. I think that’s wonderful.
The last time I was so closely involved with the aforementioned play, I was eleven years old and in my first year at secondary school. Copies of the play were given out and ‘a part’ assigned to random pupils who proceeded to murder the dialogue. The vocabulary and style were a far cry from the ‘Lanarkshire Banter’ and added to that, we were an ‘all girls’ establishment ( definitely not what the author had in mind!).
Poor William Shakespeare – how he must have birleth-ed in his grave.
I cannot recall at any stage being properly introduced to the man and his works. I cannot recall having the scenes set in any great detail. I do, however, recall the slog of committing to memory, large ‘chunks’ of his labours which, although I did not fully comprehend, I could regurgitate at the drop of a hat…… or at the drop of some ‘magic love juice’……. ‘I know a bank (no not RBS!) where the wild thyme blows, Where oxlips and the nodding violet grows’……. When Oberon launched into this soliloquy at The Citizen’s I had to be held back from leaping out of my seat and jumping on stage to help him out….. in my head that is…..for neither he nor any actor on that stage needed help. The dialogue throughout was flawless; cues, scene- changes, music – all perfect and seamless. I loved it – but I do think the ‘romantic’ in me would like to have experienced a ‘traditional’ production – – and to have seen the lovely Lucy in a ‘Fairy Tale’ costume……… fairy nuff? x