Sunday, August 09, 2009

"Shakespeare in the Rain," Part II

Last night, I witnessed my second "Shakespeare in the Rain" performance of the summer.

In July, we watched the Wyoming Shakespeare Company perform in the rain at Cheyenne Botanic Gardens. The Lander-based troupe continued "Richard II" through a summer shower. More worrying were the lightning strikes flashing all around Lions Park. But the show went on as audience members huddled under umbrellas -- if they remembered them -- or trees -- as we did. Not bright, considering the lightning, but who were we to desert these stalwart thespians?

Yesterday evening, Chris, Annie and I drove over to Pando's Pond (officially City Park) to watch Shake in ChyWy perform "A Midsummer Night's Dream." This is a new troupe, directed by Carey Junior High teacher Angel Katen and performed by local actors, some home from college for the summer. The makeshift "theatre" resides among the terraces at the park's south end. The troupe hung homemade banners along the terrace walkway. No microphones, so the players had to speak loudly over passing trucks and Harleys.

The clouds gathered and thunder rumbled as we picnicked. I bought a root beer float from a booth staffed by the Carey dance team. The performance began and the players complted the first 10 minutes before the sky unleashed rain and a nasty salvo of lightning.

Angel announced: "We're moving to Carey Junior High. Please follow us."

We gathered our picnic and chairs and made a beeline to the car. Drove a mile through the deluge to Carey, meeting up with a daughter of a family friend.

Consider the hubbub part of the performance. A volunteer theatre trouple needs flexibility and persistence. We were in a our seats but a few minutes before the play resumed.

I've seen the play performed a couple of times before. I saw the recent movie and the old black-and-white version. I've read the play, the first time as an eighth-grader at Our Lady Of Lourdes grade school. I couldn't make heads or tails of it back then. Sister Theresa couldn't help as she probably hadn't read it or -- if she had -- didn't get it. She may have been outraged by the queen of the fairies falling in love with an ass who really wasn't.

Who knows? But this version was so much fun and so well-acted. As I sat watching the show, I marveled at the longevity of Shakespeare. New theatre troupes keep popping up. Shake in ChyWy is brand now this summer and the Wyoming Shakespeare Company is only ten years old. One can't go through a season in Wyoming without a half-dozen Shakespeares on the playbill. Hollywood loves The Bard.

I can't really call myself a fan. I love many of the plays, but I don't want to read them again. In fact, I didn't read them all during my time as an English major. But my daughter Annie does. After the show, she borrowed the script from one of the actors. Our friend MacKenzie (Mac), working as a horse wrangler this summer to pay for her next year at University of Tennessee, spends some of her off time reading Shakespeare. What's the matter with kids these days? Reading "Richard II" and "Midsummer" while they could be wasting their time in front of the PC as I am doing right now?

Love that Tom Rush '60s song: "Kids these days/they don't value a dolla'/don't like to chew/but they sure can swalla'."

Forgive the terrible rhyme. It takes dedicated chewing to read Shakespeare on a summer day.

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