Saturday, May 19, 2012

Salty Shakespeare flashmobs MIDSUMMER at Santa Monica College!

SMC Blog----May, 2012

Salty Shakespeare LIVES to break the rules. We don’t just live outside the box, whenever we see a box, we make it into a hat. Or eat it.
This way of life requires a hearty supply of adrenaline----in each and every actor----never knowing who’s gonna love you, who’s gonna arrest you. Keeps you awake. Sometimes all night.

But on the odd occasion, it’s nice to be invited in and even PAID!!! And welcomed for the second time even.

We erupted on the Santa Monica College campus on Monday with 12 scenes from MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM, moving from outside the bookstore to the quad in front of the Science Building, around to the large grassy area outside the cafeteria, picking up students as we went.

In the middle of the last site is a large bell tower which------I’m not making this up-------sounded the 10am bells just as Titania says to Bottom-----“I am a spirit of no common rate!!!” The Bell Tower clanged in agreement. Ginna Carter, playing Titania, took it in as though it were her royal due. And the audience howled (sometimes I think Karma is our middle name!).

As the quad filled with fairies, teenagers, rude mechanicals, the King and Queen of the forest, Shakespeare’s wild midsummer romp unfolded……..cheek to jowl with the students. They seemed to get all the jokes, and, because they’re young, understood perfectly the rising teenage rebellion in the story. AND the heartbreak of unrequited love, and unacknowledged talent (Rudes).

It helps, of course, that we weave Will Rothhaar’s raps into the fabric of the play through the character of Puck. The driving beat of a rap fits perfectly with the muscular metre of Shakespeare’s verse. Had the form existed…..he’d have been the first to hire an Elizabethan rapper to extenuate his rhythms. No one knew like Billy Shakespeare how to play to his audience and push them to new ideas as well.

In the talk back with the students afterwards, there were LOTS of questions on the form we use and on the play itself. Actors regaled the students with Salty Shakespeare adventures in public places (the homeless devotees, the devoted elevator riders, the barking woman at the Farmer’s Market, the near arrest at the Santa Monica Place mall). Sam shared about his own shyness at first with the proximity of the audience.

But it was clear, the students had GOTTEN the play. The text they are now studying in class will no longer be an intellectual exercise for them. It had come alive! One of the professors said to me that our work transforms the class discussion-----driving it to a visceral level of understanding for the students. Far better, she said, than if they had seen it in a dark theatre.

A young girl walked up to me when I was leaving and said she had never read Shakespeare or seen one of his plays. The Salty Shakespeare performance, she said, made her want to know them all.

At least for today……..that’s adrenaline enough for me!

UP NEXT: Catch us in HAMLET at the Marion Davies Guest House this July 11-20 at 4pm!!!

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