Center Stage

January 21, 2005

At some point I became a drama teacher. Bear in mind that, to date, I have never once acted in a play. But upon becoming an elementary school teacher I also took on children's theater because it was a school tradition. If I had known then what I know now about the complexity of stage productions I might not have dipped my toe in those turbulent waters. 

To date I have adapted The Little Prince, a selection of Aesop's Fables, and a mummer's play for the stage. Last year I had the exceeding good fortune to hand the directing and scripting reigns to a very talented parent who led the students through a hilarious Commedia dell'arte production. This year that same parent and I will tackle direction of the Mt. Everest of playwrights, the Bard himself, and his Midsummer Night's Dream

I have never been a strong student of Shakespeare but after only a few months of studying and rehearsing this one play I begin to have a sense of why he looms so large in the Western canon. It goes beyond the academic, beyond genre: Shakespeare requires so much of you as an actor or director that its impossible to relegate his words to ink on paper. You have to open up a chamber of your mind to him, and plant the meter and meanings there, so that they are ready for your retrieval and use. In short, Shakespeare is a language, and all the stories that have followed him are, in some way, indebted to his translation of humanity.

No comments: