Monday, May 21, 2007

Weekend of Plays

Now I understand the War of the Roses--such bloodshed! This weekend Sis and I attended another annual Southern Writers' Project of the Alabama Shakespeare Festival. A marvelous Friday through Sunday of readings by new and somewhat-new playwrights both young and adult then evenings and matinees of this season's plays. I have to say I'm learning to "hear" strong and weak points of plays in the early stages of development which readings are for, and discussions afterwards gives the playwright a glimpse of what did and didn't appeal to the audience about the characters and situations.

"Rocket City" told of early stages of Warner von Braun's arrival with his German scientists into the city of Huntsville, AL, and the residents' reactions; "The Dragonfly Tale" showed us a communtity largely inhabited by blacks with a Jewish shopkeeper's involvement in their lives--an inside view of humanity:physical violence, pettiness, friendship, love, hate..."The Fall of the House" concerned a group of people stranded at one house the day after Katrina hit, how one woman stood her ground not to leave her home, while the victims she nurtured attempt to convince her to leave with the rescue boats.

Evenings we saw Henry VI Part B (having missed Thursday's production of Part A) where a second generation continues bloodshed to gain the crown and Richard III whose "right to the crown" was tweaked by Richard killing off his brothers and families and his loyal subjects to gain the power he felt he deserved. Lots of action, but most of all, a better understanding of Shakespeare's works. A quick review of history beforehand of how Shakespeare himself tweaked history for his dramatic plots by a seasoned college professor, gave us the understanding we should have obtained in our own college lit classes. Not an adult in the audience would have protested a class in Shakespeare after these productions. The program ran a genealogy chart of the "Dynastic Rivalry of The Wars of the Roses: It's All in the Family." that should be kept while rereading these famous plays. The resident actors and MFA students gave outstanding performances.

Present at the weekend festivities were playwrights who are making quiet noises in the play world. Their names unknown by most of the public, but will in coming years be recognized. Talks by these writers is worth the weekend away from home. We all left with the idea we could write a play.

"Thinking of You," a last year's reading by Peter Hicks was the light presentation. This is about a family's psychic ability and how it interferes with the daughter's opportunities to find a decent boyfriend who can overlook the fact that his girlfriend can read his thoughts. Funny, almost to slapstick.

Now I'm back to normal, ready to attack unpacking of boxes and replacing of furniture after five weeks of house renovations. As I rummage through the boxes I can lose my mind in the battles of royal families...

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