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Weekend Assignment: The Play’s the Thing

May 25, 2010

On this week’s Weekend Assignment, the topic concerns a certain type of live entertainment:

Nowadays we get most of our comedy and drama from television, from movies and even from internet downloads. Perhaps we sometimes forget that all of these evolved from a much older art form, the stage play. Do you ever attend plays, musicals or operas? Why or why not?

Extra Credit: Have you ever seen anything by Shakespeare performed live?

Well, not often – because it’s expensive – but Dear Wife and I do love to get out to see plays and musicals.

In the city where we live there’s this truly awesome little place called Shakespeare’s Tavern.  It’s like a recreation of the Globe in miniature (at least, the styling on the outside gives that appearance; the interior is completely enclosed, and not entirely like the Globe at all) located right in the heart of downtown.  They put on regular plays, mostly Shakespeare but also more modern works along with the occasional Greek tragedy and a few mash-ups, and they have a connected kitchen that serves “Shakespearian” dishes like Cornish Pasties.  All the theater seats are also dining seats.  It’s a pretty fantastic experience, and the cast there do a really good job of acting out the dialog in such a way that the audience can understand the Shakespearian English.

So, the last play that Dear Wife and I saw was “Romeo and Juliet” at the Shakespeare Tavern over Valentine’s Day (actually, it was the day before Valentine’s as I recall).  And several months before that we saw “As You Like It“, which was a pretty funny show.  That was the first time I’d seen that particular play.

Also, last year about this time plus a few months or so, Dear Wife and I saw the on-tour version of “Wicked” which was, quite frankly, awesome.  (If you get a chance to see Wicked near you, I highly recommend it.)

But yeah, that’s about it for live entertainment for us.  Two Shakespeare plays and a musical in the last two years.  We keep hoping to have the time and money but, well, like I said: these things are expensive sometimes.  And with B.T. joining our household ranks, it’s unlikely we’ll be out to see another bit of live entertainment like that for quite some time to come.  It’s a shame, because we love this stuff.  But, of course, we also love B.T.

20 Comments leave one →
  1. BTs mama permalink
    May 25, 2010 8:18 am

    I’ve always thought/meant to look into plays at some of our local universities — they can do quite an amazing job and tend not to cost much more than a movie. =)

    • May 25, 2010 8:45 am

      You’re probably right. Maybe as B.T. gets a little older we can look into that 🙂 I think it would be very fun if we could get out to a few more!

  2. jpcabit permalink
    May 25, 2010 8:33 am

    I love musicals, although I’ve never attended one (Yay for 60’s musical movies! My portal into the world of singing and dancing). I would love to act in one though. I think plays in general take a lot more patience and thought than movies, because you don’t get a new angle/plot twist/explosion/brain-shattering special effect every three seconds. But yes, I imagine the can get expensive.

    -J. P. Cabit
    Editor-In-Chief, Fedwick Agency

    • May 25, 2010 8:57 am

      Yeah, I think you make a good point that it takes a bit more attention and patience to get the full enjoyment out of a good play than a whiz-bang effects-laden movie (and I lurve me some whiz-bang special effects in movies!). But yeah, your average live play ticket is a bit more than a night at the movies…

      • jpcabit permalink
        May 25, 2010 1:05 pm

        Have you ever read the Westing Game by Ellen Raskin? Possibly my #1 FAVORITE book!!!! It’s more like a play than a movie. There’s a lot of characters and personalities to keep track of, and even though there are some bombs they are minimal and more like plot devices than sidetrackers. Another book that falls into this category was the City of Ember (favorite movie too). The book is more of a puzzle-solving affair, however in the movie they decided to add some waterfalls, star-nosed moles, and dramatic blackout scenes. 🙂 There is definitely some respect lost in movies.

        -J. P. Cabit
        Editor-In-Chief, Fedwick Agency

      • May 25, 2010 1:19 pm

        In all honesty I hadn’t even heard of The Westing Game, but after looking it up, it sounds like a delightful book. I’ll have to check it out sometime. A clever “whodunit” mystery.

        Dear Wife and I did recently rent the film version of “City of Ember”, and it was a pretty enjoyable movie. It would’ve made for an even more enjoyable puzzle adventure game… but alas it was not so, to my knowledge. I’ll have to check out that book sometime, too.

  3. May 25, 2010 1:52 pm

    I do when I can. It turns out to be maybe once a year. Back in high school, a bus load of us took a trip to Ashland, OR for the Shakespeare festival. That was amazing. Watching the actors do their thing on stage brought the texts to life in a way that suddenly made the words on the page make sense and take on meaning. In university the drama department would have $2 noontime shows/dress rehearsals open to all students. Those were also a blast. Right now I’m involved in a small stage production, and my role’s a minor one. It’s a different rush being involved in the back end of things. 🙂

    • May 25, 2010 3:41 pm

      In High School I spent a little time in the Drama club, and actually got to be on stage. I didn’t have any starring roles (there were so few guys in the program that they focused on plays with strong female leads), but I found being on stage to be a huge rush. It was so completely different from what I was used to (as an introvert). It changed my life in a real way… for the next several years a lot of people I got to know had trouble believing I was an introvert. Even my Myers-Briggs type (based on repeated testing before and after this period) was skewing toward “extrovert” somewhat… I’ve been off the stage long enough that the extrovert halo effects have begun to wear off, but the memory of it is still there such that, in the back of my mind, I know I have the ability to put on a show when the need arises.

      I’ve kind of hoped since then that at some point in the future I’d be able to get on stage again and act – most probably through the medium of community theater.

      • May 25, 2010 4:39 pm

        It sounds counter-intuitive, but I have found that introverts tend to make good actors, and public speakers. I enjoy being on stage – as long as I don’t have to speak extemporaneously.

        This is a complete aside, but I remember someone doing a poll on a website on meyers brigs personality types and writers. It turned out that those with the T, tended to prefer plotting, and all the F’s leaned towards writing by the seats of their pants. My assessment has never changed over the years no matter how many different tests I’ve done.

      • May 25, 2010 5:04 pm

        I can never remember my type on the other Myers-Briggs dimensions, but I’ve always found my type on the Introvert-Extrovert to be interesting. Supposedly, your type doesn’t change at all over your life time, and that seems to have been true for you. But God as my witness, I saw my Intro/Extro type swing from solidly Introvert in High School to almost evenly half-and-half by my second year of college. I haven’t taken a real Myers-Briggs since then, but I suspect I’ve drifted in the past couple of years back to the Introvert side, based on my own comfort levels with social interaction waning in the past few years.

        Based on that analysis of Thinking-Feeling, though I couldn’t tell you what my actual type is, I must be a Thinking…

  4. Lua permalink
    May 26, 2010 1:15 am

    This is one of the best & worst aspects of living in a big city… I love to go to plays and musicals (I’m not really a big opera fan) and the good thing about Istanbul is there are many playhouses and plays we can go see but, with the lovely traffic, it takes too much time to go and come back, it is expensive and it is not much fun to watch Shakespeare in Turkish… 🙂 But I did go see a play last week, it was about the relationships between brothers and sisters and I quiet enjoyed it…

    • May 26, 2010 9:07 am

      The city where I live isn’t quite so big as Istanbul (but it’s a decent-sized city, at least by U.S. standards), and I do agree. The bad aspect is definitely traffic: it’s awful here (and not helped that we live in a car-based culture here, so public transit is mostly pitiful; I don’t know how that works in Istanbul). But the entertainment options are very nice, and I love having the Shakespeare Tavern and other venues like that so close by. We saw “Wicked” in a fully restored 1920s-era movie house that was designed both on the interior and exterior to look like a mosque, and the theater itself was almost as good as the show we were there to see!

  5. May 26, 2010 3:21 am

    I admit I prefer movies because I like to watch them over and over until I know them by heart! 😉 But I have a friend who acts, so once a year I go to the theatre to see him (and now another friend, except she does like one-night shows in the middle of the week – I asked her “can’t you do it on the weekends?”, maybe, eventually…).
    I don’t watch TV anymore, (I got the first season of Dexter, but otherwise I’m stuck at the second season of Beverly Hills in the early 90s…) BUT I’ve been writing screenplays from 2006 to 2009, and I can tell you they’re different from theatre and plays… I’ve given the girlfriend actress my attempt at writing a play, but she hasn’t given feedback yet! 😉

    • May 26, 2010 9:12 am

      I haven’t watched regular television in so long… I saw the first season of “Heroes” straight through, and that (plus the second season of “Avatar: the Last Airbender”; excited for that movie, plus need to see the third season of the animated show) was the last television I’ve been able to consistently watch.

      In high school, during my time in the drama club, I actually wrote a stage-play. I can’t compare that process to screenplay writing, but it was an interesting take on the whole idea of writing. Obviously heavily focused on the dialog and some stage-direction, with the hope that the director sees your vision and sets the scene the way you imagine it…

      Ultimately, that play was never produced… we’ll see if I ever write something like that which does get produced…

      • May 26, 2010 9:20 am

        well, you never know! If there’s enough action and visual storytelling (and not just dialog), you can turn it into a screenplay and see what happens… but screenplay pacing is different from plays! 😦

      • May 26, 2010 9:30 am

        Well, it was a sci-fi, special-effects spectacular! (Don’t ask me how I expected them to produce a special effects spectacle on-stage.)

        But James Cameron already borrowed the script, expanded it somewhat, and shot it in 3-D, so there’s little chance of that particular play being made into a movie. (I kid, but in all honesty there were several similarities between my script and the plot of Avatar. I’m not dense enough to accuse Cameron of stealing from me as there was a roughly 0% chance that he would ever have come across my script, and there were also several key differences, so in the end it was actually more gratifying to see that my story ideas were cool enough to make a big-budget movie work.)

  6. May 27, 2010 7:21 am

    That sounds like a fantastic place to see a play. And three shows in two years, at today’s prices, isn’t bad!

    • May 27, 2010 8:37 am

      You’re right at that! And, yes, the Tavern is a very atmospheric place to see Shakespeare. It’s very fantastic.

  7. May 28, 2010 3:21 pm

    You should try the opera, it’s cheaper than most plays and musicals! Apart from getting there, hiring a babysitter, dinner afterwards, buying decent clothes … Ok, I’ll shut up now!

    • May 28, 2010 8:31 pm

      Honestly… despite being both a huge fan of classical music and musical theater… I’m somehow not a huge fan of opera. Maybe the right opera would work for me, though…

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