Festival of Shakespeare,
20th April 2014 Easter Sunday.
I don’t go and see Shakespeare for the plot. I go and see how it is done. The stage direction is truly up to the director and any form of creativity can be used. This is the interesting aspect. So going to an outdoor stage on a Sunday afternoon was intriguing. Staging this play in an outside open arena, which relied on the voice projection of the cast with no microphones, back drop, curtains or lighting was a major challenge for most of the actors. The Podium at Cyberport is an area suitable for 2,000 people and with some more creative seating ideas the few who were watching this play could have had a much better experience instead of the scattered and informal arrangement on Sunday.
I do really commend the organizers for this event and the very fact that it will continue until 4th May is wonderful. Bringing Shakespeare to the masses in an informal manner is an attempt to make it accessible to all. Encouraging the presence of young children is also good. It was unfortunate that on Easter Sunday not many people came along. The organizers attempts at having a family fun day in the open, sterile atmosphere of The Podium left us feeling lost in a shadeless space on a very hot day. There was definitely not enough to keep us there for more than one play. There seemed to be lots of staff but no one really knew what to do. Perhaps on the days when the tickets are $150 and not $300 would equal more people?
I counted 50 people towards the closing act of Taming of the Shrew on Sunday. This number drifted in and out throughout and was not consistent. During the performance children played or became restless and had to be distracted in other ways towards the building at the back. That resulted in more distracting noise, as well as the helicopter flying overhead and the ships in the port. The slightly sloping arena with a low step and grass area was uncomfortable and undefined. The usual reverence offered to a drama was missing and, therefore, the hushed silence as the ‘curtain’ is drawn and the lights come on was lost.
The actors valiantly played on. Kate and Petruchio were outstanding. I admired their energy tremendously and as it should be I did laugh at the comedic moments. This is what Shakespeare wanted his audience to do and it did not pass me by that the original production would have been to a rowdy sweaty crowd in the day time with no electrics to enhance the sound. And it could have rained, but it didn’t, so that was positive!