Category Archives: Plays, Theater

Talk

by Kathe Koja

Good book!  One day one of our librarians, Lisa, handed this to me and prepared me with the knowledge that this book was written in stream of consciousness style.  I had heard scary things about this mode d’emploi, so I sat down with it, ready for a battle.

Instead I eased into a pleasurable narrative about some teenagers dealing with a controversial school play and the emotions running below the surface.

{From PinkBooks.com: Kit Webster is hiding a secret. Carma, his best friend, has already figured it out, and pushes him to audition for the high school play, Talk. When he’s cast as the male lead, he expects to escape his own life for a while and become a different person. What he gets instead is the role of a lifetime: Kit Webster. In the play, Kit’s thrown together with Lindsay Walsh, the female lead and the school’s teen queen. Lindsay, tired of the shallow and selfish boys from her usual circle of friends, sees something real in Kit – and wants it. But Kit’s attention is focused on Pablo, another boy in school. The play is controversial; the parents put pressure on the school to shut it down. And when Kit and Lindsay rally to save Talk, they find themselves deep into a battle for the truth: onstage, and inside themselves.}

I would recommend this to anyone interested in LGBT or stream-of-consciousness style writing.

Love’s Labour’s Lost

The ladies have their bows and their game-faces on.

The ladies have their bows and their game-faces on.

by William Shakespeare

After reading Romeo & Juliet, Macbeth, Hamlet, and Twelfth Night in English class, I can say that I truly enjoy Shakespeare.  I always loved attending the Nebraska Shakespeare Festival, a masterful production of two Shakespeare plays every summer, but until reading enough Shakespeare to get used to the prose did the words jump off the page and into imagination.  I could understand the lines in a faster manner and consequently get in to the story and experience  plot flow.  When understanding happened, I could also appreciate the word play more fully. Of which no play has more than Love’s Labour’s Lost.

“Love’s Labour’s is often thought of as Shakespeare’s most flamboyantly intellectual play. It abounds in sophisticated wordplay, puns, and literary allusions and is filled with clever pastiches of contemporary poetic forms. It is often assumed that it was written for performance at the Inns of Court, whose students would have been most likely to appreciate its style. This style is the principal reason why it has never been among Shakespeare’s most popular plays; the pedantic humour makes it extremely inaccessible to contemporary theatregoers.”

When reading one can revel in the lyrical quality of this play.  Sometimes the individual characters start talking and I forget what their prose means in context; that the things they’re saying are actually quite silly in the real world, and that the characters are delusional fools.

I did a research paper on this play and proposed that Love’s Labour’s Lost is a parody on courtly love.  Next on my Shakespeare list is definitely Taming of the Shrew, which I hear is quite good.

The Juliet Club

by Suzanne Harper

Ah I loved it!  So fun, so fresh, so interesting!  When Kate wins a scholastic trip to study Shakespeare in Verona, the site of Romeo & Juliet, she sees it as a way to earn college credit, not the romantic adventure her friends Sarah and Annie are sure it will be.  When she arrives in gorgeous Italy she meets good-hearted, bubbly Lucy, out-of-place Tom, and the locals, Benno, Giacomo, and Silvia.  The seminar takes place in an ideal Italian villa, but it is not all dry verse and precise meter.  No, this summer the students learn about love from the expert himself.

I loved how the whole book resembles a Shakespeare concoction (organized into Acts and Scenes to boot!).  And also resembling the bard, Harper disregards conventions.  She does not bow to the lowly habits of following to the letter what characters would do.  She throws that to the wind and writes what she wants the author to do!  It is so much more satisfying when a character does what makes a good story, what the onlooker is screaming at them to do (i.e. Don’t go through that door!  or  Tell him the truth you dimwit!!)  Like in Much Ado About Nothing, you don’t have to tell the audience why Don John is evil, we just accept that he is!  We don’t care how unrealistic it seems that anyone would believe that Hero died of shame, it makes a better story!  Authors do not need to bow to an audience nor reason.

So, as with any good book, my only complaint is that it is not longer.

p.s. There is a real club called ‘The Juliet Club’ which answers letters that desperate lovers send to Juliet asking for advice.  You can visit their website here:
www.julietclub.com

p.p.s And thanks Book Shelves of Doom for the picture!

“It reminded me less of Romeo & Juliet and more of The Taming of the Shrew and some of the other comedies (lots of secret plans, spying, rivalry, extreme drama (especially from Kate’s father, who I got a huge kick out of) and even some swordplay, though there was sadly no cross-dressing).  Knowledge of Shakespeare isn’t at all necessary.  The characters don’t have much depth, and they sometimes seem to experience jarringly rapid changes in emotion/personality/objects of affection, but overall, The Juliet Club is quite fun.”
~ Book Shelves of Doom

* New movie coming out, Letters To Juliet (2010), might interest you if you like this book.  It has a similar subject, the letters written to the tragic amorous heroine, but I don’t believe it is based off of the book.  Still, looks like a fun movie!

Twelfth Night, Act I

Already in AP English we have read Macbeth and Hamlet, now we’re reading our final Shakespeare play, Twelfth Night.  This one seems easier to understand, maybe because it’s a comedy, or maybe it’s because of the old adage, “The more Shakespeare you read the easier it gets.”

The test is tomorrow, so to review I will type up the summaries provided by our “Folger Library” books before each scene.

Act I, Scene i
At his court, Orsino, sick with love for the Lady Olivia, learns from his messenger that she is grieving for her dead brother and refuses to be seen for seven years.

Act I, Scene ii
On the Adriatic seacoast, Viola, who has been saved from a shipwreck in which her brother may have drowned, hears about Orsino and Olivia.  She wishes to join Olivia’s household, but is told that Olivia will admit no one into her presence.  Viola decides to disguise herself as a boy so that she can join Orsino’s male retinue.

Act I, Scene iii
At the estate of Lady Olivia, Sir Toby Belch, Olivia’s kinsman, has brought in Sir Andrew Aguecheek to be her suitor.  Maria, Olivia’s lady-in-waiting, says that Andrew is a fool, and Andrew himself doubts his ability to win Olivia, but Toby encourages him to woo her.

Act I, Scene iv
At Orsino’s court, Viola, disguised as a page and calling herself Cesario, has gained the trust of  Orsino, who decides to send her to woo Olivia for him.  Viola confides to the audience that she loves Orsino herself.

Act I, Scene v
Viola, in her disguise as Cesario, appears at Olivia’s estate.  Olivia allows Cesario to speak with her privately about Orsino’s love.  As Cesario presents Orsino’s love-suit, Olivia falls in love with Cesario.  She sends her steward, Malvolio, after Cesario with a ring.

Once again, these summaries are courtesy of Folger Libraries.

The Tragedy of Macbeth

 

Art by princendymion on deviantArt

Art by princendymion on deviantArt

by William Shakespeare

 

A short synopsis found on eNotes.com:

 “On the level of human evil, Shakespeare’s Scottish tragedy is about Macbeth’s bloody rise to power, including the murder of the Scottish king, Duncan, and the guilt-ridden pathology of evil deeds generating still more evil deeds. As an integral part of this thematic web is the play’s most memorable character, Lady Macbeth. Like her husband, Lady Macbeth’s ambition for power leads her into an unnatural, phantasmagoric realm of witchcraft, insomnia and madness. But while Macbeth responds to the prophecies of the play’s famous trio of witches, Lady Macbeth goes even further by figuratively transforming herself into an unnatural, desexualized evil spirit. The current trend of critical opinion is toward an upward reevaluation of Lady Macbeth, who is said to be rehumanized by her insanity and her suicide. Much of this reappraisal of Lady Macbeth has taken place in discussions of her ironically strong marriage to Macbeth, a union that rests on loving bonds but undergoes disintegration as the tragedy unfolds.”

This is Shakespeare’s shortest play, written for the attention span of King James.  It is loosely based on historical events.
      Watch out for Act 3 Scene 5, it is believed that that scene was added at a later date and not written by Shakespeare.  You can see that the lines are shorter, the very small part is almost superfluous to the surrounding plot, and it just doesn’t have the feel of the illustrious playwright.

The Scarlet Pimpernel

Baroness Emmuska Orczy, 1905

Lovely!  Dashing and clever and heart-warming all in one small novel.

“Arguably the best adventure story ever published and certainly the most influential that appeared during the early decades of the twentieth century.”—Gary Hoppenstand

{ Summary adapted from Wikipedia:  During the bloodthirsty, early stages of the French Revolution, Marguerite St. Just, a beautiful Frenchwoman, is the wife of the wealthy English fop Sir Percy Blakeney. Before their marriage, Marguerite had carelessly made comments that had the unintended consequence of sending a French aristocrat and his sons to the guillotine. When Percy found out, he became estranged from his wife, and Marguerite became disillusioned with Percy’s dandyish ways.

Meanwhile, the “League of the Scarlet Pimpernel”, a secret society of English aristocrats, is engaged in rescuing their French counterparts from the executions. Their leader, the mysterious Scarlet Pimpernel, takes his nickname from the small red flower with which he signs his messages. Despite being the talk of London society, only his followers and possibly the Prince of Wales know the Pimpernel’s true identity. Like many others, Marguerite is entranced by the Pimpernel’s daring exploits.

At a ball attended by the Blakeneys, Marguerite is blackmailed by the wily new French envoy to England, Citizen Chauvelin. His agents have stolen a letter incriminating her beloved brother Armand, proving that he is in league with the Pimpernel. Chauvelin offers to trade Armand’s life for her help against the Pimpernel. She passes along information that enables Chauvelin to learn the Pimpernel’s true identity.

Later that night, Marguerite finally tells her husband of the terrible danger threatening her brother and pleads for his assistance. Percy promises to save him. After he leaves for France, Marguerite discovers to her horror that he is the Pimpernel. He had hidden behind the persona of a dull, slow-witted fop in order to deceive the world. He had not told Marguerite because of his worry that she might betray him, as she had others in the past. Desperate to save her love, she pursues Percy to France to try to warn him.

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