01 July 2006

A Groundling Experience

The experimental theatre group on campus was performing Much Ado about Nothing, one of my favorite Shakespeare plays, for free near the botany pond on campus yesterday. Since none of my friends wanted to go, I picked up my knitting and headed down by myself. Of course, I wasn't expecting any really high quality acting, but all things considered I'd say that the play was definitely worth seeing. The actors weren't particularly wonderful and sometimes forgot their lines (not that I blame them--I don't think I could ever memorize that much), but they had some interesting takes on the characters (Beatrice and Benedick as the geeks? Don Pedro as a strict general?) good BYU spins on the Shakespeare. Maybe it's just because I have been considering the nature of love lately, but I noticed how much the play reads just like a manual of what (not) to do when forming a relationship.

I liked the way they set up Claudio's distress that Don Pedro wooed Hero for himself: it made me realize just how ridiculous/dangerous it is to use second hand messengers in matters of the heart. We've been discussing this in our apartment and decided it's just so much better to be simple and frank (so long as you are careful not to be too intimidating). I also realized how truly insecure Beatrice's character is: she puts up a good offensive front of wit, but underneath I think she is simply worried about the possibility that no desireable man would want to marry a smart girl. I definitely empathize with here . . . but we don't need another rant on my worries about being alone, do we?

But the part that really made my day was the groundling experience. Let me explain: I was late, so I showed up during Benedick's rant about not getting married, which means I unfortunately missed the initial banter between Beatrice and Benedick. All the chairs worth taking were taken, so I ended up sitting on the grass, which I preferred anyway. The play was very all encompassing if you were sitting on the ground. I got to watch the actors rush past me to the mascarade, and have Benedick and Claudio exit past me discussing Hero. It was great!

But even during the initial scenes we could hear thunder in the distance and while Hero and her maid were baiting Beatrice the clouds broke open and started to pour down really hard rain on us. Some people immediately got up and left, but I sort of liked it. I was nice to have the play be part of reality instead of some carefully set apart experience in a dark room. The actors added reactiongs to the thunder, especially when it came at appropriate moments in the script. I felt like a groundling in the 13th century, having paid little (in this case, nothing) to get in and stand (sit on the ground) during the entire play. It was very postmodern experiencing the full force of the play along with the elements--nothing outside the text indeed. It connects a lot with my recent fascination with immersive gaming.

Of course, once it started to hail, they cancelled the second half. They're doing the same play again today at 6:30 pm in the JFSB courtyard. Maybe I'll go instead of hanging around for Stadium of Fire. Oooh! Maybe the fireworks will be timed right and come in during the ending wedding scene!

1 comment:

Marisa VanSkiver said...

If I had been there, I totally would have gone with you! It sounds like a lot of fun!