Monday, October 20, 2014

Cervantino 2014: Shakespeare Two Ways [Proyecto Ruelas; Tiger Lillies/Theatre Republique]

Energetic, costumed actors in scene from HEnry V

I thought I was in heaven or at least in the Old Globe Theater as I watched scenes from Shakespeare performed without a set for the audience on all sides in Plaza Mexicamora. We were watching young actors from the Guanajuato neighborhoods Arboledas, Cupulas, Martires 22 de abril, Lomas del Padre and Cervera, directed by Luis Martin Solis (please forgive the lack of accents) put on scenes from Shakespeare. We saw scenes ranging from tragedy (Lear and Hamlet) to comedy Two Gentlemen from Verona)and the history play (Henry V) shown at the right.

I wish I had a photo of Lear's fool, but the creature in a teddy bear costume moved too fast for me or was facing away at strategic moments. The actors had been trained to act for an audience on two sides, my only quibble with the production. At any rate, I hope I'll be seeing more of this this budding actress.. .

By the way, this was my second time watching stripped-down Shakespeare in a Cervantino. Several years ago a Colombian company put on a colorful Hamlet originally prepared for high school audiences in their own country. At last, I could follow the plot.

FIC Photo, Carlos Juica
Press tickets were limited, so I only entered Teatro Principal during the intermission of Tiger Lillies/Teatro Republique's production of Hamlet, notable in a different way from Proyecto Ruelas, but I soaked in enough to know I won't forget this emotionally complex, theatrically exciting evening at the Principal. .

The theater itself will never look the same to me again. The five person cast used the full depth of the stage with the three musicians in the foreground at either side. Unfortunately the Cervantino photographer focused on the characters instead showing them in front of the visually simple but technically complicated set that heightened the power of the production. I don't have a photo, either, of the projection of huge ocean waves against the back wall for Ophelia's death by water, imaginatively shifted to the open sea instead of the tranquil English Avon familiar to Shakespeare..

The dramatic intensity of the play came from the singing of the pianist-narrator who could have come from 1930s Berlin, from the actors (Hamlet spoke impeccable British English) and the Queen was perfectly cast,and from the musicians pounding out their sometimes punk, sometimes blues music, at the side of the stage.

For me, this Hamlet was a thoroughly satisfying evening in the theater with all facets reinforcing each other. Mercifully, Fortinbras wasn't brought in at the end to mitigate the sight of the corpses littering the stage. While Hamlet was dying, his pause before saying "The rest is silence" was perfect.

Note: by typing Theatre Republique into Youtube you can see a short clip that gives a visual sense of the production. Tiger Lillies Hamlet will take you to Tiger Lillies' whole Hamlet album.

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