So over the last few weeks I’ve been gearing up for a local production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, by Shakespeare. It’s all been a bit random, as I only auditioned for the play on a whim and on about a day’s notice. I wasn’t really expecting to get in, let alone have a speaking role, but the next thing I knew I was issued with a script, a contact list and a month’s worth of rehearsal dates. They may have been blown away by my raw and untapped theatrical potential. They may also have been struggling to locate enough male players. We may never know for sure. All we can say for certain is that, for some reason, for the last week and a bit I’ve spent every evening pretending to be Francis Flute the bellows-mender. There’s been a bit of life imitating art going on, and it’s getting harder and harder to tell where Shakespeare ends and normal Darwin life picks up.
Flute is one of a group of amateur actors who randomly decide to put on a play, but don’t really have any idea what’s going on. People start behaving in peculiar ways because of love, largely due to the mischievous influence of a tricksy fairy. And it all takes place as the forces of nature and order seem to be out of alignment somehow. Also, just before the actors’ show, one of them gets turned into an anthropomorphised donkey.
Okay, the donkey one doesn’t really work.
Actors and other theatre types are a funny sort. They (I suppose I should really say “we”, but I like to pretend I’m different) seem to spend a great deal of time and effort showing how well versed and experienced they are in matters of the theatre, and the rest of their time trying to show how they don’t buy into it at all, but are really just there for the love of the art. They also occasionally learn lines, but obviously that’s over-rated. I spent most of my time figuring out what the hell was going on and how to make it look like I knew what the hell was going on.
Maybe I’m not so different after all. Either way, we ran the show for a week and sold out most nights. It was all great fun and the director and production staff all seemed really happy. For a cast and crew comprised entirely of locals (it was just the director who was a complete ring-in) I'd have to say we broke some serious legs.
Now, I know I promised you all some juicy backstage gossip but to be honest there really isn’t any. Most of the cast had full or part time jobs and by the time we all finished a day’s work and then put another four hours in for the show, we really didn’t have much energy left for any shenanigans. However, I can make the following observations:
1) Shakespeare is well renowned for his genius use of imagery, rhyme, metre and wit. However, the fastest way to impress an audience is still to have two chicks fighting in a paddling pool.
2) Despite the Fairy King’s assertions that everything had been restored to its natural order, no-one seemed to mind that Demetrius finishes the play still under the fairies’ enchantment.
3) There is absolutely nothing that an audience finds funnier than a man dressed as a woman.
And what with all the high-culture fun going on, there hasn’t really been much else to write about lately. Or has there?
Garry with 2 Rs