Friday, September 18, 2015

Darkside : Tom Stoppard + Pink Floyd

I've long been a Pink Floyd fan. I may have mentioned that. My kids know Sonnet 18 because David Gilmour's solo version of that sonnet set to music used to be my ringtone.

So when Pink Floyd references show up in my Shakespeare feed I double check to see what's up. And then somebody says "Hey remember when Tom Stoppard wrote a play set to the music of Dark Side of the Moon?" and I'm all, "wait..what?" 

Anybody know this "Darkside" play?  I'm looking into it now. Never heard of it.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Which Play Is The Most Magical?

Raise your hands if you're familiar with the magical duo of Penn and Teller?

Prospero conjures a tempest while Ariel watches.
Now keep them up if you knew that Mr. Teller, the "quiet one" of the group, is an accomplished Shakespearean director?

A few years ago he did Macbeth, and now he's got a production of The Tempest touring the country. I've seen both, and trust me - when a professional stage magician does Shakespeare, you're gonna see some stuff. I don't think I'll ever forget the image of Ariel drowning Ferdinand center stage, while his father watched.  Granted a bit off book, but an amazing start to the show.

The other day I decided to Tweet to Mr. Teller asking if his Tempest would be made available on DVD (I have a copy of his Macbeth). He wrote back that he'd love to, but union rules make filming stage productions difficult and expensive.

That stinks. But! It started a conversation about what play he should do next?  The obvious choice would be Midsummer Night's Dream if you're going for the "plenty of magical stuff to play with" angle.  But if you've ever seen Penn and Teller's work, they do prefer to go dark. As in, open The Tempest by actually drowning Ferdinand even when you don't have to.  There's not a lot of blood in Tempest (none, really), but that's why he did Macbeth first :). So a Dream from Teller would be more like a nightmare.  A crazy awesome nightmare.

I suggested Richard III, which seemed to have a good combination of ghosts and gore. Hamlet and Julius Caesar would be two other pretty logical choices as well.

What other plays might lend themselves well to the magical treatment? Obviously we're picking all the easy ones where Shakespeare added a magical element, but that doesn't have to be the case. What about a magical King Lear? I'm thinking specifically about him hallucinating at the end, but as I type that I realize it's a bit too Jean Valjean from Les Mis.

Tuesday, September 08, 2015

A Shakespearean Face Off

And by that I mean the SyFy Channel's reality show, Face Off. The latest episode (season 9, episode 7) is a Shakespeare challenge!  Apparently (I can't find the full episode online yet), the task is to make up male mannequins like female characters from Shakespeare.

Here's a sneak peek of the episode, and I'm excited that the first character we hear about is Sycorax.  Not Juliet, not Cleopatra...Sycorax. A character that most audiences won't even recognize, and for the record never actually appears in the play :).  What's interesting to me is that the contestant even describes her as ugly.  Given that she's pregnant when she arrives on the island, I always thought that at least in her younger years, she could have been quite the looker.  Prospero even describes her as having blue eyes, even after all those years.  Must have been memorable for him!

UPDATE: The show aired, so check out the recap. Some fascinating stuff here, like how one guy got Hippolyta and somebody else got Titania (will they end up looking at all similar?)  Or how somebody else gets Queen Mab, another character that technically doesn't show up in the play!  And let's not skip over the pregnant Hermione.  For 16 years? Really?

Pictures of Queen Mab and Ophelia included, and it's easy to see why the Ophelia guy goes home. She looks more like zombie Gertrude, at best.

The full episode is not yet online, but I'll try to update this post when I find it.