Tuesday, July 22, 2008

The Summer of the Bard

I wonder if there is ever a time in this country when a play by William Shakespeare isn't being performed. As I write this, ARTFARM is in the midst of presenting "Twelfth Night" in the Grove at Middlesex Community College and there is a production of "Hamlet" in its 3rd and final week at St. Joseph's College in West Hartford. In August, another production featuring the "Melancholy Dane" will be presented by the Elm Shakespeare Company of New Haven (Aug. 14 - 31 in Edgerton Park.)

The Oddfellows Playhouse Summer Shakespeare Academy has been very busy preparing since late June for this week. They have decided to take the comedic route this year. On Wednesday July 21 and Friday July 23, the 18 young thespians present "Measure for Measure", one of the Bard of Avon's funnier plays, filled with witticisms,mistaken identities,and outrageous behavior. On Thursday and Saturday (July 22 and 24)), the troupe digs into one of Shakespeare's earlier comedies, "The Taming of the Shrew." Like so many other of his comedies, the Bard creates a fiery, independent,woman who ends up being subdued by a wily young man. Though these portrayals won't earn him any points with feminists, the female characters still get great dialogue (up until the end.)

Directors Mariah Sage ("The Taming..) and Jeffery Allen ("Measure..), as well as the actors and stage crews, have worked very hard on these shows. I get the feeling that audiences stay away from youth theater because of the "youth" aspect but they really shouldn't. Over the past several years, the level of acting has gotten impressively stronger because the actors and directors work so hard on understanding the text.

Performances are 7:30 p.m. each evening and reservations can be made by calling 347-6143.

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