Sunday, September 28, 2008

Into Every Life...

...A little rain must fall.

Thanks again to Michael Meigs for his wonderful review!

Last night's audience included a group from one of the local Baptist churches. After the show, the Theater Board got an email from a very dissatisfied customer. The communication was passed along to the director, who shared it with us, and we got quite a hoot out of it.

It seems that the lady objected to the play being set in modern times. She wanted to see us sweat in Elizabethan garb, I guess.

Never mind that Shakespeare did all his plays in modern dress. All that Elizabethan stuff was, after all, modern in Willie's day. To continue to perform these plays in that way is to perform history. Performing history has its place, but our aim is to bring Shakespeare to a modern audience; an audience that is not necessarily interested in history, and just wants to see a good story.

She also complained about our "introduction of gangs into the story." Now, I ask you--what are
"two houses, both alike in dignity, in fair Verona, where we lay our scene, from ancient grudge break to new mutiny, where civil blood makes civil hands unclean,"

if not warring gangs? I suppose we could have set in in Scotland, and dressed everyone in tartan and called them "clans" instead, but...oh...wait...didn't Shakespeare already do one of those?

Our director cast several traditionally male characters as women. Samson, Abram, John, Tybalt and Mercutio, to be precise, and I dressed Mercutio in tight black jeans and a black satin shirt, open over a teal brocade bustier. Not to put too fine a point upon it, she looks ripe for a wardrobe malfunction. It ain't gonna happen, because the girl knows her bust and her bustier, but it's enough to keep the audience on edge, which is where we want them. It sort of pushed this lady over the edge. Not a happy camper.

Oh. She bitched about the script, as well. Apparently, she is not at all familiar with Shakespeare's bawdy humour, and thought we must have been messing with the script.

Hell, we CUT STUFF OUT to get the thing down to two hours from its normal three and a half!

And, a big HELL NO! to her suggestion that we refund her money!

We heard her out there. The scene where Merc and Ben are looking for Romeo after they have left the Cap's party (where R and J have just met) is played drunk. It's written drunk, so we played it drunk. We heard a very audible and disgusted, "Oh no! They're DRUNK!" from the audience. I'll bet you a dollar to a doughnut it was her!

I hate to tell her, but Willie the Shake has been around a lot longer than Baptists!

Behold, Dearly Beloved, life (and theater) in Williamson County, Texas.


  1. HUZZAH!!!!! As a Board member, i received said email on my blackberry while out with my good friends who came to see the show...After the initial shock of the email, (being Juliet I took great offense to her lack of intelligence) I realized this is just some stupid, closed minded, idiot who obviously has no idea what Romeo and Juliet was about, oh and by the way...did she ever happen to see West Side Story?

  2. She may not have made the connection. A lot of people who weren't around when "West Side Story" first came out, don't put the two together. Difficult as that may be for us to believe.

  3. =gentle chuckle=
    Theatre in Texas!
    Mary Ellen (for you not in this loop, Artistic Director for The Georgetown Palace, just up the road from Sam Bass) did a speech for the Kiwanas Club out in Sun City about a year and change ago -- it was before deciding the 2007 season. Anyway, one goober complained about the Palace's choices that promoted all sorts of sexual deviancy -- sorry, 'sausted, Producers was a 1600 lb gorilla so I can't tick off the list, so you're missing the laugh -- up to and including Incest. "Incest?" we, she was telling of this adventure in public sentiment to, asked. "Dang! We MISSED that play!!!"
    However, MOST her audience -- including the lady with the BIG check -- asked that we go ahead and be edgier. So suddenly Best Little Whorehouse in Texas appeared in the season, and we're still working on getting Chicago.

    Sure. There are some who just want to be outraged, I guess. Wish they'd stay home and give the rest of us our entertainment. [When warned about the offensive language (there had even been a letter to the editor over it) in Rumors, one group of Baptists did say, "Oh! We're not THAT kind of Baptist. We love this stuff." [It wasn't so much the f-word, 'twas said, but the clear enjoyment the actor had saying it.... gawwwwwwd!]

    Keep on keepin' on -- and hope for every plebian who lets life go up her nose, you've reached three or ten who will say -- Wow. I *like* Shakespeare!!!!

    As Rickie Nelson said, " gotta please yourself."

    (And I'd just HATE ... or love see what your discontent would make of The Producers... bits are ... very Gay. Wheee!)

  4. There are a lot of things I don't understand about Bible Belt theater, I guess.

    I've read plays that shock the heck out of me, and that I would NOT like to see. However, my response is to stay at home; not to go, and then send nasty emails to the theater.

    People who are so narrow minded that they can't take Shakespeare out of the context of Elizabethan England are pretty hopeless, I think.