Thursday, December 12, 2013

Whither Shakespeare? Part I - A Winter's Night Dream

December, 2013

On December 1, I saw Julie Taymor's A Midsummer Night's Dream at The Theatre for a New Audience in Brooklyn. The #4 subway took us to Brooklyn and we exited with the crowd up into the Barclay's Centre, a "landmark sports and entertainment arena, and the home of the Nets."  We reached street level, and recognized nothing.  Atlantic Avenue, Flatbush Avenue, and 4th Avenue converge at the arena and we were as lost as the lovers in the woods near Athens.

No one we asked had the slightest idea how to find 262 Ashland Place which was supposed to be a five-minute walk from the subway exit.  We could not even find a taxi to take us there.

Finally a woman in a police cruiser pointed straight ahead.  We crossed Flatbush and wandered up a side street, sad and frustrated.  After two blocks, the street we were on had transformed into Ashland, and the theatre appeared ahead.  We slid into our seats with barely a minute before the lights went down.

Shakespeare is often about transformation.  In Midsummer Night's Dream, a man acquires the head of an ass, and a queen falls in love with him.  Love is like that.

The production was mesmerizing.  We were transported to a forest of billowing sheets and pillow fights.  Love turned to hate and hate turned to love all with the sprinkling of fairy dust.  We were in the hands of a master of language and a visionary director.

We staggered out of the theatrical forest of midsummer dreams into the cold Brooklyn night, down into the crowded subway, and up onto the Manhattan streets near Grand Central Station.  We found the Perfect Pint, an Irish pub that was still serving food at midnight.

It was our last night in NewYork City.  Our hotel was overlooking the east river near the UN building.  Walking from the pub to the hotel, I realized that Shakespeare had been with me all my life - and both my earliest and most recent unions with Shakespeare concerned the same play.

I've begun to put all my tiny stories of Shakespeare together to see what they reveal.

1 comment:

  1. "In Midsummer Night's Dream, a man acquires the head of an ass, and a queen falls in love with him. Love is like that." Indeed. Love is like that.