Tuesday, 24 May 2016

Shakespeare reduced

Shakespeare 400 celebrations at the library.

Along with much of the country the library where I work has been marking the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare's death.  We curated a collection of books and films that were based on Shakespeare's plays, encouraged people to let us know their favourite plays and quotes and then also we've had some theatre in the library.

On April 23rd we hosted Simon Floyd as he performed Macbeth solo.  This was an incredible evening, watching one man transform himself into all of the roles with no costumes or props was incredible. Simon inhabited the play completely and I don't think that I've ever seen the Scottish play performed with such clarity and enthusiasm before.

That Simon had time to perform in the library to help us commemorate Shakespeare 400 was incredible as he also is part of the Common Lot theatre group who were actually in rehearsals to perform in the RSC Midsummer Night's Dream:  A Play for the Nation which opened here in the city just two days after our event.

On 20th May it was a reworking of  Hamlet performed by the Librarian Theatre company that filled the space.  This was again a cut down version this time with a handful of actors and a beautiful set. This group really reminded me of the travelling players from Shakespeare's time, all of their props and costumes fitted in the boot of one car, and the plot was stripped back to allow the small cast to double/triple parts without losing the story clarity.

These are not full reviews of either performance as I was at work during them and not able to give 100% of my attention to the productions as I was also keeping the library a suitable space for theatre but I heard/saw over 75% of both plays.

Neither of the originals are in my top 10 (or even top 20!) Shakespeare plays I thought these were excellent and a great way to get a feel for two of the Bard's classic plays - they used a lot of the original text but without the words sounding like a foreign language - and the cuts didn't detract from the main plots.

Theatre in the library has worked really well and I'm hoping that we can do more of this - members of the Librarian Theatre company are working on an adaptation of A Christmas Carol and hopefully we can host this in December!

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