2016 celebrates the 400th death anniversary of the highly talented playwright William Shakespeare. As part of the festivities there were notable talks, exhibitions and plays scattered each day. I decided to explore the local theatre scene by going to a production of A Twelfth Night.

I did have some reservations about local theatre. It seemed very communal, cringe-worthy and claustrophobic – something that cannot be said of the vast West End venues. To some extent I was right, as the performance was held in a local village hall, as community residents gathered to watch the local spectacle. The bright red curtain, a traditional sight ahead, as we all waited for the play to start.

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The audience was made-up considerably of elders who in many cases appeared to know each other (The picture above is during the interval so many have popped out temporarily). Perhaps this event was for them more than just watching a play, but a social occasion to be able to catch up with friends during the interval. I imagine it must have been intriguing for them to see how the performers had put on this adaptation. They presumably had been exposed to Shakespeare a lot throughout their lives and I imagine they were reminiscing all the different occasions maybe as far back as their school days. As the play was being performed, I could see their focussed faces, with one man so engrossed that his glasses were just left balanced on his forehead and not pushed onto his eyes. (Although this might have been a style that I am unfamiliar with. Evidently I have tried this balancing act and it doesn’t work. My glasses fall straight to the floor).

What amazed me most about the production was the range of performers on stage. The talent was diverse and spanned from young children to adults. How a child was able to learn not just any lines but a challenging dialogue of Shakespearean English is highly impressive, not to mention the arduous juggling of school commitments and friends. But that is what makes local theatre such a great concept. Both performers and audiences are usually living nearby so can find the rehearsals/journey more convenient and accessible than if they were tied to a Central London show. This platform gives rise to local ‘celebrities’ (I was told my aunty’s neighbour played one of the officers!) who can then move on further to bigger things afterwards should they wish. And if not, just an amazing and enjoyable experience to have been a part of.

Although the big resolve at the end was engaging, the scene with Malvolio’s yellow stockings was certainly a crowd pleaser as the audience responded in buoyant laughter.

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This experience has made me realise that I am merely in the shallow end of the Shakespearean literature pool. There is so much more of his ingenuity which I hope to explore!

 

Be not afraid of GREATNESS

Some are born GREAT

Some achieve GREATNESS

…and some have GREAT blog posts thrust upon them

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