“a double varnish”: or, the Tragedians of Oz

We’ll put on those shall praise your excellence
And set a double varnish on the fame
The Frenchman gave you; bring you in fine together
And wager on your heads. He, being remiss,
Most generous, and free from all contriving,
Will not peruse the foils; so that with ease,
Or with a little shuffling, you may choose
A sword unbated, and, in a pass of practice,
Requite him for your father.
— Hamlet, Claudio, IV.vii

A little more than a week ago, I was in Kansas City grading AP Literature and Language exams. This was not my first time at the Great Grade-a-Thon, but it was my first time in Missouri’s largest city. On the penultimate night, I treated myself to the Heart of America Shakespeare Festival‘s Hamlet premiere, which was celebrating both its 25th anniversary in Southmoreland Park and the naming of the street alongside the outdoor venue (modeled after New York’s Central Park festival) after its founder and chairman, Marilyn Strauss. It was a special evening added to the premiere, renaming, and that the show was fronted by television actor Nathan Darrow, most recently of House of Cards and Preacher. While the sloping hill was free to the public, I sprung for the $25 reserved plastic seats since I didn’t have my usual kit of blanket, cooler, and camping chair we keep handy for park Shakespeares. It was a beautiful evening flush with fireflies and a crowd of more than two hundred, by my quick headcount. The business district and conference hotels downtown had been, well, a ghost town for lack of a better word, so it was nice to see that there were in fact people living in the land of the Royals. I’d also had enough distance from the last Hamlet I’d seen—I often feel over-saturated by the Danish play—that I was in the right frame of mind and open, whether it be hawks or handsaws.

What I got was a production gilded o’re with far too much stuff that did not meaningfully seem to contribute to what seemed to be the argument of the production: What if Hamlet is to blame?

The entirely built Elsinore, replete with discovery space, two double-breasted entrances, two french door entrances, and a working balcony with french doors. Featured in front is a statue of King Hamlet which never reappears after Act 1.

Continue reading ““a double varnish”: or, the Tragedians of Oz”

Meeting in St. Louis: #ShakeAss14

While there may be some rain, the weathermen portend temperatures in the 70s this weekend in St. Louis for the 42nd Annual Meeting of the Shakespeare Association of America. This is the second time I will be attending, and I am much more nervous this go around as I am presenting draft dissertation ideas to critics who have celebrity status for me as literary historians. I’ll be live-tweeting this weekend (@ElizETavares) as best and as relevantly as I can; you can follow along with the conference using the hashtag #ShakeAss14. We will probably get in too late tonight to make the Shakespeare Bulletin reception at staged reading of John Fletcher’s Monsieur Thomas. Panels I am aiming to attend include the following based on the current program schedule.

Thursday
  • 10:00 am – 12:00pm: New and Revised Narratives of the Theatre*
  • 1:30 – 3:00pm: Catastrophic Ecologies in Shakespeare’s Late Tragedies
  • 3:30 – 5:30pm: Shakespeare and Theories of Spectatorship
  • 6:00 – 8:00pm: Welcome Reception
Friday
  • 9:00 – 10:30am: Radical Tragedy / Political Shakespeare, 30 Years Later
  • 11:00 – 12:30pm: Shakespeare in Time
  • 1:00 – 3:00pm: Annual Luncheon
  • 3:30 – 5:30pm: Accidental Shakespeares or Performance, Print, and Politics in 1621 and Beyond
  • 8:00 – 10:30pm: As You Like It Performance
Saturday
  • 11:00 – 12:30pm: Authorial Doubling
  • 4:00 – 6:00pm: Contending with Shakespeare through Adaptation or Rules of Playing and Theatrical Culture in Early Modern England or Theatre and Neighborhood in Early Modern England

We’ll see you in St. Louis!