¶ On the boards this last night of the Blackfriars Conference was “Much Ado About Nothing.” Going in I had to remind myself that I had “Much Ado” saturation. It happened a few years ago with “Hamlet,” too. You see so many versions of the same play in a short period of time—on campus in March, multiple OPS Fest performances in July, in Montreal and in London as recently as August—that it is hard to both not get a bit bored and a bit critical. And yet.
¶ Sometimes simple is best. A brilliant view helps.
¶ The last two days of this little academe that is the Blackfriars Conference has oscillated between reconnecting with warmly familiar faces—friends from Midwest universities or who attended graduate school with me as well as a large Oregon Shakespeare Festival contingent in town for honors—and enjoying hearing a range of arguments and ways of presenting them following the affordances of the indoor playhouse modeled after the early modern period. So, too, did the evening performance of Love’s Labour’s Lost conscript everyday tools for belonging—the music, texts, spaces, faces we share—for a particular kind of meditation on the crafting of nostalgia.
¶ As I have ongoing research on pre- and inter-show performances, I was excited when I realized that this production organized such extratheatricals as part of the event. For the half hour before the performance, we were treated to thoughtfully arranged (for the vocalists as well as to the parts they would play) covers of thematically relavent pop songs. My ears perked up at “You Don’t Know Me,” a Ben Folds/Regina Spector duet I sang along to live only a few weeks ago in a Portland venue for the Paper Airplane Tour. This was followed by TLC’s “No Scrubs,” while intermission included selections from the Spice Girls and N’Sync.
¶ Unable to keep from singing along to the warm three- and five-part harmonies, I became suddenly aware of who wasn’t.