We are such stuff as dreams are made on: Shakespeare crops up in the most unusual of places

O Brave New World that has such people in it!

Rose theatre

Yesterday I had the rather surreal experience of sitting in a three-quarter size exact replica of Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre built in the middle of a Michigan forest as part of the drama facilities of a young people’s camp.

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Towards the end of my last visit to Julie and John (2013) Julie told me about the theatre and I remembered to ask well in advance this year whether it would be possible to attend a show on our visit this year. It turned out that yesterday, the day after we arrived here, was the final public performance of Shakespeare’s ‘The Tempest’ by the amateur (it says professional on the website, but I’m not sure about that) players with the delightful name of Pigeon Creek Shakespeare Company.

Pigeon Creek

“The Tempest

Tempest

2:00PM, August 27th, 2016

 “We are such stuff as dreams are made on, and our little life is rounded with a sleep.”

 Prospero lives in exile on an isolated, enchanted island with his daughter Miranda and his magical servants Ariel and Caliban. When events conspire to bring the courtiers who usurped and banished him from his dukedom into his hands, Prospero must choose between revenge and reconciliation, between being the magician or the man. Widely thought to be Shakespeare’s last play, The Tempest invites audiences to look for the essential truths obscured by art and pageantry even while delighting us with poetry, song and magic.

 Tickets to these performances are $20 in advance, $25 at the door, and $15 for students and groundlings.

 Tickets are available from WBLV Blue Lake Public Radio at 231-894-5656 or 1-800-889-9258 or online from Eventbrite

 To learn more about Blue Lake Public Radio visit www.bluelake.org

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Just like Londoners in the 16th century the audience arrived at the theatre full of anticipation, seeing and chatting with old friends, finding a good bench to perch upon (against the wall to ease the back or at the front to almost participate in proceedings), entertained by versatile members of the cast able to conjure up some original sounding Elizabethan musick and generally creating, unbeknownst to themselves, a contemporary playgoing crowd. I’m sure that the theatre itself did much to bring about this atmosphere.

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We had two rounds of introductions, welcomes and thanks and then … on with the show. Pigeon Creek’s philosophy is to present Shakespeare plays as authentically as possible:

1. Using non-traditional theatrical spaces. Besides purpose-built theatres, such as The Globe, Elizabethans performed in many alternative spaces – inn yards and noblemen’s houses. PC enjoy bringing their performances into churches, warehouse spaces, classrooms and outdoor settings.

2. Universal lighting. In Shakespeare’s day the audience sat in the same light as the actors and it was just the same for us. No fancy lighting effects at The Rose.

3. Minimal sets. A low wooden stand with a ship’s wheel became a rock for Ariel to leap on and off was quite sufficient set. And actors used the supporting wooden columns to hide behind and climb up during the performance.

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4. Cross-gendered casting. Female roles were played by boys but for our production yesterday men played women and women played men.

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Groundlings enjoy the show (or at least the actors’ feet!)

5. Doubling. As in Shakespeare’s day doubling up on roles is the norm for the small cast of players of the Pigeon Creek company. The same names appeared throughout the programme. Obviously, this practice demands great skill from the actors.

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No-curtain call

The Scotts loom large in my memory of yesterday’s performance! Scott Wright as Prospero had clear English diction with barely a trace of American accent and likewise hairy-chested Scott Lange the tall young man who played the part of Ariel (usually played by a slight framed young woman) spoke and sang and leapt about the stage as a convincing sprite.

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Sit back and talk back after the performance

The rest of the cast were good and the best thing about the whole play was seeing their enjoyment and enthusiasm and camaraderie. After the show there was a brief  talk-back (Q&A) with the audience.

The only major missing item for me was the obligatory interval ice cream. But Julie saved the day and we headed to Pekadyll’s in nearby Whitehall for a delicious ice cream sundae to round off the afternoon in traditional style!

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Enjoying Ice Cream in the Lush Garden of Pekadyll’s Parlour

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7 comments on “We are such stuff as dreams are made on: Shakespeare crops up in the most unusual of places

  1. sherry says:

    Looks like fun!

  2. Julie Stivers says:

    Very nice description of a very pleasant day B.

  3. queenbreaca says:

    Wish I could have attended, for The Tempest is my favourite Shakespeare play and the lines you quoted my favourite Shakespeare quotation. Also I really like his plays being performed by amateur companies. At the Marine Theatre in Lyme you can sometimes watch plays by apprentice actors from nearby Exeter, I saw Romeo & Juliet there years ago.

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