I often say to my wife that last summer was the summer of sea life for us, as we visited two aquariums and we went whale watching. This summer is our "theatre summer", as so far we have seen three plays, more than we had in the last five years. So yesterday, we went to see Romeo and Juliet in an outdoor setting. We had to bring a picnic and we sat on our recently bought picnic mat quite close to the stage. It was not the most comfortable experience, we had pins and needles and had to share our space with ants, but it was a unique experience. The tale of the two lovers of Verona is not my favourite play of Shakespeare (Hamlet is, if you are curious), but it is still a brilliant dramatic work. Some observations on the evening:
-I miss the stage. Yes, I said this before and recently, but I can't help it. Every time we see a play, I will both admire and envy the actors. I am considering getting back on the stage, finding an amateur troup I could but there is the language barrier: I never played in English and no matter what it will never be as natural to me as my own mothertongue. I can eliminate my Quebec accent when I play in French, but the out there accent I have when I speak English would be utterly unconvincing for iambic pentameter. However, I could play roles in contemporary dramas and I guess that for an English audience I could easily pass as an American with a bit of practice.
-Watching a play outdoor is an experience in itself, worth in itself the price of the admission ticket. There was a minimalistic stage, no décor to speak of, but the surroundings were enough to feel in another place.
-Being in such a setting made the actors rely more on interactions with the public and old saltimbanque type of entertainment. Playing takes all its meaning here. It is sometimes unsettling, but it is theatre at its roots and highly enjoyable.
-I can never help but find it funny that the quintessential British playwriter wrote a story, a tragedy no less, set in exotic Verona. I wonder what it would be to hear the characters with Italian accents.
-Shakespeare is such a powerful dramatist. I mean, it might sound like a cliché, but he is such a powerful dramatist nevertheless and it still struck me tonight. His text literally lifts the actors, the setting, everything. You can be on a small, bare stage and have limited acting skills, Shakespeare will still make the play work in itself.
-I think no matter what, I will always picture the play with the look and actors of Zeffirelli's version. And I have difficulties seeing any other actress than Olivia Hussey in the role of Juliet.