“A Delightful Experience!”
Friday, March 12 I had the delightful experience of watching the first of the dress rehearsals of Prana’s next production. Practicing since January outdoors, this intrepid group of middle schoolers have been braving temperatures in the thirties to put on this play. In All the World’s a Stage, Roberta Weiner has created a witches’ brew of excitement, murder, romance, humor and mayhem from some of the Bard’s most famous plays.
In this all-in-one romp, lovers of Shakespeare will recognize some of his most famous lines and soliloquies. Puck, from A Midsummer Night’s Dream strolls by the witches from Macbeth, who have a fourth witch who keeps trying to be included, despite the fact that she is not carrying a broom, but a feather duster. Puck then tricks Benedict and Beatrice, from Much Ado About Nothing, to stop quarreling and realize their love for one another. Then back to MacBeth, where “Double, double toil and trouble” portend the murder of King Duncan. But in a clever vaudevillian sight gag, Lady MacBeth is holding the knife the wrong way. The wicked witches cheer on the knifing, commenting that someone’ been reading too much Harry Potter; these witches are not Hermione; they are evil!
Next, Puck becomes the MC of the Most Evil Solo Villain Award. The actors take on convincing British accents as they speak actual lines from their plays: Claudius, Iago, Tybalt and Cassius. Each villain tries to win by explaining how they committed heinous deeds, but they end up arguing about who was made into a Disney character. (Iago from Aladdin, plot of Lion King from Hamlet.) Puck brushes off comparisons of the “spare son” in MacBeth to Prince Harry and Meghan. Tybalt, from Romeo and Juliet, brags that he set the whole tragic plot in motion. Cassius, from Julius Caesar, reveals that he was the one who convinced Brutus to kill Julius Caesar; but nobody remembers him today. “The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars” brings on a discussion of John Green’s young adult novel taken from that line.
So on skips the show. There is a Shakespearean Jeopardy Show, with appropriate moment of silence for Alex Trebeck. An amazing number of expressions we use today are taken from these famous speeches. The witches try to ring-in but complain about their buzzers. Juliet performs a video Daily Double from a balcony with her famous “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” Suddenly, the whole cast breaks into a West Side Story dance at the gym, straight from the original score. Then soon, a Renaissance style dance ensues. You’ll have to come to the show to find out which character appears at the end, protesting that he was left out.
But you will find a remarkable cast of middle schoolers who amazingly show their chops for the 1600’s dialogue and drama, but maintain a flair for comedy. Roberta Weiner has written a superb introduction to Shakespeare for actors and audience as well. It will be shown in the parking lot behind the library on Sunday, March 21, weather permitting, at 1:00 and 2:15. [A FEW tickets remain, contact Roberta Weiner ->Roberta@pranacenter.com]
Don’t miss this chance to see theater performed outdoors, just as it was in Shakespeare’s Globe Theater. I could not fail to mention all the players; below are the talented actresses and actor.
Alex Cashin, Olivia Beaudet, Sadie Bigelow, Olivia Huntington, Drew Cummings, May Shade, Abigail Halstead, Saachi Chandrakant, and Allyson Forbes.