Monday, May 11, 2015

All the World's a Stage

As living history docents for the county, The Colonel and I participated in another program recently. It was Shakespeare in the Park. This is the first time the Charlotte County Historical Center held this program. Everyone involved with putting it on were pleasantly surprised that we had such a great turnout. About 150 people came to the park that sits along the harbor's edge.

The program began at 5:30 p.m. and was to end two hours later. People began bringing their chairs and coolers as early as 4:30 p.m.

We as docents, had to be at the park at 4:00 p.m. to start setting up. The Colonel set up the curtain assembly. He had constructed the frame for the curtain out of PVC piping a couple of weeks prior and Crystal, our "boss", sewed the curtains.

It was a windy afternoon and the two 40-pound bags of salt that we used as anchors to hold down the PVC frame, failed. A big gust of wind knocked the frame down, slamming it onto the cement. The Colonel, Anne (our daughter had come into town to help out) and I ran to the downed curtain assembly to assess any damage done....none, thank God. That was the first and last time the wind blew it down. We thought the chain and small weights we added to the curtains would have helped to guard against the blow down. We will have to tweak the curtain system before we use it again. Crystal said she would like to make this program an annual event.

William Shakespeare is considered one of the most prolific playwrights of all time. The first evidence of his works started to appear in 1593. He produced about two plays a year from 1594 to 1611 and was also an actor. Shakespeare wrote 37 plays and 154 sonnets during his lifetime. He is credited with adding over 2,000 new words and phrases to the English language that are still in use today. William Shakespeare died on April 23, 1616 at the age of 52.

The flyer that advertised the Shakespeare in the Park program asked people to bring blankets or chairs and watch the scenes unfold as we pay tribute to "The Bard". They were also encouraged to dress as their favorite Shakespearean character and enter the costume contest.

Crystal put together a "Karaoke" style book of some of Shakespeare's writings. People from the audience could come up and read from it. It was a kind of "open mic" evening too, so some audience members read their own poetry or recited Shakespeare from memory.

The Colonel came dresses as Julius Caesar and I "cobbled together" what I thought would look like a Shakespearean style costume.

Crystal dressed as Hamlet's Ophelia as well as one of the witches from Macbeth. She and the other ladies recited and acted out the play scenes.

No one else in the audience participated in the costume contest, so Crystal's kids won. Her daughter Juliette (yes, that is her real name) came dressed as Romeo's Juliette. Lucian, Crystal's son, dressed as an Elizabethan gentleman. The kids won a book about Shakespeare and his sonnets (if I remember correctly).

I helped to fill some of the time between audience participation. I first read a piece from Romeo and Juliette. I read the part of Lady Capulet when she was extolling the merits of Paris to Juliette. Later I read Hamlet's soliloquy. In high school I had to memorize it, write it down word for word, including the exact punctuation for a final grade. In the park, I read it from the "Karaoke" book, as I have been out of high school for just over three decades!

These two people on the other hand, did recite some Shakespeare from their high school memories (notice they are not holding any paper to read from). Hurrah and Huzzah to them I say!

One of our County Commissioners was in attendance and he read from a list of Shakespeare, one-liner insults. It was funny.

This man came up and read a poem he wrote about spreading his dad's ashes over his dad's favorite fishing spot. It was touching.

A local high school Shakespeare Club came to the park and read too.

Crystal came up with a great way to get some donations. She set the donation box in front of the curtain and those who wanted to give a donation had to come through the curtain and take a bow after they stuffed their money in the box.

One gentleman wanted me to come out from behind the curtain with him as he made his donation. Who was I to say no, when the money would help our docent group to offer more programs like this one?

Everyone had a good time in the park that evening. I think we will have even more in attendance for next year's Shakespeare in the Park.

Yam took all of the photographs used in this post. Thank you Yam!

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