The Stratford Shakespeare Festival

Slightly more than one week ago, the entirety of T.O.P.S. made its annual visit to the Stratford Shakespeare Festival.  The excursion, which consistently falls in mid-October, is always enthusiastically anticipated by our group – it is, after all, a much-needed break from the incessant pressure with which we’re faced during the academic year.  Albeit that I thrive on work, I adore Stratford partially because it’s an opportunity to abandon my rather stringent schedule, and truly live the INTP way.

Additionally, my love for the Festival can be attributed to the fact that I’ve always holistically enjoyed Shakespeare; even the two hours’ traffic of a simple stage will evoke happiness within me.  There’s something about the sound of Early Modern English that soothes me to an incredible extent; there’s something about the certainty with which I may observe and interpret the plays that comforts me.  I’ve grown familiar with the majority of their nuances, so I may recurrently enjoy moments of studium, but each reading (or, in this case, viewing) brings forth new interpretations, new connections to my life – punctum.  To exercise brevity and employ something of a commonly-employed simile, I will say that they (the plays) are like old friends.

As per usual, we managed to see three plays this season: Evita, As You Like It, and Kiss Me, Kate.

The first of the aforementioned is a musical chronicling the life of Eva Perón, the second wife of Argentinian president Juan Perón.  Affectionately termed “Evita” in the spirit of the Spanish diminutive, she was an inspiration to the so-termed descamisados, and fought for their freedom for the entirety of her ill-fated life.  The musical, which has attracted much attention, follows her life: her humble beginnings, her meeting Perón, her reign as political leader, and, ultimately, her death.

Despite the fact that this was the first rock musical to be produced by the Festival, I found it astoundingly good.  It may’ve been a little loud for a younger audience, but it was invigorating; Chilina Kennedy makes a great Evita – she resounds with the latter’s grace.

As You Like It was just as satisfactory as one would expect – it, perhaps, even surpassed my hopes. Paul Nolan played a very authentic Orlando; this was my favorite of the three plays that we saw, primarily because of my fairly intimate friendships with the vast majority of Shakespeare’s texts.

Lastly, Kiss Me, Kate was a pleasant way to ease into the trip; Monique Lund was particularly convincing, and I thoroughly enjoyed the triumphantly nerdy (and amusing) “Brush Up Your Shakespeare”.

I’ve attempted to exercise brevity in describing the excursion, as I do not want to divulge much about the plots of the respective plays. If you’d care for a more detailed summation, then please, don’t make much ado about nothing – visit the Festival.

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