Sunday, February 23, 2014

"Hamlet" and "Black Odyssey"

The week of "Little Prince" turned out to be a theater- heavy week.  On Tuesday I took my students to DCTC to see "Hamlet".

We spent most of January studying that play, and I was really hoping for a good production to cap the unit.  Like Rogers and Hammerstein musicals, when a production of "Hamlet" is anything less than great, it's unbearable to watch, if only because they last so very long.

Happily, this was a good production.  It's really, really good.  Unfortunately though, there was a mentally and physically handicapped student in the audience who choked and coughed and yelped and wheezed and made so much noise that people sitting sections away we're turning around and craning their heads to see who was making so much noise.  To my dismay, his caretaker refused to remove him from the theater.  I could be more forgiving of this choice if I thought he was getting anything from being there, but it was clear that he could neither see not hear the show.  I had to work hard to follow the lines, so I can only imagine how hard it was for my students to pay attention to what was for most of them their first Shakespeare production.  Fara and Tammy took some of my extra tickets, and the incident did prompt an interesting discussion for us at intermission about inclusion, but at the end of the day it was a play about the kid making Gollum-noises, and that's really too bad.

A few days later, Fara and I were back at DCTC to see "black odyssey", a new play that sets Homer's poem in the modern era in African-American cultures.  It's a clever play (particularly with the name play- Pa Sidon, Athena becomes Auntie T, Odysseus's wife is called Nella P., and Telemachus becomes Malachi) but the script is heavy-handed (they brought up Treyvon Martin at least four seperate times, which made it feel more like an immediate guttural reaction to the event that must have happened as the author was writing the play, rather than a measured reaction tempered by time) and lacks the grace of good story-telling.  Fara studied West African mythologies, and she pointed out some of the similarities between that belief system and that of the Ancient Greeks.  I am curious to read more about them myself.

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