Here we go, it’s that time of year again! Happy Shakespeare Day!
This year the party’s online! The Town and District Councils have collaborated with many key stakeholders in the town to enable this virtual Birthday Celebrations to be staged. The tribute will be aired on Friday 23 April at 11:00am and can be accessed via the link www.shakespeares-birthday.uk
So there’s a whole lot of Shakespeare going on during the pandemic. There’s so many “Zoom readings” there’s even a meme about it 🙂 (The granddaddy of them all, of course, is Rob Myles’ The Show Must Go Online. If you haven’t watched one of their productions yet, seriously, do yourself the favor.)
But I’m here today to talk about an entirely different kind of Shakespeare project – Bard in the Yard:
What that means is a 45 minute one-person show featuring “The Bard”, using you the audience as his inspiration for a new play (tentatively titled, “The Lamentable Comedy of King Leonardo, his Three Daughters and Their Dog.”)
Here’s a few reasons why I think this project has the potential to be something a little different from the rest:
It’s original content. From what I gather it’s something of a “greatest hits” walkthrough as it’s scaffolding, but other than that it’s an all new story about Shakespeare. Great place to start.
There’s 23 different actors playing Shakespeare. By that alone every show is going to be completely unique.
It’s all about the interactivity. This is not a sit back and watch show. Expect Shakespeare to be talking to you, and expecting you to answer. It’s made for Zoom. You literally pay for your tickets by screen. Thinking in very “Mulan on Disney+” American terms I wondered why you wouldn’t just pay your ticket price and then invite a dozen people over to hover around the screen. “No no, ” they corrected me, “That would defeat the purpose. Even if you’ve got a bunch of people in the house that want to watch, have them all fire up the show on their own screen. That’s what makes it an individual experience.” This is not an improv show where there’s a hundred people in the audience and every now and then an actor calls out for movie styles and you never get picked. You get your own virtual front row seat.
This is a show about the actors. Right now live theatre is having a tough time as an institution. But underneath that “macro” problem is the micro problem that there’s actors not getting paid. This show was developed to address that. That’s one of the reasons why there’s so many different one-person shows. That’s one of the reasons why you pay per screen. So yes, you’re going to have to pay for tickets (unlike the myriad of Zoom readings we know and love), but they’re very open about that – you pay for this show so money can go into actors’ pockets.
So this one’s more than a bit about motivation. If you want to see some original Shakespeare related content, great. If, however, you know and love people involved in live theatre and know the struggles they’re having, and have been wondering how you can help give back to them? Here’s an opportunity. If you’re only one person, take the opportunity to pay it forward by donating some screens (the base ticket price is for three screens and goes up from there). It’s not even a hand out or donation. Actors get to do their job and you get a show. It’s for a great great cause.