As a marketer who makes a living by my words, it was reassuring to be reminded that we can’t all be brilliant all the time (or even most of the time). Last weekend, we drove with friends to the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in Ashland. Our first night, we saw a fabulous contemporary play called August: Osage County. It was made all the more brilliant by the fact that the actors had to perform on a virtually naked set in a college theatre because the Bowmer theatre was unexpectedly closed for structural repairs. Despite the bare bones set, we were completely immersed in the language, heartache and humor of this mid-western, dysfunctional family for nearly three hours.
The second night, we saw Shakespeare’s Love’s Labor Lost. It would have been better if the play itself were lost! This frothy romantic comedy was too full of its own ironic language and internal wit. The players struggled to rise above the lightweight, yet predictable, plot despite the creative staging in 1950’s collegiate costumery. The buffoon wasn’t buffoony, the cross-dressing girl/boy wasn’t explained, the silly hijinks and romantic entanglements weren’t elevated by language or plot. In short, it was a dud. A clunker, a flop.
This isn’t Shakespeare’s worst. There are some blood-soaked tragedies that also sink like stones. The comfort for me, however, is that Shakespeare remains the greatest playwright ever. His brand is strong, his language reverberates through the ages, his human insights still resonate. He’s the bomb… even if some of his plays bomb!
Summer is the season of lively theatre and creative Shakespeare revivals whether it be in Central Park in NYC or Balboa Park in San Diego or on multitudes of stages between those coasts. We can all take a page from the Bard who has bequeathed so much rich imagery and language upon us “All the world’s a stage,And all the men and women merely players…”
So, get thee to a Shakespeare or other theatre festival this summer….and play!