Behind The Scenes.

I’ll draw the curtain:

My lord’s almost so far transported that

He’ll think anon it lives.

The Winter’s Tale, Act V, sc.3

Every summer the Nashville Shakespeare Festival puts on at least one play in Centennial Park. This summer they’re being especially ambitious with two plays: Antony & Cleopatra and The Winter’s Tale. Really they’re being extremely ambitious by putting on The Winter’s Tale in Nashville in the summer, although part of the play does take place in the summer, but that’s another—no, wait, it is the story. Never mind.

The funny thing to me is I read both of these plays in a college Shakespeare class under the tutelage of a professor who pointed out that they’re two of The Bard’s least-produced plays. Productions of Romeo & Juliet or Twelfth Night are like episodes of M*A*S*H—always on somewhere, and obviously the NSF, which put on its first play in the park in 1988, has decided there are only so many times they can do The Comedy of Errors (3), Much Ado About Nothing (3), A Midsummer Night’s Dream (3), The Taming Of The Shrew (2), or The Merry Wives of Windsor (2).

And they’ve done The Winter’s Tale before, in 2005, which makes me think the the rerun is a little early since the play itself covers a span of sixteen years.

While the plays themselves are always great I also like to go and look behind the scenes. I didn’t interrupt but I did catch some of the cast at work.

Here’s the stage still under construction. Notice that they’re using one stage for both plays, which is one of the interesting things about Shakespeare. The original productions were in a grassy area behind the Centennial Sportsplex with no sets, only a very few props, and almost no costuming. Well, the actors did wear clothes, and for that we should be grateful—Falstaff couldn’t get the wrinkles out of his birthday suit—but originally the dress code for cast and audience alike was come as you are.

And since all the world’s a stage who could resist a look behind the scenes?

10 Comments

  1. Ann Koplow

    Two of my favorite writers, Chris: Shakespeare and you!

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      Being compared to Shakespeare is the highest praise I could ever receive. Thank you for that.

      Reply
  2. mydangblog

    Although I’ve taught many Shakespearean plays over the years (including my favourite gorefest Titus Andronicus), I’ve never even read The Winter’s Tale. I hear Branagh did a great film version, so I’ll give it a whirl. We just saw Twelfth Night at the Stratford Festival (in Ontario)–it’s one of my favourites and they did a wonderful job. Ah, Shakespeare!

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      The Winter’s Tale is a weird play that’s neither comedy, tragedy, nor history, but it’s interesting. And Titus Andronicus is one I’ve never read. Can you believe that? I understand there’s an amazing film version directed by Julie Taymor.

      Reply
  3. Arionis

    Great pics! I am somewhat uncultured (big shocker right?) and must admit that I am not well versed in Shakespearean plays. I should really remedy that. If not to get a little more culture, then to at least do better on Jeopardy.

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      Here’s an interesting story: my great grandmother who lived in the mountains of east Tennessee and never went to school a day in her life had a book of the complete works of Shakespeare and could tell you the story of every play. She tutored my grandmother when my grandmother was reading Shakespeare in school. So don’t fear The Bard.

      Reply
  4. Jay

    Well how marvelous. Shakespeare lives.

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      If Shakespeare lives the royalties he’s owed are going to be enormous.

      Reply
  5. Gilly Maddiso

    Behind the scenes glimpses are always more exciting than front of house! I am a behind the scenes freak at fairgrounds, museums, theatres – anyywhere that we aren’t meant to go! I do like Shakespeare but I prefer it in modern day context with the original dialogue. Like they did with the Romeo and Juliet film. But I find reading Shakespeare too hard to follow.

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      There really is something amazing about getting behind the scenes and seeing how it all happens. I know some people think if they know how the trick is done it spoils it but it makes it even more impressive to me that someone thought up a trick, and even after being behind the scenes I can still lose myself in a story enough that I forget it’s just a play. Or movie. And I understand finding Shakespeare hard to follow, although I used to have this belief that English people naturally understood Shakespeare. That was until I saw a performance of The Taming Of The Shrew in Nottingham where most of the cast couldn’t tell what the lines they were reciting meant.

      Reply

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