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  • Writer's pictureKaren Pauley

A Tale Told By An Idiot

This summer I had been hoping to travel to the UK to attend Shakespeare workshops. I have been thinking about directing Shakespeare for a couple of years now, but haven't been able to put any concrete plans in place. At the minute I can't travel and 2020 is not looking good for any sort of directing. My 2021 is already filling up with the projects I was meant to be working on this year pushing my dreams of Shakespeare even further into my future.

This, however, does not mean that I have stopped planning or studying. I have at least three text books on the floor and a copy of Julius Caesar as I am trying to make the best use of my down time to make sure that I am more prepared when I can finally propose a show. There are many things that concern me when it comes to putting on a Shakespeare production in Tokyo. Firstly the language barrier is daunting. I have seen people leave Shakespeare plays in the intermission as they could not understand anything that was happening on stage. There is also the weight of history and the expectations of the audience when you put on something so well known.

I do have some advantages. I work mostly in community theatre so I can put on a play with a very large cast, which is difficult for the small professional theatres. I have also been looking at what it would mean to put on a professional production, but so far I have not found a doubled cast or reduced version that I like enough to try doing this. I have a pool of very talented actors who are really keen to get back on stage and who would love to get to work on something as well written as Shakespeare. And now that I have more time before I can propose a show I have started to look at possibilities other than Julius Caesar, though I do still love the play.

Last night I watched Approaching Shakespeare with Jake Murray. This is one of the free online training classes provided by the Collective Creative Initiative. There is no doubt that I miss listening to and talking with other theatre professionals. Just getting to hear an experienced director talk about Shakespeare and why he loves it and why we should be performing it made me very happy. I did not agree with everything he said, but that was wonderful too. To be able to hear someone else's measured opinion and to work out why you disagree is such an amazing way to learn. I mostly work in musicals so song and soundscapes are very important to me, and I at times do like parts of a scene to be underscored. But everything I do should further the telling of the story and not distract from it, so making me think again about my plans for music is beneficial.

He talked about thinking through your choices. For example knowing why you are planning on changing the gender of a character and knowing what this will illuminate about the play in a new way. I know that there are times when I have a very strong reaction to wanting to do something. I know that I want my Julius Caesar to be a gender-blind production. But being reminded that I need to think through all the ramifications of what the change will mean for the entire play is incredibly important.

So today I am thankful I got to hear Jake Murray and I feel inspired to continue with planning what I want to happen when Caesar hears, "Beware the ides of March".

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