Corwin and I went to see As You Puppet, a production in the Toronto Fringe Festival, on Monday. It wasn't what I expected, but it was still a most enjoyable show.
The Spring Gala on the second last day at Corwin's school was to have been Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream, as adapted by Jill. Corwin was to have played Bottom. However, the play at school failed to happen - the day before the performance, five or six children came down with flu symptoms, and in light of the current pandemic concerns about H1N1, the decision was made to cancel the performance.
Unlike Corwin's heavily adapted school play, in As You Puppet, the actual dialogue and scenes from As You Like It were used. This was Corwin's first introduction to the actual language of Shakespeare, and despite my concerns, he had no trouble following the story.
In my earlier post, I noted that both Eye and Now had given this play very good reviews. Having actually seen the play, I can see why. What struck me was the tremendous energy and intelligence in this production. Other than abridgment for length to make the entire production an hour long, it made no other concession in terms of the dialogue. I was gratified that Corwin followed it, despite the use of the archaic original Shakespearian language, but also, apparently all or most of the other children in the audience did so as well.
Both the principal performers -- Jane McClelland and Mike Petersen -- were obviously putting a lot of energy, thought, and effort into their performances. It was clear that they both knew this play cold, but also that they had real Shakespearian experience as well. My cousin Wayne Sujo, who was (among other things) the stage manager for this production, told me that they had spent two months rehearsing. The rehearsal time definitely showed. Despite the minimalist sets, and the stuffed animal actor surrogates, the story moved along briskly, with no hesitations or visible problems.
There aren't many performances left, but this play is highly recommended by both Corwin and myself.
THUR JULY 9, 3:45PM
SAT JULY 11, 12:25PM
SUN JULY 12, 7:05PM
(at the Palmerston Library -- further details on Facebook here and on the Toronto Fringe Festival website here)
A final thought - it would be great if this production went on tour in Toronto's (or other jurisdiction's) elementary schools. This would be a great way to introduce younger childern to Shakespeare, and to do it well before high school.