Tag Archives: Summer

An afternoon at Twelfth Night

Screen-grab from YouTube : Go see it in 3D in Vanier Park!

Screen-grab from YouTube : Go see it in 3D in Vanier Park!

I am often surprised by the things my Weasels enjoy, or think about. Last year, I had trawled through the selection of things to watch while I ironed, and found a brilliant film version of “Twelfth Night” (By Shakespeare, in case you were wondering.) Tiny Weasel, and then Middle Weasel crept in, drawn by the sounds of TV, and both watched the film with apparent interest.

So when it turned out that “Twelfth Night” was one of the plays in this year’s Bard on the Beach, we booked tickets. We would have booked tickets anyway, but there was, at least, a reason for choosing this play over “Hamlet”.

Just like last year, I was tremendously impressed. Firstly, the staging is so simple.

Last year's staging

Last year’s staging

With an entrance from the back of the stage and two side entrances, and all props and set wheeled or carried on by the actors themselves, we moved from Hotel, to beach, to Bath house and on. It sounds simple enough, but I read plays every week that struggle to convincingly produce two or three locations on one stage. Like many playwrights, I prefer to find a single location for my action to simplify staging*. Seeing productions like this makes me feel I am limiting my imagination too much. It’s also the definition of what makes theatre a different experience from film.

This production moves the time period to the 20’s with jazz as a soundtrack and Olivia’s House is presented as a hotel. However these details don’t really matter, as the quality of the acting and the singing soon sweep you away into the story. Like many of Shakespeare’s tales, it’s a little unlikely – twins separated by a storm, the girl dressing as a boy to preserve her safety and falling into the service of local Duke. She is forced to carry his profession of love to Olivia, even as she herself has fallen in love with him. Olivia is too deep in mourning the death of her brother to hear talk of love, until she sees the disguised Viola and falls in love with him/her. It’s the classic love triangle. As a subplot you have the officious Malvolio (here the Hotel Manager) tricked into believing that Olivia is in love with him and desires that he dress in ridiculous stockings and smile more. To add to the confusion, Viola’s brother appears, now her true double since she’s disguised as a boy and willingly consents to marry Olivia, who thinks he’s Viola, whom she calls Cesario… You get the picture.

Tiny Weasel found it hard to stay still, but she wasn’t bored. She watched the whole production and followed the story without a problem. It wasn’t updated language, but the original text, and all three Weasels enjoyed it immensely. I’m really glad we went, and we’ll go back again next year.

*It’s true that a director can make the decision to radically alter the staging, but in Shakespeare’s theatre, all these locations would have been presented in the one area, and the impression of each given more through dialogue and mime than exotic set dressing. The Bard on the Beach production is, therefore, very traditional in nature. I believe the onus is on the playwright to communicate the nature of the intended staging. Whether or not the director takes that intention to heart is out of the writer’s control.

Another summer, but no rant this year.

Dog in a bag. The Ultimate accessory.

The Man I was Last Summer. Note the worry paunch...

Last year, I was a man suffering from stress. The weasels had hardly been at school two months, and they were on their holidays. In fact, only the two Elder Weasels had even been to school, and now they were going to be on holiday for the best part of three months. By the time the holidays were over, they would have been on holiday longer than they had been at school. That didn’t make any sense any way I sliced it, and I was feeling put upon.

At first, of course, I had Mrs Dim on hand to help out, and it was glorious. We’d not had a full Summer Holiday together for a long time, since Mrs Dim’s various jobs didn’t give her a lot of leave. But now she was footloose and fancy free, if a little cranky about the enforced unemployment. Then within a couple of weeks of the holidays beginning we got a new dog and she got a job. As well as wrangling the regular weasels, I had kids from the complex coming round to play. On top of all this, I still wanted to convince myself I was a writer, so I was trying to get plays finished, write reviews and sell myself to anyone who might want stuff written down.

That was then. This year is different. For one thing, we’re not in that complex anymore, which means the kids don’t have the same handy supply of friends. Bad news for them. Mrs Dim is at work for most of the holiday season. Bad news for me. I’m at work for a  lot of the holiday season. Bad news for customers of the Largest Home Improvement Retail Store in the World. But we’ve thought a lot about this holiday. The weasels are booked into various camps and entertainments. They’re going to spend some time down in the US with their cousin. We’ve had two weeks with Mrs Dim’s parents visiting, and now my parents are on their way out here (and they’ll be babysitting for at least a couple of days, but they don’t know that yet.)

The biggest sign that this year is different is the lack of the Dreams Poster. It usually looks something like this:

Blue-sky thinking about blue-sky holiday plans

We haven’t made a dreams poster this year because all the things we want to do are sewn up. We’ll be taking parents to visit the places we love to go (The Aquarium, Stanley Park, Grouse Mountain) and the camps are full of the adventurous things the weasels enjoy (archery, canoing, eating stuff…)

So although this year I am running back and forth between Domestic God and Man of Work, and Mrs Dim only have a chance to talk while one of us is dozing in front of the tv and the other one is ironing, it’s not so bad. I don’t feel the desperation I did last year, staring at the beginning of ten weeks of holiday. In fact, we’re done with the first week already and I barely noticed. The sun has come out after a fortnight of grey cloud and drizzle, and we’re heading off to our local spray park as soon as I finish fiddling with the computer and make up some sandwiches. I may take a pen and pad and write some more of my brilliant play. Or print out my friend Lucy’s notes on my latest screenplay and frown over them through my sunglasses.

It’s Summer, it’s Canada, it’s BRILLIANT!