Cricket's Notebook Friday, 30 July, 2004 2:19 a m: "Brush Up Your Shaksper"

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Friday, 30 July, 2004 2:19 a m:
"Brush Up Your Shaksper"

I just thought of a show that I'd really like to see become a reality. For some reason Cole Porter's song for The Enforcers in "Kiss Me, Kate!" ran through my mind. It has endless verses, and as the refrain came into my head I remembered that Wilm Shaxpy not only never signed his name "Shakespeare" --- he never signed it the same way twice! * So I was toying with that refrain, hearing them sing Brush Up Your Jackspurs/Shaksper/Shaxpy/etc and thinking I'd like to see the number done in the show like that some day, and my mind just took off! (Okay, it could have been the crash after taking a Roxicet tablet to allay the pains caused by my latest kidney-stone confrontation.) The title of the show, then, is what I've called this Cricket's Notebook entry.

The six surviving examples of Shakespeare's signature are from legal documents on which there is little room for a full signature. The variations are: Willm Shakp, William Shaksper, Wm Shakspe, William Shakspere, Willm Shakspere, and William Shakspeare.
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The Show, though, isn't that musical, but a REVUE featuring scenes, speeches, and skits from or about Shagsberd's plays.
I thought of it as a sort of Shaksper Cabaret, for which people could do bits from shows they had done before, or speeches or soliloquys they'd love to do in the future.
For instance, Francine Davis was lucky enough a while back to find a sex-blind company that cast her first as Casca in Julius C., and then as Shylock. I thought she was phenominal, especially since a short while later she did Kate in Shrew.
Well, I'd like her to come out of retirement to do a major speech from each of them.
Considering the number of Shakespeare productions around here, such reprises could be endless!

Then, staying Shrew-ish, I'd really like to see Ms. Plum and Mr. Snee do the first meeting of Petrucio & Katherine.

Then I thought of an intriguing play I saw at The Open Space in London about 1972 called "An Othello" which gave new character-monologues to every major character. For that show, Othello and Iago were Uncle Tom/Bad Nigger, and late in the show Iago gave Othello some advice. "Later on in this play (I'm paraphrasing this paraphrase) will come the line 'In Aleppo, once...' and at the end of that speech you're supposed to cut your own throat so all the Whiteys in the audience out there can get their Catharsis. Well, what I say is: Don't Do It! You stand there Black and Proud and see how they like it!" And, at the end of the play, when Othello DOES hesitate, the three White guys on stage grab his arm and Cut His Throat FOR HIM. It's a powereful play. And I'd like to hear Vincent Siders do that Iago speech.

Maybe the "Abridged" Shaxpy show's handling of the Henry VI's would work here.

Can Diego Arciniegas and Philip Patrone remember any of their exchanges from R & G?

And I would love to have Anne Gottlieb come back here and do Any Speech She'd Like from whatever she's doing this summer with SHAKESPEARE & CO, because I don't have a car.
And if she and Mr. Pemberton would like to rekindle a scene from Antony & Cleopatra, ------! ! ! !!!!!

This doesn't sound like ONE Show, does it?

Well, you're right. I thought of it as A Monday a Month all year long, never repeating except by acclamation, or in emergencies.
In order to allow Equity Card-Holders to appear, I'd run it as a DONATION ONLY "benefit" for something like AIDS ACTION. And, to spice up the possibilities, why not open it up to anyone in a Broadway Tour who has itched to try the Bard?

Well, to start, my first thought was to stack up the tables in the bar at Turtle Lane Playhouse and do it there.
If it got to be a Cult Thang and really popular, maybe we could do TWO a month, the second Monday night in the upstairs bar at DOM's opposite Ye Wilbur Theatre.

Why in a BAR, you ask?
Well, to emphasize that rough, "unfinished" feeling that must have been in the air when Kit Marlowe and Wilm Shaxpy tried out their newest lines on one another at The Mermaid in Cheapside. And to underscore the no sets/no costumes informality of performers entertaining fellow performers between drinks.

Okay, maybe it was just a drug-induced dream. But, just in case, I'm going to send this to some people who might want to toy with its possibilities and tinker it into reality. If you'd like a seat on the bandwagon, send me an e-mail!

Break a leg all!


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