It’s one thing to enjoy a high school Shakespeare production because you know and love all the kids in it. But this wasn’t that–this was just Good Theatre.
The physicality of the drunken butler and the sailors caught in the storm– I felt the ground moving under them and the world spinning around.
The ridiculousness of a maiden meeting her first young man ever and falling instantly in love– it could have been a tired old trope, but sincerity and commitment make magic. When the actor isn’t embarrassed, the audience can’t be either. As the author of “Audition” wrote (to high school aged Rose), life is cheesy. I’ve certainly lived that often enough to know it’s true.
There was the perfect posturing of the jester, the haughty disdain of the traitor, and, most beautifully, the moments of In Between. Those seconds when a character pivoted, shifted from rage and resentment to forgiveness, from selfish possessiveness to true generosity and release. In spite of the masks, the intention, the emotion carried. I felt it for the Duke, for the young actress, and for my younger self. It portaled me instantly back to West Side Story when I first held the audience’s breath, when I didn’t rush, when I trusted myself and trusted them to come with me, but more than that when I was that character in that moment, feeling stupefying and primal grief and fury, and then acceptance.
It was the final show of the short run, and the final show of the year for a number of seniors as well as kids going on to other adventures. A couple of them are going to Perpich, aka Arts High. I feel so much nostalgia and longing and excitement. I feel that I’m passing through in orbit, making a complete circle just as I approach my twenty-first high school reunion for a place they are about to discover– a place where I discovered a lot of myself.
Prospero the Duke/Sorcerer calls up a storm to wreck his enemies upon the shores where he has lived in exile. He will at last get his revenge, destroy what destroyed almost everything he knew. And then instead, he sets his spirit free– surely more than literally. He passes through the thin space, the doorway that was once impossible, and, I believe, because it’s what I feel for myself, builds his life anew, letting all that is no longer true be taken by the tide and washed away.
We need the storm, and we need the calm, and we call them both up ourselves.