Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Clowning Around with Shakespeare

I can't take credit for "discovering" the Synetic Theater - it's been recommended to me, repeatedly, by my Shakespeare Explorer friends. Still, it's a great pleasure to discover a new troupe, a new venue, and a new way of looking at Shakespeare.

The current production of Twelfth Night is virtually wordless, as that is Synetic's approach to making theater: extracting from text the language of gesture. It's dance, it's mime, it's slapstick, and everybody's a clown.

All images lovingly borrowed from Synetic Theater's Web site.

How to stage a storm at sea and subsequent shipwreck.

So this begs the question, What would Shakespeare think? The Bard, it seems, has been abandoned. Where is the poetry? Where is the word play? Where is that lilt of language that sings stories to fill our hearts and expand our minds?

Here's where someone should throw a pie in my face. Artists don't just create art. They inspire it.

Any theater company that values dance will have my heart, and Synetic used every theatrically useful physical trick in the book to tell the story of the brother and sister separated at sea and thrown separately onto an alien shore. The gender-bending farce (girl dressed as boy meets boy in love with another girl and must woo her on his behalf... Ack, I'm confused) cannot be more ridiculous. And the loss and ultimate recovery of the brother and sister cannot be more heart-swelling.

But all in a tale told by clowns! Even the darling heroine Viola (choreographed and performed by Irina Tsikurishvili) transformed herself into the ultimate clown of modern times, Charlie Chaplin's Little Tramp. She could not have been more adorable!

Kathy Gordon as Olivia (l), Irina Tsikurishvili as Viola

Philip Fletcher as Orsino, with Irina Tsikurishvili

Twelfth Night poster art, Synetic Theater
So, since my point is that the words don't make the play, I leave off with a strong recommendation for this production and the company's own video trailer.

Love, hosaa
gesturing mad approval

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