The Pells take the Shakespeare Challenge

September 24, 2012

So, Shakespeare Dallas is collaborating with the AT&T Performing Arts Center to perform all of William Shakespeare’s work, including every one of the plays and sonnets, over the next 5 years.  They will be presenting staged readings (actors acting the parts with few props, or costumes) at a rate of approximately 8 per year.   Hunter and I are both Shakespeare fans, so we have decided to attend as many of these as possible.  To date I have seen about 10 or so of Shakespeare’s plays performed, including (but not limited to) Julius Caesar, Othello, Hamlet, Richard III, Twelfth Night, Coriolanus, Macbeth, The Tempest and, today, their first reading in this series, Much Ado About Nothing.  I may have seen others, that’s just what I remember at the moment.

I wasn’t sure what to expect going in, never having seen a ‘staged reading.’  I was pleasantly surprised to have enjoyed it so thoroughly.  Yes, many of the actors read directly from their scripts and there were a couple of missed cues or line flubs, but it was much less distracting then you might think.  In fact, by the second or third act, I hardly noticed it.  The charismatic actor who played Beatrice, Allison Pistorius, was nothing short of brilliant and the chemistry between her and the gentleman who portrayed Benedict, Jeffrey Schmidt, was simply magnetic.  I could scarce believe that they only had 40 hours of practice!  Speaking of scarce believing, I was left wondering how the hell I’d missed this play!?!  I think that by dismissing Shakepeare’s comedies in favor of the tragedies I’ve done myself a great disservice.  I can’t remember when I’ve laughed so much!    Here is a picture of Hunter and I during intermission enjoying the beautiful afternoon.  As you can see, we were enjoying ourselves immensely.

Enjoying the beautiful day.

The prior evening’s viewing of Macbeth was unfortunately overshadowed by the tragic accident that occurred on our way home.  I did want to take a few moments to comment on it as well while I am on topic.  I will say that I enjoyed the Scottish Play much, much more than I had anticipated.  A previous reading and audio-performance left me unsure that I would find the play to my liking.   I am pleased to report that I was very, very wrong.  I really did find the play fascinating.  Though the actor playing Macbeth was nowhere near the powerhouse of Alex Organ’s Coriolanus, he was quiet good (and, per Tim, yummy.)  Lady Macbeth, equally, gave a fine performance.  Banquo, one of the most likable characters of the play,  tended toward overacting his part, which was unfortunate.  My favorite character, however, was Macbeth’s porter.  I could happily watch him play the “Knock, knock, knock…” scene a dozen times and never tire of it!

For future performances we’ll be attending soon,  I am excited to say that the Dallas Theater Center is performing the phenomenal King Lear early next year.  In addition, the reset of the lineup for the first round of readings in the “Complete Shakespeare Series” is as follows:

September 23-24: Much Ado about Nothing 
October 14-15: Othello 
November 25-26: The Taming of the Shrew
January 13-14: The Winter’s Tale 
February 17-18: Henry VI Part 1
March 10-11: Henry VI Part 2
April 14-15: Henry VI Part 3
May 19-20: Richard III

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