Monday, September 2, 2013

2013.09.01 — Joyce Murray and Stephen Lewis fushigi* or 'just' coincidence?

My friend SD, his daughter SD2 and I went to see the Bard on the Beach production of Hamlet. This is my second time to it. (Quick review included — gratis, below.)

This was the first time I met SD2, of whom SD has spoken frequently and with great love and admiration. The time spent driving and waiting for the show was filled with interesting conversation. SD2 mentioned that she was going to see a Stephen Lewis talk: African Grandmothers Tribunal: Seeking justice at the front lines of the AIDS crisis (Sept 7, 2013).

Our conversation meandered, and at some point I mentioned to her that I presented a paper — On the Self-Corrupting Nature of Electioneering - And an Alternative — at the BC Citizens' Assembly on Electoral Reform. I mentioned that BC MLA Joyce Murray was present in the audience when I presented my paper.

A little later on I told SD2 about my interest in fushigis. In a fairly typical fashion, she lumped them in with coincidences. Further discussion, including quantum physics and Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle and the connection between Jung and Quantum Mechanics via Wolfgang Pauli, winner of the Nobel prize in Physics. In the end I concluded, rather lamely, that the connection between fushigi events is energy.

Now things get weird. At the beginning of the show, the announcer thanks the sponsors, tells us to shut off our phones, and put away cameras, etc. The usual stuff. And then something new, the presence in the audience of a BC MLA. To the best of memory of going to the Bard since 1998(?), in excess of 120 seen performances, I have never heard announced the presence of a politician. And the politician present was none other than Joyce Murray. So SD2 commented 'Is that a fushigi?' 'Yes, a small one.'

Small enough to find amusing, but not blog, probably. So why the blog? Well, at the end of the show, one of the actors interrupted the standing ovation to tell us they were collecting money for HIV/AIDS support, with the money going to among other groups, The Stephen Lewis Foundation.

Okay, a quick review of the 2013 Bard on the Beach production of Hamlet. (Adapted from a comment in the WSS Group's Introduction Thread.)

Hmmm. Thank you for asking, Lilian.

I'll start with the set. This theatre keeps the sets simple. The stage is open at the back in such a way that the audience has a view of English Bay and the city's West End and also of the North Shore Mountains. For this set the back opening was 'closed' with 25' high glass doors that slid open. These windows separated the inside and outside of the castle very effectively, with the stage most of the inside of the castle, but the outside when required with the ghost in the beginning and the gravediggers scene.

The living area was very modern in appearance, with white modern couches and chairs. On one side, there was a large flat screen TV/monitor that displayed security cameras images, but which was used as a TV broadcasting news, as well.

Hamlet carried a remote control with him, and he turned off and on music that fit his mood. Beatles, Rolling Stones, etc. It was very effective.

The king and queen had security guards with sunglasses, and everyone carried around iPads like they were papers and that were also used for controlling lighting and sound.
Of course, everyone was in modern dress. The costumes were excellent. (The bard's costumes have been amazing, year in and year out.) When Ophelia lost it — and she was very well portrayed by Rachel Cairns — she was wandering around in bra and panties with one of Hamlet's shirts unbuttoned. Sounds corny, maybe, but it added a poignancy to the scene that was startling.

This production was very creative with the play within the play. They used a laptop and a tiny camera to shoot a tiny mock stage with stick puppets. The image of the camera was projected onto a sheet hung at the back of the theatre. VERY EFFECTIVE!

Polonius is shot by Hamlet in error, not stabbed.

The sword fight at the end was the same of course.

The modern setting was seamless. The music choices were nearly perfect. I loved that they they used Gorecki Symphony #3 to count down to Hamlet's death.

The actors and director all met the challenge of the play superbly. This was a memorable and an amazing production. The made very clear that this play is primarily about failures of perception, of basic misunderstanding between everyone. (I was disappointed that the director cut from the performance Hamlet's initial questioning of the wisdom of trusting a ghost to be truthful, but it seems every performance I have seen cuts that bit.) However, little was cut in the 3+ hour performance.

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