What a good day for Shakespeare! I’m keyed into such things because our daughter, Clara, is all about Shakespeare at the moment.

First there was exciting news about the finding of a missing First Folio of the bard’s work. ?Then this evening we saw a production of Richard III. As the program said, “This production explores the ways in which a society built around insecurity and self-involvement lends itself to the rise of a tyrant, a decrepit and evil man.” This is what I love about Shakespeare: it never becomes obsolete. I think of the things I’ve read about Zimbabwe and Robert Mugabe, or Uganda and Idi Amin. ?I suppose other names could fit, as there is no shortage of despicable rulers, unfortunately. ?Great harm flows from their sins.

The actors did an incredible job tonight, really throwing heart and soul into their work. ?The show was entirely produced by a student-run theater company called Empty Chair Theatre Company. Clara worked with some of these students during the past two summers at “Shakespeare Camp” (American Shakespeare Company, Staunton, Virginia), and she was asked to be Costume Mistress for this production.

Students did absolutely everything for this show, which they pulled together in just 12 days of rehearsal. ?It was fun to identify various dresses, pieces of dresses, suitcoats, jewelry, and even a garment made from a familiar shower curtain. ?(Ah, that explains the sudden rush on the sewing machine. . . .) The theater was too warm, and I couldn’t imagine being under lights, in costume, for three hours. ?Much less to say: that was their second performance of the day, following a matinee. ?I am impressed by the students’ talent, dedication, and energy. ?Most of all, I salute their ability to make Shakespeare make sense. Let me leave you with the two most famous lines from the play, both uttered by Richard:

Now is the winter of our discontent made glorious summer by this son of York.

A horse, a horse, my kingdom for a horse!


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