Last night, my aunt and I went to the Alabama Shakespeare Festival to see the play All Is Calm. It’s based on the remarkable true story from the Western Front, Christmas, 1914. In a silence amid the combat, a soldier steps into no man’s land singing “Silent Night.” All Is Calm: The Christmas Truce of 1914 relives an astounding moment in history when British troops and German soldiers laid down their arms to celebrate the holiday together, sharing food and drink, playing soccer, and singing carols. This dramatic retelling weaves together firsthand accounts of World War I soldiers with patriotic tunes, trench songs, and Christmas carols.
It really wasn’t what I expected, though I’m not sure I know what I’d expected. I just know the play that was performed was not what I expected. I expected there to be more of a plot, but it was merely a lot of firsthand accounts interwoven with songs. My biggest criticism is that the uniforms were all wrong. The uniforms were a hodgepodge of different styles, including one French uniform even though the French did not participate in the Christmas Truce. Thankfully it was only an hour long, or else I’m not sure I could have stood the whole thing. The accents used were also mostly unintelligible. My poor aunt, who is no historian, was mostly lost during the whole play. I was even having a hard time following it.
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Last night, I went with my mother to take my niece to see the Alabama Shakespeare Festival’s production of Disney’s The Little Mermaid. Above is a picture of the cast practicing “Under the Sea.” The show was fabulous, the men were ripped, the costumes were gorgeous, the sets fantastic, and the men gorgeous. After taking my niece home and then my mother home, I got home about 1am, and I was exhausted, so this is a short post. This production sold out so fast that they had to extend it a few more weeks. If you are near Montgomery, you really should check it out if you can still get tickets. However, let me just say that if you are ever in the Montgomery area, the Alabama Shakespeare Festival is a must. Their productions are always top rate, and I’ve never been disappointed. Disney’s The Little Mermaid was no exception, it was truly fantastic.
While Prince Eric was yummy and Ariel was beautiful, Sebastian and Ursula stole the show. I’d have given the actors names, but I left the program in my car, and it’s late or I’d go get it. I’ll see about adding their names tomorrow.
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Sometimes I feel like Blanche DuBois in Tennessee William’s A Streetcar Named Desire when Blanche is led off to a mental hospital by a matron and a kind-hearted doctor. After a brief struggle followed by the administration of a sedative, Blanche smilingly acquiesces as she devolves into her fantasy life, addressing the doctor with the most famous and poignant line in the play:
‘I have always depended on the kindness of strangers.’
Thank goodness that strangers can be occasionally kind. It is one of the great things about living in the South. We are so often taught to be hospitable that it eventually wears off on most of us and being kind comes as second nature. So commit a random act of kindness today and make someone’s life a little better for just a moment at least.
(Yes, I realize that this message is not in the context of the play in the least, but it is one of my favorite lines in any movie or play.)
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Puck’s soliloquy from the last lines of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, a comedy by William Shakespeare, is one of my favorite lines from any of Shakespeare’s plays.
If we shadows have offended,
Think but this, and all is mended,
That you have but slumber’d here
While these visions did appear.
And this weak and idle theme,
No more yielding but a dream,
Gentles, do not reprehend:
if you pardon, we will mend:
And, as I am an honest Puck,
If we have unearned luck
Now to ‘scape the serpent’s tongue,
We will make amends ere long;
Else the Puck a liar call;
So, good night unto you all.
Give me your hands, if we be friends,
And Robin shall restore amends.
In his essay “Preposterous Pleasures, Queer Theories and A Midsummer Night’s Dream“, Douglas E. Green explores possible interpretations of alternative sexuality that he finds within the text of the play, in juxtaposition to the proscribed social mores of the culture at the time the play was written. He writes that his essay “does not (seek to) rewrite A Midsummer Night’s Dream as a gay play but rather explores some of its ‘homoerotic significations’ … moments of ‘queer’ disruption and eruption in this Shakespearean comedy”. Green states that he does not consider Shakspeare to have been a “sexual radical”, but that the play represented a “topsy-turvy world” or “temporary holiday” that mediates or negotiates the “discontents of civilization”, which while resolved neatly in the story’s conclusion, do not resolve so neatly in real life. Green writes that the “sodomitical elements”, “homoeroticism”, “lesbianism”, and even “compulsory heterosexuality” in the story must be considered in the context of the “culture of early modern England” as a commentary on the “aesthetic rigidities of comic form and political ideologies of the prevailing order”. Aspects of ambiguous sexuality and gender conflict in the story are also addressed in essays by Shirley Garner and William W.E. Slights (see citations below).
Garner, Shirley Nelson. “Jack Shall Have Jill;/ Nought Shall Go Ill“. A Midsummer Night’s Dream Critical Essays. Ed. Dorothea Kehler. New York: Garland Publishing Inc., 1998. 127–144
Slights, William W. E. “The Changeling in A Dream”. Studies in English Literature, 1500–1900. Rice University Press, 1998. 259–272.
If you love a good gay movie, musicals, cute guys, and/or Shakespeare, here is a suggestion for you. Indie movies are definitely not for everyone. In other words, specific movies tend to appeal to specific groups. Were the World Mine will obviously appeal to a gay audience, but also to people who are into Shakespeare, as it is fun and often ridiculous – just like the Bard’s play.
What Is It About?
Were the World Mine was based on a short film entitled Fairies. The movie’s protagonist is Timothy (played by Tanner Cohen), a gay outcast at a prep school in a small town somewhere in America. He loves to daydream, and his daydreams always feature musical sequences and beautiful scenery. The object of his daydreams is Jonathan (played by Nathaniel David Becker), the star jock of the school. It is not long before Timothy gets involved into a school drama project, starts exploring Shakespeare and finds a recipe for the magical love potion in A Midsummer Night’s Dream – which allows him to turn the entire town gay.
Read more at Suite101: Were the World Mine Movie Review: An Indie Retelling of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
Cupid’s Love Spell from A Midsummer Night’s Dream
That very time I saw, but thou couldst not,
Flying between the cold moon and the earth,
Cupid all arm’d: a certain aim he took
At a fair vestal throned by the west,
And loosed his love-shaft smartly from his bow,
As it should pierce a hundred thousand hearts;
But I might see young Cupid’s fiery shaft
Quench’d in the chaste beams of the watery moon,
And the imperial votaress passed on,
In maiden meditation, fancy-free.
Yet mark’d I where the bolt of Cupid fell:
It fell upon a little western flower,
Before milk-white, now purple with love’s wound,
And maidens call it love-in-idleness.
Fetch me that flower; the herb I shew’d thee once:
The juice of it on sleeping eye-lids laid
Will make or man or woman madly dote
Upon the next live creature that it sees.
Fetch me this herb; and be thou here again
Ere the leviathan can swim a league.
I’ll put a girdle round about the earth
In forty minutes.
Having once this juice,
I’ll watch Titania when she is asleep,
And drop the liquor of it in her eyes.
The next thing then she waking looks upon,
Be it on lion, bear, or wolf, or bull,
On meddling monkey, or on busy ape,
She shall pursue it with the soul of love:
And ere I take this charm from off her sight,
As I can take it with another herb,
I’ll make her render up her page to me.
But who comes here? I am invisible;
And I will overhear their conference.
If you could have potion that could turn someone you have a crush on or are in love with gay, would you use it? Seriously, now. I am not talking about just on a whim. You would be changing this person’s life. Would you do it to satisfy your own happiness, even though it might not satisfy their own?
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