I haven’t done anything or seen anything of late, (not even Toms), and so I shall report vicariously through a friend of mine, who was in Galway for the weekend and actually did stuff. The friend shall remain un-named. My friend’s report was verbal, my translation of it is as follows:
Galway’s different. It just is. Not better or worse just different. Anyone who hasn’t been there in a while would probably notice a slow and unfortunate process of ‘Temple-bar-ification’ which is what happens to an Irish town with a good-time reputation. ‘Tis a pity but there you are. As an Irish person there’s only so much didlley-eye you can take.
Anyway;- I went to ‘An Ideal Husband’, by Oscar Wilde and ‘Midsummer Nights Dream’ by Shakespeare himself.
An Ideal Husband was presented by the University of Galway Dramsoc. It could have done with a bit of merciless editing. At one point the characters attend a show and the show they attend is the final scene of The Importance of Being Earnest. A great scene, and well acted, but its’ inclusion stretched the play’s length beyond what I personally find comfortable. Some of the delivery was less than clear and the directorial decision of having everyone whisper at the same time that two actors were trying to deliver dialogue didn’t help matters. I did something I never do; I left early. I still feel bad about it but it was already an hour and a half into it, with no sign of conclusion and I had a prior appointment. In my defence, when I left the majority of the cast were outside the building chatting away to each other and obviously as disinterested in what was happening on stage as I was.
The following night was Midsummer Nights Dream by The Blue Teapot ( who, I presumed from the name, were a split-off from ‘The Red Kettle’ in a Judean Peoples Front/People front of Judea stylee). It was on in a strange, low-ceilinged garage-type theatre; a little off the main drag, but close to the Blue Note, in a place which locals call ‘Silkes’.
A bit of a shock in store for me when it began; I may have been the only person in the room who didn’t realise that this was a play performed by a ‘special’ group, ie: a group with a variety of learning difficulties.
I had been selfishly looking forward to a nights entertainment; I hadn’t planned on supporting anything ‘worthy’; I wasn’t relishing the idea of some incompetently performed Shakespeare, however well-intentioned; and now I was stuck. How were they going to manage?
How do you perform Shakespeare under these circumstances?
How hard is that?
(When after all, Elizabethan language is a ‘learning difficulty’ all of it’s own?)
The truth is I don’t know how hard that is, and perhaps I’ll never know, but perform the members of Blue Teapot did; they performed so well that I was dumbstruck.
With a project like this there is a bit of ‘sure aren’t they great?’ about anything achieved but honestly and absolutely this was great.
On its’ own it was great.
Yes, its’ a great idea, and isn’t-everyone-involved-great-for-even-trying-it, but no people this was great. This was great nights entertainment. The actors did as all great Shakespearean actors do: they made sense of the text to their audience by first making sense of it themselves. It was fun. It came alive.
It wasn’t a creation of perfection; as with an ideal husband, the diction of some of the actors wasn’t clear and that, combined with Elizabethan language, went against constant comprehensibility, but it was so very alive and real and hilarious.
We all have prejudice of some sort. The deepest ones are of course the ones we do not think about, this play showed me something about myself I wasn’t aware of, and am delighted to share with you; up until last Saturday, I thought only certain types of people could act. ‘Actores’ – well they’re a type aren’t they?
Well no, actually.
Some people are better than others at acting, this was as true of the cast of ‘Midsummers’ as it is of the cast of anything, but it had nothing to do with any level of learning difficulty, some people just have it. The members of Blue Teapot who had it, had it in spades. As luck would have it, I was there on the last night and there was a very brief speech of thanks. In this speech it was revealed that the group had spent eight and a half months rehearsing. It must have been difficult, thank you so much guys; eight and a half months of work for you = an hour and a half of absolute pleasure for me. I would tell everybody I know to go and see this, but tragically I saw it at the end and imagine its’ unlikely to tour.
You would have had to have had been there.