State of Salty

Salty Shakespeare is tearin' it up!!!!

Told you about the breakfast flash with the Chief of Police.

Then last Saturday after, 7 actors showed up in Paramount, CA to flash and do workshops for 6th, 7th and 8th graders from Watts and Boyle Heights. We were right on top of them. If they ever thought theatre was about anything formal and reserved, they've changed their minds.

Beginning, the fabulous STAR teacher began a dry, crusty lecture about the history of Shakespeare and Stratford-on-Avon and Elizabethan England. And I just erupted among the kids with "NOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!! Shakespeare is not to be READ about. Ya gotta HEAR him."

Kate and Petruchio jumped up and started haranguing each other right in the middle of the surprised and giggling kids. They throw each other around pretty good in that scene and Kate gives as good as she gets. When she bites a chunk out of his hand (which is over her mouth at that point), and runs away, with Petruchio in hot pursuit...

...Falstaff began complaining about his treatment by the scheming wives of Windsor, his burial among a pile of dirty clothes and his cold bath in the Thames. "Imagine that! A man of my kidney! Imagine that!" He's in the throes of self-pity when...

...Henry V begins rousing the troops (that being the kids) before the Battle of Agincourt. But in SPANISH!!! That's the 1st language of at least half the kids there. After that, Devon Glover rapped Sonnet 18, and Richard III attacked him with "NEVER MIX SHAKESPEARE WITH THE HIP AND THE HOP!!!!!"

The performance ended with a rousing sword fight between Richard and Richmond. And who doesn't love a good sword fight.

We broke up into groups after that: Sam Hardie and Chrisy Moore teaching Shakespeare Insults and physical fighting on stage; Michael Rothhaar and Will Rothhaar teaching tools of character-building; Devon Glover, Shakespeare and rap; and Michael Hanson and Joe McGovern, stage fighting with rapiers.

If they live to be 100, these kids will never experience Shakespeare as moldy and irrelevant.

The next Wednesday, I was invited to a one-woman show at USC. Gioia De Cari performed "Truth Values: One Girl's Romp Through M.I.T.'s Male Math Maze". And the Bias inherent in that system was truly horrifying. Next night was a panel of speakers on the subject and at dinner with 15 of these provocateurs, I flashed Shylock's final speech to the court. A speech about crushing anti-Semitism.

"Hath not a Jew eyes? Hath not a Jew hands? Organs, dimensions, senses, affections, passions? Fed with the same food? Hurt with the same weapons? Subject to the same diseases...as a Christian is?

"If you prick us, do we not bleed? If you tickle us, do we not laugh? If you poison us, do we not die? And if you wrong us, shall we not revenge? If we are like you in the rest, we will resemble you in that."

It was gutsy of The Man to write that speech in the late 16th century, since England was unapologetically anti-Semitic. The speech fit perfectly with the themes of the symposium, and Salty Shakespeare hit the proverbial homer in the middle of the restaurant.

And no arrests.

-Nancy