Archive for February, 2012

A Secret Worth Sharing

Posted: February 22, 2012 in Uncategorized

Like so many Austinites, I hail from other lands…  Iowa, through Detroit by way of Dallas….complicated.  And like so many Austinites, I love my new home.  It’s not just the rolling hills, live music or great tacos either.  I love living in a town that is the final destination of so many journeys.  I can see it on their faces.  They might not be from here, but they are damn glad they finally made it.  It’s like a communal experience we all share.  “I used to live in a crappy place (and let’s be honest, it doesn’t get much crappier than Detroit) and so did you…let me buy you a beer.”  My wife and I have finally found our home, and we don’t plan on leaving anytime soon.

            One measure of being a true resident of Austin, a town that embraces its weirdos, is knowing the secrets of the place.  Austin is not Dallas, where a good time is advertised in neon, welcoming every bleach-blonde-jean-wearing-high-heel-boot-walking sorority girl for 2 dollar shots and mediocre music.  Austin is a town that is best experienced by trading secrets.  Fire dancers on a Friday night?  You got it.   A punk rock klezmer band on the east side?  Only in Austin.  Eeyore’s Birthday?  OK, maybe everyone knows about that one, but still…the best times to be had in Austin aren’t always posted on a 50 foot billboard.  And finally, after 4 years loving this town, I have a secret worth sharing.   An authentic Shakespearian troupe that performs in a 1/3 scale recreation of the Globe Theatre.  No lie.  ‘Tis happening twice a year in our fair borough, and the spring show is nigh upon us!

            As a lover of the word, both written and spoken, I am an avid fan of all things Shakespeare.  Many nights have I fallen asleep with the words of the Bard dancing in my dreams.  I’ll admit that for me, like most modern-day readers, it is a labor of love, pouring over the plays while my mind deciphers the riddle that is Elizabethan English.  But the artistry!  The way the poet uses words as his palette and pentameter as his brush stroke to stir emotion is without par.  This elation for reading Willie 2 Shakes is only surpassed by watching a live performance of his work.  My mind is freed from the challenge of piecing together the puzzle and I am immersed in the greatest dramas, comedies, and tragedies the world has ever known.    

This is not to say, however, that all Shakespeare performances are equal.  Not that I don’t love a 60’s rendition of Midsummer’s Night, or a 20’s recreation of Othello…  I do.  It is always refreshing to see a new rendition of a classic.  As a purist, however, I like my steaks medium-rare, my baseball steroid-free, and my Shakespeare set in the 16th Century.   This is why I am so excited about the Baron’s Men.  While not the largest troupe of mummers in Austin, their performances are the most authentic I have ever seen.  Starting with the Curtain Theatre, a 1/3 scale recreation of The Globe, through the hand stitched wardrobe, all the way down to the dirty words (which they leave in!), watching a Baron’s Men’s production is like seeing the play performed for the first time by The King’s Men.

I have been lucky enough to see two performances by the Baron’s Men, accounts of which will follow in the weeks to come.  Both shows have been rife with enjoyment, which is why I am so excited about the upcoming spring show, The Alchemist, by Ben Johnson.  One of Shakespeare’s contemporaries, Johnson is know for his bawdy humor and acerbic wit.  I truly believe the Baron’s Men are providing a service for our community by creating such authentic performances, so I have decided to chronicle both my past experiences with the troupe as well as behind the scenes preparations for the new show.  I encourage readers to periodically drop in to see new updates, but I insist you go see the Baron’s Men this spring at the Curtain Theatre.  This is definitely a secret worth sharing!

The Baron’s Men Present:

The Alchemist by Ben Jonson

The Curtain Theatre

April 12 -28, Thursday – Saturday