Archive for March, 2012

Ever wonder why Lord of the Rings won 17 Academy Awards and Star Wars only won 10?  (Sorry Lucas, I have been a fan boy since age 3, but really, “Hold Me Annie, Hold me like you did by the lakes of Naboo”?  Really?)  Authenticity!  That is the answer, my friends.  Instead of Manikin Skywalker standing in front of a blue screen trying to create the scene from nothing, Frodo and Sam are in the depths of Mordor, fighting for their very survival.  Peter Jackson took a year to create the sets of LOTR, allowing the flora to grow in naturally, and that depth of set design is felt not only by the audience, but by the actors as well.  Richard Garriott knows this.  That is why he built the Curtain Theatre for the Baron’s Men, his former cohorts from the Society for Creative Anachronism (SCA…people that get dressed up in medieval garb and drink from goblets).  Garriott built the Curtain Theatre, a 1/3 scale replica of Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, in an effort to give the troupe a place to call home and to give the public a slice of authenticity. The investment has paid off.  The 220 seat theatre transports the crowd back to 16th century England like no standard set design can.  The extreme effort the Baron’s Men put into recreating authentic Elizabethan performances shines in the light of the flaming braziers while the voice of Shakespeare can almost be heard echoing off the cozy wooden façade.  Go see the Baron’s Men and travel back to the 16th century.  Not to worry, no plague this time.

The Baron’s Men Present – The Merchant of Venice by William Shakespeare

Fridays and Saturdays April 5th-27th, Thursdays April 18th & 25th

The Curtain Theatre, Austin, Texas

http://www.facebook.com/groups/30079279771/

http://thebaronsmen.org/tickets/

A draft beer at Cowboys Stadium?  9 bucks.  A sandwich?  14 bucks.  A large pizza?  90 bucks.  Sitting beneath the stars while dining on the feast of your choosing, all while being entertained by top-notch Shakespearian actors?  Priceless.  That’s right.  One of the best things about seeing the Baron’s Men is bringing a picnic of fruits, cheeses, and of course the adult beverage of your choice.  A nice white wine is perfect to wash down the piety of Malvolio, while a good stout beer helps stoke the fire needed for Henry V.  A couple of suggestions, though.  The actors are not mic’d, so leave the crinkly wrappers at home.  Or better yet, show up early and enjoy a picnic on the beautiful grounds Mr. Garriott has provided (more on that later).  So what’s better than dollar dog night at the ball game?  Free Picnic night under the stars.  Go see the Baron’s Men and feast not only your body, but your mind and soul as well.

The Baron’s Men Present – The Merchant of Venice by William Shakespeare

Fridays and Saturdays April 5th-27th, Thursdays April 18th & 25th

The Curtain Theatre, Austin, Texas

http://www.facebook.com/groups/30079279771/

http://thebaronsmen.org/tickets/

I am a firm believer in the power of booing.  It is a healthy cathartic action that allows for the release of the venomous buildup that threatens to over take our fast paced, modern lives.  It is part of why we enjoy sporting events so much.  The focused vitriol of a group foisted upon a neutral third party helps us come together as a society.  It is probably why the Gladiatorial Games were so popular for the Romans.  This holds true for Elizabethan theater as well, although at the time, they hissed, not booed.  Iago is not just the villain of Othello, to the 16th century groundling he represents the scheming, back stabbing, motiveless malignity that permeated his world.  Placing such a character on stage allowed the masses to have a focus for their hatred and helped them come together against a common enemy.  This is part of the power of live theater, the group involvement of cheering for the hero and hissing the villain.  The Baron’s Men know this.  They don’t want prim and proper ladies and gentlemen to sit on their hands and watch the drama unfold.  They want the crowd to hiss the villain, the cheer the hero.  They want the crowd to be part of the production, fueling greater performances with their energy.  Hate your boss, hate traffic in Austin, or do you just need to get out and cheer for the good guy?  Go see the Baron’s Men and save yourself the therapist bill.

The Baron’s Men Present – The Merchant of Venice by William Shakespeare

Fridays and Saturdays April 5th-27th, Thursdays April 18th & 25th

The Curtain Theatre, Austin, Texas

http://www.facebook.com/groups/30079279771/

http://thebaronsmen.org/tickets/

     It is often misconceived that Shakespeare and his ilk are for the high-brow, refined part of the populace.  This could not be further from the truth.  Granted, the use of the English language that stems from this period is, in my opinion, without equal.  That does not mean, however, that the baser, more ribald aspects of human interactions are not covered.  The Elizabethan playwrights were not above sprinkling their prose with more flowery language.  But in the hands of such genius these flowers take bloom and grow to a life of their own.  It is unfortunate that our Hollywood depiction of Shakespeare is only moonlit serenades and battlefield speeches.  True, these high-minded sentiments have given us some of the most powerful looking glasses from which to view life, but the true genius of the Bard is the craft he displays when talking about whores, sailors, and everyday riff-raff.   Shakespeare was meant for the masses, and the masses appreciated a good curse now and then.  And what cursing!  Did she just say cunt?  Yes she did.  But amidst such beautiful language that the mind takes a moment to catch up with the ear.  If you want to learn to curse like a sailor, join the Navy.  However, if you want to weave curses into the tapestry of life like a poet, come see the Baron’s Men.

The Baron’s Men Present – The Merchant of Venice by William Shakespeare

Fridays and Saturdays April 5th-27th, Thursdays April 18th & 25th

The Curtain Theatre, Austin, Texas

http://www.facebook.com/groups/30079279771/

http://thebaronsmen.org/tickets/