Thursday, May 5, 2011

Local Theatre: Whodunit?

What an amazing evening! Have I ever mentioned how much I love the theatre? I mean, movies are okay, and it's cool to see the broad scope that movies can provide, but theatre is just so much ... more. It's like the difference between listening to recorded music and going to see a live band - and I'm not talking about a huge mega-production band, either, but a small, intimate gathering where you can actually see the band members up on the stage - and they can see you, too. There's just something more personal, and, indeed, more engaging about seeing a live production in which the audience becomes part of the show, instead of just a passive observer, and it engages our minds in ways that electronic forms of entertainment never does, nor can.

Last night my family and I went to see Deus Ex Machina's niece in a school play. Ah, and before anyone groans, as with all things, it's better to reserve judgment. The kids, themselves, commented, both in the program and on stage, that this was not "high theater", and so perhaps some degree of oh, gawd, a school play is warranted, but, really, not so much, because it was actually quite a fun show.

Even better though was that this play was written, directed, and acted by the kids, and that, alone, is pretty impressive. But the rest of it was just a lot of fun.

Personally, I had a blast with the premise, which was, that the students had planned to put on a performance of Shakespeare's Mac ..., er, that Scottish play, but at the beginning of the play one of the faculty members (the school principal) invoked the play's infamous curse. So, throughout the production, as the kids are trying their best to allow the show to go on, horrible things keep happening, culminating in the real death by stabbing of the young actor who was playing King Duncan.

The audience is challenged to try to figure out if the play is really cursed or if someone is sabotaging the play. During the intermission, cast members sell additional clues to audience members who are given ballots on which they cast their votes as to who (or what) they think is responsible for the tragic events that seem to be haunting the performance, i.e. is it the curse, or is something else rotten in Denmark (oh, oops, wrong play :)?

The second act reveals the culprit, and in true Shakespearean fashion, the ending is uplifting so that, as the young writer informs us, the audience wouldn't riot.

The show is a part of an annual Murder Mystery "Dessert" Theatre series and is a collaboration between the several arts departments: Drama, Visual Arts, and Culinary Arts (who made a delicious pie a la mode ;). I was very impressed with the depth of knowledge these kids had about the play, and the curse, and even about the particulars of Medieval theatre. Even better, though, was that the "accidents" that kept happening were the sorts of things that had happened when the curse was invoked in previous shows (like the curtains catching on fire as a parody of Charlton Heston's pants catching fire when he played the ill-fated title character :).

I had a wonderful time, and I just wanted to encourage others, if you have a school (or small community theatre) nearby, find out what and when they are performing. It may not be "high theatre", but I will guarantee that it will be entertaining, and best yet, by going to these productions, we're supporting our community arts programs.

I feel incredibly blessed in my community, because I know, even in the face of oil depletion and a lower energy life, we'll still have these talented young people, and at very least, we'll laugh and have fun.

Thank you, E-Niece, for the invitation to see the show ;). I really did have a lot of fun - you were marvelous!

... and Duncan did it ;).

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