21 Tina Packer and Shakespeare and Company are definitely like Champagne
At San Miguel de Allende Writers' conference I met up with Tina Packer, a some-time-ago classmate from London's Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, and her Shakespeare and Company production of "Women of Will", breathtakingly performed by Tina and Nigel Gore to a standing-room audience.
Before, sitting in her acting workshop, I learned so much about William Shakespeare, whose advent upon the great stage in London was, some say, heralded by the comet of 1590. Tina spoke of the Elizabethan age ending that of closed, Church-bound Mediaeval Europe, and opening the age of the Individual. For the fist time individuals were allowed books; printers and presses flourished; and especially attendance at London's fourteen Theatres. In 1589 reading in silence was something unknown. Gloriana herself had a "Reading Room" to which she retired in private to read aloud to herself her important documents of State, understanding what they contained by hearing the words: it was an age where reading still meant "sounding out loud."
Surely those lucky theatre audience members who sat and listened, and perhaps spoke aloud with the actors in the great theatre, were made more alive by words soaringly painting love, war, hate, envy, lust, mercy, mountains turned into clouds, within that little "O", the great Globe, the words sounded out loud of William Shakespeare; lucky attendees made more alive, like Champagne.
The work that Tina and Nigel do to enlighten, like comets, the lives of those of us who hear the words of the Bard, acts like Champagne on our souls and illuminates our minds like "...some meteor that the sun exhales, to be to thee this night a torch-bearer, And light thee on thy way...".
(words first spoken by the boy-actor playing Juliet in 1591, so it is likely William himself had arrived in London some years earlier like 1588 or '89, and by the time the Comet of 1590 flared over London it was underlining the knowledge that a great poet was illuminating the lives of Londoners and soon would all of the world.)
If you are lucky to catch a performance of Women of Will, or any other of Shakespeare and Co. in Lenox, Massachusetts or anywhere in the world (like in Prague this late Spring), don't walk, run to get tickets. And buy a bottle of Champagne to celebrate with afterwards their performances that bring illumination.
Before you go please read Shakespeare and Company's Mission Statement and find the answers to these important questions:
What does it mean to be alive?
How should I act?
What must I do?
Shakespeare and Co believes that the creative impulse is essential to the human soul and the arts are the realized expression, creating in the creator and observer alike compassion and humanity. Read more at the site please.
Go to see how what Tina and Shakespeare and Company are doing to create life and understanding, buoyed on the gas of life, like Champagne.
Sante! and praise for the work of Tina Packer and her work in theatre art.
Post Script: in 1969 I took my little daughter to see the great French actor, Louis Seigner perform le Malade Imaginaire at the Comedie Francaise. That afternoon was Maitre Seigner's 180th performance, an iconic role for him. The audience spoke the lines, at first softly, and finally sounding, some shouting, the words with the great actor. Such a tribute: they had memorized the whole play.
My daughter was transfixed during listening to and somewhat participating in so dramatic an afternoon.