As of yesterday, Kentucky Shakespeare has announced its fifty-seventh season (and yes, that is one year longer than the one in that other Central Park), which includes mainstage productions of Much Ado About Nothing, Richard II and Julius Caesar. So now I’m officially allowed to talk about these scripts I’ve been working on. It’s early days yet, but the glossing and the footnoting and the punctuation tweaking and the turning of U’s into V’s and vice versa and I’s into J’s and the occasional “Ile” into “I’ll” has begun.
It’s been company habit for the last couple of seasons to work straight from the Folio and thereby allow the actors to make about 90% of the choices about what to do with that information. Most of what I do, besides making the script readable, is to correct some of the more obvious typos and misattributed speeches while leaving some of the contentious passages as they are while noting what most editors think should happen there. We must’ve done the lines that surround “parting is such sweet sorrow” five different ways in Romeo & Juliet rehearsal last summer, because why not hear how they all sound? I think good sense prevailed – the actors in question both had the wisdom to know when what they said rang true and when it didn’t – but playing it aloud is always the best test even when it just confirms what made sense on paper.
I’ll also enjoy reporting on the inevitable accidental overlaps. For example, I already know some of the thinking that went into this season. Caesar is a school curriculum show the company hasn’t done in a while and will be taken in abbreviated form to schools and parks throughout the spring; Richard II hasn’t been done in the park since the mid-‘90’s and will be the first of a long chronological run of Histories with (one hopes) as much cast overlap as the logistics of the lives of those involved allow; Much Ado has also been away for some time and it’s always wise to open with a solid crowd-pleasing comedy.
But I also noticed even at first glance that wobbly power structures are a big part of the season. This is pretty obvious in the history and the tragedy, but the whole men-know-better-than-women-oops-turns-out-men-are-primarily-idiots patriarchal angle of Much Ado shouldn’t be ignored as this theme goes. But as I say, when the whole gang digs deeper into these three plays line by line, I’m sure much more cross-hatching will appear in the season Venn.