One of the exciting things about this summer in the park with Kentucky Shakespeare is the new stage, which will make its debut during a season that includes Julius Caesar, generally thought to be among the first (if not the first) plays used to open the Globe in the 1590s. As a lover of direct audience address, its opening lines (“Hence: home you idle Creatures, get you home”) entertain me greatly. It’s one thing to speak to the crowd and another to have the confidence to tweak them for playing hooky from work to come to your show at all. which, statistically, a good chunk of them were.
Now, for proper direct audience address, it’s nice to be able to get as close as possible to people, for which purpose the old stage had a rake. Unfortunately the raked stage facing one way and the raked seating the other meant one could only land about halfway down the rake before starting to disappear from the view of the people at the rear. So on the new stage, the dimensions are the same but the rake is gone; I was bummed about that at first until I realized this meant I could get even closer to the front row than I was able to before and still be seen back at the bar and the food trucks.
Another change is the stage house, which was lovely and modified-Elizabethan and all but was also pushing thirty, has had hours to ripe and ripe outside in the Ohio Valley, and has moved on to the hours where it rots and rots. The noisy planks one waited on to enter above were past Rustic and only pausing at Dispiriting on the hill down towards Decrepit. Now there’s to be an annual temporary set piece to give us the levels we require without allowing them to bake and freeze in alternation.
Back in November, I think it was, the stage house was pulled down – well, some bolts were loosened and then a bunch of us blew on it really hard – in preparation. Some of it was used in our (indoor) Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead in January to make a skewed version of what had been our Hamlet stage a couple of seasons before.
Now, I’ve seen a lot of fine work done on that stage, and I’ve seen some of the worst (so the exact track record of every stage in history). I’ve done a couple of things I was proud of there, and I’ve chewed mercilessly on that delicately seasoned wood, which tastes more like ham than chicken. But the day of helping to tear it down was less nostalgic than I expected it to be on the whole, probably because it was so clearly a preparation for building it up more sturdily than it had been in a while. [Insert poignant metaphor for the last few seasons at the park here.] Also, as long as we’re facing the right way and we’re high enough to be seen, we have some solid words to bellow out there, so whether the beams are old are new is moot, in my eyes.
Anyway, a new playground is always welcome. And now I have very little idea what the pulpit at Caesar’s funeral (spoiler) will look like or how high up Richard II will be when says “we [royal we] will descend”, which is fun after some time of being able to guess where things would land.
I’ll see a floor plan in a couple of weeks, May 1, when rehearsals begin. You’re welcome to come to the park and watch the new set come together, of course. It’s free, and the weather is lovely this time of year…