“Ladies and Gentleman! Boys and Girls! Children of all ages! Gather ’round the flag pole in the Old Town Park and enjoy a 15 Minute performance of Living Shakespeare!”
Last Tuesday morning I snuck away from my usual Box Office abode and skipped over to the green in the middle of Old Town Park to watch our education departments regular performance of a 15 Minute Shakespeare. Here I was treated to a two-man rendition of that lamentable comedy, Pyramus and Thisby, from A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
Dressed in their authentic 1850’s garb, Actors Extraordinaire, Mr. Brian Mackey and Mr. Daren Scott gathered a group of touring 1st graders for a performance. A great relief to their exhausted teachers aids. Throughout the piece Brian and Daren hand picked 3 children to play the rolls of Lion, Wall and Moonshine, to the delight of their classmates.
Since birth, the adorable children of Generation Z have been inundated with mediated performance through movies, television and the internet. The habit of playing with real toys is becoming unpopular exponentially. The meaning of “live” performance has been reduced to a clip on YouTube, shot in one take. For these children, “actors” live on the other side of a plasma screen and remain inaccessible and impersonal. But not this time…
The children were fascinated, as if it were nothing they’d ever seen before. Their eyes remained fixed on Brian and Daren’s hilarious range of characters, voices and gestures, not to mention their giggling classmates that had been chosen by the actors to take the stage… or in this case grass.
These actors weren’t walled off by a pixelated screen. Instead of being separated from their entertainment the children were in the thick of it, interacting with the characters and becoming a part of the story as it unfolded before their young eyes. One little girl even captured the memory by recording the entire piece on her cell phone. Oh the irony!
“We are the Cygnet Players! We need an audience and we need a cast! Gather ’round one and all!”