Thursday, April 24, 2014

Of Shakespeare and Cervantes

Two historic writers who shared the same death date- 23 April 1616. But back then, the date referred to different days due to the differences in Spain's Gregorian calendar and England's Julian calendar. Effectively, Shakespeare died 11 days after Cervantes. In our Gregorian calendar today, it means Shakespeare died on 3 May 1616.

One whose works found fame and respect in his lifetime, whose company was re-named 'King's Men' due to its patron being King James I, and the Globe was built to perform his plays. The other, once a soldier who was subsequently enslaved, and rather unfairly treated, whose impoverished life was as dramatic as his protagonist Alonso Quixano. William Shakespeare and Miguel de Cervantes.

Presented mainly by the Embassy of Spain and National Library Board (NLB), staged by GenerAsia Limited, written and directed by Madame Asa Gim Palomera, 'The Curious Lives of Shakespeare & Cervantes' was thoroughly enjoyable, a tongue-in-cheek exploration of the writers' personal lives. The blurb flagged song and dance, comedy and bits of slapstick to re-create the writers' "dirty laundry, failed marriages, brawls and and successes" in the Spanish and English courts and their position within the aristocracy. Luckily, the singing was minimal.

The six actors were totally competent and brought a lot of fun to the play. While the actors had their 'main' roles, they also stepped into the clothes of kings, queens, squires, farmers, earls, etc, just to spice things up and quickly shuffled along chronological lines in both countries. Very nicely done. There were Filomar Tario as William ShakespeareRiccardo Cartelli as Miguel de CervantesAaron Khaled as Lope de VegaAteeqah Mazlan as Anne HathawayNadia Abdul Rahman as Catalina de Palacio and Caitanya Tan as Actress 3. In the background was acoustic guitarist Manuel Cabrera II whose music perfectly accompanied the actors' every cadence and tone.

No fancy sets. Period costumes, some props, wooden stools, fun dialogue, and loads of acting. As it should be. It was good fun. Very honored by the gracious invitation to the non-ticketed play. In her Director's note, Madame Asa shared what she hoped to achieve,

In this piece, I have tried to bring forward the sheer humanity of both authors, to present them, as it were, in their underwear, to show that the emotions we feel from their work are as human as the emotions they, in turn, experienced when they were alive. It is, then, a dramatic recreation of the writers' lives that weaves a tapestry with their own words with mine and illuminates them with their own music.


L Lee said...

Heard there's a whole series of Shakespeare-related films showing at the Art House almost every evening.

imp said...

L: There are. But I can't sit through those films without nodding off. They and the books, killed me in school. :P Wil you be checking them out?