Monday, August 25, 2014

From Sawyer to Shakespeare and Back Again

  True confession time - I never read The Adventures of Tom Sawyer until last weekend.  In fact, I never read anything by Twain except for the hysterical Diaries of Adam and Eve.  Hard to believe.  Twain was known for being outspoken and hard living; both threads are evident in this little novel that is more thematically complex than I anticipated.

On the surface there is fun story of a boy who witnesses a murder, attends his own funeral, and announces that he is engaged after a single kiss with his beloved Becky Thatcher.  Beneath all that, Twain subtly comments on societal hypocrisy using characters and events to illustrate frequent discord between society's values and its actions.  Hmmmmm.  No, he doesn't advocate subversion, just puts the word out there for us to consider.

Twain give us plenty to chuckle at. We all know that Tom is not a model citizen, always lingering on the delicate equator between questionably angelic and amusingly sneaky.  In the classic whitewashing scene, Aunt Polly punishes one of Tom's many indiscretions by making him paint their fence.  Instead, Tom convinces he pals that whitewashing is a honor, and they trade him prize possessions in exchange for the opportunity to do his work for him.  

Because I'm all consumed with directing a show right now, I couldn't help thinking that this is a lot like what directors do.  We sell a cast on our show painting a picture of how much fun it will be to create art together. We convince them it is for a good cause, they will make new friends, shine on stage and be the envy of everyone in their paths.  Once on board, we make them work and work and work.  They build our show for us, one line, one movement, one bit at a time. When the curtain opens and the lights go up, they're all polished up on stage, and we sit back and watch as they skip, dip, maneuver and turn in a thespian dance of maybes and hopes.  Maybe it will all work as planned and hopes that they have given the audience a reason to put the day's stress behind and laugh. 

Yup, that's a big old commercial for our HAR/UW-Manitowoc show Barbecuing Hamlet.  September 12 and 13.

Great new kids' book by Caldecott medalists Leo and Diane Dillon.   The title says it all.

Last week, an old friend stopped by all the way from Nebraska.  Slowing down and catching up is  always so very nice.    Steve's (yes the very Steve that occasionally appears as a guest blogger)  first book will be published soon.  I'll keep you all posted.

Thanks for stopping by.