Wednesday, July 8, 2015

"Yay, Shakes-beard!"

I had been looking forward to the performance for months. As soon as I heard that Tennessee Shakespeare Company (TSC) was going to produce a condensed "family matinee" version of my all-time favorite Shakespearean comedy, A Midsummer Night's Dream, I knew it was the perfect way to introduce Elsa to the Bard AND get my Shakespeare fix.

Of course, I didn't bother to get tickets to one of the two Wednesday morning shows in advance--I've learned not to plan too far ahead when dealing with a toddler--so when I checked the TSC website the night before and didn't see the morning matinee, I figured that tickets were only available at showtime.

I'd gotten Elsa all excited to see "Shakes-beard" (and convinced her that no, we weren't going to see "Fancy, Fancy" again), so we gamely set off to the theater at the University of Memphis. My excitement level was just as high...until I tried to open the door and discovered that it was locked. We tried a couple of different entrances until I found a kind woman in one of the theater building offices who explained that the family matinees had been cancelled. Disappointed, I blurted out that that unfortunately the evening performances were past a certain someone's bedtime to which the woman replied with a sympathetic tilt of her head and cluck of her tongue, "No Shakespeare this year." No surprise that she works in a drama department.

Dressed and ready with no place to go, we settled on the Children's Museum (which was probably more fun to Elsa anyway), but before we went in, I decided to contact TSC via Facebook to ask them to at least update their website so that no one else mistakenly went to a show that wasn't.

Within a day, the founder and producing artistic director of TSC replied to apologize for the cancellation. He also reminded me of the 3pm Sunday matinees--well before bedtime--and said that if I emailed him the date of one of the remaining performances, we could attend as his guests.

Well. Complimentary tickets to my favorite Shakespeare play? Don't mind if I do.

The performance that fit our schedule happened to fall on one of Jon's drill weekends, so after early church and an early nap, the girls returned to the theater. I was apprehensive--yet, optimistic--about taking a two-year-old to a two-hour plus performance. Yes, she was a bit wiggly, but since the show was on a Sunday afternoon and Father's Day at that (don't worry, we celebrated Father's Day early so Jon could enjoy it), there was plenty of space for Elsa to move.

Ready for the show!
Sure, there were parts that were less than exciting for Elsa, but overall, she liked it, I think. She was captivated by the music, lights, and dancing; she spent considerable time after the show twirling in circles like the fairies. And on some level, I think she got what was happening, or at least is starting to understand how live theater works...even if she turned to me after the actors exited the stage at the conclusion of the first scene to inform me that, "They are going to the big potty." (Any guesses what we talk a lot about at our house?)

I think my favorite part occurred during Act III. Those familiar with the play might recall the scene where the four young lovers are lost in the woods and all mixed-up over who loves whom. Featuring a lot of physical comedy from four very talented actors, to me, this scene stole the show. Evidently Elsa thought so, too. By this point, she was standing in front of her seat, peering over the chairs in front of her, mesmerized. Every so often, she would turn to me to utter, "Whoa." Yes, baby girl, whoa.

All in all, our afternoon at the theater and Elsa's introduction to Shakespeare was a success, thanks in large part to TSC. Not only was I able to enjoy a good show, but I also witnessed my daughter exclaim--independent of any prompting from me--"Yay, Shakes-beard!"


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