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Guest Blog: Simultaneous Shakespeare, Initial Nerves

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Student Nicola Pollard is directing an ambitious project that will see her stage two productions of The Two Gentlemen of Verona at the same time in two different locations - Exeter and Cambridge.

As I lay down to sleep last night, a hundred thoughts started whizzing round in my head. How might the live feed be able to work? When will I be able to find a Producer for Cambridge? Will my actors’ schedules be easily co-ordinated for rehearsals without massive problems? To distract myself I started to mentally write this blog, but I can’t remember a word of it.

I do tend to worry and stress about things; often things that haven’t happened, or might not ever happen. This does mean that I’m sometimes prepared for any eventuality, but it also means I dream up eventualities that would probably never occur. Simultaneous Shakespeare (or SS as it’s affectionately known – by me) is relatively small, I can’t even begin to imagine how fraught organising something like the RSC’s Complete Works Season could be.

Granted they have many people working on such projects, but still the amount of issues that could have cropped up with that many actors, directors, plays, audience members, technicians, props, sets is immense. The further I progress into the study of Shakespeare the more I appreciate astonishing productions and performances. Also the further I progress in Shakespeare the more annoyed I get by people who champion the sciences over the arts, because the latter is ‘easy’ but I won’t go there either. (I’ve just given bait to many people who know me, error.)

A concept that I do want to tackle in this blog is the concept of big Shakespeare projects, like the RSC Complete Works and The World Shakespeare Festival. Why do we feel the need for such projects? I’m not implying that we shouldn’t have such events, but the rationale really interests me. Perhaps some feel that merely performing the plays isn’t enough and we need to do more to celebrate Shakespeare’s work. Maybe as we have these resources of incredible theatres and institutions we should use them in large showcases, to demonstrate some kind of wider potential? I think such projects (and I don’t include my own under ‘large showcases’!) are fantastic, and can create real excitement. Are they necessary to get people excited about the Bard? Do they help get people excited about the Bard and his work? Answers on a postcard please.

My friend, housemate and fellow masters student highlighted something to me the other day. He thought it was clever how we’re doing The Two Gentlemen of Verona, in two cities – so there will indeed be two Proteuses. That was, of course, planned and intentional…

I’m auditioning in Exeter tomorrow. So I know what will be spinning round my mind tonight as I turn out my light, ‘Will anybody come?’


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