What else is going on with my work as an independent scholar, you ask? Well, as a matter of fact, I’m planning and organizing a table reading of John Lyly’s Galatea. For some time, I’ve wanted to either start or be a part of a “read not dead” series of non-Shakespeare plays. There are many good plays out there that weren’t penned by Ol’ Will, and it’s a shame they’re so often overlooked in favor of another production of Romeo and Juliet or Midsummer Night’s Dream. Some of these non-Shakespeare plays even have fairies! And doomed lovers! And mistaken identities! And girls dressed as boys in a forest! True, I live in southwest Florida, which is not exactly a bastion of Shakespeare productions, let alone Marlowe or Webster, but with any luck, I’ll start a small push for change.
Since I’m an alumni of Florida Gulf Coast University and still registered there non-degree seeking (I’m the actual definition of “perpetual student”), I figured my best bet was to organize these readings on the FGCU campus. If they’re a hit, I can then approach local theatre companies with some experience under my belt. I’ve gotten great feedback from professors in the English, History, and Theatre departments of FGCU, and the plan is to get this rolling after the first of the year. Right now I’m working on scripts, background info, and publicity materials.
Although I’d dearly love to do a reading of these plays in their entirety, I have to be practical. My hopes are to involve anyone interested: actor, non-actor, English major, Engineering major, it doesn’t matter. I just want to spread the joy of early modern drama! In light of this, I had to accept that not everyone can sit through 2 ½ hours of Shakespeare, Lyly, or Middleton. After discussing with a dear friend who was one of my lit professors and all-around mentor, I decided I would offer the table reading participants the choice of doing either the full play or a stripped-down version that runs about an hour. The hour-long choice also has the advantage of allowing for discussion time, which is an important part of my vision. So right now, I’m working on the edits. I found I can eliminate eight characters (the “clown” figures), and not interfere with the core story line. This allows me to cut entire scenes and numerous pages. I’m now making these deletions in Word; it’s time consuming, but will be easier to read and tweak than blacked out sections on a pdf. After this is complete, I’ll do a comparison with the original to make sure all is still well with the main plot.
I’ll blog more about this project as I move along with it. I’m pretty excited! I’ve never had the urge or talent to act, but I’ve always been intrigued by directing. I’ve also always wanted to head up post-show talkbacks and such. With this project, as my friend pointed out, I’m the Artistic Director, director, and educational department! It just doesn’t get any better than making your dreams happen.