Two Noble Kinsmen announcements

02/15/2016

Hey people,

Sorry for the lack of activity the last couple weeks. I know I kind of dumped a new Facebook group on your mat, rang the doorbell, and ran off. I promise I was sufficiently miserable to justify this. I won’t go into details, but I’m going to need all your phone numbers again, and you probably won’t recognize my car when I see you next.

Anyway, at long last here’s an event to tide you over.

Another Play Reading!

Saturday, February 27 at 6:00 PM.

Once again I’m inviting you all to come in and read The Two Noble Kinsmen. For those who attended the last reading, this one is going to be a little different. For one, there will be plates. The paper towels will not be poisoned.  Also booze.

More substantially, we’re going to talk about the play with a little more focus. I’m going to have a list of questions for you all to consider before the reading begins. I’m also asking that everyone have some idea about their character beforehand as well. I don’t need you to read the play, but if you’re attending, you should at least talk to me so you have some idea what you’re going to be doing. I may also stop the reading to give a note here and there or to ask someone to try something.

For anyone interested in actually being involved in the play, that’s something we can discuss at this event as well. I’ll be hanging around for an hour before the reading and afterwards as long as it takes to work everything out.

Everyone is invited. Even if you don’t want to read, your input and experience are still greatly appreciated.*

*However the booze is only for readers.

About The Two Noble Kinsmen:

William Shakespeare wrote The Two Noble Kinsmen with John Fletcher in the year 1612. It was likely the last play he ever worked on. Because Fletcher had become even more popular than Shakespeare in later years, many editors stopped placing Shakespeare’s name in the byline. When Fletcher fell out of style during the Restoration, the play went with him. For over 200 years it went without a single performance until evidence and modern scholarship reasserted Shakespeare’s large contribution. For this reason it’s arguably the most Shakespearean play not to be featured in most “Complete Works” collections and has gone without performance in many areas, including Minnesota.

The play is based on Chaucer’s The Knight’s Tale, which itself was based on a story by Boccaccio which was based on a story by Statius who was inspired by one of the oldest of all myths. It tells the story of two young knights, Palamon and Arcite, who are captured by King Theseus during his war with Theban king Creon.

In prison the two cousins and lifelong best friends both fall in love with Theseus’ sister-in-law Emilia, who they see in the garden through their prison window. They go from planning a “noble” life in prison to attacking each other over the love of a woman who does not know either of them exists. When both leave prison and are free to continue their lives, they decide instead to risk death to remain in Athens and continue fighting for her love.

Shakespeare’s audience would have known this story pretty well, as Chaucer’s Tale had come to represent the way rediscovery of the Greeks led to chivalry in the Middle Ages. It began as a very reverent story about the inheritance of Western culture, but became a full-on parody by the time Shakespeare and Fletcher told it. Both had recently read Don Quixote and adapted it into a lost play called Cardenio. They seem eager to parody all the ideals of their culture in the same way.

It’s also one of the craziest plays Shakespeare ever wrote, full of songs, battles, references to past plays, and a sprawling cast of eccentrics (including a mad doctor, a man in a baboon costume, and one of Shakespeare’s best characters, the Jailer’s Daughter). Act 2 functions as an abbreviated version of The Two Gentlemen of Verona. Act 3 is a reimagining of A Midsummer Night’s Dream (with many of the same characters, it could even be considered a sequel of sorts). It’s irreverent, complex, preposterous, perfectly structured, and insanely fun.

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