To Go, or Not To Go? (That is The Question.)

Tips for attending The Old Globe’s Shakespeare Festival in San Diego
(in 333 words, and one flawed iambic pentameter verse)

Too oft we shun that which we don’t yet know.
With words, the Bard can put on quite a show.
Under the stars, to listen, laugh, and sigh,
“Not Les Mis.” But ’tis a grand lovely nigh.

Shakespeare illustration
Illustration by Kristina Micotti

Yes, the very thought of Shakespeare can prompt yawns and have you tiptoeing toward the theater exit. (I should know—my mom and I once snuck out of a production of King Lear!) The shows can be long. The language is antiquated and spoken in verse, which can make it bloody hard to understand what the h*ll is going on. But lest ye make other plans, this year’s Shakespeare Fest includes three gems. A Midsummer Night’s Dream (aka Shakespeare for beginners) involves a love story, a forest, and some fairies. Google the rest, so you can follow along. The second show is The Merchant of Venice. This one has to do with boats, money lending, and getting in over your head—an old play with very modern themes. Again, Google. The third and perhaps most exciting show is Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, written by the super-brilliant and very much alive Tom Stoppard. It’s a comedic spinoff of Hamlet. To really feel like an insider and catch all the jokes, watch the Mel Gibson movie version of Hamlet beforehand (run time is 2 hrs 10 mins, totally doable). Stoppard also penned the screenplay for Shakespeare in Love, spawning an Oscar-winning performance by the ever-fashionable Gwyneth Paltrow. And by the way, Shakespeare actually invented the word “fashionable.” True story. He also invented more than 1,700 other words commonly used in the English language, including “assassination” and “puking,” without the latter of which we could have never published the feature “How to Sail Around the World ... Pregnant.” See page 104. Still, if you’re sitting there thinking, What’s going on? I’m bored. Hey, I forgot to schedule my colonoscopy!, maybe there’s no hope for you, and we suggest the following drinking game: Buy a glass of wine at intermission. They’ll give you a plastic cup with a lid and straw. (The best and worst thing to ever happen to live theater!) Take a sip every time you hear the words wherefore, whence, or thou. Bottoms up!

 

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