A couple of Fridays ago, I attended the Green College Players’ production of Tom Stoppard’s Arcadia. I wasn’t familiar with the piece, but having played the small, but not at all pivotal role of the fairy Mustard Seed in the inaugural GCP production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream a couple of years ago, I have a soft spot for these little marvels of amateur theatrics.
Since I don’t have a photo from Arcadia, here’s an embarrassing picture from A Midsummer Night’s Dream. That’s me on the right, the fairy with the spiky blonde hair. I was told that I looked more like Billy Idol than a fairy, and I was actually okay with that.
I really don’t know how they do it. This scrappy band of graduate students, most with no acting experience and even less free time, somehow manage to memorize pages and pages of dialogue and put together a really entertaining evening on top of all the other things going on in their lives, like, oh, law school. The director, who is indeed a law student, describes the action of the play as taking place “in a blue-blooded house in the English country-side called Sidley Park, set in two time periods: in the first decade of the 1800s, and in the present day.” The play is beautifully written–funny, sad, and thoughtful. It’s about genius and scholarship and science and poetry and love and madness. On the whole, the players acquitted themselves very well, and there were some especially fine performances from Lora Moon as Thomasina Coverly, David Gill as Septimus Hodge, Matthew Thompson as Ezra Charter, and Tim Hollering as Bernard Nightingale. This was a “strolling” production (I guess that’s a thing?), and the play ranged all over the common areas of Green College. It was a clever idea that, for the most part, worked quite well, though at the beginning, before you really had a chance to settle into the story, the frequent moves tended to break me out of the world of the play.
But don’t take my word for it! Rob McGee raves:
“A very cleverly written play that perfectly navigates between two different time periods. The old Victorian-esque setting of Green College was the perfect backdrop for the play further enhancing the sense of inversion.”
So, what do you think guys? Any aspiring directors out there willing to take on the challenge of establishing our own SJC Players? Anyone dying to tread the boards and take their place in the spotlight? Huh?
In any event, if you have the chance to see or read Arcadia some time, I recommend it. I’ll leave you with this speech from the play, which I think made everyone in the audience stop breathing for a few moments:
“We shed as we pick up, like travellers who must carry everything in their arms, and what we let fall will be picked up by those behind. The procession is very long and life is very short. We die on the march. But there is nothing outside the march so nothing can be lost to it. The missing plays of Sophocles will turn up piece by piece, or be written again in another language. Ancient cures for diseases will reveal themselves once more. Mathematical discoveries glimpsed and lost to view will have their time again. You do not suppose, my lady, that if all of Archimedes had been hiding in the great library of Alexandria, we would be at a loss for a corkscrew?”