Tuesday, August 11, 2020

Sunday night we saw a very different production of Shakespeare’s Love’s Labour’s Lost. I’m not very familiar with this play, but I’m reasonably sure that it’s never before been performed live on Zoom. What an engaging and lively performance it was! The two of us watching from home (RSM), were joined (remotely) by my oldest son and his wife in Honolulu and my granddaughter in Vista. During the introduction, the audience was asked to unmute temporarily to agree on a cheer which we would all cry out on cue later, at the end of a play presented for the Princess of France. Out of the ensuing melee, the general agreement was: “Righteous!”

Not only were the players in their own homes, but some weren’t even in Hawaii. Spread across five different time zones, the production was brought together by a stage design that coordinated color schemes, props, costumes, and make-up. Shades of blue and bookshelves dominated the kingdom of Austeria where King Ferdinand and his companions had devoted themselves to three years of study and fasting, while in the land of Librios the Princess and her advisors negotiated an alliance from chambers of crimson and fire.

You felt like you were eavesdropping on another world, seeing the King of Navarre and his three companions, Berowne, Dumaine and Longaville, swear (with varying degrees of enthusiasm) to keep their vows of isolation.

Our court shall be a little Academe,
Still and contemplative in living art.
You three, Biron, Dumain, and Longaville,
Have sworn for three years’ term to live with me
My fellow-scholars, and to keep those statutes
That are recorded in this schedule here:

It didn’t take long for the courtiers of Navarre to weaken, secretly passing notes and tokens to the ladies who had camped only a mile away. The young men decide to visit the French encampment disguised “like Muscovites or Russians.” Hearing of this, the Princess says:

And will they so? the gallants shall be task’d;
For, ladies, we shall every one be mask’d;
And not a man of them shall have the grace,
Despite of suit, to see a lady’s face.

This story of isolation, masks, and temptation seems particularly timely.

With everyone in disguise a round of Shakespearian confusion sets in, but all is right in the end and they celebrate with a play after which, on cue, we the audience (briefly unmuted) cried out “RIGHTEOUS!”

Love’s Labour’s Lost continues through August 16. The Hawaii Shakespeare Festival has one more production this summer: Merry Wives of Windsor, August 14-23. Check http://hawaiishakes.org/ . Tickets are $10.00 per household and remember there is a three hour time difference. The magic is that it’s LIVE, not recorded and streamed, and the cast makes it real. Our three households, watching at the same time, had fun sharing the experience, texting comments back and forth about things we noticed during the performance in real time.

If you have a chance, try it out!

Today’s Notable Headlines

“We Had To Get Out’: Despite The Risks, Business Is Booming At National Parks,” NPR, August 11, 2020. https://www.npr.org/2020/08/11/900270344/we-had-to-get-out-despite-the-risks-business-is-booming-at-national-parks

“Is winter holiday travel canceled? Not quite,” CNN, August 11, 2020. https://www.cnn.com/travel/article/winter-holiday-travel-2020-covid-19/index.html

“I’m a U.S. Citizen. Where in the World Can I Go?” New York Times, Updated August 7, 2020. https://www.nytimes.com/2020/07/07/travel/american-travelers-restrictions-coronavirus.html

References for this article:

Synopsis from the Royal Shakespeare Company: https://www.rsc.org.uk/loves-labours-lost/synopsis

Entire text: http://shakespeare.mit.edu/lll/full.html

Hawaii Shakespeare Festival: http://hawaiishakes.org/

Why am I doing this?

The coronavirus pandemic will be indelibly written on our memories just as the Great Depression or the Battle of Britain left their mark on past generations. It is my intention to journal the events of these days from three perspectives: as a retired medical technologist, a historian (Ph.D., 2014), and an ordinary person living through an extraordinary crisis.

You are on History’s Edge.

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