Brush up your Shakespeare
Warning: This column is about to get pretentious. Just mentioning William Shakespeare is going to kick the pomposity up to 11.
Ever since high school, I have been an aficionado of the Bard (I’ll take “Things Frasier Crane is likely to say,” for a hundred, Alex). My favorite English teacher, Mr. Weprich, introduced me to England’s greatest playwright.
I have a whole “Tuesdays with Morrie” thing going on with Weprich, except he’s more likely to outlive me (dude is in decent shape and not that much older than me).
Wep (as we affectionately dubbed our instructor) instilled a lifelong love of Shakespeare in me.
I will admit to being completely flummoxed when I opened my Penguin Reader version of “Midsummer Night’s Dream.” It was tricky getting past all that dense Elizabethan English, but I was quickly enthralled. In the play, there were fairies, amazons and a guy with a donkey for a head. Kids, this was back in the ancient times, before “Harry Potter.” If we wanted magic and Englishmen, we had to look to the classics.
I had one previous encounter with the works of William Shakespeare. When Phil Silvers came to “Gilligan’s Island,” the castaways preformed “Hamlet, the Musical” for the snarky Harold Hecuba.
In 11th grade, I got my first chance to perform the Bard’s immortal words as Sir Toby Belch. I got to say things like, “Excellent; it hangs like flax on a distaff; and I hope to see a housewife take thee between her legs.”
Sir Toby was a dirty bird. I loved the mix of lowbrow comedy and highbrow poetry. There was something for everyone. The famous playwright knew how to win over both kings and country folk. He quickly captured the imagination of 15-year-old me.
On Thursday, I’ll be playing C3PO in “William Shakespeare’s Star Wars.” I know. You’re probably going, “Whatty what now?”
This guy, Ian Doescher, rewrote George Lucas’ classic sci-fi film in iambic pentameter. I was cast as C3PO, the golden droid, in a live reading. I get to say things like, “Anon, anon, R2! Where dost thou go? O prithee, patience, leave me not alone! [Aside] Aye, even though I mock and injure thee, I’ll surely die if e’er thou leavest me!”
It could be one of the silliest things I’ve ever done. Longtime readers to this column will note I’ve done a lot of silly things!
Let’s face it, if William Shakespeare were around today, he’d be writing action movies. Maybe even sci-fi movies. He’d write the heck out of them, too!
He always managed to weave a good story around some action and adventure.
Even in one of the comedies (“Twelfth Night”), he has a shipwreck on the first page! I’m just saying, it took James Cameron three hours to get to the one in “Titanic.”
Come down to the ToonSeum on 945 Liberty Avenue, Downtown Pittsburgh, and hear my dramatic turn as a whiny gold robot in “William Shakespeare’s Star Wars.” Did I mention the event is free? You won’t have to borrow or lend money to anyone. Cause, well, you know why.
For more information about the event, check out www.geekpittsburgh.com.