30 May 2008

A trip into the district


Two tour buses arrived in the post office parking lot behind the refectory during supper this afternoon. And, after the meal and an introductory lecture all 80+ of us were theatre-bound.

I don't recall ever having attended a live performance of a Shakespeare play. So, finding myself in the Harman Center for the Arts (610 F Street NW) as Antony and Cleopatra unfolded was a rich, new, and in many ways incomprehensible experience. Thank goodness for that initial pre-play lecture and the printed program notes!

While the long speeches were largely lost to me, the intricacies of the 17th century Elizabethan language and the level of allusion more than I could actually grasp, the setting was simply fabulous, the Harmon being a new, intimate theatre. The unfolding of the story was augmented in a most positive way by the simple, seamless staging and the strong and direct costuming.

The play, including one 15-minute intermission was over three hours. I stepped back onto the post office parking lot at 11:15. We'll be debriefed on Anthony and Cleopatra -- our impressions, how to grapple with the theology expressed in interactions among the characters, the cultural and political commentary Shakespeare was making -- in the session right after breakfast in the morning.

For now, I'm going to bed.

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