We have over 400 years worth of history and
literature and performance here at the Ransom Center at the “Shakespeare in Print and
Performance” exhibition, and what’s really great is that this collection material is
also really wonderful for creative endeavors, as well.
Every time we approach performing one of these plays it’s a negotiation because there is
no authoritative Shakespeare, it’s all malleable. It can be what we want it to be.
I’ve had the pleasure of taking a few Shakespeare classes at UT, and what always gets me like
kinda like a kid again, it’s Macbeth and Richard III. And the set designs that people
like have for them, like Orson Welles or the Bel Geddes King Lear sketches.
It all really speaks to me as a designer, and the way that people have thought about
Shakespeare and design over the last 400 years, and then it’s become the basis for so many
of the scenic designers and scenographers that I really admire and that changed the
way we do theater now. I loved the female actresses, that was probably
my favorite part. Going forward, that gives me a lot of inspiration and variety of roles
that I can play now and not just limiting myself to just the female roles in Shakespeare.
We all connect across this time span and across this, you know all of these different cultural
periods and cultural movements in Britain and the United States and all over the world.
My favorite thing I saw was the prompt-books that stage managers used to give the cues
for lighting and sound and the set. If you had looked at them digitally, you wouldn’t
really have been able to see the way that they got to be folded, so you could see the
blocking notes and the script and then open them up and then everything is out.
There’s historical background that is invaluable for those of us who want to continue bringing
these plays to life. Our productions are only as good as what we know about them.
This is an opportunity for them not only now as they’re getting ready to do these performances
to come and see this incredibly rich material that will inform their roles, but then they
can come back and do research here as well. I knew there were different variations of
Shakespeare, and I just thought how that would affect my performance if I went in and looked
at some of the different ways and if that would change my acting choices, so that’s
definitely something I think I want to come back and take a look at.
We want to come to these plays with a basis of knowledge, then the imagination can spring
from that. Here at the Ransom Center, obviously, we can learn a lot.
I think this whole place is awesome.