Essay, Research Paper: Love's Labor's Lost

Theater

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My paper report came a bit late but I was extremely exited to go. I got to watch
"Love's Labor's Lost" preformed by the drama department in Juilliard
School in Manhattan. I went alone and got through on a waiting list. I never
read the play and had no idea what to expect. It turns out that a play is much
easier to understand if you are watching people act it out on stage than if you
are reading it from a script. And that play was meant to be watched. It was full
of obscure jokes, and strange language which is relevant to the times when it
was written but does not seem to make sense to the modern reader. The actor's
body language, the expression on their faces and the general movement on stage
tells the story almost independently of the written play. In other word's how
the actors say their lines matter as much as what they are saying. I understood
why a play is supposed to be seen on stage rather than read in a classroom. The
first thing to note about the production was that it was moved out of its time
frame. The original play takes place somewhere in Shakespearean times in Europe.
This version puts the actors in modern clothing. The are portrayed as school
children at play more than adults. The whole play tied into the theme of Cupid
and the futility of attempting to resist love. Everything is about movement and
it seems almost as a ballet or an elaborate dance production. The opening act
starts with four young men (Navarre, Berowne, Longaville, and Dumain) making an
absurd pact to dedicate 3 years to studying and abstain from women's company and
all other "earthly delights". On stage these men seem more like
children. They are wearing school boy's clothing and brandish wooden swords to
make a pact. In the middle of the stage in a little school house with a
classroom inside. The foursome is carrying book bags and speak in exaggerated
tones. The colors are very vibrant and lively, giving the stage more movement
and a feeling of light spirit. Once the four have made their vows, Cupid will
have his revenge. He finds his servant in the form of Costard the clown who in
the production appears as a "spanish ghetto" joker in baggy jeans and
a lot of very colorful shirts. The play is full of sexual innuendoes, heavy
flirting and even a few rap numbers. I have never hears Shakespeare being raped
before but it seemed to have a good beat to it. In the second movement we are
introduced to the four ladies of the play: Rosaline, Maria, Katharine, and the
Princess of France). They are dressed as teenage girls with a risky fashion
sense. Their characters are very distinct with one representing a nerd, one a
sports jock one a flirt and the Princess a strong independent woman. The ladies
are ready for a warm reception but Navarre, being true to his pact, refuses to
let them in. Thus they are ready to aid Cupid in his revenge against the
arrogant men who thought to ignore his arrows. Here each actor seems a clown
with a lot of overplaying. Each motion is bright and obvious, giving the viewer
as much help as possible with the understanding of the play. The music is live
and very sad contrasting what happens on stage. It prepares the audience for the
inevitable tragic ending of the play and tones down the flashy acting. Soon all
the boys break their oath and fall in love with the young women and the clever
and sharp flirting begins. What the play lacks in clarity of words it makes up
in the expression on the actor's faces. Boyet is interestingly enough portrayed
as a wild bisexual, Armado is showing homosexual tendencies as well. That makes
the play more "fun" for the modern viewer and brings the jokes down to
the level where they can be appreciated more by the audience. The actors were
all young students of the school but their skills were not equal. Costard took
the audience by storm by being what he was supposed to be - a clown. I forgave
the rude gestures, the wild movement on stage and the strange rap number because
it was in the character. The performer was not inhibited and felt at home doing
anything on the stage. Surprisingly the character of King Navarre seemed bleak
and flat, getting lost in others. I am not sure what is written for Navarre in
the play but it seems the actor lacked passion and failed to convince me in the
love scenes. The only good part was the "renewal of the oath" scene
where his dialogue was light and clever. Outstanding was Berowne's performance,
the actor went all out and was almost too real to watch. He was funny when he
had to be, the monologues came out clear and easy, and the more serious lines
were said with passion but not overplayed. He made the audience share his point
of view, he carried the mood through and you can see how hard he was working by
the sweat on his face. The female characters were less notable and largely
overplayed. The seem to have been reduced to the cliche of "the nerd",
"the jock", "the flirt", and "the Princess". The
were useful in carrying through the plot but were not a pleasure to watch. Only
the hunting scene raised my interest. I am very glad that I had the opportunity
to attend this play and see it performed live right before my eyes. I never knew
how exiting and entertaining it can be. Actors create a connection with the
viewer, and their performance is effected by the mood and the reception of the
audience. I was sitting in the first row and felt almost like the entire play
was being acted out for me alone. And I am sure that everyone around me had the
same feeling. The alteration to the settings, the costumes, the songs, and the
occasional phrase that was added by the actors themselves (like "Oh,
baby") was justified by the overwhelming response of the audience. If you
ignore the strange jokes and obscure lines and see this play as a lightheaded
comedy it is a pleasure to watch.
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