Friday night, Anne, Joanie and I went to go see the Merry Wives of Windsor. It is this summer’s production of free Shakespeare in the Park, by the Saint Louis Shakespeare Festival. We arrived around six and laid our blanket and set up our lawn chairs. I had packed a picnic supper, which we began enjoying as soon as we were setup. The play wasn’t until eight, but the Festival had plenty of other diversions, to keep us entertained until then.
Pictured below is a troupe of actors that performed a twenty minute version of the full five act play. They are the Shakespeare Festival Youth Ensemble. Their performance is done tongue in cheek, with each of the six actors playing multiple parts. The purpose of their production is more educational then theatrical. Watching their production gives the outline of the plot and introduces you to all the characters. It also gives an idea of the different character’s motivations.
There were also performers mingling among the crowd. Pictured below is a rather impressive fire eater. There were also jugglers and even belly dancers. Although what belly dancers have to do with Elizabethan England is still a mystery to me. Anne said they were there to add spectacle, which they certainly did.
The story goes that Queen Elizabeth requested that Shakespeare write a play featuring his character, Falstaff, whom she loved dearly. She also requested that he perform this new play, for her, two weeks later. Although Merry Wives is not considered to be one of his great plays, like Hamlet or Romeo and Juliet, it is still a good play. Anyway Elizabeth must have been pleased, because she later said of Merry Wives, “One of my favorite plays. It is as if he wrote it for me.”, which of course he had, hadn’t he? 😉
Speaking of Falstaff, I should explain the first picture with this post. The sign for the Inn is cut out in the shape of the logo for Falstaff Beer. Falstaff, the beer, was brewed in Saint Louis. In college an empty case of Falstaff bottles and five bucks would get you a full case of Falstaff.
Joanie who has lived in Saint Louis all of her life, has a Falstaff connection. Her landlord is of the family that brewed Falstaff. Today’s header shows the set at the end of the evening’s production.