5 plays coast to coast in two days: a view of poetry’s transforming role in civic and personal life. In which we consider The Great Comet of 1812, a musical of Leo Tolstoy’s War and Peace, that covers Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables, and Phantom of the Opera, Hairwhich covers Shakespeare’s Hamlet, and Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, which covers Plutarch, and Mark Norman’s and Tom Stoppard’s Shakespeare in Love, which covers Romeo and Juliet and Twelfth Night, and Jiehae Park’sHannah and the Dread Gazebo, following her Peerless which covers Shakespeare’s Macbeth, and a little dessert of pie, in the musical Waitress, with lyrics written and performed by Sara Bareilles with a book by Jessie Nelson (I Am Sam) Inspired by Adrienne Shelly’s beloved film, and we’ll hear “what’s inside” including the trope of “spontaneous poetry.”
HELLO, POETRY SLOW DOWN, welcome to our show today live from Ashland, Oregon, home to the Oregon Shakespeare Festival where I’m seeing three plays in 24 hours, and just returned from New York, to report to you on two musicals in 24 hours, this is love, for you, for musicals and drama, this life, this is the life, reporting to you on poetry in our lives today, its role in our civic consciousness, and conscience, in how we live and think about our lives, its role as a literal happy ending, and we’re produced by Zappa Johns, from the West Coast, and I’m struck, by this intense watching and reading of theater over the course of three days, how poetry is not only the means by which meaning is brought to us, but very much part of the plot itself. We’ll begin and conclude with our love affair with Shakespeare in Love, in which the whole plot itself is the writing of the plays and poetry by Shakespeare—it opens with his having writer’s block in his sonnet 18, “Shall I Compare Thee to a Summer’s Day”. He can’t come up with the words until Christopher Marlowe strolls in and saves the (summer) day, words of love that are irresistible to the heroine who is undone by poetry. We see him develop Romeo and Ethel: the pirate’s daughter into Romeo and Juliet before our eyes. And then we’re hearing Josh Groban sing Tolstoy’s altar-ego. And the best of all, perhaps, the spontaneous poetry that makes the “dwarf” pursuing Dawn in Waitess once again, irresistible. Poetry does that: try this at home!
© Barbara Mossberg 2017