Voices

Electric Theater | Bounded in a Nutshell

By October 29, 2013 No Comments

I just returned from attending my first professional sporting event: a Flyers hockey game. My brother is not only a massive fan, but also just so happens to live in Philadelphia, so today we decided to snag a few cheap tickets, throw on one of his many jerseys, and head out to the Wells Fargo Center.

Even though they lost, and even though I was still learning the hockey ropes, the place was electric. Everyone had such an incredible spirit and energy until the very end – and even when things were clearly not going to end well.

My favorite moments, unsurprisingly, were when the Flyers would score a goal. All 20,000 people would jump out of their seats and celebrate uncontrollably. I was always too startled to stand up myself, so I would revel in being surrounded by thousands of roaring and excited fans, cheering on their team.

During the game, I noted to my brother that I never experienced anything quite like that: such overt and immediate reactions to entertainment. Theatre (at least contemporary, proscenium-arch theatre) is just as electric and magnetizing, but it’s also a very internal experience.

But then I remembered The Globe’s 2012 Henry V. As Henry V was bringing his army into battle, the entire audience pumped their fists in the air and cried out for Harry, England, and Saint George as if we were the ones at war. It was wonderful, potent, and a rush unlike any other I’ve experienced in a theater. Surely I have felt like crying out, screaming, and wailing before – but was never given the space in which this was acceptable behavior. The Globe gives us all the space, and unique opportunity, to outwardly feel in theater.

So for this post, I thought I’d list a few scenes I always want to cheer and jeer and roar for – like a rookie Flyer, like a true Shakespearean.

1. Juliet’s “Gallop apace, you fiery-footed steeds” speech. I feel like it’s the moment Juliet finally gains her autonomy – in her grief for Tybalt and lust for Romeo. Girl, you work it. Standing ovation.

2. The speech where Bottom is so close to being the only one to remember the truth about what happened in the woods. Seriously, it may be one of the most frustrating moments in a comedy for me. He is so close to finally having a win: “Methought I was – there is no man can tell what. Methought I was – and methought I had – but man is but a patched fool if he will offer to say what methought I had.”

3. Everything Hermione does and says in The Winter’s Tale deserves applause. The end: “Apollo be my judge!”

4. The moment Mark Antony says, “And, sure, he is an honorable man” when referring to Brutus. That “sure” is the equivalent to a million passive aggressive daggers and makes me want to cheer a million obnoxious cheers.

5. Volumnia saves Rome in Coriolanus. Her final speech to her son is vulnerable, powerful, and thrilling. I don’t even know if I could possibly cheer at this moment, IT’S ALL SO TENSE: “This is the last: so we will home to Rome, / And die among our neighbors”

These are, of course, only a short list of the very long list of scenes that I have visceral and immediate reactions to: reactions that can only be paralleled at a sporting event! What scenes make you want to cheer, jeer, and roar?

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