Certainly, there was cause for concern.

Reader issue #604 When the Prenzie Players made their 2003 debut with Shakespeare's Measure for Measure, they did so at Rock Island's Peanut Gallery, which didn't have a proper stage and could only seat, at maximum, 40 people. The show had an inadequate budget (between $200 and $300), a run of only two performances, and no word-of-mouth; Prenzie's founders - Cait Bodenbender, John "J.C." Luxton, Aaron Sullivan, and Denise Yoder - had every reason to expect Measure for Measure to fail.

Yet Friday night's show played to a full house. And on Saturday ... .

I love attending local college and university stage productions, partly because it's such a wonderful reminder of my days as a theatre major - ah, the reassuring familiarity of Augustana College's Potter Hall! - but also because the shows' participants are generally involved with theatre because they truly want to be; with the possible exception of staff members, no one's doing it just for the paycheck. (No one should ever be doing theatre for the paycheck, but that's another issue entirely.)

What makes the blood of most stage performers run cold? Seeing the first audience on opening night? Hearing silence after delivering supposedly hilarious dialogue? Knowing there's a critic in the house? Well, yes, yes, and yes.

Three Weird Sisters, sexy love scenes, sword fights, and murder. I tell you, life doesn't get much better than this. Well, at least for a certain theatre reviewer it doesn't. Not even the mosquitoes could keep me from enjoying Riverside Theatre's summer production of Macbeth at the company's Shakespeare Festival in Iowa City.

"And dream we will, for we are in so odd a world that just to live is to dream." - Segismundo, Life Is a Dream

 

In his aptly titled Life Is a Dream, playwright Pedro Calderon de la Barca suggests that even if life is no more real that our sleeping stories, the Golden Rule still applies. Actions and relationships still have pertinence, and the status of an individual is defined by the opinions of those around him. Calderon's poetic 1636 play continues this weekend as part of the University of Iowa's 2003 Mainstage season.

In this weather, I pity the actors in Genesius Guild's production of Macbeth. In addition to the fact they're on stage wearing three layers of clothing and toting swords, shows are performed at Rock Island's Lincoln Park outdoor theatre, which draws little breeze, lots of bugs, and, of course, heat. Though these aren't ideal conditions for actors, or for audience members, people willing to brave the heat for three hours and put on the bug spray will be more than pleased to see an incredibly well-done yet traditional version of one of Shakespeare's great tragedies.