I finally got to see Shakespeare in the park this past weekend by a lucky rainy day mishap. And it was one of those nights that I know I won't forget. This is a long one, sorry in advance haha. Skip to the bottom if you want to not read my rambling on about the show.
First of all, Shakespeare in the park is put on by the Public Theater, an amazing theater company in New York that produces incredible works (such as HAMILTON). During the summer, they put on free productions of Shakespeare at the Delacorte Theater in Central Park featuring a fantastic cast of professional (I believe all Equity?) actors. Their runs are often packed, no matter the day, with lines for tickets starting at 6am and winding around the park. Did I mention it's FREE?!
"As You Like It" was playing in Central Park for a very limited run. It features choreography from a world-famous dancer, equity and COMMUNITY MEMBERS, IT WAS ADAPTED INTO A FREAKIN MUSICAL, AND THE ENSEMBLE TOTALED 250 PEOPLE. My freakin goodness IT WAS AMAZING. I had asked a friend who worked at the theater about the show, but he said to just wait to watch it, as it's not very traditional. Ps, another UNLV alum was working the follow spot, so that was pretty cool!
Lights come up. ORLANDO STARTS SINGING.
I turned to my friend and mouthed "What the fuck."
The second the song started up, I was skeptical... You know how these productions go... But oh my goodness, was I wrong. It turned out to be one of the most amazing adaptations I have ever seen. I can't even begin to wrap my mind around it. The entire cast was filled with ethnicities from all around the world, every culture you could ever find. The ages ranged from little teeny boppers to older men and women. All singing together, all doing Shakespeare, Equity members and community members, professional choreographers, everybody was in this mixed bag and the stage was so colorful and beautiful I spent literally the entire show crying and laughing.
UNLV did a production of the show as well, and it was beautiful, too. But what set this show apart from any show that I have ever seen was that every single bit of it was so unique. Honestly there is probably something to do with getting tickets spur of the moment, having this be my first free Shakespeare show, and more variables. There was a wrestling match in an actual ring, puppeteers, and the singing is in a whole chapter of its own. It just goes to show how great of a world we live in, to have one text and bring it to life in so many ways from so many different viewpoints. The vision that UNLV had and the vision that Public had were both beautiful, in two TOTALLY different ways. The possibilities to creating a work of art are absolutely endless.
Anyway, without going on about this beautiful show I could never recreate in words, my point is, it reminded me of why I came to New York and why I do what I do.
All these races, ages, different people of different backgrounds coming together to tell this story of love and laughter by arguably the greatest writer of all time. I was floored by seeing so many different people on stage and seeing YOUNG PEOPLE. So many tiny little children on stage filled with such pure excitement and genuine love for the arts! You can feeling it oozing from their smiles as you watch them onstage. Seeing young people so dedicated to theater is magical. This is why I'm here, to create the feeling that I felt watching all of that. I want people to watch things I do or make and be inspired. I want to be the Filipino girl on stage that makes the Filipino girl in the audience go "Holy shit she looks like me! Maybe I can do that too!" (Well she'll probably use different phrasing) This show reminded me that we all come from somewhere, that these community members may have done 100 shows, this may have been one of their first productions, but they're doing it and loving it. So what if you don't have 20 years of vocal training? Go and do it anyway. So what if you're not Equity? That shouldn't stop you. So what if you're a mixed girl and people have no idea what to cast you in and you're not really sure what casting is right for you? WHO CARES. We're all here to tell stories. No matter what you look like, no matter where you come from, no matter what your experience is. As long as you have a genuine love for what you do, GOOOOO AND FUCKING DOOOOO ITTTTTT. Did you hear me? I'll say it again GO AND FUCKING DO IT. Goodness I'm at my desk at work trying not to cry but it's just so exciting seeing productions like this that absolutely take you back and restart you! Like a jolt of energy to your artistic mind. I feel like I'm on some kind of drug and if I don't make art this very second I just might spontaneously combust.
I made a mission statement for school a while ago for an assignment and I had no idea how much it would mean to me. I have found myself using it in every aspect of my life and it really is the driving force to all I do now. I want to tell stories and teach lessons through performing, and spread happiness while giving voice to those who cannot be heard. That's why I'm here. I'm here to follow my mission statement. I'm here to make art that makes people feel. I'm here to change minds. I'm here for a reason.
Anyway, that's my ramble for today. It's long and winded and if I said it in person, I'd be pink in the face and probably crying because we all know how I cry when I get really excited.
Have a great day, and remember, if you have genuine love for something, GO AND FUCKING DO IT.