Shakespeare, Please…With a Side of Hiddleston and Gatiss

Shakespeare has always been one of my favorites.  The plays, the poetry…all of it.  The things that man could do with words…it never fails to impress me.  In this, as everything else, I have my favorites.  Of course, this is me.  I can’t pick just one favorite.  I have…four, yep, four…I think.

Twelfth Night has always been at the top of the list. (Except when it was turned into the modern day movie She’s The Man. I didn’t particularly like it then), but this is one I’ve only read or seen in a movie.  The wit and humor in combination with the beautiful language…Helena Bonham Carter was in a movie version of this in 1996 that tipped it into “favorite status”.  One of my favorite quotes comes from Duke Orsino’s speech…

“If music be the food of love, play on,
Give me excess of it”
― William ShakespeareTwelfth Night

A Midsummer Night’s Dream is another that I fell head over heels for.   Kevin Klein and Michelle Pfeiffer played in a movie version as Nick Bottom and Titania.  Rupert Everett’s Oberon is spectacular, and Stanley Tucci plays an amazing Robin Goodfellow.  I’ve also seen this as a Shakespeare in the Park production here in Tulsa at Woodward Park.  Although it was in the height of summer and temperatures as the sun set were still in the upper ninety’s (at least!).  It was really great.  The hillside was sparsely lit with twinkle lights, and Oberon’s opening lines were done as he swooped down from the top of the hill on a zip line.  Woodward Park is a great setting. Filled with lush trees and plants, it is near the Philbrook Museum.  They even have a small monument to Shakespeare tucked away.

Othello is another that just…it breaks my heart every single time.  Laurence Fishburn’s performance of Othello in the 1995 film version is just amazing.  My living room features a framed poster with text for the entire play.  The only caveat is that it doesn’t ever hang in my bedroom.  A play about a man who strangles his wife in a fit of jealousy?  Nope. As much as I love that play, it is truly a tragedy, and I don’t need that kind of vibe where I sleep.  My imagination is overactive enough.

Hamlet is another favorite.  I’ve never been able to choose my favorite production of that play.  Then again, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a bad version either.  Okay, focus Jessica.  

So what does this have to do with Tom Hiddleston?  Well, I get to see a Shakespeare play I’ve never seen before.  After watching the trailer (below), I don’t think I’ve read it either.  I am so excited!  The Coriolanus production done by the National Theatre in London is being broadcast at Tulsa’s Circle Cinema at the end of January.  This production stars Tom Hiddleston as Coriolanus and Mark Gatiss as Menenius.

Now, I’ve been a Shakespeare fan for…well, a very long time.  I prefer to see it performed, because that is what it was written for. Reading is lovely, but I tend to get all caught up in the layers of meaning in the beautiful language.  I don’t really appreciate how the syllables string together, the rhyme, or the stories that have captured our imaginations through centuries until I see it on stage.  The opportunity to watch Coriolanus before I read it is pretty exciting.  All the rest I’d read long before I had the chance to see them performed.  (Yes, I’m doing my happy dance…well, just in my head.  It is hard to type and dance at the same time!)

Until a few months ago I knew absolutely nothing about either the Circle Cinema or Great Britain’s National Theatre.  Maybe it is acceptable that I was missing out on the National Theatre, after all I don’t actually live in Great Britain.  Circle Cinema, however, has been a Tulsa tradition since 1928.  They are a non-profit, independent art house movie theater in the historic Whittier Square Shopping Center, and it is on the National Registry of Historic Places. The atmosphere is warm and welcoming, and I love to go through the adjacent gallery to look at the local artists.

Circle Cinema is one of those things that everyone just assumed that I would know all about, because it was totally my kind of thing.  Well, yeah, but no one ever told me about it.  I have no idea how I’ve missed out on it in all the years I’ve lived in Tulsa.  From now on, you all have instructions to just tell me about cool stuff.  Really, I don’t mind.  Promise.  Either I learn something or I get to discuss cool stuff with cool people. 

I discovered National Theatre Live after posting about their production of Frankenstein starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Johnny Lee Miller as both Dr. Frankenstein and the Creature.  Just look at the trailer! Can you tell me you don’t think this will be fantastic?  The Frankenstein production just popped up in a feed somewhere.  Benedict Cumberbatch has shot into stratospheric fame, and someone posts something about him once a minute.  (Actually, it is probably a lot more than that.  I’m kind of afraid if I Googled him it would break…the internet due to the sheer volume of responses, and I’m not willing to test that theory.)  This is also being broadcast at Circle Cinema in March.  I’m super excited.  I thought I missed it, and while it isn’t the typical way you spend St. Patrick’s Day, I will definitely get into less trouble…probably…maybe…okay, no promises.  

 Just after Halloween, I thought they were showing Frankenstein, but I was wrong it was the National Theatre’s 50th Anniversary Special.  Although, not what I was expecting, it was really awesome.  There have been some truly amazing actors cross the stage of the National Theatre, and the 50 Years on Stage special showcased some wonderful plays.

My parents have taken me to see Broadway musical performances at Tulsa’s Performing Arts Center since I was…well, a really long time.  I got to see Chicago, 42nd Street, Peter Pan, Guys and Dolls, Hello Dolly, A Tuna Christmas…and so many more.  I’ve loved every single one…much to the dismay of my best friend whose relationship with musicals of any kind is…less…enthusiastic.  Fortunately, the poor singing of show-tunes (or any tunes) didn’t ruin the friendship, but my parents did open doors to something I dearly love now.

Until the National Theatre special, I didn’t realize that, other than Shakespeare, I’ve never seen a play that wasn’t a musical.  Oh, what I’ve been missing!  One of the scenes performed was from The History Boys with James Cordon (otherwise known as Craig, Stormageddon’s Dad), Dominic Cooper, Russel Tovey (Allons-y Alonso!) and so many more wonderful actors.  I enjoyed The History Boys so much, I found a film version on Amazon and bought it for myself for Christmas.  (Okay, I didn’t find the film version, my friend did…that purchase is also why I have a ukulele…long story.)  The scene from Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead was so amazing that I have to see the rest of the play too.  Angels in America (which actually wasn’t shown in America at the time because it was too controversial),  A Little Night Music, Bedroom Farce, No Man’s Land…so many others that I need to see…well, maybe not the Jerry Springer Opera.  Okay, maybe even the Jerry Springer Opera.  Oh, man now I’m thinking of plays I need to look for…any recommendations?

If we shadows have offended,
Think but this, and all is mended,
That you have but slumber’d here
While these visions did appear.
And this weak and idle theme,
No more yielding but a dream,
Gentles, do not reprehend:
if you pardon, we will mend:
And, as I am an honest Puck,
If we have unearned luck
Now to ‘scape the serpent’s tongue,
We will make amends ere long;
Else the Puck a liar call;
So, good night unto you all.
Give me your hands, if we be friends,
And Robin shall restore amends. – William Shakespeare, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Act 5 Scene 1

‘Til next time,


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2 thoughts on “Shakespeare, Please…With a Side of Hiddleston and Gatiss

  1. I love A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Macbeth, and Hamlet is my favorite. I had actually never heard of Coriolanus until I heard Tom Hiddleston was doing it. How I wish I could see it!

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