Having been provoked by Philip Fisher’s selection of dream productions that he wishes has been recorded and made available on video, I have taken some time to choose my own top 10, which readers might easily discern have been influenced by my background in obtaining a doctorate based around Shakespeare studies.
In no particular order, here is my selection:
- Lysistrata by Aristophanes in an ancient Greek amphitheatre to compare what is lost in modern translation.
- A Shakespearean performance of The Taming of the Shrew (1595?) to see how boy players personated women on stage, their painting (cosmetics), and for first-hand contemporary views on gender.
- Preferably by the same company in Rep with The Taming of the Shrew, a circa 1611 performance of The Woman’s Prize or The Tamer Tamed—John Fletcher’s response to Shakespeare’s Taming that echoes Lysistrata.
- A staging of Shakespeare’s lost play, Cardenio (seated next to Shakespeare so that I could ask questions about it).
- Thomas Middleton’s short-lived but hugely contentious A Game at Chess (c.1624) to gauge why this play was the hot ticket of the day.
- A Jacobean performance of The Winter’s Tale (c.1611) for Shakespeare’s famous stage direction, “exit, pursued by a bear” (and the difference it would make watching the play at a time of bear presence / mistreatment in London).
- A visit to Middle Temple (Fleet Street, London) c.1602 for John Marston’s What You Will (to answer my questions on the play’s title and language, left unanswered).
- To be present at a London performance of Shakespeare’s Othello starring Ira Aldridge (c.1825).
- Michael Boyd's Shakespeare Histories Tetralogy for the RSC at the Roundhouse (2008)—in person (all eight?!) Or filmed using today’s technology (unlike the bird's-eye view videos currently available), particularly for Jonathan Slinger’s Richard, Duke of York / Richard III and Katie Stephens’s morphing from Joan of Arc into Margaret of Anjou. As an aside, this was also my first introduction to British Theatre Guide, since I sat next to London Editor Philip Fisher, who recruited me during an interval in Henry V.
- To see again or via streaming: Jonathan Munby directing King Lear at Minerva Theatre Chichester (2017) with Sir Ian McKellen as the king but more specifically for Damien Molony’s Edmund.
I do hope that this list has given readers food for thought and might perhaps even tempt some others to prepare their own fantasy lists.