Friday, June 3, 2011

A Man Who Plants a Garden

Like Shakespeare often did, Jones found two overriding images he wanted to use to tell his story in its newest form – vegetation and the changing of the seasons – and these images would inform everything in the show, giving it a sense of unity and, in following Shakespeare’s lead, also a kind of ancient timelessness. Also like Shakespeare, Jones used rhymed verse and blank verse, the occasional use of prose, and plenty of soliloquies. El Gallo became in part like Shakespeare’s Chorus, directly addressing the audience, offering us not just important information, but also commentary, philosophy, and foreshadowing. But El Gallo also became the descendant of the Stage Manager in Thornton Wilder’s iconic American play Our Town. The ubiquitous images of moon and sun, now as conflicting metaphors for romantic fantasy and cold reality, came from a production of The Winter’s Tale Jones had seen. And going even further into Bard-land, there are striking parallels between The Fantasticks and A Midsummer Night’s Dream, including a God-like controlling figure (El Gallo and Oberon), his handyman and assistant (The Mute and Puck), foolish lovers, and their escape from the "normal" world into a world of adventure where the lovers can learn about themselves and each other, and then return older, wiser, and ready for marriage.

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