A Shakeathon 2000 Diary
'Down to the Nuts and Bolts'
by Alison Rose
I arrived early, slightly apprehensive - a step into the unknown as the Workout is every week. About 15 people were already assembled, carelessly dotted about the room, some chatting, some alone. Actors made their cautious way down the Art Room stairs and Bruce, as ever, enthusiastically welcomed each person as they arrived, an excellent ice-breaker.
Then we were all lying on the floor, with our eyes shut, as Bruce gently awakened the Year 2000 Shakeathon with words of advice and encouragement, courage being the operative word. Silence for a moment and then into the air flew character names: Juliet, Benvolio, 3rd Witch, for minutes we called names, then names with their descriptions: The fair Ophelia, Bully Bottom, and then whole phrases, until the Art Room was filled with noise.
Max Bonamy as always commenced the Giant Clumps with the Chorus from Henry V, with clarity and warmth, galvanising the sleepers to rise to their feet - and then we were off!
Paul Ayres was on the keyboard beautifully describing and complimenting the words we spoke, sometimes silent, sometimes humorous, always sensitive to the mood of the speeches. There was singing, (a moment of youthful rapture as Rachel Morris did a horny Juliet accompanied by exquisite singing from Sarah-Louise Young,) dancing, and 2 hours of poetry and passion. Max did much wonderful work including spending several selfless minutes playing dead whilst being mourned by Michael Good and 3 Lady Annes: Rachel, Helen Tennison and myself (we were marvellous!) Angus had us all for his Juliet too. Aaron did a great impersonation of David Bellamy and here were enough Lady Macbeths to form an enormous female powerhouse of a circle. Rachel and Matthew Brenher delighted with a complete scene from Taming Of The Shrew and Suzie Marston was brilliant and courageous as always and I have just about forgiven her for using my bottle of water for Ophelia. It was also great to see Bruce strutting his stuff. His Malvolio was moving, funny. Perfectly judged.
Max was saved from a total afternoon with his back on the floor( for which he may or may not be grateful) by Isabel Barbake who added some crucial merriment when most desired.
It was an adventure. We were all great! We listened and shared and joined in if we felt like it or just watched if we didnt. There was love, grief, fear, sex, humour, passion and irony. We must have covered everything. If Bruce hadnt drawn it to a close with the Tempest we might still be there now:
Our revels now are ended: these our actors,
As I foretold you, were all spirits, and
Are melted into air, into thin air:
And, like the baseless fabric of this vision
The cloud-cappd towers, the gorgeous palaces,
The solemn temples, the great globe itself,
Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve,
And, like this insubstantial pageant faded,
Leave not a rack behind: We are such stuff
As dreams are made of, and our little life
Is rounded with a sleep.
Alison Rose 2000