Daniela: What would you say to Shakespeare for our next poetry series?
Kelli: <<popping the cork>> Um… sure. But can we try to make it risky and interesting on my end, besides making it clear to the public why someone who’s sounded 40 since she was 16 never got hired to play Juliet?
Daniela: <<smiling but shaking her head>> What did you have in mind?
Kelli: Well <<pouring>>, what would you say to some of my favorite male speeches that I might otherwise never get the chance to explore?
Daniela: Hmmm….. <<sips, and then…>> Send me some examples.
I have to say, this turned into some of the most liberating and enjoyable research I’ve ever experienced when it came to selecting material. Here’s a tough kicker in Shakespeare reality… there is one female role to every four male roles in the canon. More good news.... Harriet Walter wrote an amazing article for The Guardian last year expanding on this harsh truth with the observation that “The purpose of a woman’s presence in the plot [of a Shakespeare play] is almost always in relation to a man – ie they are someone’s daughter, girlfriend, wife or widow. Their speeches are almost always about their men in some way. Men are their world, while for men the whole wide world is their sphere, and their speeches can range across the great political and philosophical questions that concern us all.” So in the end, we chose to not arrange a handful of pieces musing on the different facets of men. We went with the world.
In total, I think I sent Daniela 10-11 excerpts, steering away from the likes of “To be or not to be” and “Is this a dagger which I see before me.” The words we’ve chosen for this series are beautiful. They are conflicting, painful, poignant, sometimes threatening, and I will most likely never be hired to say them. But I wanted to say them. And when you produce your own work, you call the shots.
The point of this series is not to convince directors of the world that they should give a young adorable redhead as much of a shot at Shylock as an actual older Jewish male. Nor is it to manipulate my vocal skills in order to fool our listeners that they are hearing as such. The point of our Shakespeare series, simply put, is joy. Free, unassuming joy. Daniela’s glorious, improvised score set to whatever delicious words in the canon I fancied to say. And with that said, ladies and gentlemen, it is with giddy hearts that we present the first piece in our Shakespeare series… Aaron the Moor from Titus Andronicus…