The U.K. Observer has reported that Jonathon Holmes, artistic director of the Jericho House, claims that Shakespeare should have maybe shared credit with musician Robert Johnson for The Tempest, having found evidence that the Bard's last work was actually meant to be a musical.
Robert Johnson (no, not the 1930s blues singer, although that would make for an interesting musical) was a composer, as well as the highest regarded lute virtuoso of his time, and is already said to have written two songs in the play. But Holmes, who spent two years' researching The Tempest before directing his own new production, believes that Johnson may have composed a movie score-like soundtrack to the entire play.
"The norm in the play, I now believe, was continuous sound," Holmes said, "though there is nothing else like this in Jacobean drama." Probably because musicals, as we know them, didn't exist yet.
"Although the idea of a score is something we are used to, it was revolutionary at the time," Holmes added. "It meant that the characters didn't appear to hear the music. It shaped the narrative and it changed the number of lines a character needed. In terms of dramatic importance, it is as if we've been missing a character all this time."
The eighth tip on the Alzheimer's Association's list of 10 tips for Alzheimer's patients to maintain independence is to stay active. "Continue doing hobbies you enjoy," the site advises. "Whether it's gardening, dancing, painting, volunteering, playing sports or card games, you will benefit from the mental and social stimulation."
But Wolfgang Roth, an avid theater lover, finds it more difficult for him to keep up with some of the plots of his favorite plays since he was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease four years ago. Luckily he found The Memory Ensemble, a 90-minute weekly improv session for people with early stages of Alzheimer's or other forms of dementia.
The Memory Ensemble was founded by the Cognitive Neurology and Alzheimer's Disease Center at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in partnership with the Tony Award-winning Lookingglass Theatre Company. Lookingglass member Christine Mary Dunford serves as the group's improv coach and leads them through a set of simple improv games.
"When we think of people with Alzheimer's and other dementia, we think about people who are losing skills on a daily basis," Dunford told NPR, "but here, they're learning some new things, too. It gives them... a sense of self-confidence that they were able to accomplish this. And in this disease, there's not a lot of opportunity to feel a sense of accomplishment."
David Fox, theater teacher at the University of Pennsylvania and theater critic for the Philadelphia City Paper, wrote an essay last week for the New York Times Arts Beat Blog, debating whether or not booing at a theater performance is fair.
Fox points out the prominence of booing in the operatic culture, and how "booing, like cheering, was a passionate comment on star performers" during the 19th century, when there were curtain calls after each act. Opera singers today still have to fend off jeers, and he cites the booing of Roberto Alagna in a 2006 production of Aida at La Scala as a recent example.
But Fox goes on to say that today, booing at the opera is usually not directed at the performers, but at the creative team, who audiences feel are perhaps misrepresenting the tradition of the art form. When the director or designers take their bows, most often they are the ones getting booed.
This presents an argument for whether or not the same sort of jeering could be appropriate in a theater setting. For one, Fox points out that the only ones bowing at a curtain call are the actors, and in some cases, they may not be the ones responsible for the audience's displeasure. Furthermore, the theater actor has less direct contact with the audience, not breaking character as often as in an opera, and therefore leaves little time for an appropriate jeer-fest from the audience. The theater audiences in general, Fox adds, "have less of a fixed sense of how things should be done."