Houstonians celebrate Shakespeare, the long and short of it
June 23, 2015, by Erika Jo Brown
On a sunny, breezy Friday, we few, we happy few, we band of brothers gathered at Brazos Bookstore to celebrate its partnership with the Houston Shakespeare Festival (HSP). This summer, the bookstore is hosting a series of Bard-tastic events, including dramatic performances of Shakespeare’s sonnets and soliloquys, and two informal book club gatherings that offer a sneak peek into HSF’s repertory productions of Macbeth and The Merchant of Venice.
The first event, all about sonnets, was emceed by Jim Johnson, HSF executive director and UH professor of voice and dialects, who presented a theatrical dish fit for the gods. Throughout the evening, he also explicated interesting tidbits for the audience’s edification.
Readers included Suzelle Palacios, a BFA alumna from UH, who’s heading to the Old Globe MFA program this fall; Kat Cortes, a current MFA student at UH, who’s teaching with the HSF conservatory, an intensive two-week program for high school students; Liz Wright, Brazos bookseller, who participated in Wellesley College’s Shakespeare Society for four years; and Carolyn Johnson, Houston-based actor and director, as well as Jim Johnson’s wife, their partnership proving that there is no such thing as too much of a good thing.
The evening kicked off with the classic sonnet 18, which asks the age-old writerly question: Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day? This selection was followed by early sonnets 1 (From fairest creatures we desire increase / that thereby beauty’s rose might never die) and sonnet 2 (When forty winters shall besiege thy brow / And dig deep trenches in thy beauty’s field). Johnson explained that these “fair youth” sonnets expound on the theme of procreation and illustrate that the course of true love never did run smooth. Continue reading