Growing up, some of us would remember William Shakespeare from school, where we had to study his poem Life’s Brief Candle for English. 2016 marks the 400th year of this venerated British poet, playwright and actor’s death anniversary. In conjunction with that, British Council has brought Shakespeare Lives – a global programme of events and activities here to Malaysia to celebrate the Bard’s life.
I, Peaseblossom was written in 2004 and is the second instalment in a series of plays based on minor Shakespearean characters that were devised by award winning theatre artist, Tim Crouch. Jointly presented by British Council Malaysia and The Actors Studio Seni Teater Rakyat, the performance will mark the soft launch for the celebration and will be held from 16 – 20 December at Pentas 2, KLPAC.
An interactive performance of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, I, Peaseblossom is told through the dreams of a neglected fairy, Peaseblossom who was one of Lady Titania’s fairies. A minor character in the original play, Peaseblossom had only four lines with a total of five words throughout! From that, Tim Crouch has created a family friendly performance surrounding a character that is overwhelmed by the size of things around him and baffled by the behaviour of his Fairy Queen.
“The size of Peaseblossom’s role in A Midsummer Night’s Dream is the reason I have chosen him as my subject. He is a tiny speck on the periphery of a great play,” muses Tim. “An outsider, someone with a very small opinion of themselves. I wrote I, Peaseblossom for young people – and I feel that young people can often think they are small characters in the larger play of life.”
Tim promises a fun and engaging experience for all that watches I, Peaseblossom. He enthuses, “ The ‘play’ is just that – it’s PLAYFUL. Peaseblossom interacts with the audience. Every show is different”. The performance is designed to be responsive to whomever is in the room while opening a window to Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream through dream narratives.
“Shakespeare’s play is a ‘dream’. My play is also a dream – in fact it is SIX dreams! All had by Peaseblossom on the night of the weddings in Shakespeare’s play,” explains Tim. “Peaseblossom is a fairy! No one knows exactly what a fairy is – so they can be entirely made up! It was fun imagining a fairy’s everyday life.”
The matinee performance on Saturday, 19 December, has a Fairy Dress Up Special with a more relaxed atmosphere that will be suitable for those with younger kids, learning disabilities or sensory and communication disorders. Children are encouraged to come dressed up as little fairies! This special session endeavours to help make theatre more accessible to all members of the community.
For theatre enthusiasts, performers or even just the curious, do join Tim Crouch as he delves into I, Peaseblossom. As he says, “I hope you will see Shakespeare’s great play in a new light. You’ll come away with that new impression – and, I hope, with a sense of the community of theatre”.