CarPark Sonnets, directed by Steven Young, is a wonderful drive-in performance consisting of Shakespearean sonnets and monologues.
In the midst of COVID-19, Texas Woman’s University theater department is unable to produce shows on stage. Instead, they got creative with their resources and put on CarPark Sonnets, a reimagining of several Shakespearean sonnets, in the faculty staff parking lot on the corner of Oakland St. and E Third St. from Oct. 14. thru Oct. 18. by having the audience watch from their cars.
The idea of having a drive-in performance was perfect during this time, and the theater department did an awesome job with it. I could tell that there was a lot of effort to bring people entertainment despite the hurdles, and it is definitely worth the watch.
The cast features undergraduates Zareen Afzaal, Stef Bailey, Kendra Flusche, Hannah Fuller, Alisha Hannah, Katherine Hogan, Abel Mathew, Emma Riley and Eli Wharton, along with graduate student Michael Alonzo.
The actors were positioned in the center of all of the cars, and the audience tuned in to a radio station to hear the actors. Occasionally the actors’ microphones would cut out, but it turned out to work really well. The sound crew was able to incorporate sound effects that the audience could hear also, so which added to the performance.
The idea of having a performance with sonnets and monologues is perfect for this kind of environment and situation. Since it only consisted of sonnets and monologues, there was no need for an actual set. The actors were surrounded by candles, which helped provide the illusion of a stage.
They were able to create scenes without a set and just their acting. The lack of a set and the environment did not take away from the performance, and it was overall very entertaining.
I was engaged the whole time, and I was even able to learn a few things about Shakespearean sonnets. There was a wide variety of sonnets, and all were performed very well. The actors would transition from narrators into the characters of the sonnets, so there were no breaks in the performance.
I personally am not a fan of Shakespeare, but they made it a lot more than just sonnets. I did not know what to expect from the performance, but I was very pleased.
With all of the distractions of the outdoors, the actors did a great job of performing in this unique environment. They had to perform multiple characters, and they did an awesome job at immediately switching from one to the other. All of the actors are very talented and performed at a high level, and they kept me interested the whole time.
They utilized their space to engage the audience as much as possible. I also enjoyed how the actors would enter from different points, so it never got dull. I could tell who was speaking at all times too because of the lighting crew, even though it was dark.
I thought the ending of the performance was really powerful and relevant to today’s situation. They talked about the plague known as Black Death, which Shakespeare lived through and lost many family and friends to it. They talked about the way it was spread, and the multiple shutdowns that London had to do throughout the years.
It made me realize the multitude of similarities between Black Death and COVID-19, and that both had and will continue to affect so many people. I think that this was the perfect way to end their amazing performance.
Laura Pearson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.