The exciting, absurd, post-Patriot Act story of three precocious, reclusive teenagers at a very particular kind of private institution - one for the maladjusted. In other words, instead of sending juvenile offenders to jail, they are sent to theatre program for rehabilitation. Performing Shakespeare is their sentence.With the help, however, of their teacher -a rogue authorship theorist - the young delinquent geniuses discover the true author of "Shakespeare's" plays, while extreme danger - from M.I.16, the secret government organization with the sole job of keeping the lie of "The Bard" alive - lurks nearby.
We took nine Shakespeare scenes - each one parodying a different episode in the Gospels - and places these tableaus (each an exhibit in our tour) in a different part of an amazing 1890s church. As with any museum exhibition, our audience was free to investigate each piece as they chose, in any order or watching the same one multiple times. Among the parodies were the Three Magi (from "Titus Andronicus"), the Trials of Jesus (from "Merchant of Venice"), and the Crucifixion (the death of Bottom/Pyramus from "A Midsummer Night’s Dream"). There were docents to guide visitors through the exhibits and a video companion tour available for mobile devices.
The play absolutely holds coherent allegories. It tells the story of the Roman-Jewish war and Biblical Jewish history, from Eden to the Flood. The play also turns out to be a Jewish toilet joke written using double allegories - with Jaques/Jakes (Elizabethan for toilet), and the character whose pocket watch identifies him as Sir John Harrington, the inventor of the flush toilet (which pre-dates the play by a couple years)!
What are these characters, a dunghill, and many references to excrement doing in this play? Why does As You Like It end with Jaques warning that Noah's flood is coming? Why are there other flood references, like Hercules cleansing the Augean stables of manure? Why does Touchstone go off to the ark with Audrey, who is named after St Ethelreda, the woman who was saved from a flood? Could this be the Last Day? And who is Touchstone (in Greek the Bassanos)?Could he be an allegory for Amelia Bassano herself? A hint: The clown William (who Touchstone wants to kill), turns out to be an allegory for William Shakespeare.
"The best piece of creative theater I have seen in many years"
Standard scholarship denied this play contained allegories, that the allegorical elements held meaning, and that a coherent story could be found in those allegories. In 2008, The DLP proved otherwise. Our radical techniques allowed us to put the pieces together. Oh! What we discovered:
Building on work by Stanford professor Patricia Parker, in 2007 the DLP showed that this play contains an underlying allegorical layer of meaning - including a parody of the crucifixion and references to the Roman-Jewish War - which completely transform the meaning of the play:
Bottom = Pyramus = Jesus
Flute = Thisbe = the Church
Titania = Titus Caesar, destroyer of Jerusalem
Oberon = Yahweh (Jehovah), the Hebrew God
Puck = Robin = the Devil
The Wall = the partition between Earth and Heaven
The Little Indian (Changeling) Boy = the Jewish Messiah
Funded in part by the Ada G. and Stanley L. Halbreich Foundation and based on work by Shakespeare scholar Linda Hoff, this production shows that the play is not a tragedy but a black comedy which parodies Doomsday in the Book of Revelation. A background article on the Jewish religious allegories in Shakespeare’s plays can be found here.
Ophelia is a parody of both the Virgin Mary and the Woman Crowned with the Sun; Gertrude is a parody of the Whore of Babylon; Laertes is Christ; King Claudius a parody of the 7 headed Beast. Hamlet has multiple allegories including the Beast from the Sea, (the original Anti-Christ), Emperor Nero (the first human Anti-Christ) and Martin Luther (the second anti-Christ). But in this Apocalypse everything goes wrong, the Rule of God (that’s what Osric means) all goes wrong, and at the end instead of Jerusalem a city of gold, we get its comic equivalent from the Arabian Nights, a fort-in-brass.
In February 2014, DLP had a pilot event at Kávé - an immersive, multi-disciplinary, burlesque, salon, rave, party, theatre explosion. Featuring a cast and crew of more than twenty collaborators, sponsored by Absente Absinthe and Shag Shop in Brooklyn, and conceived and created by resident DLP designer Elizabeth Weitzen, the event was attended by more than 350 revelers. Keep a look out - this one will come back!