This blog represents most of the newspaper columns (appearing in various Colorado Community Newspapers and Yourhub.com) written by me, James LaRue, during the time in which I was the director of the Douglas County Libraries in Douglas County, Colorado. (Some columns are missing, due to my own filing errors.) This blog covers the time period from April 11, 1990 to January 12, 2012.

Unless I say so, the views expressed here are mine and mine alone. They may be quoted elsewhere, so long as you give attribution. The dates are (at least according my records) the dates of publication in one of the above print newspapers.

The blog archive (web view) is in chronological order. The display of entries, below, seems to be in reverse order, new to old.

All of the mistakes are of course my own responsibility.

Wednesday, July 21, 2004

July 21, 2004 - Taming of the Shrew

When I was growing up, my mother had two beautiful sets of books. One of them was lassics of science. I think there were pieces by Aristotle, by Newton, by somebody I've now forgotten, and by Einstein.

The other was a selection of Shakespeare plays: the comedies, the dramas, and the sonnets.

I loved the look of those books. I was 11 when I decided to try Shakespeare. So I'd take those gorgeous volumes up to my room and try to puzzle them out.

I'll be honest. I didn't have a CLUE what was going on. First, there was the matter of the thees and thous. Then there were the odd line breaks. Finally, the actions of people themselves were bewildering. Eventually, I gave up.

It wasn't until much later that I learned Shakespeare has to be performed. What is mysterious in print is plain in person. The verse form is still an astonishing accomplishment -- try writing a play in rhyming iambic pentameter and see how far YOU get.

The language of Shakespeare, the Elizabethan foment that also gave us the King James Bible, does take a little getting used to. But suddenly, it just comes clear, and you understand. Trust me.

And the people. Suffice it to say that Shakespeare understands the human heart.

Well, once again, the Douglas County Libraries are pleased to announce our annual Shakespeare festival. Once again, TheatreWorks, from Colorado Springs, will bring Shakespeare to vivid life. Our first festival, featuring "King Lear," was in Castle Rock. Last year, "Romeo and Juliet" came to Highlands Ranch. This year, Parker will be witness to "The Taming of the Shrew." Thus, "Shakespeare in the Park."

Let me put my cards on the table, here. Like most Shakespeare plays, "Taming of the Shrew" is about adult life. Please don't take a five year old, or even a young teen, to the show thinking you're getting a bit of innocuous family entertainment, only to be shocked by bawdy language and staging. This is not children's theater. If you find yourself easily offended by Shakespeare's astonishing lack of early 21st century sensibilities, rent a Disney film. (Or check them out from the library!)

On the other hand, my wife and I have exposed our children to Shakespeare every chance we get, and it hasn't harmed them one bit. It stretches their linguistic muscles. It challenges their attention span. Besides, Shakespeare is often hilarious. And the pageantry of these plays must be seen to be believed.

It's possible that you'll find this particular story offensive for another reason. Kate, a strong-willed woman, is finally forced into docile submission by a more masterful man. Maybe. So if you, too, believe that public institutions must never have anything to do with something that might be politically incorrect, then stay away!

I recognize, of course, that the surest way to get people interested in a classic that has endured for more than 400 years is to tell them that they just can't handle it. Not that I would stoop to such an obvious tactic.

At any rate, we are grateful for the many sponsors whose donations made it possible for us to offer this play at no charge to our patrons. Our title sponsors were the Town of Parker, the Parker Cultural Community, Colorado Community newspapers, and the Gay and Lesbian Fund for Colorado. Scholar sponsors include IREA, Theatrix Inc., Wells Fargo Bank, the Colorado Shakespeare Festival, and Hampden Press. Poet sponsors include Roper Insurance and Financial Services, Friends of the Parker library and Whole Foods Market of Highlands Ranch. Apprentice sponsors include American Art West, Bradford Auto Body, and Cindy Rose's Edward Jones office in Franktown.

To get your free tickets, you just have to show up at 6:30 p.m. the evening of each performance, July 21-24. The shows start at 7:30 p.m. There is also a 2 p.m. matinee on Saturday, July 24; tickets will be distributed at 1:30 p.m. First come, first served. The performances will be at the Parker Mainstreet Center, on Mainstreet.

And now it's back to those books. Maybe if I could find a theatrical version of Einstein...

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