by Jessica Schiermeister, Dramaturg
Sweet Tea Shakespeare is known for simple yet magical productions of Shakespeare’s plays and other remarkable works that use Shakespeare’s own staging conditions. Our musical Songs for a New World, opening January 25, does not have any specific ties to Shakespeare’s works but is Shakespearean in the way that it is musical.
In Shakespeare’s time, plays were bookended by music. Each performance would begin with preshow musical entertainment and end the same way, sometimes with an accompanying jig (a special music-comic dance) to send the audience on their way. The custom of the time was to include at least one song within the show itself, except for the tragedies, which typically only featured the sounds of flourishes or trumpets. Shakespeare changed that, however, by including songs in Othello, Hamlet, and King Lear. Main characters almost never sing, unless in disguise or a diminished mental state. The singers you find in Shakespeare’s works are the fools, the clowns, the rogues, or other minor characters. Read More