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Living History: The Michigan Shakespeare Festival

July 22, 2013

The Michigan Shakespeare Festival begins another season of bringing the Bard’s plays to life at Jackson Community College.  This year, their offerings include ‘Twelfth Night’ and ‘King John,’ a rarity on the stage and of especial interest to the historically-minded, as the Prince whom Robin Hood foiled would go on to sign Magna Carta, whose 800th anniversary is less than two years from now.

Living in the shadow of his  elder brother, Richard III ‘The Lionheart,’ and having been a youth when Thomas a’Becket was martyred by his father, King Edward II.  The Crusades dominated the era, and the temporal power of the papacy reached its’ zenith. The latter development figures in the play, as King John, to preserve his throne, offers to become the Pope’s liege-man, making England his feudal territory, which the Holy see then returned to John as a fief.

The season’s just begin in Jackson, and ‘King John’ is a rarity upon the stage.  Having seen both plays this weekend, this author can recommend them, in the latter case, especially so, as the opportunity to see it acted may be long in coming.

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