What’s an Improbable Fiction? Ask Fabian of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night:
If this were play’d upon a stage now, I could condemn it as an improbable fiction. (TN 3.4.69)
That’s what theatre is: an improbability that comes to life on stage. Embrace the illusion while it lasts, for it’s gone in an instant. Shakespeare (in the minds of Nic Helms and Alaina Jobe Pangburn, founders of the series) isn’t meant to be read: it’s meant to be experienced. Unfortunately, since Shakespeare’s works are “high culture,” it seems that only professional theatres can perform them, with reverence and with expensive ticket prices. Right?
Wrong, wrong, wrong. Shakespeare’s plays have endured for four centuries because each generation has been willing to re-produce them and reinterpret them in ways that have a contemporary, local resonance. It’s improbable that these old plays can move modern audiences to laughter and to tears, but it’s true, and that power has nothing to do with high culture or overdone theatre. It is born whenever an actor speaks Shakespeare’s words genuinely and a spectator listens earnestly.
Improbable Fictions is a series of such moments: staged readings of Shakespeare’s plays that aim to make the improbable the actual. With the assistance and support of the University of Alabama’s Hudson Strode Program in Renaissance Studies and Tuscaloosa’s Rude Mechanicals, we at Improbable Fictions hope to make Shakespeare a living piece of the arts in Tuscaloosa.
An improbability? No doubt. But it’s a dream worth working toward.
For more information, check out the following articles: