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Mineral Wells Index, July 2, 2010

By Libby Cluett

"Crowd enjoyeth 'Shakespeare Man' performance at Boyce Ditto Library"

MINERAL WELLS — When North Texas transplant Robert Clover-Brown, aka “Shakespeare Man,” comes to town, participants learn about the life and language of the “the Bard of Avon,” including phrases he penned. On Tuesday, several audience members even performed, exchanging Elizabethan-era language, including insults.

Historian and actor Clover-Brown, came to Boyce Ditto Public Library dressed as William Shakespeare and gave audience members – some children and many adults – a history of the 16th Century British poet in his dialect.

“I love being Shakespeare,” said the modern-day bard.

Clover-Brown moved from London to Dallas in 2002 and has been performing a one-man theatrical and interactive show for audiences at a variety of local and national venues, including libraries and schools. His goal is to make Shakespeare relevant and educational to modern culture.

He offered a glimpse into Shakespeare’s early and adult life, including events surrounding the bard in Elizabethan times. He addressed the life of a poet and playwright in those times, the business of acting – in which only men took roles – and phrases Shakespeare coined.

Think this language is boring? Perhaps the highlight of Tuesday evening’s library event was when four young men “took the stage” and bantered about Shakespearean insults they read loud at each other. Adam Hull and Shawn Burger took on Damek and Derrick Salazar in the insulting match – first in their best British, masculine character and then as in a female voice.

Insults included such phrases as, “Thou yeasty milk-livered pigeon-egg” and “Thou bootless toad-spotted filthy rogue.”

“It felt oddly dignified,” said Hull of the situation. “It was rhetoric and the context made it somewhat humorous and acceptable, albeit insulting. It was almost comparable to a modern-day rap battle.”

At one point Clover-Brown informed one of the impromptu actors that he must say, “thou” first, for the sake of courtesy.

“As long as you say ‘thou,’ you can go ahead and insult away.”

The Salazar brothers and their verbal adversaries had the audience laughing aloud with their uproarious critical words and enthusiasm in speaking them.

“I was most enthusiastic about those young people wanting to participate,” said Lanie Wright, who attended the performance. “They got into it, It was something that they obviously loved. It was the highlight of the whole evening.”

“They must have had some kind of wonderful teacher, family member or mentor to have the kind of feeling for it that they obviously do.

“I enjoyed them a lot. You get so little of that,” she added, equally encouraged by the attendance of several other Mineral Wells youth in the audience. “I expected the adults but didn’t expect the young. Those young kids made me inspired for the younger generation.”

Staff writer Libby Cluett can be reached at (940) 325-4465, ext. 3422, or lcluett@mineralwellsindex.com.

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