The best play you’ve never heard of makes its ASC Theatre Camp debut for our 20th summer celebration. Take one part city comedy and one part domestic drama, add a dollop of unnecessary adventure, stir in a healthy scoop of professional pride, mix well, and then throw the entire thing out the window and let the audience take over. Hold on to your hats, ladies & gents – you’ve never seen anything like this.
The Knight of the Burning Pestle
by Francis Beaumont
Directed by: Marshall B Garrett
Assistant Directors: Daniel Bailin, Emily Erblich
Production Intern: Ryan Wilson
(read the full text here)
From the director:
You’ll see a similar refrain around the ASCTC website when it comes to The Knight of the Burning Pestle: It’s the best play you’ve never heard of. But it’s also better than a lot of the plays that you HAVE heard of.
Last year, towards the end of Session 1, Lia told us that ASCTC was going to start doing a play by a Shakespeare contemporary every session and that she was looking for suggestions. I was a bit late in replying (“Pestle”), and Lia replied “PESTLE! STOP THE PRESSES! Literally, stop the presses.” Apparently, you all almost got a different show (I don’t know what it was. It was probably great. But it’s no Pestle). And that’s basically how this play goes: a theatre decides to do a show, goes through the effort to prepare it, and then some jerk comes in at the last possible moment and says “But what if we did a show about a grocer who slays a lion with a pestle?” Luckily for both ASCTC and for the audiences that were there to see The London Merchant, Lia in real life and the boy speaking the prologue in the play both said: “okay, sure!”
The Knight of the Burning Pestle is almost unique in ASCTC history as a play that was actually written for performers the age of our campers (curse you, probably-quite-excellent-2009-production-of-Endymion-which-is-actually-a-pretty-cool-play-about-falling-in-love-with-the-moon!!!!!) The boys (all boys at the time, but thankfully not anymore!) that set out to perform The London Merchant are put upon by a disgruntled audience member who thinks the theatre is being elitist by presenting either epic plays about noble folks, or comedies about the regular folks. Where, George asks, are the epic plays about regular folks? The boys initially resist, but once George offers his own grocer-apprentice as the titular Knight, they relent and agree to put on the grocer’s play – while also gamely attempting to put on their own. The resulting mash-up play is a great demonstration of what you can do with a “yes-and” attitude and a commitment to living in the moment. Kind of like camp… (see what I did there?)