Playmakers—Pericles, Prince of Tyre was one of William Shakespeare's most popular plays during his lifetime ... and not so much after his lifetime. Indeed, there's been some question of whether Shakespeare wrote the whole thing, but it received a revival in performances in the 20th century, with the likes of Paul Scofield and Tony Richardson taking part. It's even received the seal of approval from major Shakespearean scholar Harold Bloom. And now, Playmakers has its shot at the notoriously difficult-to-stage play with its new production, which runs through Oct. 12.
Pericles is a generations-spanning story that manages to include several shipwrecks, some incest, and a sequence at a brothel. The production is part of Shakespeare for a New Generation, a national initiative sponsored by the National Endowment for the Arts in cooperation with Arts Midwest. This show features original music and songs by Jack Herrick of the Red Clay Ramblers. Impress your literary-minded friends by being able to discuss an esoteric Shakespeare play. For tickets and info, visit www.playmakersrep.org. —Zack Smith
Quail Ridge Books & Music—Daniel Fischer is a quite ordinary young man who wants to be a writer, but his problem is that he's being written. Literally. Every so often, he hears the unmistakable scratching of a pencil on paper somewhere nearby, and his ambition turns from writing to sleuthing: Whose book is he in, and what should his character do?
Fortunately, Daniel is armed with a writer's manual—but unfortunately, it gives boilerplates for writing potboilers, and so Daniel starts to stir up other people's pots (that's O.P.P., if you're scoring at home). Chapel Hill writer William Conescu's debut, Being Written, is about a minor character's resentment of his own insignificance.
Most of us can relate to that. Don't we all, in our usually humdrum lives, wish we were heroes, adventurers, doers of great deeds? Don't we all want to solve the crime and get the girl—even if it means committing the crime in the first place and going after someone else's girl? Don't we all want to be the protagonist of whatever story we're in?
Being Written proceeds from a gimmick, and although the gimmick tends to overshadow Conescu's rather slender, lightly drawn tale (it's just 193 pages long), it's an entertaining invention, and Conescu follows its logic with thoughtful enthusiasm and wit. He even notes with winking deprecation that the story being written by the mysterious pencil-wielding author "[is] becoming the kind of book people can't put down, the kind they sell at the airport." If you happen upon Being Written before your flight, you could do worse than pick up a copy. —Adam Sobsey
William Conescu appears in Raleigh at Quail Ridge at 7:30 p.m. today; in Durham at the Regulator Wednesday, Oct. 1, at 7 p.m.; and at McIntyre's in Fearrington Village, Thursday, Oct. 16, at 7 p.m.