I don’t think life is as bleak as this, my favorite quote from a Shakespeare play, presents it to be, but it still resonates with me in a profound way:
To-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day,
To the last syllable of recorded time;
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!
Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player,
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage,
And then is heard no more; it is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
It’s annoying, but, when I think of Shakespeare I think of Shakespeare in the Park and then I think of a story a professor told about seeing Liev Schreiber appear in Macbeth. Liev Schreiber shouldn’t be one of the first people who comes to mind when I think of Shakespeare. I have personal experiences with the guy (Shakespeare, not Schreiber). Why don’t any of those come to mind? Why, instead, do I think of an event I’ve never attended and a performance I never saw? I can’t even remember the professor it was who mentioned having seen it.
Anyway. Shakespeare’s on my mind because my high school drama teacher passed away yesterday. He directed me in a few things, including Midsummer Night’s Dream. I played Snout/Wall. Not exactly the lead role, but it was fun because I got to play both a man and an inanimate object. This was my big moment in the play:
In this same interlude it doth befall
That I, one Snout by name, present a wall;
And such a wall, as I would have you think,
That had in it a crannied hole or chink,
Through which the lovers, Pyramus and Thisby,
Did whisper often very secretly.
This loam, this rough-cast and this stone doth show
That I am that same wall; the truth is so:
And this the cranny is, right and sinister,
Through which the fearful lovers are to whisper.
It’s funny because those lines make perfect sense to me now, after taking lots of Shakespeare in college, but I can remember having NO idea what I was talking about back then. And our director knew we were terrible thespians, but he never let on.
He was such a gift. I never understood why someone with so much talent was spending his time teaching at our school, but I was grateful. High school was a pretty awkward/shy time for me, so I never said much to him (or anyone else), but he taught me a lot. He was unbelievably passionate, patient, supportive and enthusiastic–always.
My senior year he cast me as Twimble in the spring production of How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying. This was kind of a huge deal. Twimble’s this quirky character who has worked in the company’s mail room for 25 years. It’s a male part (again), but that time I played the character as a woman. And it was a big deal because the part included my own song and all these slapstick-y moments. It was the first time I was going to really perform in my high school. All the other performances I was proud of had occurred away from my high school peers–in various community theatre productions. It ended up being a really liberating experience–to stand in front of people I’d never said two words to and have the chance to sing and dance and make them laugh. I’ll always be thankful that our director gave the painfully shy, quiet girl a chance on his stage. Always.