Thursday, May 28, 2009

Armed Amusement 5/28/09

Never get in a battle of wits without ammunition.

American proverb
Leave your pistols at the door.
Here's another story from my career.

I was doing a production of Shakespeare's "Twelfth Night" playing the role of Sir Toby Belch. Some of us in the cast would sometimes go out on a day off and talk to a classroom of students who had seen the show. I always enjoyed that . The kids were usually bright and had interesting questions.

I went alone to one classroom where they were very interested in acting and theatre production. I determined from their questions that they didn't know much about live theatre. After a while the teacher spoke up and said "We all enjoyed your performance, but we noticed that you didn't handle the verse very well. Why was that?"

I decided to be a gentleman.
"You're the drama teacher here, aren't you?"
"Well then, you've probably just momentarily forgotten that the role of Sir Toby is written entirely in prose."
"But I'll be happy to do some Shakespearean verse for you if you like."
"Please do."
I did:

When in disgrace with fortune and men's eyes
I all alone beweep my outcast state,
And trouble deaf heaven with my bootless cries,
And look upon myself, and curse my fate,
Wishing me like to one more rich in hope,
Featur'd like him, like him with friends possess'd,
Desiring this man's art, and that man's scope,
With what I most enjoy contented least,
Yet in these thoughts myself almost despising,
Haply I think on thee, -- and then my state,
Like to the lark at break of day arising
From sullen earth, sings hymns at heaven's gate;
For thy sweet love remember'd such wealth brings
That then I scorn to change my state with kings.

I don't know all the Sonnets like Olivier, Gielgud and Burton did. But I know that one and some others, my favorites.

When I finished the students applauded me. I looked at the teacher to see if he had anything to say.


Moral: Make sure you know what you're talking about before you express a controversial opinion.

The Vagabond
Y'all come back nao, y'hear.

(My career is stilled and, no doubt, over. due to a stack of physical problems I can't afford to fix. Talent that is forced to lie dormant is a heartbreaking thing for anyone. I am thankful though that I can at least continue to enjoy the great literature, the ideas, the knowledge of human life and the friendship of a few people I came to know during the 50 years I worked.)


Big Mark 243 said...

I felt this entire entry throughout the chambers of my soul.

Bucko (a.k.a., Ken) said...

So true, if you are going to take a stand, or express an experienced opinion, better be sure of your details.

Pat said...

The wisdom of Shakespeare is
awesome, and I am sure your rendition was awesome as well.
To be content with one's lot in
life comes with age, I suppose.
It's for the young to rant and rave
and struggle with one's mortality.
(Ha, I'm still struggling!)

Gerry said...

It was wonderful to read a point beautifully underlined with a Shakespeare sonnet. Not many places you can find such, so despite your infirmities you are still finding a way to inspire. I take whatever path to the public I can find, I was always looking for those paths when the usual ones were denied me due to my infirmaties and perhaps other reasons. And you never know when a path will open up to you because of perseverance that will be even more satisfying.

Beth said...

I bet that teacher still hates you! ;)