On Sunday night my husband and I finally got to attend the local Shakespeare theater to see a play. It was a much belated birthday gift to him, for when we originally planned it we got snowed out.
Actually the day turned out better than if we had gone in January. April in Washington, DC is lovely. The streets are abuzz with visitors. We had a delicious dinner at "our" restaurant before the show. (I say this tongue in cheek. How often do you go to a place, one time and really enjoy it and then act as if it is "your" restaurant? If anyone asks about dining in DC, we mention this one. Not that we are food critics but it is the only one we know!)
We saw As You Like It. Even though I have read other Shakespearean works and was aware of some of the characters, I had never seen this comedy. I always enjoy and appreciate the cleverness of the stage direction; how one prop from one scene is used in another way in subsequent scene. While I enjoyed it, I didn't get as much out of this play as perhaps I have with others. Might have been my poor preparation. Generally I like to be familiar with the play in question so that I can really get the meat out of the dialogue. This time I just didn't have the time to preview the play. So, I thought that I would watch it like the "great unwashed" those who would've seen it in Shakespeare's time- letting it unfold before me and getting whatever level of understanding that I could.
Of course, I have ruminated over one of the most famous lines from this play, "All the world's a stage, and all the men and women merely players." The character Jacques who speaks this dialogue is considered melancholy. A professional pessimist and all around "downer", he is viewed as comical. Although in his speech, he might be giving a a fairly accurate portrait of a man's (or woman's) life and so he is reminding the audience to be mindful of our lives and the things in which we become involved. It is also a reminder that there is no dress rehearsal for this life. Enjoy each precious moment and day that you have.
What is your world stage? Do you feel that you are merely a player in this life? What type of character are you? Do you wish for a different role? A redo of your entrance? What can you do today to enjoy your life and today's "performance"?
All the world’s a stage,
And all the men and women merely players;
They have their exits and their entrances,
And one man in his time plays many parts,
His acts being seven ages. At first, the infant,
Mewling and puking in the nurse’s arms.
Then the whining schoolboy, with his satchel
And shining morning face, creeping like snail
Unwillingly to school. And then the lover,
Sighing like furnace, with a woeful ballad
Made to his mistress’ eyebrow. Then a soldier,
Full of strange oaths and bearded like the pard,
Jealous in honor, sudden and quick in quarrel,
Seeking the bubble reputation
Even in the cannon’s mouth. And then the justice,
In fair round belly with good capon lined,
With eyes severe and beard of formal cut,
Full of wise saws and modern instances;
And so he plays his part. The sixth age shifts
Into the lean and slippered pantaloon,
With spectacles on nose and pouch on side;
His youthful hose, well saved, a world too wide
For his shrunk shank, and his big manly voice,
Turning again toward childish treble, pipes
And whistles in his sound. Last scene of all,
That ends this strange eventful history,
Is second childishness and mere oblivion,
Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything.
As You Like It, Act II, Scene VII.