William wrote: “All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players: they have their exits and their entrances; and one man plays many parts ….” If you are one who has been smitten, or stricken (as the case may be), with the desire to trod the boards, those old words hold both promise and dread. Before any of you Shakespearian scholars out there object to my leaving off the last five words of the passage, I will explain why I did that, then move on.
Pundits of Willie the Bard espouse a lot of deep meanings to most of his words, and the above example gets its share of attention, so excluding the last five words for purposes of this column works for me and probably for you, too. And here is why: the last five words are, with preceding “and one man plays many parts, his acts being seven stages.” The stages referred to are: infant, schoolboy, lover, soldier, justice, pantaloon and old age.
The remainder of the passage explains, in the words of Jaques (“As You Like It”; Act 2; Scene 7) a man’s actions in those seven stages of life. Now, if you want to go the deep route and find what sociologists and English Lit professors and psychologists say about what Shakespeare was really getting at then be my friend; it was too much for me and I abandoned the research and chose my own applications.
For myself, the fact that we all are performers came early in my theater arts academic phase when an instructor pointed out the different people each of us presents to the world in various situations of life. We do not dress or deport ourselves the same at a swim party as we do at a funeral, we adapt our personalities to our surroundings so not to commit some social faux pas. Even in the non-eventful activities we choose our costume for shopping and errands, and in purchases we speak to store employees differently than we do friends in communal settings.
Our lives give ample opportunities for adopting different roles: a parent concerned about campus bullying will address a teacher, administrator or school board in a manner not in keeping with that parent’s natural demeanor. This is what actors do, delve into traits and feelings not always found on the surface; they change roles in every performance just as non-actors change roles according to their audience. In the example cited from loving mommy to defending she-bear.
One doesn’t have to dig too deeply into one’s life to see how we, every day, don certain clothing, our costume, to match whatever endeavor we are about for that day; different activities in one day may require a costume change; this happens in stage plays all the time only capsulated into a couple hours, not a whole day. We speak to a variety of people in a day just as in a play a character speaks differently to other characters in the scene: the bank teller gets different words than does the bartender or the pastor. That is dialogue; the script we all vary from place to place and person to person. We make our entrances and exits, most of us knew people and places well at different times in our lives; both of which may now be but memories as either we or they came and went.
So, in its very basest idea, without all the psychobabble, the fact is that we are all actors in a play of unfinished script and we all have our parts to play. Rehearsals are sadly few; nonetheless the show must go on.
Now if you want to really take the words to heart, then do what many of us do and get involved with arts. There is always a certain segment of any society who are drawn to getting in front of an audience with the intent of entertainment; my Midwest relatives would refer to such people as “tetched in the haid.” I am one such tetched person, and I can confidently state that in the past decade my life has been greatly enhanced, if not outright saved, by involvement in stage productions. I’ve met some very wonderful and talented people, ages 6 to 76, from the arts world here in South County.
Opportunities to play the role of audience is open to all; with three productions slated for the next couple of months. We start with a story recounting the joys and sorrows of Jewish life under Tsarist Russia in 1905, the setting for “Fiddler on the Roof,” the next musical theater offering by Sol Treasures. The story of Tevya the Dairyman and his dealings with family, work, persecution and final exile from his home will take the Stanton Stage in May with three 7 p.m. shows slated for the 4th, 10th and 11th and a 2 p.m. matinee on May 5.
The story of six southern women dealing with life from a beauty salon will be the Stage Hands’ February offering. “Steel Magnolias” will show for two 7 p.m. dinner shows ($40) on the 16th and 18th, with a 2 p.m. finger food matinee ($20) on the 17th; at the King City Recreational Center on Division and South Vanderhurst. Of course, being a Southern setting, the meal is Jambalaya.
Further down the path to theatrics will see the Monterey County Dance Theatre group present the dynamic but tragic story of “Giselle,” a peasant girl with a weak heart and a love of dance. The ballet is seldom performed as telling this earthly yet very spiritual story through dance is not for the timid troupe; presently in the studio the ladies and gentlemen are strenuously preparing for their April performances. Jan and her dancers have always have always graciously accepted me as a guest performer, so I will touch upon this upcoming performance more in future.
Take care. Peace.