Wednesday, June 9, 2010

5/24/2010 – Day Seven of England Tour: Don’t Tame the Shrew – Let her Speak.

If the world is a stage and we are all players,

Our rapport with the sport of life

Is enhanced with travel and exploration

Of history embodied in picturesque houses

Out of Disney’s Sleeping Beauty

With luxurious gardens that scare away crows

With hanging potatoes stuck with feathers—

Better than a scarecrow without a brain, huh?

“Make me a willow cabin at your gate

And call upon my soul within the house,

Write loyal cantons of contemned love,

And sing them loud even in the dead of night.”

So says Olivia in her disguise as Cesario,

Words she delivers to the apple of her love’s eye,

Lamenting her own unrequited affections.

Willows, a symbol of grief and loss,

Gave retreats in cabins,

And in the backyard of Shakespeare’s wife

Is where it stands, where the woman so disparaged by scholars

As the shrew and seductress of a juvenile Will,

Though little is known about her life,

And speculators pounce like British tabloids.

Germaine Greer was civil enough to do her justice,

With research into her background

And a novel in her honor, entitled Shakespeare’s Wife.

There’s plenty written about the man himself—

Now what about his lady?

Who would King Arthur be without Guinevere,

Robin Hood without Maid Marian?

Let Anne Hathaway have her say with the marriage counselor—

Infidelity, irreconcilable differences, whatever it may be.

These days were have our big screens, our widescreens,

Our high-definition TV sets with TiVo,

In our living rooms for the world to see

And think highly of us.

In Shakespeare’s time, it was beds.

Sleeping on the floor was commonplace—

Beds were a luxury, the status symbol,

And not at all unusual to be placed in the kitchen,

For guests to marvel at like a museum piece,

Or a sport’s car invoking neighbors’ envy.

Makes you think, doesn’t it,

Of how far we’ve come,

And how much we take for granted.

Watching Shakespeare in a British theatre

Feels more authentic than in America.

Here is Shakespeare’s work in Shakespeare’s country,

Like the musical Matilda, playing in November,

Based on a book of the great Roald Dahl,

The British genius who defined my childhood—

Anyone want to stowaway to Stratford for Thanksgiving?

Who would want King Lear as a leader,

A man who chooses allies and enemies poorly—

Malevolent daughters with venom veiled

By inflation of their lord’s ego

Over the honest voice of a daughter

“So young, my lord, and true,”

Whose word he takes for scorn,

For she claims he is mortal and not godly.

He bites the only hand that feeds him

In banishing her from his kingdom,

But he sees, with cavalry and elements against him,

“I am a very foolish fond old man,

Fourscore and upward, not an hour more or less,

And, to deal plainly,

I fear I am not in my perfect mind.”

Indeed he is less in his perfect mind

Than is the Fool, with his painted face

And court jester’s mannerisms,

Yet more truth in social commentary

Than in Lear’s Narcissus mirror—

If you think Ophelia plays the “Woe is me” card,

You should see this guy—

Banishing his kind daughter and having the gall to say

“I am a man more sinned against than sinning.”

Their reunion in her castle

Where a daughter takes task of a mother

To a fallen king, infantile in his senility,

Is nonetheless cause for rejoice—

Until Shakespeare decides the audience is too happy

With recent developments

And lets his characters begin their ride into the sunset

Only to step on a land mine on their way off.

Where thunder, rain and wind once sounded,

Silence follows Lear in entrance

With his daughter dead in his arms.

“Why should a dog, a horse, a rat have life,

And thou no breath at all?”

Shakespeare knew how to lure his audience eager

And have them depart weeping,

And I shall go to bed in awe and in sadness,

Awe at the production, stunning performances,

Grief at the tragedy of it all.

Damn it, Shakespeare, were you a masochist?

No comments:

Post a Comment