Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Meeting Shakespeare in a Coffee Shop

It seems to me that however vulgar and misquoted Shakespeare and his characters reside in modern life with surprising tenacity. By sitting in a simple café one can meet the incredibly complex and interesting characters that appear in the pages of the plays. The crassness and twisted humor that seeps the plays is repeated in every conversation as is the brilliance of human nature. I hear Shakespeare in conversation so often and this is a remarkable achievement for the man because he has as well as his other accomplishments managed to sum up human nature in the magic of theatre and words. So many movies are so unbelievable and the characters bland, boring and fail to strike a cord with human nature as if we have become so conceited that we regard ourselves as angelic more than faulty as we are. The villains on the screens are only evil and bad but Shakespeare has always had a talent with revealing the human. No character is merely dismissed as evil but rather you can feel sympathy with the egotistic Richard the Third or the Macbeths and we all play Iago, Othello and Hamlet on our own stage. Even stepping down from just meeting characters just sentences are repeated. How many of us have choked out ‘To be or not to be’ in times of trouble and indecision even though the meaning is shown through different words? I personally have given advice from my well worn tomes and although the words are never the same or as great they still carry the meaning.
So sitting in this café listening to the conversations around me as I do ( A fault in a writers make up obviously, we where never told that listening was bad) I heard two teenage boys almost quoting Richard the Third. Admittedly the context was screwed with and the language was hardly as compelling but hidden in their banter about some girl one had obviously charmed was ‘I’ll have her but; but I will not keep her long.’ the same words that slithered from Richard the Third but I doubt the boys were going to kill the girl, they were probably just getting a hit from the power as Richard did. Glancing around me another couple came to light a brother and sister no doubt one urging the other to keep an infatuated boyfriend in line and I could not help but see Laertes and Ophelia. So broadening my search for ‘Shakespearisms’ I thought of my life. Everyday the corridors of school are a buzz with manipulative Iagos, besotted Juliet’s, angry Katherine Minolas and indecisive, emo Hamlets of which I think I belong. One school is a breeding ground for understated Shakespeare performances.
In my life time I have seen what most my age have witnessed and I have witnessed dysfunctional relationships where many of my friends have played an Ophelia or Juliet, a great many passionate banters, a few interchangeable merry makers and thankfully a great many powerful characters especially women such as Beatrice, Portia and even a few Kates. I am no expert on Shakespeare although I occasionally seek some guidance from him but with the introduction I have suddenly the world appears to be Shakespeare’s stage. The Globe takes on a whole new meaning! The one thing I can ask from my life now is when I have to die can I at least have an ending worthy of Shakespeare? To be depressing it would be nice to not only take out the guy trying to kill me but the majority of the court like Hamlet. Sorry I can’t help but be morbid do excuse me but I have already discussed life and Shakespeare has certainly changed my view on death.
So in conclusion Shakespeare inhabits each part of us and I find that truly admirable. The only explanation I can think of is that he did see the world as a stage and took human nature to spin a few good yarns around. So when I do go back to school I am going to stand back a little more and just watch the show. No doubt this year someone might set the thatches of this theory alight but at least it will have been a bloody good show. With the death of the local Shakespeare group I am looking forward to the personal shows being thrown all around me. Well I will shut up because the red curtains have opened and the lights are definitely going down.m

1 comment:

  1. Your images and ideas are wonderful and inspiring!