Tuesday, March 9

did it change your life?

today ended up clouded and speckled, the solid gold of setting sun faced squarely against a thick, dark fog. light and dark, split straight down the valley from north to south. the still bare trees looked covered in gloss, pasted bright and perfect against the giant shadow. so fair and foul a day...

the first Shakespeare production I ever sat through was a comedy. Twelfth Night. after that, I borrowed an old black copy of his complete works from my grandmother, and prided myself on reading all his plays. there were sonnets and things in the book as well, but somehow they were not as cool.

in school we studied Romeo and Juliet. and Julius Ceasar. and then Hamlet. and A Midsummer Night's Dream. Othello. King Lear. Hamlet again. these plays were once just plays, set up on a stage for the enjoyment of the elizabethan masses. and now, four hundred and some years later, we tear them delicately apart as our English professors stand watch.

I don't remember studying Macbeth. but I read it. didn't like it much. perhaps it was a naive dislike. Macbeth is a story of tragically foolish people, who ruin their lives and their country. I had no patience with them. I couldn't sympathize. it was just too much.

but any play merely read, line by line in black and white, has a tendency to leave its story less than alive. they need to be played. breathed. lived.
{ image sliced from the end of this. }

my sister, whose husband played Ross in this particular three-week run of the Scottish play, told me this performance would change my life.

she bought me and a friend tickets for closing night, and so we went.

on a stage, it becomes easier to see the embers of good mixed in with all the blood and fear and darkness of Macbeth. and the weeping, bleeding, wounded Scotland is still there at the end, even if so many of her citizens are not.

did it change my life, sitting in that dark theatre, watching two dozen actors push each other around?

I don't know.

what it did do, as all plays do, every time, is make me feel. Macbeth's terror and paranoia are just a tiny bit contagious. the Lady's irrational despair curls ever so sharply around the edges of your mind. Macduff's grief and passion sink into you like a dull blade.

and then after, when all the actors come out to sit at the edge of their stage, wipe the fake blood from their faces and tug on their costumes, you fall in love with all of them. they talk about their attachments to their characters and the exhilaration of being finished. you wish you knew what that was like.
"Art is an attempt at communication, with yourself as much as with anybody else. And art resonates." - c.j. january 18, 2008
did it change my life, this two-and-a-half hour slice of Shakespeare? if so, what's different?

when I was younger and carrying around that little black complete works of, being into Shakespeare made me feel quite smart and superior because he was this crazy old playwright who nobody really understood. not even my dad.

but I guess now I might say that nobody really understands Shakespeare because nobody really understands human nature. and life. and the reasons behind all the tragedy, comedy, and randomness that happens.

and maybe Macbeth is no longer my very least favourite of these four-hundred-year-old plays.

p.s. the community college is putting on Twelfth Night next month... who wants to come?

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