michaelgriffith (michaelgriffith) wrote,

Week 9: A Great Week for Drama

Third year are starting to rehearse scenes from "The Tempest", from "Henry IV Part1" and from "Midsummer Night's Dream"; First years are starting to rehearse scenes from around 8 short contemporary plays; Second years are deep into Chekhov's "Three Sisters" and shortly Oscar Wilde's "The Importance of Being Earnest". What a feast of drama happening around us on Campus. If you see groups of students gathering in corners practicing speeches you will now know what is going on around the place. Drama is one of the greatest forms of artistic expression, because it takes the words off the page and embodies them in living, breathing human beans.... and surrounds them with the textures of all the arts: music, dance, gesture, and visual backdrops. For the greatest master of drama the world has ever known, William Shakespeare, the theatre stage, the theatre itself was a metaphor for life, for the way we humans strut our way around the planet.
There is a powerful meaning in this idea that "All the World is a Stage". We can all understand this meaning from our own lives. Every moment I am playing a different "role", depending on who I am with, where I am, and what the demands on me are at a given time. For me it shifts from being Professor full of words in a lecture hall to often being a wordless, roaring lion, rolling on the floor with my 2 young grandsons Alex and Josh who always rush at me wanting to play "Baby Lions and Tigers" the moment they see me

We all have our many versions of who I am. That is the nature as and texture of our existence. Shakespeare summarized this powerfully in his speech on the seven ages of man in his play "As You Like it"
"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;
And then the whining school-boy, 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 honour, 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 lin'd,
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 slipper'd pantaloon,
With spectacles on nose and pouch on side;
His youthful hose, well sav'd, 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." — Jaques (Act II, Scene VII, lines 139-166)
If you want to see a bunch of sixth graders performing this scene as you read -Shakespeare's ideas can be introduced to children from a very early age- go to
The key question that Shakespeare asks throughout his plays though -and especially in his last play "The Tempest"- is "do we have to be on the stage all the time?" Is there a time in life when we can -if only temporarily- get off the stage, and simply be ourselves? Which self? That is an important question for any and everyone.... These are profound questions.
For your LJ Blogs this week it would be great to see some reflections on your experiences of drama- either from your rehearsal or reading experiences... or even from your own lives....WHY NOT WRITE A SHORT REFLECTIVE PIECE ABOUT ANY TWO VERY CONTRASTING ROLES THAT YOU OFTEN FIND YOURSELF IN: GIVE THE TASTE OR FLAVOUR OF THE DIFFERENCE WITH AS MUCH DESCRIPTIVE FORCE AS YOU CAN....
Have fun

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