Sunday, July 06, 2008

Shakespeare dreams
Lately, for some reason, Shakespeare has been on my mind.

A long time (another lifetime ago?) I was an acting major with dreams of performing all the grand female roles. Although I never saw myself as Juliet. She was too soppy. I am too plain. But ah, the others. Portia. Rosalind. And my absolute favorite, Beatrice.

But reality got in the way. In spite of being a damned fine actress I came nose-up against the glass wall that decrees that talented men who are less that gorgeous can still be cast in a role. But talented women without beauty cannot. Relegated to best friend, servant, and comic relief parts, I gave up my dream; realizing that my fragile ego was no match for the cruelty of casting.

Yet lately Shakespeare has regained his place in my brain. Perhaps it's having just watched season 2 of the Showtime series The Tudors. All that pre-Elizabethan history no doubt shook some dust off of old memories and vanished dreams. Snatches of long-ago monologues sneak into my brain as I fold laundry or drive down the highway.

I do fear thee, Claudio, and I quake lest thou a fervent life should entertain and six or seven winters more respect than a perpetual honor. (That's Isabella from Measure for Measure in case you're wondering.

And now, like an odd TV omen, I channel surf ahead of insomnia and find a repeat of the fascinating documentary In Search of Shakespeare. At the moment, Michael Wood and his dulcet British tones is in a timbered school that Shakespeare attended as a boy. I remember the first time I went to Stratford-Upon-Avon and attended a production by the Royal Shakespeare Company. I thought I was in heaven. My acting days were not long behind me and I had marvelously harmless daydreams of being up on that stage. I walked by the river, under trees drooping with green leaves, and wandered into the church where the Bard is buried. It was like a pilgrimage.

But the 17th row is about as close as I'll ever get to performing Shakespeare again. And yet, at odd times....while waiting for a light to change or standing in line at the grocery store...I'll smile to myself at the memory of those days, long ago, when I was a Shakespearean heroine.

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