Monday, July 2, 2012

All the world's a stage ...

Since I am looking to explore the idea that the blogosphere is a form of theatre, I thought that I would follow my last reading with Jaques' famous speech on the seven ages of man. As I look at this speech, I would like to consider how we role-play in life: how we become actors, or players if you will, in our own story. The idea that we adapt to our roles, our personas, based on where we are in our lives is of interest to me. We play different 'parts' even within the same 'age': student, lover, child, sibling, parent, employee, friend, leader. Shakespeare was not a stranger to this, nor were the Elizabethan players (and typesetters!) The typesetter (s) who set Shakespeare's First Folio in 1623 identified Lady Capulet's lines according to the 'role' she takes within each scene ("Wife", "Old Lady", "Capulet", "Lady", "Mother"). Maybe Shakespeare himself designated it that way, maybe Hemmings and Condell remembered it as such (you may recall that John Hemmings and Henry Condell were members of Shakespeare's company, The Lord Chamberlain's Men, later known as The King's Men, and were responsible for editing Shakespeare's First Folio 7 years after his death) or maybe the typesetter alone was responsible. We don't know. Does it matter? What we do know is that those titles reflect the relationship of that individual to the world around them, in this case the world of the play.

So as Jaques examines the seven ages of man, I invite you to consider your own relationship to your world, this current stage in your life. Are you the star in your own story?

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 lined,
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 saved, 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.

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