The Luxury of Time

I started with the best of intentions. One sonnet a week – how hard could that be? Surely memorzing 14 lines of text was no tall order…

Enter – tech week for Quickies, the start of King Lear rehearsals, auditions, blah blah blah

Working on this project reminds me of the few times in my life that I have tried to journal. I am gungho for the first few weeks. Writing with dedication and fervor. Then life happens. I pause. The pause grows, and before I know it, months have passed since I picked up a pen. What happens next is always a bit embarassing. Truth be told, I have tossed a fair number of journals in the trash because I have felt so guilty about the gaping hole of time that would become glaringly obvious when I began a new page with the current date. Not this time.

I am returning to my sonnet challenge today on a beautiful, sunny, time filled afternoon without guilt for time lost and without embarssment for the pause in progression. My brain is teeming with text for Cordelia and the pair of smaller roles I will be playing in King Lear with GreenStage this summer, so this week I am literally brushing up my Shakespeare. I am returning to the first five weeks of memorized text, recalling, rehearsing, refreshing the sonnets that began this challenge. I am spending the time and energy to ensure that the work I have already done does not simply slip away when time is not my ally.

I hope to return to the sonnet a week pace. Perhaps it will be for a couple weeks only. Perhaps it will endure for the remaining 149 weeks. Perhaps it is a pipe dream that is unsustainable in my crazy schedule. Whatever the case, I am hoping that this project is a new chapter in my battle with time and feelings of personal obligation. I will work when and how I can, and I will try my hardest not to place judgement on the small distractions and deviations that will occur along the way.  Who knows, I may even pick up my pen and dust off the only journal I have never thrown away…

Rehearsal for King Lear, GreenStage 2013

Rehearsal for King Lear, GreenStage 2013

Shakespeare’s Communist Persuasion

Shakespeare's Communist Persuasion

Shakespeare’s Sonnet 4 invokes a Communist arguement to starting a familiy. In less than scholarly terms, I present some of them for you here:
1. You’re too beautiful to keep it all to yourself – spread that wealth around!
2. Your wealth (in good looks) is really not yours to keep, so you better use it before you lose it.
3. Hoarding your own wealth of beauty starves the world and in turns paupers you.
4. You’re a selfish little thing and if you don’t spread your beauty around now, you are going to take your beauty to your grave.
5. Make a baby damn it!

Dating Shakespeare

The witty banter, the inside jokes, the shy, slightly backhanded compliments – it’s starting to feel like I am dating Shakespeare. It is week four of my 154 week journey to memorize the entire cannon of sonnets, and I’m starting to think he might like me. Week after week he tells me that I am beautiful and therefore should get crackin’ on having kids – maybe the Baby Boom had nothing to do with the war and everything to do with an outbreak of Shakspearean Sonnets…

I have never engaged so directly and so actively with Shakespeare’s Sonnets, and certainly not in a linear fashion. I am struck by what a smart-ass the bard can be when speaking in a voice closely related to his own. This morning I have been pulling double duty with a piece of Portia and Sonnet 3. It occurred to me that in speaking to Bassanio, I don’t feel as though I am also giving voice to Shakespeare the man, but, when speaking Sonnet 3, I feel like the sassafrass, intellectual genius is alive and kicking through my voice. 

Are the sonnets actually a true replica of Shakespeare’s most inner thoughts? Would he have spoken these words in the private moments between himself and his lover? While it would be nice to think so, I wouldn’t bet on it. Even so, I feel like the compact, super charged form of the Sonnet has caught some small reflection of Shakespeare the man, and looking in I can see his shape, his limbs, his stature.

Like any muscle that is continually stretched and conditioned, I can feel my mind wrapping around ideas more quickly. The breath has begun to fall in sync with the meter, and my voice rides easily across to my target. Will this weekly venture give me the ultimate tool? Will I discover the hidden portal into Shakespeare’s mind? Will the lost years reveal themselves to my finely tuned instrument? No. But I might just be a little leaner, a little braver, a little quicker and little sassier each time I get into the ring with my new bard boyfriend.

I wonder if he’ll bring me flowers for date number five… 


Happy Birthday Big Guy!

Happy Birthday Big Guy!

It’s Shakespeare’s 449th birthday, and to celebrate, the Folger Shakespeare Library is sharing twenty of their favorite images of the bard. Click on the photo to see them all, and be sure to share which one is your favorite!

A Sonnet to Remember

Today I am going to set aside the linear progress of my memorization, but I will not forgo my Sonnets completely. On Monday, I received word that a woman of immesurable beauty, talent and intellect will soon shuffle off this mortal coil and join the angels. In honor of Patricia, I am choosing Sonnet 78. Patricia inspired, delighted, challenged, encouraged and supported me and many PCPA students before and after my time there. She has been our Muse, our friend, our director, our teacher and our inspiration. To meet her is to love her. To learn from her is to be a better artist. To know her is to be a better person.

Patricia, you are the only woman I have ever known who could glide easily between the history of the Tudors to the history of nutmeg. You freely bore your heart and soul to your students and in return created a space where we were free to do the same. Since I lack the capacity to express my profound appreciation and admiration, I will let our friend Willam Shakespeare do it for me.


Sonnet 78

So oft have I invoked thee for my Muse

And found such fair assistance in my verse

As every alien pen hath got my use

And under thee their poesy disperse.

Thine eyes, that taught the dumb on high to sing

And heavy ignorance aloft to fly,

Have added feathers to the learned’s wing

And given grace a double majesty.

Yet be most proud of that which I compile,

Whose influence is thing and born of thee.

In others’ works thou dost but mend the style,

And arts with thy sweet graces graced to be; 

    But thou are all my art and dost advance

    As high as learning my rude ignorance