"All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players..." --William Shakespeare
This week, I have been reflecting upon our theater class and how theater reflects life. The student project for the week was to write a scene with a partner, based on the fairy tale genre, and then present this short scene to the class. While watching all the short skits, I thought about how the message of fairy tales reflected life -- each one giving us a message about good and evil.
But what is good? What is evil? These are the 2 questions reflected upon the most by writers, philosophers, theologians and the like. A good story may lift up these ideas, as we become infatuated with the protagonist and antagonist in a story. Typically, these characters represent this concept of good and evil. Of course, the oldest stories, told by the ancients, teach us about these notions, and warn us about behaviors inherent within every human.
But what of the quote above? Shakespeare, one of the greatest playwrights, wrote this beautiful statement about the world being a stage, and going further to state that we are all merely players upon it. This makes me think that the world is where we act out our lives. This quote, from As You Like It, of course, continues and tells us that we go through stages in life, from birth to death. What does this mean? Well, on its surface, it could be literal. That is, we go through so many stages in life and then we die. Another meaning could be that we shouldn't take life so seriously, or we are all the same, going through the same stages, which eventually ends in death. Or maybe it is about realizing that you never know what will happen to you in each stage of life. You are not in control. You are merely a player in someone else's game.
I could write a whole blog post on that last interpretation. To be a player (or pawn) means we are not completely in control of our destiny. Since life has taught me to take the bull by the horns, so to speak, I don't accept that last interpretation. I affirm that I will live my life out loud and always achieve and succeed. If that was the intention of Shakespeare, then I would argue with him. However, I have enough knowledge and experience in life to see how Shakespeare could feel that way about life, and also be correct.
Theater is life because it reflects the author's experiences and feelings on the stage -- for all the audience to see, to feel, to experience. And, perhaps, those feelings and experiences are the same -- for the audience member or for you. Or maybe you, too, disagree with the author as you watch the players display the author's thoughts through acting. And maybe you experience an emotion you have never known before. Whatever it is for you, theater is life because it reflects our deepest, darkest secrets sometimes, and that can be scary as an actor, and surprising for the audience.
So the next time you feel yourself well up with tears in your eyes, as you watch a play on a stage, you might just reflect upon whether this story displayed before you is, in fact, a message about life. In the interim, what do you think...Is theater life for you?
Ms. Summer is a teacher, writer, musician and Spiritual Director/Coach. She has recently embarked upon a weekly podcast called "The Bayat Beat" where 3 generations in her family discuss many deep topics to understand this thing we call life! It is currently being listened to around the world. Check it out if you want to learn more.