Huzzah for Shakespeare!

the audience for Edward III, the final play

the audience for Edward III, the final play

I got to be there! (See the upper right corner, balcony)

The Atlanta Shakespeare Company of the New American Shakespeare Tavern performed all 39 plays authored by William Shakespeare. Bravo!!

There is something special about the iconic status of William Shakespeare. Each time I see a play—even the lesser know, lesser praised—I am astonished at Shakespeare’s straightforward perusal of the human heart. It doesn’t surprise me that he ranks up near the Bible as far as most read, most translated, most published book in history.

Edward III is certainly not the most scintillating Shakespearean history, but it relentless drove home the age-old turmoil of duty to society and commitment to moral (even Divine) code. Who has precedence: the king who rules by divine right or the husband who pledges his troth? In a compelling (albeit didactic) series of scenes between the King, the Countess, and her father, we see all angles of this dilemma as they debate the Countess’ acquiescence to be the King’s mistress. (Pardon my unwieldy sentence.)

This theme reemerges in no less than five succeeding scenes throughout the play. Definitely heavy-handed, definitely well-perceived. These conflicts have a way of manifesting in countless areas of life’s routine. The struggle of human-constructed mores to cope with the vicissitudes of human relations never diminishes. No matter how many laws we right to correct each wrong, no matter how many initiatives we launch to inspire the masses, and no matter how many philosophical arguments are levied against ignorance, the problem of managing man’s soul remains.

To whom are we called to be whole-heartedly loyal? To whom do we finally answer? If to ourselves, we are hopelessly poor judges. If to Another, Who is He? How do we know Him?

I am proud of the work the ASC does: bringing the articulation of the human heart to the stage. Keeping the original text, performed by people you know, before a wide audience allows that audience to engage with the material, unburdened by another’s interpretation. The guidance of the director and the execution of the company becomes a playful yet meaningful conversation about life in which the audience still has a voice. Thank you, ASC, for valuing the work of art between author, text, and reader.

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