Sunday, June 29, 2008

All the World's a Stage...

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.

- From As You Like It, Act II, Scene VII, by William Shakespeare
After a wonderful dinner with friends on Friday evening, I made it to Mesa State in time to see the Barry Tuckwell Institute's final concert. I waited at the entrance to the Recital Hall while one of the several pieces performed by the participants was being completed. Standing in the alcove with me, not more than 3 feet away, was Barry Tuckwell, eyes closed, listening intently to the Mozart Horn Quintet that was being played.

The participants ranged from teenagers to adults my age and a little older, several locals and some not. The performance was lightly attended, mostly by relatives and friends. The quality of the playing was excellent, the atmosphere congenial and informal. It was a nice visit back to a previous role in my life that I played well.

This and several other things combined to get me to thinking about the roles we play in our lives, the stages upon which those roles are set, and the lines we're called upon to deliver. Witness the following:

The demise of the Cabaret Dinner Theatre was not unexpected. One of the comments left in conjunction with the Sentinel's report summed it up fairly well; "The moral of the story is that actors shouldn't run businesses". While this may or may not ring true, the fate of the Cabaret was foreshadowed by the failures of the Empire and Greenshoe theatre companies, and of Mr. McConnell's own Metro Playhouse. I always felt that there was too much of this live theater going on for a town this size, and Branson this is not.

This leads to the question of the next roles that the operators of the Cabaret will play,
along with possibly the other theater companies that are no more. There appears to be considerable expertise and talent in the performing arts locally, and a lively, enthusiastic market for live theatre. With perhaps the dinner part stripped off to help reduce some of the overhead, is there the creative and pragmatic experience and will to facilitate the creation of a non-profit regional theatre, perhaps a part of the offerings at a newly renovated Avalon?

Gary Harmon's column last week likened the recent Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission hearing in Grand Junction to Japanese Kabuki theatre. Given all of the histrionics and hyperbole present in this debate, that's an interesting comparison.

While Gary may have stretched things a bit in trying to pin any reduction in energy industry activity here on the Commission and Gov. Ritter, the script gets a little deeper when considering other voices and facts.

The reported theatrics of some present at that hearing are remembered in perhaps a different light after reading Pete Kolbenschlag's column in Friday's Free Press. Apparently there are performances for the public and performances for your investors, and from the looks of it the play is undergoing several rewrites between curtain times.

One of the essential premises for Gary's column was his claim that kabuki translates literally to "the art of singing and dancing". This may not be entirely accurate, according to Wikipedia, which states:
The word kabuki is believed to derive from the verb kabuku, meaning "to lean" or "to be out of the ordinary", so kabuki can be interpreted to mean "avant-garde" or "bizarre" theatre.
Given the tone of this and other political debates so far this election year, maybe Gary's on to something. Then again, his column tends to specialize in the avant-garde and bizarre, so perhaps he's got the pulse of this thing. I can see Gary rehearsing his lines in his cubicle, murmuring to himself, "I don't care if his suits are better than mine, I'll scoop that young whipper-snapper Saccone yet".

In keeping with his keen political insight, the Sentinel's Mike Saccone gave me perhaps the most intriguing performance idea when he chronicled in his blog his attempt to get State House candidate Laura Bradford to answer the question "Do you consider yourself a Christian Conservative?" The resulting dead air would likely induce panic in any director.

As Gene Kinsey pointed out so well today, and Ralph D'Andrea before him, Ms. Bradford appears to be rehearsing her lines in front of the audience, and it's not working out for her. Gene even offered her some good advice, but also opined that she "threw away the election".

I feel for Ms. Bradford. She's trying her best to put forth Republican ideals in a manner that will endear her to voters over incumbent Bernie Buescher. However, no Greek Chorus is there to help reinforce the moral of the play she is performing, and Dick Wadhams is not always going to be there to feed her lines.

And besides, Bernie is the better qualified person to do the job of representing the 55th District. I don't believe that any performance from Ms. Bradford is going to change that.

Politics is all about role-playing, theatricality, and telling the best story. The true nature of things often does not present itself in ways that generate the best production values for the performers.

All we can hope to do as citizens is attempt to distill that true nature of who is standing there before us, and make the best judgment that we can as to who is capable of representing our common interests, and be able to effectively work with everyone else over in Denver trying to do the same things for their constituency.

Which leads me to the roles that I am playing. My girlfriend Leslie admonished me last night for living too much in the past, focusing too much on old accomplishments, and relying on what is comfortable and accessible instead of creating new realities for myself, in accordance with the plan that God has for me. She was right.

I'm stepping off of the stage from one of the major roles I have played in my life. Since Jan went to be with her Lord, I have felt called to make changes in my life that have affected my ability to be what I consider to be an adequate and competent father and mentor for my son as he prepares to enter his last year of high school, and make decisions that will affect the course of his life for many years to come.

My work has suffered, in part as a result of this change in perspective. When faced with these realities, including a switch to the overnight shift next month, I could no longer see myself being able to play that role to my own expectations, or to what God expects of me.

The prospects for the development of other roles are exciting and scary at the same time, but I feel that so long as my priorities and principles remain in line with God's plan for my life, the performances will take care of themselves.

Perhaps if more of us, in the course of the roles we play every day, took into consideration what Shakespeare so eloquently put forth in Hamlet, Act I, Scene III, regardless of what belief system drives us, we would enhance the world we live in with performances that we can all be proud of.
This above all: to thine ownself be true,
And it must follow, as the night the day,
Thou canst not then be false to any man.

Farewell: my blessing season this in thee!

No comments: