Turning, Spinning, Reeling…Life

Screen Shot 2016-07-11 at 6.23.27 AMPericles.  I never heard of this Shakespeare play, so as I was literally running with 2 minutes to spare, (yes it was one of those days, walking in Plaza Cabrera, passing by a camera crew, then stopped by a camera crew and asked if my dogs could be used in the photoshoot & subsequent movie, and I was, ” um sure!”, forgetting I had to be at the Lunario for tonight’s Pericles).  Leaving my house at 5:22 for a 6:00 Pm start, boy did I remember….

As I made it into the Lunario at the nick of time, even with a cool background bio on this play, I was anticipating boom or bust. it seems always a gamble to run into a play, never read or seen by Shakespeare, to see on stage.  Yet, I recall my Graduate Degree course where we travelled to Stratford for this Festival, (thank goodness for Rachela Permenter’s influence) and knew the excitement that came from many an unknown Shakespeare play then – most of the time it was amazing – with a few disappointments.

True experiences grip you, shake much emotion out of you, and leave you with a flood of recollections that sometimes leave your mind racing.  Mediocre to average experiences begin to stir possibly a flutter of a recollection of the past, of events/individuals that have influenced you but then keep on passing you by.  For some, these “experiences”are in the form of dramatic productions, I live for the movies, plays, sometimes a musical, the art of the word in a book, music, and of course, an insightful conversation.  For others, it comes in the form of a variety of mediums, be it art, certain trips, objects, today – posts of conversations found in the arena of politics, careers, the future, and past and present history.

I also recall the days when I would take Shakespeare, even back to the days in high school and feel as if “If i can just make it through this class, this jumble of old English, I’ve got it made.”  Then of course at Slippery Rock University, I met Dr. Edward Kopper ,


what seemed like worksheets with word after word after word of symbolism in words that came from the words of Shakespeare, were worksheets that revealed so much I never knew before, coming from those very words that stupefied me, changed everything in how I viewed reading and Shakespeare and I realized how much treasure Shakespeare has hidden between lines, between words, between acts, and why and how elements of his writing were timeless.  This of course opened me to plays, and other forms of writing as well, and a door that have always been unlocked swung wide open.  Those are instructors you will always remember.  

Somehow, even before Slippery Rock University, my very first experience with public theatre, when I attended a one Butler Community College, the transcripts/admissions faculty at the time, older in years, and yet an avid theatre-goer, who could not drive, I found and became her Driving Miss Daisy, actually driving her to Pittsburgh Public Theatre in exchange for the ticket and meal afterwards, I learned so much.  I think now, who had opportunities like that, ever?  Little did I know then, how much it would change me years and years later.

Present – The Adventures of Pericles.  Already you might have guessed.  An unknown production that already has opened the floodgates – this is a powerful production.  As Pericles opened, the set resembled the proclamation of one as a narrator, coming to the stage, announcing a take that all must truly experience.  Little did I realize the symbolism  of the bride that would sit with me through the whole memory of this production.  What I did realize was that to read Shakespeare you see unrealistic events that in real life, hardly ever happen by chance as they happen the way Shakespeare pens them, in order for one brother to meet up with one sister, on the same shore, BY CHANCE, now someone, really? How possibly could this happen where it “works out” so well?  Of course, that this the aspect that seems hard to find a takeaway, the Hollywood part of a movie, the drama we will never quite find in the frequency Shakespeare presents it.  Yet, there is that element of takeaway you can’t deny.

The hits keep coming.  One also has to wonder how many detrimental, negative aspects have to happen, as if in a modern-life Job, to also feel as if it is possible in real life.  Yet, I can attest, they might not come in rapid succession as Shakespeare presents, but yet life does indeed roll out the trials, does hand out the tribulations, that most characters see in three hours, and often just when you feel you are rising the next trial, the next conflict, another stronger than the one before comes to attack. True life disguised as a picnic and revealed as the most perfect meal covered with ants.

The magic of this element, of life being presented in so much trial, so much tribulation, and yet to be dealt with in the most human ways that are apparent, and sometimes more valiant than others will deal with – it sinks into you.  No matter the number of storms Pericles faced, the number of deceitful and envious actions taken against him knowingly and unknowingly, the number of disappointments that broke his will, the perseverance towards something he did not know, the end result was absolutely astounding and could not go without notice to anyone as a spectator.  

Now true, much of this is in the pen of Shakespeare in this amazing Tempest-like tale and yet, MUCH more is in the heart and control of the actors and actresses involved.  The level of emotion that was brought forward to the stage, along with this impounding sense of doom, surprise, rise to glory, and return to a life-can-go-on possibility, could never, ever go on without the power of this cast.  Seeing the tears in their eyes and the amount of anguish that was brought to the stage, not only from the main characters but also from the supporting cast, it would be 100% impossible to pick out a specific actor/actress for achieving this, because for one of the first times, I never witnessed so much emotion that was channeled, reined in, bridled, then let go in the right places, the right moments, an in the right way.  

You take the tale of Odysseus, wrap it into the elements of The Fall of Troy, and end with the tale of a 12th Night finish with the most powerful enzymes you know of, and you come close to what this production does for its audience.  Out of a three year experience with all things Lunario, by far, this (hard to believe!) is the most powerful, influential, and moving production I have ever seen due to the acting, the emotion, the expertise, and of course, the content.  To have the experience and benefit of receiving this message, as well as imagining what it would be like to be in the audience at Stratford, as when those realizations hitting you so many years ago for the first time, that trip to Stratford, this experience with Pericles, priceless and no explanation can draw it out of you on how it makes you feel. 

In a larger frame, there are so many individuals that do not realize how lucky they are to go through something difficult, that opportunity there is there to make something better of themselves through that experience, and to what end they will walk away learning more about themself.  I will pout myself at number one on that list, and that is a whole other post.  The complaining, the gnashing, the biting life presents, that is real life.  That continues to exist from day-to-day. I often succumb to allowing myself to soak some of that in, and affect me, the actual complaining others do, seems often to soak into me and I allow it to affect me and then I come away with that very unattractive disposition.  It changes me, bogs me down, and creates an individual I often do not even recognize.  When away from that element, I slowly transform into someone else, and feel better as well, inside and out.  I build up my resistance to expecting that element, often seeing someone else complain and being able to put myself outside of that characteristic shocks me into realize I do not want to become like that, at all.  Whatever it takes, it is vital to surround yourself with the most positive of influences to avoid falling into that trap of change that threatens everything that surrounds you in life. This ultimately results in depression, lethargy, apathy, and a personality hat becomes unattractive to friends and everyone around you.

All of this from this very production of Pericles?  Absolutely.  When done right, thanks to the tools of an acting set, Shakespeare’s true message comes out loud and clear.  True as well, this particular production seems to be shared with other writers, and not solely Shakespeare.  However, even more so the reinforcing of what occurs when you combine talents and possibilities with like individuals.  Would I see this production again tonight, the last showing of Pericles?  Absolutely, it was THAT good.  Consider it, and consider the thoughts as you watch Pericles battle and brave what seems like unearthly trial after trial – you will find your impossible horizon of success as well.  Just give it time and find that chance to rise about every wave that comes your way, even when they come so close to drowning you.


About Harry Brake

Employee of Woodbridge High School, Library Media Specialist, Media crazy! :)
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