Celebrate this 23rd April!

Today is a day of celebration. It is:

St. George’s Day

William Shakespeare’s Birthday

World Book Night

And I think they all tie in nicely with us here in the UK. St. George’s Day means we should generally feel proud to be British today. Yes, people complain that there aren’t as many celebrations for that, as there are St. Patrick’s Day for example – well to those people I say, ‘Don’t complain – Do!’ Arrange something to celebrate if you feel you should. Me? I’ve just read a good work of fiction, in the British summer time, drinking a glass of Pimms and lemonade – very English and also ties in with World Book Night too 😉

So, that’s St. George’s Day taken care of. And I think you all know how I feel about books and I celebrate them very regularly anyway. (Take a look at A Book Lover’s Post in my ‘Love of Books’ section at the top, if you need reminding). That leaves Mr William Shakespeare to discuss. I am sitting here writing this drinking tea out of my Shakespeare quote mug, bought for me, funnily enough, by my friend from France. It has many quotes from his works that are well-known phrases today. It is amazing really, how much he has influenced our language. I know it is argued that many others helped him write his plays, so it is uncertain how much of the words are his own – but there is enough evidence to show he had a brilliant way with words, I think 🙂

Before I share with you some Shakespearian words of wisdom  – straight from my tea mug (nobody can say I don’t plan for these blog posts 😉 – I just want to exclaim my fascination with his actual birth date. Even though, his birth date is actually unknown – it is estimated that he was born on the 23rd since his baptism was the 26th April and this normally occurred 3 days after the birth. He then died on the 23rd April too.   I love how he died on his birthday, therefore. I just  think it made his life completely rounded off , complete, like one of his plays 🙂

Today he would have been 449 . Amazing really that we still study work of someone who was born centuries ago.  It is also the 397th anniversary of his death, as he died at the age of 52. They say his greatest achievement  was surviving his first year in the harsh, cruel Tudor period – where many new borns didn’t survive. I think some of his great words can challenge this achievement:

‘A fool’s paradise’ ‘Rhyme nor reason’ ‘A dish fit for the gods’ ‘The Queen’s English’ ‘It’s all Greek to me’ ‘in stitches’ ‘heart upon my sleeve’ ‘a green eyed monster’ ‘star crossed lovers’ ‘wild goose chase’ ‘all that glitters is not gold’ ‘fair play’ ‘make your hair stand on end’ ‘vanish into thin air’ ‘fancy free’ ‘love is blind’ ‘lie low’ ‘for ever and a day’ ‘in a pickle’

and my personal favourite, from A Midsummer Night’s Dream:

‘The course of true love did never run smooth’

Too true Bill!

The kids at school complain; ‘Why do we have to learn this old language?!’ I tell them, that to understand it (and they don’t need to understand it all), they need good analytical and communication skills. It is also interesting, yet they may not think that until years later. You must admit that you use a lot of the above phrases, or at least have heard of them.  Meaning, his words are still relevant today in their modern context.

Here’s to William Shakespeare, much-loved Bard and playwright  – then, now and forever 🙂

p.s – I guiltily admit that I have never been to Shakespeare’s birth place, but I am going in a few weeks and I’m very excited 😀

XSXS

Men and Women are merely players….

‘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,’

I could ask a really deep, philosophical question like; why are we here? Still think about it by all means, but what I really want to ask is how and why we do things whilst we are here. I think Shakespeare had it right. All the world is a stage and we are all players or actors on it. Take away the fact that people do act as a living or for a job and just consider the ordinary, unscripted man/woman for a moment. We are here from the day of birth, or as Shakespeare calls it our ‘entrance’ and we do not leave until our end has come and we ‘exit’ from the stage. The world as a stage is a great metaphor I think. We all act from cot to coffin. Every day.

On a daily basis, we smile at certain people or scowl at others (not openly if you are of the polite kind 😉 ). We are acting. We are choosing to be a certain way with certain people. We are consciously thinking how to be. Our speech is a little different though and as I did my graduate degree on spoken language, I know that it is worlds (or stages) apart from a script. We naturally pause, we stutter, we splutter, we repeat things and sometimes we just say the completely wrong thing. In a script for a play or programme, none of that happens unless it has been included purposely for an effect. I have been thinking recently, as I decided on the topic for this blog, that more of this spontaneity should occur in soap operas and dramas. They are supposed to reflect ‘real life’, even if it is a more dramatic and  exciting version of it. I think we should see, therefore, someone starting to walk to the shop mumbling to themself, then rapidly turning around because they left the oven on. We should see people shuffle on past a neighbour half saying hi and half avoiding eye contact because they aren’t in the mood to talk. We should see people stuttering when they speak because they can’t get their words out. Or saying the complete wrong thing out of social awkwardness. Obviously now, I am talking about actors on earth acting as another character and this thought process can get a little crazy. But I just mean, television programmes would do well to add a little more ‘human’ to their characters because even with our human mistakes and characteristics, we are still acting all the time.

We put on a ‘brave’ face when we need to face something we do not want to do. We put on a ‘serious’ face when someone is telling us a really boring, long-winded story and all we want to do is laugh. And I tell you something for free, I put on a ‘happy’ face at work all day, everyday. That doesn’t mean I am faking being happy because I love my job. But working with children normally means you have to exaggerate your feelings of happiness, confidence and positivity – and definitely patience 😉 because you may not be feeling those things one day but you have to be them to do your job well. So I play the part.

So Shakespeare was also right by saying ‘His acts being seven ages.’ Meaning, man and woman go through the seven stages of life and obviously acting differently through each one i.e. infancy, teenage years, adult hood. But I think, we also have many, many different roles to play in all stages of our life. I’ve mentioned a job role – but what about yourself outside of work? For example, I am a daughter. A sister. A grand-daughter. A girl friend. A friend. A niece. A cousin. There are seven more roles through life for you. And I act differently for each one. Not because I prefer certain family members to others – even though, naturally strength of relationship does also affect how we act – but I am supposed to act differently with my sister then I am with my boyfriend! We all know how to change how we are in a suitable way.

So who is the director of the play of life? Religious ones of you will say God. Definitly one option. Maybe fate is an option too. We are all meant to act certain ways at certain times for our lives to sketch itself out. Maybe there is a puppet master controlling our every move for giggles and sinister pleasure. Have you ever watched The Truman Show? We studied it at school and I remember not particularly liking it. Yet, I can’t shake the idea that someone could be watching us at every given moment. Not in a Big Brother kind of way but, like on the film, where the world is watching your everyday life, like a soap opera. And all your family and friends are ‘actors’ and your behaviour is being observed and analysed. I’ve always toyed with this idea and think what people would make of watching me all day. Not that I do anything particularly fascinating you know, but it makes me conscious of my moves! And if you think about it, you would think that when we are alone we are not acting and that is the one time that we are 100%, truly ourselves. But even then are we acting? I am sitting here now. Alone. I am writing this, but I am acting as a professional, writer who is rushing to get an article out on deadline. Our imaginations and thoughts mean we are acting all the time.

So, maybe the only time we don’t act is in our sleep. But even then we dream and play a part, usually as the leading role or as a part that our unconsious wants us to play on the real stage of life. We need to listen to our hearts and minds and act in the best way possible. Do not wait in the wings or become part of the audience of your life. Play the leading role and make the most of it before your final exit 🙂

*Curtain Closes*

XSXS

Good Vs Evil

Last night, I went to see Jekyll and Hyde, a production put on by the Burton Operatic Society, and it was fantastic! This is not really a review but I will encourage any of you that live in the midlands to go and see it. The leads were amazing with very strong singing voices and the portrayal of the story was brilliant. All the cast, band and people backstage did a wonderful job. I always enjoy these shows and it is great to see one of my good friends come alive on stage… not that she doesn’t seem alive the rest of the time, but you know what I mean 😉

I loved the depiction of good and evil within the production like where Dr. Jekyll’s fiancĂ©e was up high getting ready for bed in her angel like nightie and in contrast at the same time, Lucy was down below being amorous with a man…very devil like. And Jekyll himself, at the end, was torn between his two selves and kept rapidly turning his head from ‘Jekyll’ to ‘Hyde’ and this was shown by his change of hair (half up for Jekyll and down for Hyde, which I thought was very clever!) and the colours of light blue/red. The language too… when Jekyll says to his fiancĂ©e ‘Night, my angel.’ and she replies ‘Night, my devil,’ very good hint at the future!

The production got me thinking about the idea of there being Good and Bad within all of us. Do we agree with this? Nobody is perfect so we all have good points and faults. But would we go as far to say that there is evil within us? If the evil within you became a person in their own right then would they be as sinister as Mr Hyde in the story? Would they go around killing people? It is an interesting thought that there are two sides to us. But I am not sure it as simple as that because like we are all different then surely we have different amounts of good and bad too.

Do we get murderers, rapists and paedophiles because they have more evil in them than good? I think probably so. I think it is a battle between the angel and devil we always see on TV but not literally. We have these two urges in our mind that represent good and evil and one will win. This explains why bad things get done and whilst some people are mostly ‘good’ but have their moments of nastiness…. human nature I guess. To back up with a little solid psychology theory: Freud’s structural model of the psyche can help us a little here. He believes that there are three parts to our brain to make up our personality structure; the Id, the Ego and the Super-Ego. The Id is what controls our instant gratification driven by what Freud calls the ‘Pleasure principal’. So when you just ‘need’ that chocolate bar then it is your Id that is winning the battle there….. I wish mine was a little more strong-willed! The Ego is based in reality (Reality Principle) and what should happen according to the situation but still getting what you want in the end. The Super-Ego is related to our morals, fighting the Id and acting on what is right for what we believe in. That is very simple summarising of it and I’m sure there is more to it. But if we take this and think of a situation where we really dislike someone and want to shove the ice-cream they are eating into their face… the Id will be all for this and doing it there and then, the Ego would want to punish the woman but maybe through another way? Or nick her ice-cream when she goes to the loo? The Super-Ego would then rationalise it all and think there could be a better way to deal with it as shoving food in her face would be wrong. So imagine these three battling it out and depending on who we are, how we have been brought up and what morals we have then who knows who will win? Someone with a bigger Id could be more evil maybe, every nasty, negative thought is acted on impulsively. This is just a thought of mine anyway, it could explain a lot.

I also think, that as humans, we are all capable of killing someone. This thought first came to me years ago when I studied Shakespeare’s Othello and Othello is a calm, gentle man and is driven to kill his own wife because doubts and rumours are planted his mind by the villain Iago that his wife has been unfaithful. Can we all be driven to killing someone? I’m not saying that if our mates tell us our partners are cheating when we will go and murder them but this example made me think about it and how a calm, gentle man was pushed to the limit. If we had family members who were killed, would we not want to kill the killer? We could all be in a situation where we want revenge and could be pushed and driven to acting in this evil way.

And yes we all have some good in us too… as hard as it to believe with some people as they keep it very well hidden! Tell their Id to go away 😉

A nice topic that ties in nicely with Halloween! Happy Halloween everyone… hope you get treated and not tricked this evening!

XSXS