Shakespeare observed “The fault is not in the stars, but in ourselves.”
"A fool thinks himself to be wise, but a wise man knows himself to be a fool." – William Shakespeare
The 41st Annual Meeting of the Shakespeare Association of America was held in Toronto at the end of March. I know this because I sat beside a professor on the flight home from Victoria, BC. She was busy reading and annotating submissions. What she was doing became considerably more interesting than what I was reading and so I asked her about it.
Isn't Shakespeare really conveying the same wise sentiment in a multitude of ways? To be or not to be ["To be, or not to be" is the opening phrase of a soliloquy in William Shakespeare's play Hamlet]. Jim Rohn [business philosopher] said: Any day we wish, we can discipline ourselves to change it all. Any day we wish, we can open the book that will open our mind to new knowledge. Any day we wish, we can start a new activity. Any day we wish, we can start the process of life change. We can do it immediately, or next week, or next month, or next year.
The woman in seat 17B told me that every year, the Shakespeare Association of America holds a conference in a different location. Faculty, postdoctoral scholars and graduate students prepare and circulate work in advance of the conference [that's what this professor was reading and commenting on]. Then, at the conference, the papers are discussed and debated and material is included in scholarly publications.
It's been approximately 424 years since William Shakespeare wrote his first play 'The Two Gentlemen of Verona'. Scholars, students, and visitors to the Stratford Festival continue to keep Shakespeare alive.
Speaking of the Stratford, recently Monforte Dairy opened an osteria at 80 Wellington Street in Stratford. It's called Monforte on Wellington. There was a lively opening party, a kind of marathon that ran from 11 am to 11 pm. On this day there was also palpable creaking of the great machine that is the Stratford Festival -- everyone getting ready for a new season of performances.
Since Shakespeare has begun to occupy my thoughts, I will revisit his work by visiting the sixty-first season of the Stratford Festival. One performance I will see as a kind of preparation and refresher is 'Taking Shakespeare' July 13 to September 22 at the Studio Theatre, Stratford Festival And then a natural second selection would be 'Othello' August 4 to October 19, Avon Theatre, Stratford Festival.
Last year I had occasion to meet another Shakespeare scholar, Holger Syme, Associate Professor, Department of English & Drama at the University of Toronto. We were interviewing him for a Research brochure we were producing for the office of the V.P Research, University of Toronto. Holger is passionate about Shakespeare and had chosen to write about plays rather than to direct them. Holger said, "Shakespeare remains an enormously influential international cultural force."
Once again I find that what is old is new again. And where there is theatre there should always be wonderful food and, perhaps, a darn fine party.
See you in Stratford.