Friday, March 8, 2013

"I Know You All..."

One of our longtime members just gave Prince Hal's speech from Act I Scene 2 Henry IV, part one:

"I know you all, and will awhile uphold
The unyoked humour of your idleness:
Yet herein will I imitate the sun,
Who doth permit the base contagious clouds
To smother up his beauty from the world,
That, when he please again to be himself,
Being wanted, he may be more wonder'd at,
By breaking through the foul and ugly mists
Of vapours that did seem to strangle him.
If all the year were playing holidays,
To sport would be as tedious as to work;
But when they seldom come, they wish'd for come,
And nothing pleaseth but rare accidents.
So, when this loose behavior I throw off
And pay the debt I never promised,
By how much better than my word I am,
By so much shall I falsify men's hopes;
And like bright metal on a sullen ground,
My reformation, glittering o'er my fault,
Shall show more goodly and attract more eyes
Than that which hath no foil to set it off.
I'll so offend, to make offence a skill;
Redeeming time when men think least I will."

When we asked him, as we ask almost everyone, why he chose the piece. He said that he chose it because he was twenty years old, and he figured that everyone his age believes that they are going to change the world.

What stuck out wasn't the words, it was the way he said them. He made it clear that this idea was kinda silly, probably delusional. Either because of pessimism, modesty or both, he clearly didn't think that his chances of changing the world were very high.

It got me thinking. Just a little earlier we had a performance from someone who had come to the forum most recently when it was about four people in someone's apartment. She got up and was immediately struck by just how many people were looking back at her: about fifteen or twenty times as many people. A little later we had someone else stand up and give a piece-- the last one he wants to leave us with before he leaves for his home country, where he says he would like to start another forum-like company of his own.

In other words, this little thing that started in someone's apartment with four people is now poised to become something international. We're putting on shows, we're teaching in schools, we're holding multiple weekly classes, and we're growing fast.

And I may be wrong, but I'm pretty sure forum's founding members were twenty at one point, and thought they were going to change the world. Seems to me, they're well on their way.

The thing about being a twenty year old convinced that you're going to change the world, is that you just might be right. Doubting yourself may feel like being modest around former 20-year-olds who seemingly haven't changed the world. Maybe it is. But being unapologetically optimistic about it isn't a slight. It's an inspiration.

So, no matter how old you are, if you're planning on changing the world, stick with that dream, actively pursue it with the help of your community, and be patient with the fact that it's probably going to take longer than you expected. Because it can happen. Good luck!

Joel Putnam
Resident Artist
The Shakespeare Forum

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