Written by Jeff Bushke
I drove East on Airport Way, at 3:40 AM on Tuesday. There was no traffic and the stop lights all gave me a “green”, until I reached Cushman Ave. Just a few more blocks and then I would arrive at the Empress Theater just before the top of the hour.
I was about to embark on a journey that took me back 45 years. The objective was to read “The Merchant of Venice” by William Shakespeare.
The last time I did this I was in my high school English class, it was Juneau, '67. Everyone knows Juneau, the capital of Alaska, however, the city of which I speak is located in central Wisconsin.
Mrs. Breamer was the teacher all those years ago. I did not understand, why we had to read words written eons ago? I still recall the emphasis placed on Portia’s mercy speech. These words reflect the heart and soul of the play:
“The quality of mercy is not strain'd,
It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven
Upon the place beneath: it is twice blest;
It blesseth him that gives and him that takes”
These four lines had faded from my memories over the years. My recent reading of the play has allowed these fond memories of days gone by, to resurface to the forefront of my consciousness.
I walked up the thread-bare carpet cushioning the steps of the Empress Theater.
The room is illuminated by four banker’s lamps with green shades. A large thick book of the complete works of Shakespeare sat lonely, in front of each of the other twenty empty chairs.
This was my first time reading at the Bard-a-thon. The words weren’t as cumbersome as I had remembered from my youth. Four people joined together to read some of the greatest words ever written. Two hours and 40 minutes elapsed until the last line of the play was read aloud. I felt a kinship with the others, for we shared a common goal in keeping the spirit of Shakespeare alive.
I miss my old friends from Juneau, and I mouthed a silent “Thank You” to Mrs. Breamer for her effort to share with her class the wonderful words of a world master. I also said a “Thank You” to Bard-a-thon for digging deep into my past and lifting up some joyous memories.
|< Prev||Next >|