When I was 13 years old I started reading the works of Shakespeare. The stories of Kings and Fools and Faeries and madmen and knights and thieves and banished dukes and motherless daughters captured me, enthralled me, took me prisoner. And I was fascinated with Shakespearean actors as well, especially the “Big Three” Olivier, Richardson and Gielgud.
I read all the books and looked at all the pictures. I became a student of a woman who had acted with the Oregon Shakespeare Festival at Ashland. I learned about scansion and how to analyze Shakespeare texts. All I wanted was to be a Shakespearean actor, a professional. In my imagination I would be working in London, playing with the RSC. But somehow I knew that would never happen. You have to be a Brit to play Shakespeare on stage in London.
Then I learned about Joseph Papp and the New York Shakespeare Festival. I found out about the Delacorte Theatre, and how the first play performed there was Merchant of Venice with the great movie star George C. Scott playing Shylock. Up to that time I only knew George C. Scott from movies like Patton and The Hustler. More research led me to learning how actors in New York did film for money and theatre for artistic fulfilment. I wanted to be a part of that. I wanted to live my life like that.
I became an actor. I studied in New York to be a classical actor. I eventually went to work for Mr. Papp. I even got to do Shakespeare in Central Park. In the movie Patton, George C. Scott uttered the following line:
I am going to be allowed to fulfil my destiny! His will be done.
All I ever wanted to be is an actor, not a movie star, not a director, not even a leading player. My ultimate goal has always and ever been to be a player on a stage, somewhere, anywhere, hopefully New York, speaking lines of Shakespeare for an audience and hoisting a glass to my colleagues in the wee hours after the curtain comes down.
I got there, I made it. Then I lost it. The moment slipped away and I found myself in front of a camera in and around Los Angeles, supporting a family, raising a son, and telling stories to an audience once removed. Life took a lot of turns since then and now, I’m back.
I am, once again, a player in a company, telling Shakespeare stories to an audience who is eager to hear, to learn, to enjoy. I won’t let my destiny slip away from me again. I won’t be rich. I won’t be famous. But I will be happy and fulfilled every time I step on stage, in New York, or LA, or Hartford, or Santa Cruz, or Pasadena, Sierra Madre.
Be happy for me all my friends. I’m fulfilling my destiny, and I still have time to enjoy it.
We finished our first week of rehearsals for Othello today. Our production stage manager treated us to wine and gluten free chocolate cake. We toasted our company and laughed as our director told stories about rehearals and performances and colleagues gone by.
More to come.