I love being a student. I love knowing that I have so much more to learn. My education is a cup yet to be filled and my thirst for more knowledge is not soon to be quenched. As I read Troilus and Cressida I see that Shakespeare is using Homer’s cast of characters to tell a story of romance set in a world of intrigue, war, politics and eventually murder. What is really wonderful about this piece of theatre is that it as fresh and timely as a season of House of Cards. Ulysses is a master gamester. He knows the hearts of men and can play them like a violin. Hector, the great Trojan warrior is a wise, just and honorable man. No wonder he is respected and loved by both armies. Agamemnon is in trouble. His best warriors and overproud and insubordinate. Priam is in as much trouble, his youngest warriors and hot headed and apt to act rashly, but at least he has his ace in the hole, Hector.
I read the character of Ulysses in Troilus and Cressida, and know in my heart that the actor in Shakespeare’s company who played him also played Iago. They are both patient, devious, insightful and bold enough to stand tall and call their shot. Only Ulysses is trying to save an army, while Iago is out for himself and no other. As I’ve read the canon, slowly, I’ve started to see and hear certain voices cropping up in different plays, wearing different guises, but telling their part of the story in the same way. It reminds me that each play is part of a larger story, a meta play about a writer and a company of actors struggling to make a buck in Elizabethan England. They told the stories that people wanted to hear, full of sex, violence, intrigue, romance and more than a few dirty jokes. The developed a formula for storytelling and part of that was putting the right actor in the right role, over and over again. The audience knew what they were getting as soon as they saw the playbills posted and they lined up to get a place in the theatre to hear the play. To us Shakespeare is classical theatre, to William and his company, it was show business pure and simple.
My son Alex often reminds me that if Shakespeare were alive today, he would be demanding royalties for all of the productions of his work that are being done all over the world.
“There’s no business without the show and no show without the business”