Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage,
And then is heard no more. It is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
–Macbeth, Act V, scene v
Morose sentiment notwithstanding, the corpus of he who penned poor Macbeth’s prose is testament to a profound belief in Life’s significance!
As always, the Bard’s metaphor is spot on. Life is theater.
To expose and explore the human experience, theater employs props, busy-ness and dialog. Live Theater’s props, our “Stuff,” go far in defining its performers. When I was a kid, props were few and simple. Today, costumes in an average American’s closets, shelves and drawers would clothe a neighborhood. Overflowing great-rooms, kitchens, bed- and bathrooms, props fill garages, basements and attics. Rented storage spaces are stacked with chairs, sofas, tables, beds, boxes, PCs, TVs, and microwaves with like-new exercise bikes, dirt bikes and road bikes parked against the walls. Auctioning contents of abandoned storage units is cottage industry. Wal-Mart, Costco and Amazon are Live Theater’s Prop Masters. Since few can’t afford a ticket, for upwards of twelve percent interest and penalties, Visa, Master Card and American Express sell stage money
Then the busy-ness! Blaise Pascal postulated, “All of humanity’s problems stem from man’s inability to sit quietly in a room alone.” But who would pay, much less sit, to watch a silent performer stage-center for ninety minutes, even with an intermission?
After a five-thirty a.m. alarm and a stop at Starbucks, we crowd Interstates and streets in fender-to-fender combat with Jaguars, Kia, F-350s, eighteen-wheelers, pickups with dented fenders and Harleys. Ten hours later, following a commuter combat act encore, we retreat to happy hour at “Larry’s Lair” or home to crash in front of the thirty-five inch, flat-screen Motorola.
In Live Theater much of what passes as dialog is serial monologs. While a twenty-four hour tally of the words spoken on planet Earth may not rival the number of atoms in a kumquat, most of us don’t really listen. iPhones, iPads, lap-tops and social networking propel dialog into forms few imagined even three decades back. Echo, Alexa and the www render notions of privacy anachronistic.
So what makes Live Theater significant? What did Shakespeare and poor Macbeth know? What drives the sound and fury? What powers the strutting and fretting? Hiding among the props, the busy-ness, the dialog, what makes Life not “a tale told by and idiot”?
Relationship! People! Life Theater takes significance in the comedy and tragedy, the confusion and conflict, the pain and joy, the love and, yes, the hate, the everyday vitality of human relations! What matters, really matters, and, ironically, makes me happy is your happiness. Caring for others almost as much as for my own dear self makes Live Theater worth living.