Thursday, September 27, 2012

Greatness thrust upon me

"Be not afraid of greatness: Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon them" (Twelfth Night).  I prefer to have "greatness thrust upon me." Don't all ladies?
      In the last few days, I have been to some great arenas in London. The first was The Clink, for which all prisons were thereafter named.
Next, I was lucky enough to attend a British football match. (British football=American soccer.) My hosts are huge Chelsea fans. Chelsea are the champions, European Champions--I don't know. I am not schooled enough in this sport yet to know how to classify them, but I am getting there. I watched a documentary about how this Chelsea team defied all odds, came from behind and won the European Cup in May 2012. I cried watching the film because it contained all the elements of a great story: heart (all the players so human and passionate); pain (the team started the season losing five games, their coach was fired; they had to start anew); diverse characters (players from all over the world, most were uneducated but managed to "achieve greatness" due to their skill); defeat (during a final playoff match their team captain, John Terry, was sent off early on in the game for bad behavior and Chelsea had to play with one less player...against  Barcelona, a super duper great team, in the Spanish side's home stadium--and Chelsea still won!!! Their fate cried out!). Anyway, I went to the match as a new fan and was amazed at the level of crowd enthusiasm. They yelled and screamed and taunted and sang out the strangest chants like "John Terry, he shags who he wants!" Seriously, tens of thousands of fans sing that out during the game, and also, seriously, John Terry shags who he wants. Like other players' wives. "Greatness thrust upon them"...that kind of thing. John Terry is a naughty boy, but he is beloved on "the pitch," which is what they call the football field. I had to purchase a Chelsea scarf and show my support.

       Finally, as if I haven't had enough greatness, last evening, I saw Twelfth Night at the Globe. Mark Rylance (super famous great Shakespearean actor) played Olivia; he was AMAZING. Think, Ken Branagh (who makes my knees weak from his ability and more so now that one is injured) but even more grown-up and British-ized. The Globe is a tourist venue to be sure, an iconic symbol of London's great past, but it exceeds expectations. It is a truly beautiful, well designed space that both the audience and the actors join in reverence over. There was a palpable feeling of sacredness despite the Disneyland draw of it.  During the second act of the show, I  looked up at the moon, whose natural light glowed above and upon the ceiling--less theatre, and then I looked below at the crowds standing on floor level; it's all as it would have been in Shakespeare's day...except for the fact that this theatre was a completely rebuilt version and people drank hot tea not beer in the penny seats, which are now way more than a penny...but nonetheless, by the end of this comedy, despite all the laughing I did, I was choked up. Like all of Shakespeare's plays, there were some stunning lines: "If music be the food of love, play on." And, for my fellow vegetarians: "I am a great eater of beef, and I believe that does harm to my wit." And, finally, for those trying to ABIDE as I am, "Oh, Time, thou must untangle this, not I. It is too hard a knot for me t'untie."


  1. Yet another piece of masterful writing! You actually made me care about European soccer. And of course, nobody "gets" Shakespeare like you do!

  2. dream number 1,235... see Shakespeare with Lauren Roedy Vaughn at the Globe Theatre and have tea in Stratford Apon Avon