Tuesday, June 1, 2010

The games people play

"It's like kids playing house: 'You play the father, I'll play the mother.' ... You know, you dress up, you play, they pay, you go home. It's a game — acting's a game."
                                 — Robert Duvall

I think Shakespeare said it first, life is but a game. It is the the basis of at least two of his plays -  first in , A Midsummer Nights Dream and then  As You Like It. The monologue that expresses the thought best is by melancholy Jaques, who says:

"All the world's a stage,
And all the men and women merely players;
They have their exits and their entrances;
And one man in his time plays many parts,
His acts being seven ages. At first the infant,
Mewling and puking in the nurse's arms;
And then the whining school-boy, with his satchel
And shining morning face, creeping like snail
Unwillingly to school. And then the lover,
Sighing like furnace, with a woeful ballad
Made to his mistress' eyebrow. Then a soldier,
Full of strange oaths, and bearded like the pard,
Jealous in honour, sudden and quick in quarrel,
Seeking the bubble reputation
Even in the cannon's mouth. And then the justice,
In fair round belly with good capon lin'd,
With eyes severe and beard of formal cut,
Full of wise saws and modern instances;
And so he plays his part. The sixth age shifts
Into the lean and slipper'd pantaloon,
With spectacles on nose and pouch on side;
His youthful hose, well sav'd, a world too wide
For his shrunk shank; and his big manly voice,
Turning again toward childish treble, pipes
And whistles in his sound. Last scene of all,
That ends this strange eventful history,
Is second childishness and mere oblivion;
Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything." — Jaques (Act II, Scene VII, lines 139-166)
Enough of Shakespeare. If we can't live in the future, let's at least live in the present.

Listen to Robert Duvall, whose acting career spans roles from To Kill a Mockingbird and Apocalypse Now to Lonesome Dove and most recently Crazy Heart. The NPR podcast is coming, but here is the link to his thoughts on the subject of acting and living. Acting and living are really the same things, aren't they? So, if you could be someone else, anyone in the world, all you have to do is close your eyes, act it out, and imagine it.

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