Author Archives: Shamrock McShane

About Shamrock McShane

Shamrock McShane, writer, actor, and teacher, taught in Florida public schools for more than 30 years. A Shakespearean-trained actor as well as a prize-winning playwright, his roles include Mercutio, Macbeth, Prospero, and most recently Willy Loman in Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman. As a screenwriter collaborating with his son, the director Mike McShane, his films include The Votive Pit, You Are Not Frank Sinatra, and It's All Good.

Several Sides of Seven Sides

Shakes Pitch

Crew Kinnard All of it so good! Shamrock’s work incorporating the most profound of foundations: Shakespeare. Shamrock sharing his life with us, showing the arc of a life, really quite intimate. And such a magnificent space and such moving works of art. I am honored to have been included. Bravo Sir!! Here’s to what more will come.

Wendy Thornton Amazing performance! So much energy – a combination of true life stories and the magic of Shakespeare.

George Steven O’Brien An Intimate evening with one of my personal heroes. It doesn’t get better than that. Being that close to a master at work, is both humbling and inspiring. He invited us deep within his being and shared his world and workings with us. A mechanism whose design baffles and amazes. Shamrock is the Captain of the ship. No doubt about it! Bravo!!!! Dear Sir. Shakespeare never sounded so good or made more sense. Watch out for those witches. Their eyes peer from every corner and take on every shape. I will never look at Macbeth the same again. That whole world was just cracked wide open because of you
Sir Shamrock!

Wendy: Not everybody can do the Bard justice.

I chided Wendy: Not everybody? I doubt that there are a dozen actors in the country who could do what I did. First you have to act in all seven of the plays, and do all of them justice, before you get around to fitting them all together.

At any given moment, someone acting a role is no longer acting. At any given moment it doesn’t matter whether someone is acting a role or not. There is a difference between pretending to be something and really being that thing, but if, in a moment, the line could be crossed, and they could be the same, a unity of opposites, being and pretending, what then?

God or nature permitting, what I had planned would be a night like no other, a magical night.

The Plan

The First Act will take place in the garden. Acts Two and Three will take place in the studio.

Act One in the garden, using nature to illustrate the Queen Mab speech and Oberon’s narrative, and Malvolio’s discovery of the note.

Use Anna for Titania.

Use Mandy for Olivia.

Use All for Miranda.

Use the statue for Puck.

Use the Air for Ariel.

I used Leda in a painting with a swan.

I used Anthony’s swing just as Sid Homan had used a swing in As You Like It to introduce Jaques.

It has been suggested that 7 Sides play the ART or the AW or the GCP or the Hipp or UF or the IB Program at Eastside or the Cambridge Program at GHS or the Library.

What you saw was immensely augmented, first, by the garden and the admirable architecture of the studio, and then, once inside, by the acoustics and the grandeur of the studio’s simple majesty, rising to the balcony and cupola.

But there was nothing else. No lighting effects. No props. No music.  No sound design, not even a bell to invite Macbeth to murder Duncan.

Now think what this play might be if you added all of that with a team of artists and real production values.

Seven Sides of Shakespeare is my one-man show, like Hal Holbrook’s Mark Twain Tonight, which is told by Mark Twain as an old man, so there’s old man Holbrook still doing his show in his 80s. Seven Sides tells the story of my life, so it should hold true at least until I’m dead.

There are no royalties to pay.

It’s not just Shakespeare.

It’s not as if I just walk out there with the Complete Works of Shakespeare and read a bunch of passages. My sides for this play total 35 pages. Shakespeare occupies 22 pages. I wrote the other 13, with the goal of making the transitions so smooth that you would only gradually realize that you were hearing Shakespeare and not Shamrock. Now, come on, that’s pretty darn good, and I actually pulled it off a couple of times.

I also flubbed a couple of my favorite lines, including “and that same dew which sometime on the buds was wont to swell like round and orient pearls stood now within the pretty floweret’s eyes like tears that did their own disgrace bewail.” Shit!

No one knew. Sid Homan would’ve known. It’s one of his favorite lines too.

I also accidentally cut a whole beat about the war of the theatres.

The three-act structure gives the play a clear beginning, middle, and end. It could, at 75 minutes, be presented without intermission, not to mention expanding it with more Shakespeare, more Shamrock, and the filigree of Shakespearean glosses that could be presented with projections.

Observe the way Steven Butler and the Actors’ Warehouse really got behind Stan Richardson to make a hit out of Satchmo at the Waldorf.

As Anthony and I arranged the chairs, he asked me how many people I thought were coming. I told him that 15 had confirmed that they were coming, but we might have a couple more. I also told him that every play I have ever appeared in, I thought more people were going to come. As it turned out, 12 people came.

The play moves from the tragedy of Mercutio, in which the tragedy of Romeo and Juliet forms the background, and links it to something tragic in the life not of Mercutio, but the actor playing Mercutio.

Welcome to meta-theatre.

The connecting themes are dreams, the unconscious, and nature.

The poet David Maas was there, and I was hoping he would be, because I’d told him what I was going for in the transitions. Afterward, he told me he’d been looking and listening for them. At first it would take a moment for him to realize that what he had just heard was Shakespeare, but then, after a while, he stopped even thinking about it and it all became one.

Perfect. That was exactly what I was going for.

The obverse observation came form Anthony, who said he felt just the opposite – as if the Shakespeare stuff never arrived. None of it sounded like Shakespeare to Anthony because it all made sense, was so plainly comprehensible that it turned into someone telling you something that you both understood, that it was genuine, dramatic without being theatrical, seemingly without being acted. “When you got excited, it wasn’t like a stage direction, it was spontaneous.”

To make it as if the words were being said for the first time.

It was much too hot of course.

It will be much cooler in October, and Anthony has said he’d like to host another go at it.

The guests bore up gamely under the the heat, but they were mostly anxious to get the hell out of there when it was over.

I sweated like a pig. It was about equivalent to running a 10K. It felt good. I like it when stage actors sweat. I like it when you can see their spittle flying. Makes it look like they’re working.

We didn’t account for the sunset. The setting sun would’ve been right in the eyes of the audience had they sat in the best viewing spot at the top of the stairs, so the audience voluntarily spread themselves in a semi-circle in the shade. The whole thing would’ve worked better at 8pm than 7pm.

“Theatre always starts at 8, fucken rube.”  – Roy Cohen in Angels in America

Michael Bobbitt’s review of the Expressions rough draft show

Shamrock McShane has written and stars in a one-man show called Seven Sides of Shakespeare wherein he blends monologues from seven Shakespeare plays with an autobiographical narrative of his time learning, teaching, and performing the great plays on stages from Chicago to Key West to Gainesville. Full disclosure: One-person shows are unbearably dull to me. No matter how great the actor or story, I typically try to avoid them at all costs. But Shamrock McShane is so much more than just a great actor, and the combined story of his life in the theater set against the backdrop of the characters he has inhabited quickly overcame my bias against the format.

I have only ever known Mr. McShane as an elder statesman in the theater community– someone who has forgotten more about theater than I could ever hope to learn. Imagine my surprise when he took an interest in my own playwrighting a few years back. Shakespeare had a habit of writing characters for the actors he intended to play them. After my first opportunity to have Mr. McShane star in one of my plays, I have seldom dared to write another without his spirit infiltrating the characters I create. As an actor he has a way of commanding a room, a scene, a place– without overtaking it. As a lay-scholar of Shakespeare, his grip on the material is as rooted in everyday life as it is in high-minded analysis of the text. He digs his hands into the guts of a play like a hunter field dressing a buck. If Sid Homan is the preeminent Shakespeare scholar of our university community and our time, then certainly Shamrock McShane is our battle-hardened sergeant, marching headlong into the meatiest of roles, trampling artifice as he goes.

In Seven Sides of Shakespeare, we first hear a tale of a 23-year-old McShane playing the role of Romeo’s best friend Mercucio, who faces death with the misguided honor of youth. This was McShane’s first Shakespeare role and he had no idea what he was doing. Neither did Mercucio, so it worked out. As McShane aged, his characters did so as well. He made a go at the professional theater scene in Chicago, mingling with William H. Macy at the Steppenwolf. McShane’s trajectory there was less meteoric than he wanted but higher than yours or mine or anyone we know. He rambled down to Key West for 7 years, found refuge in Oberon during a Midsummer Night’s Dream, and felt himself slipping off the planet on those tiny islands before heading north. Macbeth, drunk with ambition, haunted McShane’s day job teaching public school and standing still. Prospero, infected with the low-calling of vengeance, stirred up his own personal Tempest of existential dread in Hoggetown. This bold new play takes us from infancy through the seven stages of a man’s life– McShane’s own with a few yet to unfold– as we feel the deep truths of the great stories in a way that is as familiar as our own lives.

That’s a hell of a thing, even for my theater hero.

A room of disparate people, ranging from a self-aggrandizing Libertarian to a 10-year-old boy, all sat rapt in the palm of Mr. McShane’s hand, laughing and marveling at stories they didn’t know they knew so well. From Mercucio to Prospero by way of Chicago, MacBeth via Key West and and now a powerful amalgam of so many great characters living here among us in the swamp– Shamrock McShane is a treasure.

Lucky me, he’s also my friend.

If Seven Sides of Shakespeare goes up again, do your self a favor and make a way to be in the audience. You won’t regret it.

Notes on the Expressions Rough Draft Show:

It works. My collaborator, the renown playwright and poet Will Shakespeare, and I have penned a play that people like. It’s called Seven Sides of Shakespeare, and in it I play Mercutio, Oberon, Malvolio, Macbeth, Julius Caesar, Jaques, and Prospero.

Romeo and Juliet and Midsummer Night’s Dream are among Shakespeare’s early plays, written either concurrently or back to back in 1595 or 1596. He wrote Julius Caesar, As You Like It, and Twelfth Night, in that order, between 1599 and 1600, and they are, respectively, my fifth, sixth, and third characters. Macbeth, the centerpiece of my Seven Sides, was written in 1606. The Tempest was written in 1611.

In re-creating the roles and studying the plays, I found our 1997 Everyday Theater production of Macbeth newly validated. We got it so right.

There is no villain in Macbeth. Instead there are three protagonists: Macbeth, Lady Macbeth, and Evil.

So, Seven Sides encompasses Shakespeare’s entire career, beginning, middle, and end, and it makes chronological sense, for the plays, playwright, characters, and me. My performances stretch from 1974 to 2011, a period of 37 years, from age 23 to 60.

It was like finding a vintage car in a junkyard – and just happening to be an expert mechanic.

To put Seven Sides together actually took 37 years, plus an additional seven years to think of it, for a total of 44 years, so what you see is just the tip of the iceberg.

Practicing my one-man show by myself on my side porch made me feel at times like the Dude’s landlord in The Big Lebowski.

For the separate speeches to have any validity, a full production has to lie behind it. And I’ve got that. I have played each these parts all the way through with a company of actors in front of a paying audience for a full run.

You’ll learn about Shakespeare and how his plays and characters continue to shape and augment and affect our lives, and mine in particular, as a writer, an actor, a teacher, and a human being. It’s funny, it’s tragic, it’s unpredictable, and beautifully poetic (Will’s bits especially).

The rehearsal period was 37 days, straight, the company worked on the play every single day, cast and director, but, considering my familiarity with the material going back years and years, and the fact that Will made his lines learnable in the most ingenious ways, I ended up knowing this play as well as anything ever, maybe better.

But you don’t know for sure until you try it in front of an audience.

Now I know I know.

The attendees were: Michael Bobbitt, Laura Jackson, Andrew Jean, Scot Davis, Cheryl Valantis, Chantarelle Davis, Crew Kinnard, Derek Wohlust and his son Fox, noble and enlightened cognoscenti all, assembled on short notice after my grand plans for a premiere on Shakespeare’s Birthday in an artist’s studio downtown fell through less than 48 hours before curtain.

I wanted to do the show on Shakespeare’s birthday, and thankfully, Scot Davis, the dean of the school of drama at Expressions Learning Arts Academy, was able to open the doors of Expressions for me and Shakespeare.

(That studio downtown is still a wonderful venue for Seven Sides, it is a little cathedral to art, visually stunning, and the acoustics are unparalleled, and I hope we can make a gathering or two happen there in the future.)

This is my Shakespeare play,  my Seven Sides of Shakespeare, comprised of seven sides of my being, as well as Will’s, my growth, my beginning, middle, and, dare I say, end, so be it, I’ll have my say, well, Will and I will. But it only makes sense if I say it. It’s a one-man show, and I’m the man.

Seven Sides of Shakespeare is available for bookings.

Anthony Ackrill, artist

https://www.principlegallery.com/charleston-artist/anthony-ackrill/

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Seven Sides of Shakespeare

Seven Sides of Shakespeare

Ladies and Gentlemen, William Shakespeare couldn’t be here tonight. So he’s sent me.

I act in plays.

In plays I act.

In real life I do nothing.

So, here are Seven Sides of Shakespeare, seven parts I’ve played in seven Shakespeare plays, seven characters, seven points of view, Seven Ages of Man – and they travel through history – mine.

Back in time, back in time. The year is 1974 and the scene is Old Town in Chicago, the Gill Theatre, 1429 North Wells Street, and I am 23 years old, and I am Mercutio in Romeo and Juliet.

Mercutio is Romeeo’s best friend. He loves him. So, when Romeo falls in love with Rosalyn, before he ever meets Juliet, Mercutio is jealous, and he makes fun of Romeo for being in love.

Mercutio is a young man who is doomed. Tybalt, Juliet’s cousin, is going to kill him, and it will break Romeo’s heart, and he’ll kill Tybalt in revenge, and thus the wheels of tragedy are set in motion.

Here they are on their way to crash the Capulets’ party, where Romeo will discover Juliet, and it will be love at first sight, true love, but before they get there, we get this sweet little diversion.

Queen Mab transports us into the world of dreams. At 23 I was a few years older than Mercutio. Yet here Mercutio dashes off a sally that’s a Freudian feast.

This speech has stayed with me all these years, and every time I say it I’m 23 again, wondering how Mercutio could be so much smarter than me, and still swagger so stupidly into death at the hands of Tybalt. Even Romeo can’t believe it. Come on, man, Romeo says.  “The hurt cannot be much.” “No,” Mercutio says, “Tis not so deep as a well, nor so wide as a church door, but twill serve.”

The themes in this Queen Mab speech flow all the way through to The Tempest. They grow and expand with the characters and plots.

One of the things these two best friends like best about each other is their wit. They finish each other’s sentences, they top each other in their comebacks, and so Romeo says:

I dreamed a dream tonight.

And so did I.

Well, what was yours?

That dreamers often lie.

In bed asleep, where they do dreams things true.

Oh,

Then I see Queen Mab hath been with you.

She is the fairies’ midwife

And comes in shape no bigger than an agate stone

On the forefinger of an alderman,

Drawn by a team of atomies

Athwart men’s noses

As they lie asleep.
Her wagon spokes made of long spinners’ legs,

The cover of the wings of grasshoppers,

The traces of the smallest spider’s web,

The collars of the moonshine’s watery beams.

Her whip of cricket’s bone,

The lash of film,

Her waggoner a small gray-coated gnat

Not half so big as a round little worm

Pricked from the lazy finger of a maid.

Her chariot is an empty hazel nut,

Made by the joiner squirrel

Or old grub,

Time out a mind,

The fairies’ coachmakers.

And

In this state,

She gallops

Night by night

Through lovers’ brains,

And then they dream of love.

O’er courtiers’ knees

That dream on courtsies straight,

O’er lawyers’ fingers

Who straight dream on fees,

O’er ladies’ lips

Who straight on kisses dream,

Which oft the angry Mab with blisters plagues

Because their breaths with sweetmeats tainted are.

Sometimes she gallops

O’er a courtier’s nose

And then dreams he

Of smelling out a suit.

And sometimes come she

With a tithe’s pig’s tail

Tickling a parson’s nose

As a lies asleep.

Then dreams he

Of another benefice.

Sometimes

She driveth o’er a soldier’s neck,

And then dreams he

Of cutting foreign throats,

Of breaches,

Ambuscados,

Of healths five fathom deep

And then anon drums in his ear

At which he starts and wakes

And being thus frighted

swears a prayer or two

And sleeps again.

This is that very Mab

That plats the manes of horses

In the night

And bakes the elflocks

In foul sluttish hairs

Which once untangled

Much misfortune bodes.

This is the hag,

When maids lie on their backs

That presses them and learns them first to bear,

Making them

Women of Good Carriage.

This is she –

Peace, Mercutio, peace,

Thou talkst of nothing.

True,

I talk of dreams,

Which are the children of an idle brain,

Begot of nothing,

But vain fantasy,

Which is as thin of substance

As the  air,

And more inconstant than the wind,

Who woos even now

The frozen bosom of the north,

and, being angered,

Puffs away from thence,

And turns his face to the dew-dripping south.

The dew-dripping south, the dew-dripping south.

I was doomed, just like Mercutio. He didn’t know it, and neither did I.

If I’d stayed in Chicago, if I’d gone to New York . . .

But instead I headed for the dew-dripping south, to Key West, where I would spend the next seven years of my life. The Florida Keys are a string of pearls dangling in the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico, but there’s no knot on the end of the string and people tend to slip away.

Enter Shakespeare.

Plot, character, thought, diction, sound, spectacle, this play’s got it all. It starts with me, 23 years old, in Chicago, then it jump-cuts to me in my 40’s, in Hogtown,  my shot at the big-time is long dead and I am a public school teacher, but in my secret life I am Oberon, King of the Fairies.

It had been 20 years since I’d played Shakespeare last, since I was Mercutio, but I plunged instantly back into the world of dreams and the psyche and the unconscious, where I discovered I ruled. I was Mercutio in the afterlife, I was Oberon, King of the Fairies.

Oberon and his Queen, Titania, are at war over a page, a boy, for whom they both have an ambiguous sexually-charged interest. The King and Queen being at war, the fairy kingdom is been likewise divided into warring camps. Oberon and his chief minion, the mischievous Puck, devise a plan to make Titania surrender the boy.

My gentle Puck,

Come hither.

Thou remembrest

Since once I sat upon a promontory

And heard a mermaid on a dolphin’s back

Uttering such dulcet and harmonious breath

That the rude sea grew civil at her song

And certain stars shot madly from their spheres

To hear the sea maid’s music?

That very time I saw,

But thou couldst not,

Flying

between the cold moon and the earth,

Cupid, all armed.

A certain aim he took

At a fair vestal

Throned by the west,

And loosed his love-shaft smartly

From his bow,

As it should pierce

A hundred thousand hearts.

But I might see young Cupid’s firey shaft

Quenched

in the chaste beams

of the watery moon,

And the imperial votress passed on,

In maiden meditation,

Fancy free.

Yet

Marked I

Where the bolt of Cupid fell.

It fell upon a little western flower,

Before milk white,

Now purple

With love’s wound,

And maiden’s call it

Love in Idleness.

Fetch me that flower,

The herb I showed thee once.

The juice of it

On any sleeping eyelids laid

Will make or man or woman

Madly dote upon

The next live creature

That it sees.

Fetch me this herb,

And be here again

Ere the leviathan can swim a league.

Having once this juice

I’ll watch Titania when she is asleep,

And drop the liquor of it

In her eyes.

The next thing then she waking looks upon –

Be it lion, bear, or wolf, or bull,

On meddling monkey or on busy ape –

she shall pursue it with the soul of love.

And ere I take this charm from off her sight

As I can take it 

with another herb

I’ll make her render up her page to me.

Welcome wanderer,

Hast thou the flower there?

I pray thee, give it me.

I know a bank where the wild thyme blows,

Where oxlips and nodding violet grows,

Quite over-canopied with luscious woodbine,

With sweet musk roses

And with eglantine.

There sleeps Titania sometimes of the night,

Lulled in these flowers with dances and delight,

And there the snake throws her enameled skin,

Weed-wide enough to wrap a fairy in.

And with the juice of this I’ll streak her eyes,

And make her full of hateful fantasies.

What thou seest

When thou dost wake,

Do it for thy true love take.

Love and languish

For his sake, be it ounce or cat or bear,

Pard or boar with bristled hair.

In thy eye that shall appear,

When thou wakest,

It is thy dear.

Wake when some vile thing is near.

She does. She falls madly in love with Bottom. Who is an ass, at least he has an ass’s head.

Seest thou this sweet sight?

Her dotage now I do begin to pity.

For meeting her of late behind the wood,

Seeking sweet favors from this hateful fool,

I did upbraid her and fall out with her.

For she his hairy temples then

Had rounded

With coronet

Of fresh and fragrant flowers.

And that same dew,

Which sometime on the buds

Was wont to swell

Like round and orient pearls,

Stood now within the pretty floweret’s eyes

Like tears

That did their own disgrace bewail.

And when I had,

At my pleasure,

taunted her,

And she in mild terms

Begged my patience,

I then did ask of her her changeling boy,

Which straight she gave me.

And now I have the boy.

I will undo this hateful imperfection

of her eyes.

Come, my Queen,

Take hands with me,

And rock the ground

Whereon these sleepers be.

What next? What You Will. Or The Twelfth Night. Our production of Twelfth Night was a farce. No, literally, it was a farce. There was no director. The director got canned halfway through rehearsals, and we just kept going without one. What the hell. That’s the way Shakespeare’s company did it.

Our friend Joe Argenio was the director and cast the play. He wanted to do the complete Folio text, no cuts, and he got cut instead.  Joe would have been a player in Shakespeare’s company.He would have played Falstaff.  He had a vision of Twelfth Night when he cast it.

Scot Davis would play the Fool. I mean that was his part in the play.

I would play Malvolio.

As you might suspect of someone named Malvolio, this guy is bad news.

Malvolio is a supercilious, officious jerk, with delusions of grandeur. He serves as steward to the Lady Olivia, and he become the butt of a practical joke employed by Sir Toby Belch and his drinking partner Sir Andrew Aguecheek, who compose and forge a letter that Malvolio is bound to find and think it is to him from the Lady Olivia. Why would anyone play such a cruel trick? Because: Let’s say you’re all having a good time, and it’s two in the morning, and this guy shows up!

My masters,

Are you mad?

Or what are you?

Have you no wit, manners, nor honesty,

but to gable like tinkers

At this time of night?

Do ye make an alehouse

Of my lady’s house

That ye squeak out your cozier’s catches

Without any mitigation

Or remorse of voice?

Is there no respect

Of place, persons, nor time

in you?

Sir Toby,

I must be round with you.

My lady bade me tell you

That though she harbors you

As her kinsman

She’s nothing allied to your disorders.

If you can separate yourself

And your misdemeanors,

You are welcome to this house.

If not,

And it would please you

To take leave of her, 

She is very willing

To bid you farewell.

Mistress Mary,

If you prized my lady’s favor

At anything more than contempt,

you would not give means

For this uncivil rule.

She shall know of it.

By this hand.

To be Count Malvolio.

There is example for it.

The Lady of Strachy

Married the yeoman of the wardrobe.

Having been three months married to her,

Sitting in my state,

Calling my officers about me,

in my branched velvet gown,

having come from a daybed,

where I have left Olivia sleeping.

And then to have the humor of state

And after a demure travel of regard,

Telling them I know my place

As I would

They should do theirs,

To ask for my kinsman, Toby.

Seven of my people,

with an obedient start,

make out for him.

I frown the while,

And perchance wind up my watch,

Or play with my –

Some rich jewel.

Toby approaches,

curtsies there to me.

I extend my hand to him thus,

Quenching my familiar smile

With an austere regard of control,

Saying,

Cousin Toby,

My fortunes having cast me on your niece

give me this prerogative of speech:

You must amend your drunkenness!

What employment have we here?

By my life,

This is my lady’s hand.

These be her very c’s,

Her u’s,

And her t’s,

And thus makes she her great P’s

It is in contempt of question hers.

“To the unknown beloved,

Thus,

And my good wishes.”

Her very phrases.

By your leave, wax.

Soft!

And the impressure

Her Lucrece,

With which she uses to seal!

T’is my lady.

To whom should this be?

“God knows I love,

But who?

Lips, do not move.

No man must know.

No man must know.”

What follows?

The number’s altered.

“No man must know.”

If this should be thee, Malvolio?

“I may command where I adore,

But silence,

Like a Lucrece knife,

With bloodless stroke

My heart doth gore;

MOAI doth sway my life.”

“MOAI doth sway my life.”

Nay,

But first let me see,

Let me see,

Let me see.

“I may command where I adore.”

Why, she commands me.

I serve her.

She is my Lady.

Why, this is evident

To any formal capacity.

There is no obstruction in this.

And the end.

What should that alphabetical position portend?

If I could make that resemble something

In me?

Softly,

MOAI.

M, Malvolio, M.

Why,

That begins my name.

M

But there is no consonancy

In the sequel

That suffers under probation.

A should follow, but O does.

MOAI

This simulation is not as the former,

and yet to crush this a little,

it would bow to me,

for every one of these letters

are in my name.

Soft,

Here follows prose.

“If this fall into thy hand,

revolve.

In my stars,

I am above thee.

But be not afraid of greatness.

Some are born great,

Some achieve greatness,

And some have greatness

Thrust upon em.

Thy fates open their hands,

Let thy blood and spirit embrace them.

And to inure thy self

To what thou art like to be,

Cast thy humble slough

And appear fresh,

Be opposite with a kinsman,

Surly with servants,

Let thy tongue tang arguments of state,

Put thyself into the trick of singularity.

She thus advises thee who sighs for thee.

Remember who commended thy yellow stockings

And wished to see thee ever coss-gartered.

I say remember,

Go to,

Thou art made

If thou desirest to be so:

If not, let me see thee a steward still,,

And not worthy to touch Fortune’s Fingers.

Farewell.

She that would alter services with thee,

The Fortunate Unhappy,

Daylight and Champion

Discovers not more:

This is open.

I will be proud.

I will read politic authors,

I will baffle Sir Toby,

I will wash off gross acquaintance,

I will be Point Devise,

The very Man.

I do not now fool  myself

To let imagination jade me;

For every reason excites to this,

That my lady loves me.

She did commend my yellow stockings of late.

She did praise my leg being cross-gartered,

And in this she manifests herself to my love,

And with a kind of injunction drives me

To these habits of her liking.

I thank my stars.

I am happy.

I will be

Strange,

Stout,

In yellow stockings

And cross-gartered

Even with the swiftness of putting on.

God and my stars be praised.

Here is yet a postscript:

“Thou can’t not choose but know who I am.

If thou entertainest my love,

Let it appear in thy smiling.

Thy smiles become thee well.

There in my presence,

Still smile,

Dearo, my sweet,

I prithee.”

God, I thank thee.

I will smile.

Naturally, everyone thinks he’s crazy. He searches for allies.

Fool,

There was never a man

So notoriously abused.

I am as well in my wits,

Fool,

As thou art.

(Then you are mad indeed,

If you be no better

in your wits

Than a fool.)

He searches for answers.

Lady,

Pray you,

Peruse that letter.

You must not now
deny it is your hand,

Say tis not your seal,

Not your invention.

You can say none of this.

Well,

Grant it then.

And tell me,

In the modesty of honor,

Why you have given me

Such clear lights of favor,

Bade me come smiling and cross-gartered

To you,

To put on yellow stockings

And

To frown upon Sir Toby

And the lighter people,

And,

Acting this in an obedient hope,

Why have you suffered me

To be imprisoned

In a dark house,

Visited by the priest,

And made the most notorious

Geck and gull

That ere invention played on?

Tell me why!

Macbeth is where the dream turns into pure nightmare.

Macbeth is cursed, the play and the man. I directed the play. I played the title role. I produced the play myself.

Macbeth was ambitious, I was ambitious. Macbeth killed the king, I killed the king.

Macbeth is cursed. What the witches do is curse him. What Macbeth learns is being King is a curse.

Macbeth is bad luck.Everyone in the theatre knows that. You can’t even say the name of the play, you’re supposed to call it the Scottish play, and if you do, by chance, happen to say the name, you’re supposed to exit the theatre, turn round three times, and then spit in a direction away from the theatre. (Pitui!)

The thing of it  is you cannot put on a play without enacting the drama in real life. You discover this only after having put on play after play, and every time you enter rehearsal with the same intention, planning a smooth, calm, orderly, untroubled, predictable, unemotional, pleasurable experience, and inevitably something entirely different than what you had planned takes place. Your unconscious enacts the play in reality. You not only dream about it, you find analogous situations in your life and impose the plot of the play on them.That’s what makes Macbeth the most dangerous play in the world.

The artistic director of the theatre liked to play dangerous games offstage. He enjoyed what was termed rough trade. Directing a play was the perfect vehicle for meeting new and interesting people, while at the same time establishing his credentials as a serious artist, mounting Shakespeare no less.

I was Shakespeare – metaphorically speaking. At least I thought so, and this was our Globe. Marcel was the artistic director, and I was playwright-in-residence, as well as the company’s leading Shakespearean actor.

In the war of the theatres we were the interloper, the invader, the usurper, attempting to lure audiences away from both the Equity house in town and the community playhouse with our serious edgy dramas compared to their musical comedy fluff.

Our radicalism was our advantage, while the other theatres were locked into the depressing pattern with their numbing repetition of the summer musical, then the Halloween play, followed by the Christmas play. We, on the other hand, were going to subvert the traditional seasonal expectations and exploit them to our own ends, we decided for Halloween to stage the most dangerous play in the world.

Marcel would direct, and I would play Macbeth. Then Marcel fell in love and gave the part to somebody else. Marcel was never in love with me. We were business partners. Besides, I was married. I was married to a witch. That’s a lie, a feeble, misogynistic, lame-ass excuse, but it’s all I’ve got. I loved her, and we decided to kill the king.

Act One Considering murder.

Macbeth, a soldier, a warrior, a commander of troops as well as a nobleman and property-owner, has chanced to encounter three witches, who claim to predict the future. One of their predictions has already come true: King Duncan has named Macbeth Thane of Cawdor after winning a battle against that traitor Macdonwald, thus increasing Macbeth’s power,  stoking his ambition. The witches’ second prediction is that Macbeth will be King.

What is he willing to do to make that happen?

Two truths are told,

As happy prologues to

The swelling act

Of the imperial theme.

This supernatural soliciting

Cannot be ill;

Cannot be good.

If ill, why hath it given me

Earnest of success,

Commencing in a truth?

If good,

Why do I yield to that suggestion

Whose horrid image

Doth unfix my hair

And make my seated heart

Knock at my ribs

Against the use of nature?

Present fears are less

Than horrible imagings.

My thought,

Whose murder yet is but fantastical,

Shakes so my single state of man

That function is smothered in surmise,

And nothing is

But what is not.

If chance will have me king,

Why, chance may crown me

Without my stir.

We discovered that Marcel had been diverting the box office cash to other ends, namely his midnight revels, and so we outed him, like gutting a pig, to the long dormant board of directors, which promptly banished him under threat of criminal prosecution, and I became the artistic director. I. I would direct Macbeth and I would play Macbeth. I. I. I was on the biggest ego trip of all time.

I wanted to take the theatre to another level, and to that end I would cast a professional actress to play Lady Macbeth.

By now I had created enough enemies at the theatre to reach critical mass. The whole production was seen as the power trip it was, and the board of directors threw me out.

But that didn’t stop me. We would just do the play somewhere else. We would do the play outdoors, on the community plaza. We would perform for the people!

Acting like I was Orson Welles or something, I cast the play. The professional actress agreed to play Lady Macbeth and seek an Equity waiver. Everybody still wanted to do it, because it  has such great parts. There are fights. We had a fight choreographer. We had swords. There are witches.

Act Two Indecision

Lady Macbeth wants him to be king, and he is willing to do anything to please her. He loves her. He does it all out of love. They love each other. You can look at all 36 plays and the most happily married couple of all is the Macbeths. At one point he refers to her as “my dearest chuck”.

Stars, hide your fires;

Let not light see

My black and deep desires;

The eye wink at the hand;

Yet let that be

Which the eye fears

When it is done

To see.

If it were done

When tis done

Then twere well

It were done quickly.

If the assassination

Could trammel up the consequence

And catch with surcease success;

That but this blow

Might be the be all and end all here,

But here,

Upon this bank and shoal of time

We’d jump the life to come.

But in these cases

We still have judgment here;

That we but teach bloody instructions,

Which, being taught,

Return to plague the inventor.

This even-handed justice

Commends the ingredients

Of our poisoned chalice

To our own lips.

He’s here in double-trust.

First, as I am his kinsman

And his subject,

Strong both against the deed;

Then as his host,

Who should against his murderer

Shut the door,

Not bear the knife myself.

Besides, this Duncan

Hath borne his faculties so meek,

Hath been so clear in his great office,

That his virtues will plead

Like angles,

Trumpet-tongued,

Against the deep damnation of his taking off;

And pity,

Like a naked new-born babe,

Striding the blast,

Or heaven’s cherubim,

Horsed upon the sightless couriers

Of the air,

Shall blow the horrid deed

In every eye

That tears shall drown the wind.

I have no spur

to prick the sides

of my intent,

but only vaulting ambition,

which o’re leaps itself

and falls on the other.

Shakespeare’s company put on all his plays with an ensemble of ten or twelve players, by doubling parts. We decided to use the three Witches for all the doubling, and by doing that we stumbled onto the secret of the play, hidden in plain sight.

The Witches inhabit these other characters who surround Macbeth, they morph into them, they are evil incarnate, and they advance the plot in fulfillment of their own prophecies,

This turned the Witches into not just good parts to play, but great parts, because the audience could watch you transform from one character into another, chameleon-like, from bloody soldier on the battlefield to drunken gatekeeper to cunning assassin. And then one of the Three Witches suddenly became the greatest of all.

Act Three

Is this a dagger

Which I see before me

The handle toward my hand?

Come,

Let me clutch thee.

I have thee not,

And yet I see thee still.

Art thou not,

Fatal vision,

Sensible to feeling

As to sight?

Or art thou

But a dagger of the mind,

A false creation,

Proceeding from the heat-oppressed brain?

I see thee yet,

In form as palpable as this,

Which I now draw.

Thou marshals me

The way I was going;

And such an instrument

I was to use.

Mine eyes are made the fools

Of the other senses,

Or else worth all the rest.

I see thee still,

and on thy blade

Gouts of blood,

Which was not so before.

There’s no such thing.

It is the bloody business

Which informs thus to mine eyes.

Now o’er the one half-world

Nature seems dead,

And wicked dreams

Abuse the curtained sleep;

Witchcraft celebrates

Pale Hecate’s offerings,

And withered murder,

Alarumed by his sentinel,

The wolf,

Whose howl’s his watch,

Thus with his stealthy pace,

With Tarquin’s ravishing strides,

Toward his design

Moves like a ghost.

Thou sure and firm-set earth,

Hear not my steps,

Which way they walk,

For fear the very stones

Prate of my whereabout,

And take the present horror

From the time,

which now suits with it.

Whiles I threat,

He lives;

Words to the heat of deeds

Too cool breath gives.

I go,

And it is done.

The bell invites me.

Hear it not, Duncan;

For it is a knell

That summons thee

To heaven or to hell.

Evil is a force we deal with in life. It confronts us, as the Witches do Macbeth, but, further, as his own wife does.

Our whole production threatened to collapse when the professional actress got cold feet. She suddenly asked herself: What the hell am I doing? It’s Macbeth – it’s cursed!

It was cursed, born of ill will, but the deed was done. There was no turning back now. The play was booked,  rehearsals had begun.

Necessity is a motherfucker of invention. I double-cast one of the witches as lady Macbeth, and suddenly it all made sense. She was possessed by a witch too, the bewitching Manna Marie Kirkpatrick. She wants him to be king. He loves her, so he’ll do anything for her, even kill the king. Which leads to her madness and suicide, but, more than that, leaves Macbeth looking straight into the abyss.

Act Four After the Deed

Methought I heard a voice cry

‘Sleep no more.

Macbeth hath murdered sleep.’

The innocent sleep.

Sleep that knits up

The raveled sleeve

of care,

the death of each day’s life,

sore labors bath,

balm of hurt minds.

Macbeth hath murdered sleep

And therefore

Macbeth shall sleep no more.

What hands are here?

Ha, they pluck out mine eyes.

Will all great Neptune’s ocean

Wash this blood clean

From my hand?

No.

This my hand will rather

The multitudinous sea

Incarnadine,

Making the green one red.

Had I but lived an hour before this chance,

I had lived a blessed time,

for from this instant,

there’s nothing serious in mortality,

all is but toys.

The wine of life is drawn/

We have scotch’d the snake,

Not killed it.

She’ll close and be herself,

Whilst our poor malice

Remains in danger of her former tooth.

But let the frame of things disjoint,

Both the worlds suffer,

Ere we will eat our meal in fear

And sleep in the affliction

Of these terrible dreams

That shake us nightly:

Better be with the dead.

Whom we, to gain our peace,

have sent to peace

Than on the torture of the mind

To lie in restless ecstasy.

Duncan,

In his grave,

after life’s fitful fever,

He sleeps well.

Treason has done his worst.

Nor steel, nor poison,

Nothing can touch him further.

Be innocent of the knowledge,

Dearest chuck,

Till thou applaud the deed.

Come, sealing night,

Scarf up the tender eye of pitiful day;

And with thy bloody and invisible hand

Cancel and tear to pieces

That great bond which keeps me pale!

Light thickens,

And the crow makes wing

To the rooky wood.

Good things of day

Begin to droop and drowse

While night’s black agents

To their prey

Do rouse.

I have lived long enough.

My way of life

Is fallen into the sear,

The yellow leaf,

And that which should accompany old age,

As honor, love, obedience,

Troops of friends,

I must not look to have,

But, in their stead,

Curses not loud but deep.

Yet,

I’ll fight

Till from my bones

My flesh be hacked.

Next thing I knew, my wife divorced me.

Act Five Madness and Death of the Queen

In chess, the queen is the most powerful piece on the board. She can move any number of squares in any direction. You may wonder: why isn’t the king the most powerful piece? Because even though the king and the state may exist without the queen, when the king has lost his queen it is as though he has lost everything.

Canst thou not minister

To a mind diseased,

Pluck from the memory

A rooted sorrow,

Raze out the written troubles

Of the brain, and with some sweet oblivious antidote

Cleanse the stuffed bosom

Of that perilous stuff

Which weighs upon the heart?

I have supped full of horrors.

Direness,

Familiar to my slaughterous thoughts,

Cannot tart me now.

The Queen is dead.

She should have died hereafter;

There would have been a time for such a word.

Tomorrow,

And tomorrow

And tomorrow

Creeps in this petty pace

From day to day

To the last syllable

Of recorded time;

And all our yesterdays

Have lighted fools

The way to dusty death.

Out

Out

Brief candle.

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,

Signifying nothing.

Every curse is a blessing.

Every blessing is a curse.

As Stoppard says: “Every exit is an entrance somewhere else.”

I killed Julius Caesar. I mean, I killed the part. I crushed it. I had to. The curse had ended. They let me back into the theatre, and I returned, with my tail between my legs. When my wife left me after 20 years of married life, I felt as if my life was over, and although it wasn’t true, I felt as if I were unafraid of dying, a feeling you can ride like a wave of confidence, and I did. That was the way I entered rehearsals for Julius Caesar, and I did it with the only certainty any actor ever gets – I learned my lines, and when that became apparent halfway through the read-through, Malcolm Sanford, who was playing one of my assassins, leaned in and said: I want to kill him already.

Caesar has been warned that on the Ides of March something bad is going to happen. His wife Calpurnia has had a bad dream about it and she tries to get him to stay home, but Caesar is determined to go to the Capitol and tell the senators he’s going to do whatever the hell he wants. He has his suspicions about some of them.

Let me have men about me that are fat.

Yond Cassius has a lean and hungry look.

He thinks too much.

Such men are dangerous.

Would he were fatter.

But I fear him not.

Yet if my name were liable to fear

I do not know the man I should avoid

so soon as that spare Cassius.

He reads much.

He looks quite through the deeds of men.

He loves no plays

As thou dost, Antony.

He hears no music.

Seldom he smiles,

And smiles in such a sort

As if he mocked himself,

And scorned his spirit

That could be moved to smile

At anything.

But I rather tell thee what is to be feared

Than what I fear;

For always I am Caesar.

Caesar shall forth.

The things that threatened me,

Ne’er looked but on my back.

When they shall see the face of Caesar,

They are vanished.

What can be avoided

Whose end is purposed

By the mighty gods?

Yet Caesar shall go forth.

These predictions

Are to the world in general

As to Caesar.

Cowards die many times

before their death.

The valiant never taste of death

But once.

Of all the wonders

That I have yet heard,

It seems to me most strange

That men should fear,

Seeing that death,

A necessary end,

Will come when it will come.

Danger knows full well

That Caesar is more dangerous

Than he.

We are two lions littered in one day,

And I the elder.

The Ides of March are come.

These couchings and these lowly courtesies

Might fire the blood of ordinary men.

I could be well moved

If I were as you.

If I could be moved to pray,

Prayers would move me.

But I am constant as the northern star

Of whose true-fixed

And resting quality

There is no fellow in the firmament.

The skies are painted with unnumbered sparks.

They are all fire

And every one doth shine,

But there’s but one in all

Doth hold his place.

So in the world:

Tis furnished well with men,

And men are flesh and blood,

And apprehensive.

Yet in the number I do know but one

That unassailable holds on his rank,

Unshaked of motion,

And that I am he.

Let me a little show it.

As You Like It was my second Shakespeare play under the direction of the great Shakespearean scholar Sidney Homan. Acting in a Shakespeare play directed by Sid was like taking a graduate level seminar in Shakespeare, but who cares about that? The best part about acting in a play directed by Sid was that Sid is s a true Stratfordian – not just a believer that  the man from Stratford, the glover’s son, Will Shakespeare, the actor, wrote those plays, but acting on that belief and staging the plays to see just how they play, so every moment became a discovery of This Must Be How They Did It!

When I played Jacques, the first thing Sid told me was that it’s pronounced Jakes, not Jacques, because that was one of Shakespeare’s jokes – Jakes was the street name for the outhouse, so Shakespeare names this guy Jakes who gives everybody shit.

More, I prithee, more.

I can suck melancholy

Out of a song

As a weasel sucks eggs.

A fool, a fool.

I met a fool in the forest,

A motley fool

Who laid him down

And basked him int the sun

And railed on Lady Fortune

In good terms.

Good morrow, fool,

Quoth I.

No, sir,

Quoth he,

Call me not fool

Till heaven hath sent me fortune.

And then he says very wisely,

It is ten o’clock.

Thus may we see,

Quoth he,

How the world wags.

T’is but an hour ago

Since it was nine,

And after one hour more

T’will be eleven,

And so on, from hour to hour,

We ripe and ripe,

And then, from hour to hour

We rot and rot.

And thereby hangs a tale.

When I did hear the motley fool

Thus moral on the time,

My lungs began to crow

Like chanticleer

That fools

Should be

So deep

Contemplative.

And I did laugh

Sans intermission

An hour by his dial.

O worthy fool.

O noble fool.

Motley’s the only wear.

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 schoolboy,

With his satchel

And shining morning face,

Creeping like a 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 honor,

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 lined,

With eyes severe

And beard of formal cut,

Full wise

Of saws

And modern instances,

And so he plays his part.

The sixth age

Shifts

Into the lean and slippered pantaloon,

With spectacles on nose

And pouch on side,

His youthful hose – well saved –

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 everything.

That wasn’t really the Last Scene of All. This is. It’s always calmest just before the storm. The Tempest. Maybe it’s not the last play Shakespeare ever wrote, but I like to think that it is, that it was Shakespeare’s farewell to the theatre. And I think of the whole folio being on a continuous loop.

When Prospero says, “Be collected,” that’s Shakespeare talking to himself about his plays, it’s Shakespeare talking to his plays, telling them to be collected in the first folio. And then he’s telling the world, “No more amazement,” because he’s retiring form the amazing business. And, besides, there’s been no harm done – it’s only a play, and it’s only been his life, and mine, and yours, bless your piteous heart.

The Tempest is a storm that Prospero has caused in order to bring his enemies, chiefly his own brother, to the shores of his magical island, where he intends to get revenge.

His daughter Miranda is coming of age. Prospero has raised her by himself, after being set adrift with her, by his treacherous brother.  Fortunately, he managed to smuggle his books on board, a compendium of knowledge he has completely mastered and thereby acquired a rough magic that he now intends to use to get his revenge. Now he’s got to tell Miranda about it.

Be collected.

No more amazement.

Tell your piteous heart

There’s no harm done.

No harm.

I have done nothing

But in care of thee,

Of thee, my dear one,

Thee, may daughter,

Who art ignorant

of what thou art,

naught knowing

of whence I am, nor than I am

more better

than Prospero,

master of a full poor cell,

and thy no greater father.

‘Tis time

I should inform thee

Farther.

Lend thy hand

And pluck my magic garment from me.

So.

Lie there my art.

Have comfort.

The direful spectacle

Of the wrack,

Which touched the very virtue

Of compassion

In thee,

I have

With such provision

In mine art,

So safely ordered

That there is no soul,

No,

Not so much perdition

As an hair

Betide to any creature

In the vessel

Which thou heardest cry,

Which thou sawest sink.

Sit down.

For thou must now know farther.

And so he tells her how he has come to rule the island with knowledge, how he freed the airy spirit Ariel to be his Puck, and tamed the terrible Caliban and forced him into service, and now all that remains is to persuade, cajole, well, bully Ariel into fitting the last pieces of the puzzle in place.

How now, Ariel?

What?

Moody?

What is it thou canst demand?

Thy liberty?

Before the time be out?

Dost thou forget

From what a torment

I did free thee?

Thou dost.

Hast thou forgot the foul witch Sycorax,

Who with age and envy

Was grown into a hoop?

Thou hast?

Where was she born?

Speak.

Tell me.

Argier?

Oh, was she so.

I must once in a month

Recount what thou hast been,

Which thou forgetest.

his damned witch,

For mischiefs manifold

And

Sorceries terrible

To enter human hearing, from Argier,

Thou knowst,

Was banished.

For on thing she did,

They would not take her life.

This blue-eyed hag

Was hither brought with child,

And here was left

By the sailors.

Thou, my slave,

As thou reportest thyself,

Was then her servant,

And

For thou wast a spirit too delicate

To act her earthy and abhorred commands,

Refusing her grand hests,

She did confine thee,

By help

Of her most potent ministers,

And

In her most unmitigabble rage,

Into a cloven pine,

Within which rift,

Thou didst painfully remain

A dozen years,

Within which space,

She died

And left thee there.

Thou best knowst

What torment I did find thee in.

Thy groans did make wolves howl

And

Penetrate the breast of ever-angry bears.

It was a torment to lay upon the damned,

Which Sycorax could not again undo.

It was mine art,

When I arrived and heard thee,

That made gape the pine

And let thee out.

If thou more murmmurest

I will rend an oak

And peg thee in his knotty entrails

Till thou has howled away twelve winters.

Now, do as I say,

And in two days,

I will discharge thee.

And so he will, as soon as he gains his sweet revenge. And finally the time has come. Prospero’s enemies are at his mercy.

Now does my project gather to a head.

My charms crack not,

My spirits obey,

And time goes upright in his chariot.

Ariel!

How’s the day?

Hast thou, Ariel,

Which art but air,

A touch,

A feeling,

Of their afflictions?

And shall not myself,

One of their kind,

Who relish all as sharply,

Passion as they,

Be not kindlier moved

Than thou art?

Though with their high crimes

I am strook

To the quick,

Yet, with my nobler reason

‘gainst my fury

Do I take part.

The rarer action is in virtue

Than in vengeance.

They, being penitent,

The sole drift of my purpose

Doth extend not a frown further.

Go, release them, Ariel.

My charms I’ll break.

Their senses I’ll restore,

And they shall be themselves.

Ye elves

Of hills,

Brooks,

Standing lakes

And groves,

And ye

That on the sands with printless foot

Do chasing the ebbing nature

And do fly him

When he comes back,

You demi-puppets

That by moonshine

Do the green sour ringlets make

Whereof the ewe not bites

And you

Whose pastime

Is to make

The midnight mushrumps

That rejoice to hear the solemn curfew

By whose air,

Weak masters though ye be,

I have bedimmed

The noontide sun,

Called forth the mutinous winds,

and twixt the green sea

and the azured vault

set roaring war.

To the dread rattling thunder

Have I given fire

And rifted Jove’s stout oak

With his own bolt.

The strong-based promontory

Have I made shake

And by the spurs

Plucked up the pines and cedar.

Graves

At my command

Have waked their sleepers,

Oped,

And let em forth

By my so potent art.

But this rough magic

I here abjure,

And

When I have required

Some heavenly music,

Which even now I do,

To work mine end

Upon their senses

That this airy charm is for,

I’ll break my staff,

bury it certain fathoms in the earth,

and deeper than did ever plummet sound

I’ll drown my book.

And thus my personal journey through Will Shakespeare’s canon and out its mouth concludes. Was it all a dream? Can I walk out that door now onto Wells Street, into Old Town. Has nearly half a century really passed? Mercutio? Oberon? Malvolio? Macbeth? Caesar? Jaques? Prospero? Where have you gone? Look at me! I’m an old man now

My charms are all o’erthrown,

And what strength

I have’s mine own,’

Which is most faint,

Now tis true.

I must be here confined

By you.

As you from crimes would pardoned be,

Let your indulgence set me free.

If we shadows have offended,

Think but this and all is mended,

That you have but slumbered here

While these visions did appear.

Our revels now are ended.

These our actors

As I foretold you

Were all spirits,

And are melted into air,

Into thin air,

And,

Like the baseless fabric of this vision,

The cloud-capped towers,

The gorgeous palaces,

The solemn temples,

The great globe itself,

Yea,

All which it inherit,

Shall dissolve,

And

Like this insubstantial pageant faded,

Leave not a rack behind.

We are such stuff

As dreams are made on,

And little life is rounded with a sleep.

1

Mercutio

Romeo and Juliet (1595)

Directed by Patrick O’Gara

Gill Theatre

1429 N Wells Street, Chicago

Spring, 1974

2

Oberon

A Midsummer Night’s Dream (1595)

Directed by Andrew Toutain

Acrosstown Repertory Theatre

Gainesville, Florida

Spring, 1995

3

Malvolio

Twelfth Night, or What You Will (1602)

ART

Spring, 1997

4

Macbeth

Macbeth (1606)

Directed by Shamrock McShane

Everyday Theater

Gainesville, Florida

Fall, 1997

5

Julius Caesar

Julius Caesar

Directed by Sidney Homan

ART

2002

6

Jacques

As You Like It (1599)

Directed by Sidney Homan

ART

2003

7

Prospero

The Tempest (1611)

Directed by Michael Cormier

ART

2011

See SATCHMO!

Satchmo at the Waldorf by Terry Teachout

Directed by Steven Butler

Starring E. Stanley Richardson

at the Actors’ Warehouse

There’s a small bar, there’s a small couch, a coffee table, there’s a dressing table with a mirror framed in light bulbs, photos in black and white on the wall of showbiz stars, and into the dressing room ambles Satchmo, Louis Armstrong, the world’s greatest trumpeter. From the moment the door opens E. Stanley Richardson is the man.

Instantly there is the rubber face we know so well, puffed full of feeling and life, only now wheezing and coughing, and damned if Richardson doesn’t do that real-sounding too. It’s gut-wrenching. He needs a blast of oxygen. This is Satchmo near the end of his days, playing out the end of his song, speaking what needs noting into a tape recorder, re-playing his best riffs, and telling us the truth of it all.

“Hello, Dolly” is a piece of shit. Dwight Eisenhower was a motherfucker.

A wonderful mimic, Richardson has captured Armstrong’s mannerisms, inflections, speech patterns, and best of all makes that distinctive Armstrong guttural rasp flow like rough silk, wrapping it specially around specific spots in Satchmo’s vocabulary, to say “world” or “music”. He’s going to tell us his story and we will see how we fit in, because it is America’s story too.

It is the story of jazz, an American art form and its finest artists, and their inevitable exploitation by capitalism, embodied in the machinations of Armstrong’s manager, Joe Glaser, and with a shift in lighting, Richardson is Glaser, a ghost now, who will haunt Satchmo to the end, his feelings toward the powerful white man who shaped his destiny shifting with each recollection, but he still wears the Star of David around his neck out of reverence to something higher that he wants to believe in.

The Louis Armstrong who sang and played “St. James Infirmary” had entered the pantheon of jazz, but for Glaser that was only the beginning, only a point of departure. What he dreamed of was success so grand that Satchmo wouldn’t even have to play the trumpet, while the man himself proclaimed: I just wanna play my horn.

No one ever played the horn more purely than Armstrong’s young rival, Miles Davis, the Michelangelo to Satchmo’s Leonardo, who brought to his art rage where Satchmo brought joy, which Miles then misread as playing Uncle Tom. Cuts don’t dig any deeper, and Richardson cuts to the quick in playing Miles Davis, locating his cool, so the rage turns an ice blue. Miles is Satchmo’s mirror-image, his doppelganger, his Malcolm to Satchmo’s MLK, his Ali, to Satchmo’s Frazier.

Satchmo never had any doubt about his blackness. Jelly Roll Morton down in New Orleans might have called himself French, but not Satchmo.

It becomes apparent as the night wears on that what Richardson is doing is processing an entire dialectic for us, thesis, antithesis, and synthesis. At one point he flashes back and forth between characters with the rapidity of a light being switched on and off.

For us, Glaser’s dream has some benefit, in that although we never see Satchmo play his trumpet, we do see Richardson fingering it fondly while cleaning it and putting it away, and, sublimely, hitting “play” on the tape recording and telling us what we’re hearing, and how the sounds transport the soul.

He’s not explaining what jazz is. He’s telling us how an artist paints a masterpiece. As the man said, “If you have to ask what jazz is, you’ll never know.”

Satchmo at the Waldorf plays through July 6 at the Actors’ Warehouse

In Black & White & Color, Chapter Five

(This is a second  draft, with  another draft or two to come, so stay tuned  because the next one will have an actual beginning, middle, and end. What you see here is a jumbled, charging, disconnected, rambling, over-written, under-written hodgepodge of miscellanea, historical facts, lies, misinformation, prejudices, misconceptions, disillusionment, disappointment, regret, people and places in the middle of the twentieth century.)

B&W 5

The Village was going to flood the parks as soon as the ground was frozen six inches deep.

That a fact?

I duno. But it makes sense. If the ground’s not frozen, the water would just seep into it, the ground would just soak it all up. It’s when the ground is frozen that the water can sit on top of it and freeze. So you have to wait until the ground is frozen before you can flood the parks.

Six inches deep.

After Thanksgiving.

December.

Fire trucks’d come to the park and turn on their hoses and flood it, and then you could skate and play hockey.

Those wickedly curved sticks that let you lift the puck and send it sailing through the air like a missile.

What it feels like to be hit with a hockey puck.

Antinomianism, the breaking of human law in the name of God.

Emerson: self-reliance. It was a Puritan concept.

Public v Catholic.

Are you the Holy Fool?

I don’t know. Am I?

I guess you wouldn’t know.

You try to think it all through, your place in history, which is really just a passage of time, a parade of events and characters, this pageant, and it all seems to be spinning around in a carousel, so fast that it blurs, and at every moment, as you look at it hard enough to see something, some shard of the mirror with the reflection of that sliver of reality in it, and you breathe, and the passing of time seems to separate you from all other living beings – because you are alone, alone with your problems and your thoughts and yourself. You have to be confronted, and so you seek out confrontation.

What would you grow up to be from watching “I Love Lucy”.

“Fenwick is the only high school sponsored by Dominican Friars in America, a national lighthouse for the Thomist educational philosophy.”

Stained glass window featuring Saint Albert the Great (1200-1280)

Ursuline nuns at Ascension to be followed by Dominican friars at Fenwick.

A man will do what he’s been trained to do.

Aquinas was an Italian, born in 1225, educated at the University of Paris by Albert, whom he then surpassed by reconciling Aristotle with Christianity, with the resulting Catholicism.

The Dominicans were founded by Dominic DeGuzman. He called it the Order of Preachers. He believed in an educated clergy, so he sent the friars to the great universities of medieval Europe.

“The dao, the vast treeless grassy plain of western China. Everything looks the same in every direction all the way to the horizon. Go where you want, as fast or as slow as you like.”

A curriculum designed to affect cognition, psycho-motor, and affect itself.

The world of the soul.

The idea was to be always doing something – before school, during school, after school.

Tinkus ran to school every morning. It was the secret of his success.

Guys made these huge leaps. The plateau they were on suddenly dropped out and their times plummeted.

There must’ve been close to a hundred hardcover books behind glass in the bookcase in Gas-man’s bedroom.

Trophy case v bookcase.

Inability to hear the truth is a sign of weakness.

Saul Bellow was the same age as Dan’s father, both born in 1915, Bellow in Canada, Connor not far away, in Buffalo, New York. Then Bellow wound up in Chicago, and Connor in Oak Park, but while Bellow would come to concentrate on modernism and realism, Connor would concentrate on electricity and golf.

The metaphysics of Plato.

The Aristotelian turn of Thomism

Plato and Aristotle, conducting an agon.

All those Tuesday nights when his father taught electrical engineering classes at the Circle campus.

The neighboring parish, St. Luke’s in River Forest.

The thing, whatever it was, wasn’t in the past or the future. It was only to be found in the present moment.

His dad’s white shirts, fresh from the laundry, in cellophane, the starched collars stiff.

So afraid of needles. So afraid of the dentist. So afraid of death.

Ingmar Bergman. Gas-Man at the Lamar, telling the manger that the reels were being shown out of order.

DaMare just said: Shoot to kill.

Shoot to kill. The looters. The rioters. Shoot to kill.

Somebody shot Dr. King.

The Six-Day War in Israel in 1967: Saul Bellow said that the Egyptians had no air cover, and without it their army was helpless. The Israelis won the war because they blew up the Arab airfields, even those out of range, and then shot their aircraft to pieces.

How corrosive to the spirit and one’s sensibilities this Play Them One Game at a Time philosophy. Keep your head in the game – and what? Miss everything else that’s going on? You think politics and current events don’t really figure in the in the average person’s day to day existence, the political currents.

The ‘68 Friars had a towering front line of Tinkus, Pat Bresnahan, and Bob Fittin, and they went 6-5, 6-4, and 6-8.

Bill Lucas was the shooting guard, the only junior in the starting five, at 6-4. He’d earn a scholarship to Notre Dame, where he earned real playing time too.

So would Carp.

Jeff Carpenter, who would become the greatest of all the Clarence alley boys.

And Wally Tarzon, the point guard who played chaser in the box-and-one defense Coach Bill Shay devised to shut down Sam Puckett of Hales Franciscan in the Catholic League championship game.

Junior League basketball, all the players were five-foot-nine or shorter. Whoever was going to win was going to win with something other than height.

Was he going to quit that race? No. There would be no need to quit the race, no reason to quit it. He knew how to run a race. You start out slow and easy. You build your way up to top speed, which you do not want to reach until the end of the race. He knew how to run a race, so what was he thinking? What was he thinking all day long, calculating, figuring out split times, envisioning the whole race from every other runner’s point of view. This was how they were going to win North Section. He wasn’t so full of himself to think they were going to win City. Gordon Tech had that wrapped up, but they could win the North. He had it all figured out. He was forecasting who the first 20 runners would be. Kirchner, Cooney, Tobin, Clark, then Dan, he figured himself in there, scoring points. The sixth and seventh runners wouldn’t score any points, but they could still be useful by displacing other runners from other teams that would score points.

He had run the race in his head a thousand times before the gun went off, and as soon as it went off his energy vanished. They were all thundering across the field, the great mass without a leader yet, sprinting for position before they hit the first turn, three hundred yards ahead, where the path began and they would string out, the path wide enough for just three or four runners abreast and you would need to sprint to pass anyone, expend energy early in the race that you would need later.

But Dan never got that far. He sprinted near the head of the crowd, glanced around at the contenders and pretenders, instantly realized which one he was, and dropped out of the race.

He would tell everyone he had a pulled muscle. He would limp. He would act. He would pretend. He was a pretender. He had pretended to be the captain of the team, but when the team needed him most, he disappeared. He flat out quit.

Why?

Because it was too hard. He was already out of breath. They were better runners than he was, that’s all, and he couldn’t admit it. He had to lie to cover himself.

No one said anything to him about it. They all seemingly accepted his explanation without question. But anyone could see that it was bullshit.

Pulled muscle. Come on.

They all ran their own race. When the lead pack came around the last turn there were two runners about 20 yards ahead of the rest. It was hard to make out just who they were at first, and although they were moving fast they didn’t appear to be sprinting, they were just flowing and at ever increasing rate of speed, still maybe a quarter of a mile away.

Brookfield Zoo.

Games, friends, places, lovers, enemies, father figures, authorities.

It was Kirch. It was Michael Kirchner, the little twerp, the Dead Man.

Mortoreno. Jim Noe.

Coach P. looked at him.

What happened?

I think I pulled a muscle.

Coach P got down on his knees and prodded at Dan’s calf.

Dan had big calf muscles, and if he over-trained they would tighten up and cramp.

Did you stretch?

We all stretched, Coach.

Enough? Did you stretch enough? It’s ok. I’m just telling you, you need to stretch. Don’t try to do it now. Yes. It’s tight. I’m sorry. We’ve got a week till City, stay off it till Monday and we’ll see where we’re at.

School was closed when the city was hit with 24 inches of snow on January 27, 1967.

“War is against the teachings of the holy Koran. I am not trying to dodge the draft. We are supposed to take part in no wars unless declared by Allah or the Messenger. We don’t take part in Christian wars or wars of unbelievers,” said Clay.

Clay was going to go to trial in June, 1967.

The first slaves were property of the Portuguese. Next was Spain. Columbus was from Genoa, he was an Italian. The English had to get in on this.

Picture the scene with Bartolome de las Casas, America’s first priest, a Dominican friar, in color.

English lit in high school was Wordsworth, Keats, Shelley, Byron.

Dan loved Dickens and Melville and Robert Louis Stevenson.

Then the world opened further and let Dostoyevsky in.

The Tribune was at the front door and so was the Sun-Times. Dan grabbed the sports section out of the Trib. The Sun-Times wasn’t folded in half, but worked like a codex, a book, that ended with sports, so that for Dan the back page was the front, and he would leaf through from the back toward the front and rarely get beyond sports and almost never reach the front page.

Dan would get the paper before anyone else.

Where’s the sports?

Who took the sports section?

Daniel.

The Daily News and American came out in the afternoon.

Danny pressing his silly-putty down on the funnies. It was Sunday and the funnies were in color.

Davo had a girlfriend named Cindy Tucker, a cute blonde, and Dan’s girlfriend was Patty Dooley, a cute redhead, and John White had a girlfriend, the busty, beautiful, long-legged Linda Yeksegian.

Nancy Napperstack, redhead. Barbara Cartner, pixie, blonde. Norine Sloane, busty brunette.

At Fenwick in p.e. your name was stenciled across the back of your shorts, like it was the name of your butt. Above it your name was stenciled on the back of your shirt. You wrote your name on the side of your shoes in black marker. You were 13 years old, how well do you think you are going to stencil? Perfectly? Gump is going to stencil perfectly. You are going to fuck it up.

March Fenwick, march down the field,

March Friars, march, men of steel.

We conquer our foes and wield a fearless strength that reveals our loyal men never yield.

Fight, Friars, fight till the end.

Fight, Friars, fight till we win.

Fight for our colors, Black and White.

And for Fenwick and Victory!

Rudy Gadini had been a running back for the 1951 Friars, a hell of a team, somehow operating behind an offensive line with a guard and tackle weighing under 170 pounds, and yet making it all the way to Soldiers Field to play Mount Carmel for the Catholic League crown – and get handed the Friars’ worst loss since 1946.

The American Communist Party was founded in Chicago in 1919.

The season was over and Dan walked home from school at 3 o’clock, and he could stop at the drugstore and get some chips and candy and chocolate milk and walk slow because he wasn’t in a hurry. He had nothing to do. Instead of running two miles to the House of Studies and running a round of progressions, jog 110, sprint a 110, jog a 220, sprint a 220, then a 440, then an 880. Then back down, and then run two miles back to school, take a long hot shower, and walk home quick in the dark. Now Dan felt guilty. He was doing nothing.

Begin again and concentrate.

That was Gertrude Stein’s advice to young Hemingway after she’d read his stories and must’ve thought they were shit. Funny thing is Hemingway didn’t tell her to go fuck herself. Instead, he must’ve begun again and concentrated. You’d think he would’ve told her to go fuck herself. After a while Hemingway did tell her to go fuck herself, although he apparently didn’t have the balls to say it to her face, and you could safely insult Hemingway now, because after July of 1961, there was no earthly way he could hurt you.

The 60s started out with Kennedy president, but that didn’t last for long. Johnson had to finish Kennedy’s term. Then Johnson ran against Goldwater and clobbered him. But the next four years were enough to make Johnson quit. He didn’t seem to be able to get us out of the mess that Kennedy had gotten us into in Vietnam.

Where?

Why?

So Johnson quit after one term.

Bobby Kennedy runs for president and gets killed. Gene McCarthy is for peace, but the nomination goes to Humphrey, who wants to keep the war going.

Welcome to Chicago.

Vulture hates nothing worse than biting into a glass eye.

Ali defended his crown five times in 1966. He defended it in back to back months one time.

How many were abused? None that Dan knew of, but that meant nothing. Who would you tell if it had happened to you?

Whom.

Whom?

Nobody.

Nobody had ever asked him if he wanted to be Catholic. They baptize you only days after you’ve been born, in their view, to prevent your soul from going to limbo, the place that was neither heaven nor hell, nor purgatory, it was the place for the unbaptized babies, because, presumably, even God couldn’t bring Himself to send a newborn babe to Hell, even though it was already guilty of Original Sin, from which no one is exempt, and from which baptism alone could save you, such that if you were going to die right then and there, you’d go straight to heaven. The fact remained, no one had consulted him, and he wasn’t just baptized, he was baptized Catholic. You could be born Jewish, but nobody is born Catholic.

It was as if you were born Catholic. And you just might spend the rest of your life trying to escape it.

You started out too little to understand, but there were the robes and garments and the chalice.

The priest stood with his back to the laity who were in the pews facing the altar. After the Ecumenical Council, the Mass was said in English, and the priest faced the people, the audience, like an actor in a play. Maybe Danny could identify himself with the robed man with his back to everyone, but when he turned around he had the whiskey face of Father Riordan, who looked like the devil.

There had been something weird and creepy about priests almost from the beginning.

Priests and nuns.

“The Marquis of Queensbury, preoccupied with all questions of manhood, got Oscar Wilde sent up for a homosexual fling with his son, and on the side invented the padded glove for boxing.” – Mark Karm, Ghosts of Manilla

A vow of celibacy meant that you would live your life without sex. You wouldn’t jerk off and you would never have sex with anyone. Ever. For the rest of your life.

Jesus.

Jesus had no girlfriend. Unless you counted Mary Magdalen.

Joan Moran was the dark-haired girl he lusted after at Ascension, and she never knew. He never once talked to her and she never took any notice of him. It was ok. He didn’t want to talk to her anyway. He wanted to kiss her and feel her up.

Who’s got a girlfriend?

A girlfriend?

You know, to make out with.

That was all Dan wanted to do. That was all he’d ever want to do. It would go on forever.

Are you in love with Joan Moran?

Look, nobody’s in love with anybody, ok? You like somebody.

You like her?

Shit yeah.

Joan Moran was of the same general type as Annette Funicello. Brunette. Raven-haired. Veronica.

Susie O’Connor, blond, and her like, they were Betty Types.

Then there were the redheads, of whom freckled Nancy Napperstack was their representative, and she was stacked.

The Cross as swahimsa, the immolation of the soul for the sake of others.

Try to take Jesus out of the apocalypse, away from Jewish scripture and the God of Wrath and Judgment.

Liberation theology put Jesus on the side of the poor.

Barbara Cartner was a blond pixie, like Tinker Bell.

Charise Norman was another dark-haired beauty, and she had a beauty mark on her cheek, near her pouty lips.

Where did that come from? A sudden urge to fight back, rebel, assert himself? He didn’t know he had it in him. Almost the instant that his success registered on his consciousness, it began to dissipate, and he fought back again, and it felt good. What was the lesson here? You had to try.

The Mirror of Holiness by Jerome Xavier, Jesuit, nephew of the Saint.

Xavier. Cincinnati, Ohio. Fenwick. Slavery. Connect the dots. The Life of Jesus. Nazareth. Galilee.

Stories of the Bible. The Lives of the Saints.

The nuns and priests and the school and the church, all of that was waiting for Danny the moment he emerged form the womb.

Rocky Marciano and the Lone Ranger were waiting for him too, so was Bridgette Bardot and Captain Kangaroo. They all wanted a piece of him.

No they didn’t. Danny didn’t matter a damn to any of them, but he didn’t know that. He had this crazy idea that they were all connected. Even though they didn’t fit together. It was his job to make them fit.

Xavier’s Jesus had no problem telling people he was God. “I and the Father are one.”

Jesuits v Dominicans, Loyola v Fenwick

Society of Jesus v Order of Preachers

Matthew wanted Christians to proselytize, to overpower other religions and cultures, strengthen the international power of the Church. Xavier, writing to Akbar just 50 years after Henry VIII had split with the Church by way of his divorce.

Catholics erected their anti-divorce bulwark on Matthew 5.31-32 and 9.3-12.

The prophet Muhammad enriched himself with commercial deals and went to war for fame and fortune, had several wives in addition to slaves that he fucked, and he couldn’t work miracles like Jesus.

The Death of Atonement meant to offer redemption to worthless humanity.

Xavier is into S/M and he dives into the gory details of the passion.

The decisive events of Jewish history, the Fall, the Covenant, the Dynasty of David, Xavier saw these as followed up by the Crucifixion, Resurrection, and Salvation.

And Gas-Man said it was all a bunch of shit. He could punch holes in any of its arguments, make fun of it mercilessly.

If you jerked off, you would go to hell.

That’s a bit much, don’t you think?

Do you even know what jerking off is?

Yes. I think so.

You think so?

What if you jerked off, but you didn’t know what you were doing, would you still go to hell?

How could you not know what you were doing? What are you, retarded?

If you didn’t know it was wrong?

If you didn’t know it was wrong? You’d know. If you didn’t know, then you hadn’t reached the age of reason yet.

What if it just happened?

Nocturnal emission . . .

Only in the daytime.

Extremely unlikely.

I can’t tell you how much this dialogue has benefited me.

You’re welcome.

Because it hasn’t in the least.

Fenwick was the embodiment of racism and perversion, and that was why we loved it.

It seemed clear in the Bible that Aaron and the Levites were the priest and the tribe of priests.

The west called the Jesus Sutras “hopeless syncretism.”

But these were ideas, products of the mind, that Xavier and the Christian ministers had not encountered before and were intellectually unprepared to argue with or against. Concepts like negative numbers, the empty set, zero.

The dead sea scrolls date from the second temple period when Jesus lived. Gnostic gospels, forms of Judaism. The Jesus Sutras are comparable in showing apocryphal gospels created for non-semitic people to believe. The Sutras would have it that there is not one path to the truth, and there was not one form for a sage.

Jesus could command nature, but if mixed him with Buddhism and Taoism and Confucianism, you got wisdom and compassion, instead of preoccupation with sin and sacrifice and redemption. Fuck that, it’s repressive.

Karma. Jesus could be the answer to free you from you past karmic deeds and restore your original nature.

Who you really are, and you are good.

You will like you.

You’ll love you.

The concept of sin and human depravity is alien to the universe of karma.

Sex and sin were one and that was why it was fun. It felt good because it was bad.

Why was it so tempting, and at what cost could it be overcome?

Put an end to desire.

Eighth graders would meet up at Fox Park, boys and girls.

If you were going to be around girls, you didn’t want to be all sweaty and gross, you’d want to be all clean and sharp and wearing your madras shirt.

Who invited you?

They were in the basement of Jack Leper’s house at Jack Leper’s party and all Dan’s friends were there and they had all been invited, but not Dan.

Mom was on board with Bishop Sheen. As far as having class went, nothing could top Monsignor Prince Gerald.

There were no hills. This was the Great Plains. The land had been pressed flat by glaciers, hundreds of thousands of years before.

Aunt Rosemary would forever be the nicest human being he ever knew, and she was married to Uncle Mac, who was also known as The Terrible Tempered Mr. Bangs.

What Dan conceived as sublime in life, joining the corpus and the spiritual, black and white, veritas, was simply a derivative of slavery, of sin. The monstrous priests, although none had ever molested him or even tried and he had never known then of any who did, though they surely existed and in great number. There were as many blacks attending Fenwick in all its history as there were heathens in heaven, and therefore his education had nothing to do with race, nor did his life, because people of other races were not a part of it, except when you walked onto a basketball court or the football field or got on the el or crossed Austin Boulevard.

Uncle Mac was not his real uncle. Uncle Eddy was his real uncle and Uncle Eddy was a goofball and Aunt Lenore had married him because he was a goofball. She liked his sense of humor. He was her Ernie Kovacs.

Tony Tiano walking down the hall in Fenwick. What was he doing at Fenwick? He was a stupid asshole, and there were no stupid assholes at Fenwick. There were assholes, and there were jocks, and most of them were assholes, but nobody was stupid, or they would flunk out, and that’s what Tony Tiano was doing at Fenwick.

America 1950, triumphant in wars, victorious in technology, at the very peak of its prosperity.

In 1957 Norman Mailer wrote The White Negro.

“God becomes man, revealing himself.” – Hegel

It meant nothing that he new nothing about the boys that were abused by priests , because he cared about nothing but himself, and so, if it didn’t happen to him, it was as if it was not happening at all, while he did not doubt for a moment that it was. The priests wore dresses for crysakes. They took a vow of celibacy. How was that supposed to work? Was it even healthy? A guy’s got to use his dick, doesn’t he?

They said Alexander the Great was celibate and that was why he conquered the world, but then he went nuts because all the unused semen went to his head.

Who said that?

Coach P and Mr. Finnel, the Math teacher, shared an apartment in a building right across the street from school, and kids would go and hang out there before and after school. An elite group.

Tinkus used to run to school from his house in Cicero, and then he’d shower and dress at Coach P’s apartment before school started.

Dan had run the course countless times before. They practiced there, Thatcher Woods. In the dream, the sleeping and waking dream, Inagaddadavida was playing and that long long drum solo was turning into an all-out sprint. This was the way he envisioned it, the rhythm building and building to a climax, a crescendo, as he turned on his famous finishing kick, arms and legs pumping high and in perfect syncopation, flowing effortlessly, gliding ahead of the competition, those faceless runners he would give a sidelong glance in passing, as he went on to place somewhere in the top twenty, scoring precious points for the team, as well as winning a medal for himself. Perfect. That was the goal. It was within his grasp. He carefully examined every scintilla of speculation he might apply: the results of every dual meet and time trial at every course against every team in the North Section.

He instantly regretted it and it was instantly irrevocable. He was going to have to live with it forever. He had quit. He was a quitter. He was a coward. He had been exposed.

He could have run a bad race. He could have just run a bad race, and that would have been better. He would have regretted a bad race too, but not like this. This was the worst thing anyone could do. It was inexcusable, unforgivable.

Who really gives a shit? Someone else will just move up, Terry Joyce or somebody else would be fifth man.

There was still the City Meet and a chance to redeem himself, but now, the former fantasist, idealist, pretender, became realist. They had had a chance to win the North, but they had no chance to win City. There were at least two teams from the South that would beat them easily.

One of the best teams from the South was no more. DePaul had closed its doors and the runners were scattered to other Catholic League teams, and Fenwick got one of the best, Frank Tobin. He turned out to be Fenwick’s second best runner, behind Dead-Man, but he was always the Guy from DePaul..

Jim Noe from Leo. Mike Mortorena from Gordon Tech. Bruce Hattemer from Mendel.

The undefeated Friars were Bill McGuire, Jim Martinkus, Leo Dobner, George Metzler and Mike Kirchner.

You had a warped sense of history. It proceeded in slow and small increments of a year or two. You thought of a long time as your high school career. Billy and Tinkus were capping their careers with greatness.

DePaul had given the champs their closest call, Fenwick barely winning, 27-28.

Dan loved Jesus, who had to be the nicest guy who ever lived. Jesus would understand, and even if he didn’t, he’d still give you a break. He’d still love you. Same went for Mary, and no doubt Joseph was a nice guy too, why else would she have married him and why else would he put up with not even being allowed to fuck her, so that she could be the Virgin Mary, still, nice a guy as he might be, praying to Joseph probably wouldn’t do shit for you, so Dan confined his prayers to Jesus and Mary, and sometimes St. Jude, who was the patron saint of lost causes. Maybe Joseph could intercede for you, but he didn’t really carry any weight, he wasn’t even a saint. Saint Joseph was another guy. Joseph was just Joseph the Carpenter.

He wasn’t a saint? How could he not be a saint? What were the rules for sainthood? One was you had to perform a miracle – through God, of course, like when Moses made water spurt out of a rock so the Israelites could get a drink in the middle of the desert, but that didn’t make Moses a saint, because saints have to believe in Jesus, or like Our Lady of Fatima appearing to some little girl, so the little girl became a saint.

The Virgin Mary, remember, is still living, because she didn’t die, Jesus couldn’t bear that, so she was taken up to heaven bodily, the Feast of the Ascension.

There was the source of all, the soul, Mother Church.

The Virgin Mary and the month of May, celebrated in the courtyard between the church and the school.

We’re going to the drive-in to see Spartacus!

A thrill went through him when he looked at the movie ads posted on bulletin board in the lobby of the lodge. There was a movie theater in town and there was drive-in movie theater as well.

The expressways criss-crossing and shooting streams of traffic in every direction but east – the Dan Ryan, Stevenson, Kennedy, Congress.

DeMare, the honorable Richard J. Dayley, could perform miracles. He got Kennedy elected, didn’t he? Like the loaves and the fishes, they counted up all the votes and there were more votes than there were voters.

If Father Piper or Father O’Malley lapped you hard across the face, you had to remember that your parents were paying for you to be slapped in the face, you were learning discipline.

Do you want to understand it or do you want to run away from it?

Both.

You can’t run away from it.

You can try.

All you’re doing is running. You carry it with you wherever you go, not just Oak Park and Chicago and the nuns and priests, but the 50s and 60s, in black and white and color. It bursts into flame, but it isn’t consumed.

Energy is neither created nor destroyed.

So, you got drunk and crashed the car. You could’ve been killed, you know. Flying through a red light at Roosevelt Road and East Avenue. You must’ve been going pretty fast.

Yeah, around seventy or eighty.

Speed limit is 35 there.

Roosevelt Road is a major road leading in and out of Chicago. You’d have to be some kind of idiot to run a stoplight crossing Roosevelt Road at any hour, and think no one was coming through, let alone early evening, just after dark.

And still, he almost made it through. A car travelling west on Roosevelt Road passed through the intersection, with the green light, travelling at the speed limit, 35 miles an hour, when a blur that was his father’s lime green Chrysler Imperial, shot through in front of them and the driver could not even big to brake before he swiped the rear end of the blur, crumpling the west-bound car’s front bumper, and sending the blur spinning across the intersection and into the offending stoplight, knocking it over and into Roosevelt Road, crashing, sparking. The collision had impacted the gas tank of the Chrysler and the gasoline met the spark and it was love at first sight, and the trail of fire blazed straight to the Chrysler, and the fire department was going have to put it out.

Dan’s door wouldn’t open. He looked in his rear-view mirror at the fire in Roosevelt Road. There was the stoplight he had knocked over. He kept tugging on the door handle, trying to get the door open, but it wouldn’t give. He calmly slid across the seat and got out the passenger door. He was drunk.

He called on his gift of straightness to save him, the ability to act not drunk when you were drunk. There was no such thing. You’d have to be an idiot to think there was.

The collision had popped the trunk open and inside was a bucket of golf balls that his father was planning to take to the driving range,. Golf balls rolled in the flaming gasoline and ignited and became balls of fire.

Golf balls of Fire!

Had he been drinking?

Hell yeah. He and Davo had hammered down some Hamms in the basement and they both were lit. He was going to drive Davo home. He did so, and he was driving back home and the buzz was just starting to wear off and he was somewhere in Berwyn when he started to steadily apply more and more pressure to the accelerator, and the speedometer started climbing, 40, 50, 60, and the buildings started to whip past in his peripheral vision. He was flying. Why? He didn’t know. He felt like it.

The cop was asking him questions and he was answering. He had the gift of straightness and no one said anything about drinking or being drunk. It was Sunday evening. Oak Park was the place where the saloons stopped and the churches began, and the people from the other car weren’t hurt or angry. They were just amazed. Their car had hardly been damaged.

Somebody’s gonna have to pay for that stoplight.

My clubs, Goddamnit, my clubs are in there.

One Chrysler Imperial and one priceless set of golf clubs.

Jesus Christ, what the hell did you do?

He hadn’t noticed that the light had changed.

I heard the news today, oh boy.

Were you drunk?

No.

Had you been drinking?

Of course. Why not? What else? What else is there to do?

Working for the Park District, what did you learn? Don’t kill the job. Never do any work, but always have a tool in your hand.

Gas-Man declared himself a libertarian.

Going to confession. Bless me, father, for I have sinned. My last confession was two weeks ago.

Two weeks ago? You lying sack of shit!

Mom had managed to get her hands on some Lourdes water and she was anxious to try it out on Brendan to see if it could cure him of epilepsy. She prayed to Saint Jude that it would.

Ruth came once a week, and she’d mop and wax the kitchen and dining room floors, vacuum the wall-to-wall carpeting, dust and polish the furniture. She would do a professional job. The house was professionally cleaned.

In Chicago there were micks, krauts, wops, polocks, lugans.

The Dan Ryan Expressway was wide, 12 lanes across, and it just steamrolled straight through the south side.

That’s where Martin Luther King got hit in the head with a brick.

The Congress Expressway went through the worst of it, where the riots and the fires were fiercest.

The White Sox were struggling. The team was losing and attendance was down. Was DaMare going to bail them out?

“What do they want me to do – play for ‘em?”

Davo was from Chicago, the southwest side.

John White was from north Oak Park.

Dan switched the light on at the top of the stairs and went down to the basement to get his clubs, They were in the store room alongside his dad’s workbench. His dad’s clubs were in there too, and they were in a bag on wheels, and there were a lot of them, really nice and new and well-maintained, and all the accessories, towels, tees, balls, glove. Fan’s bag was slender and contained just a couple of drivers, irons, and a putter, and was meant to be slung over the shoulder, thus making it possible to carry them while riding your bike to Columbus Park for a golf outing.

Columbus Park, the public course on the other side of Austin Boulevard.

Who’s going?

Dan-Man, Johnduff, Chester, and Dave Declene.

They had been the Three Little Guys in second grade, Danny, Roger Reynolds, and David DeCleene. There were eight or nine kids in the DeCleene family, and like the Gearens, they were all really good athletes, but they were all short. The Gearens were of medium height, and very cool. They had a half-court hoop in their backyard, and they banked it in with snow in the winter and iced it and they played hockey there.

Chester was short and skinny and he had one leg totally crippled or lame or something, so that he couldn’t bend it and he could barely run, but he’d try. It was kind of pitiful really. Guys felt sorry for him, plus he was rich and guys mooched off him, and here he was tagging along on the golf trip.

Golf was one of those games, like tennis or pocket-billiards, that unless you’re Gump you’re going to need some serious instruction to master the fundamentals. Whatever it was, Dan didn’t quite have it. He hooked it, he sliced it, he duffed it. Meanwhile Chester couldn’t hit the ball very far but he hit each shot dead-on straight as a ruler. By the seventh hole he was five strokes ahead of everybody else.

After the season ended and he didn’t have to run anymore, he didn’t, and he started to put on weight. Those stops at the convenient store, the chocolate milk and donuts and chips and soda and candy bars. He had a spare tire, love handles. He was soft.

There would be the Fall Sports Banquet, which meant Football with a side order of Cross-Country. However, this year the football team was terrible, with the worst record in school history, so the gridders weren’t going to be so full of themselves this time around.

A year ago it was at the banquet that Dan had been named captain. There was a code of honor on the team that determined who the next captain would be. The graduating seniors decided. They would appraise and judge their apprentices and determine who might best carry on their tradition of excellence, having now been in existence all of two years. The wise seniors, who had won the triple crown and were being feted for it, for a show of dominance the gridders could only admire. The harriers were champions. They had won every dual meet, the North Section meet, and the City title. The only blemish on their record, if it could even be called that, was the Piyus XI Invitational in Milwaukee, where they came in second by a point. The harriers commanded respect. Not only were they the champs, but they had Tinkus on their team.

James Martinkus, a Lugan from St. Stanislaus in Cicero, where he and Casimer  Basinskus were the two best basketball players. Tinkus went to Fenwick on a scholarship, while Caz went to St. Ignatius.

Why the hell not? Catholic school in the City of Chicago. South Side. Jesuits. Good school.

You could be friends with guys from St. Ignatius. They weren’t in the Catholic League. They used to be, but something must’ve happened, something political. Now they were independent and part of the state high school association and their teams and athletes could compete for state championships.

Bob Schrum was Billy’s friend, and he finished fourth in the mile at state, running 4:17. Ken Popejoy won it.

Bob Schrum would fire down a whole packet of white sugar just before he went to the starting line. Then he would turn and sprint at top speed for the length of the straightaway. Then he’d turn and he’d get real calm as he walked to the starting line.  

Cas Basinskus was a point guard, about 6-feet, 6-1, a magician with the ball, like the Cooz. He decided to go to St. Ignatius, maybe because it was closer to Cicero.

Tinkus would run to school in the morning, from Cicero, and he would shower and dress at Coach P’s apartment.

Coach P and M. Finnel lived in an apartment building right across Washington Bouleveard from school. If you were on Coach P’s cross-country team or Mr. Finnel’s math team, you were welcome in their apartment.

Sometimes Coach P would have the whole team over, and they would eat pizza and watch a game.

Tinkus scored 23 points in the first half and the basketball team upset Gordon Tech, and afterward everybody went to Coach P’s to watcgh Lew Alcindor against Elvin Hayes, in the Astrodome, and the Big E won.

Something not right about it.

Alcindor was dealing with a scratched retina and probably shouldn’t even have been out there.

Da New Na-baz

Dan got hammered again just a few months later, hopped in his Corvair parked in front of the house, floored it, in reverse, and smashed full speed into the neighbor’s car, parked peacefully in front of his own home, 20 yards away.

Why?

Never saw the guy. He didn’t have his lights on.

There was no guy. The car was parked there. You rear-ended a parked car at about 30 miles an hour. A parked car. And you’re going to try to blame it on the car?

What else could he say? This was not as blatantly suicidal as the other incident, but equally as heedless. What if there had been a kid there, playing in the alley and Dan had run him down?

But he didn’t. He was lucky.

Lucky? Luck?

Dan was a brainless idiot, a loser, a quitter, a liar, coward, creep, short, fat, smelled bad, a thief, who was going to Hell because he didn’t believe in God and that was the one thing God could not forgive.

Daily News, Sun-Times, American, Tribune, the Chicago papers.

Fred Hampton Killed by the Cops

Father Farrell was going down there.

To Lincoln Park for the demonstration, the protest to stop the war.

Demare is gonna call the goon squad out on all those people.

The draft.

The draft lottery.

What’s the difference between the Republicans and the Democrats?

In Chicago? In Cook County? The difference between them is the Demare runs the show, and he’s a Democrat.

Dan believed in the power of dreams. If you dream that you can do something, you can do it. But you have to dream it first. A real dream that comes in your sleep, not a day dream, you’re king of the world, whatever. It’s got to happen on it’s own. When Dan dreamed he broke five-minutes in the mile, then he knew he could do it. He had done it before in his dream. It was the dream that had this power.

Dan had dreamed he punched Tony Tiano in the face and when Tony Tiano saw him the next day, he could see that Dan wasn’t afraid of him and he never fucked with Dan again. The power of dreams.

The Republicans tend to be conservative  and they believe in limited government., but it doesn’t matter what the Democrats believe, because the Machine ran the whole town and the whole county.

Mike Royko started writing his column in the Daily News in 1964.

Dan’s story starts in 1951 and ends in 1969. It’s in the foreground, but in the background are events that began unfolding far in the past, all the way back to DeGuzman and the founding of the Dominicans, and beyond, because the Dominicans bequeathed us Aquinas, who married Aristotle to Jesus, and they would in time give birth to Fenwick in the land of the free where slavery ruled.

Dan grew up slowly, his awareness dim, his self-absorption blinding him to the people and events around him, which force their way into the foreground, and force Dan either to recede or take note of them. They scream louder and louder for his attention.

Chicago. Cook County. Oak Park.

Priests are a bunch of bullshit. Jesus wasn’t a priest. There were no priests. The Jews had priests. The pagans had priests. Peter wasn’t a bishop.

Apostolic succession.

Of what? The apostles weren’t priests. They wouldn’t know what you were talking about.

A priest is God’s man on earth. He has the power to transform beard and wine into the body and blood of Christ. Trans-substantiation.

That’s absurd.

It’s in the Bible. Jesus is called Rabbi. A rabbi is a kind of priest, right?

Jesus was a teacher. Disciple means learner. They were learning from him. They were following him away from the priests.

Fucking Pharisees.

They called him Rabbi because he was their teacher, and he was their only teacher. He taught them to leave the temple priests. He taught them that they were all equal.

Letter to the Hebrews called Jesus a priest.

You knew the city could kill you, so you didn’t go there.

November 22, 1905, Marshall Field, Jr. was shot in a whorehouse in Chicago.

None of them would ever enter his life again. He would take only peripheral interest, if any, in the activities of his former teammates, the juniors who were now seniors. They faded out of view and then into the past. It mattered then, but it didn’t mater anymore. It would be better forgotten, except that he couldn’t forget it, ever, it would haunt him for the rest of his life.

That was the funny thing about the past, about ghosts, time didn’t seem to have any effect on them, and that made it as if time no longer existed for them, which was why it boggled the mind, because the ghosts were all wrong, they were dead and gone, yet they persisted in acting as though they weren’t. Mayor Daley was still purple in the face, screaming something hateful and perversely righteous, Dead-man was still winning the biggest race of all, while he was belittled by all of his own teammates, Kennedy was smiling an instant before his brains were blown out and then his brother Bobby was lying on his back with a pool of blood gathering around his head on the floor in the kitchen of a hotel and Mother Lois was yanking Danny by the earlobe down the hall to her office to administer a paddling and then he was going to Hell.

Neither the Romans nor the Jews saw Christianity as a religion, because it had no priests.

“Do not address any man on earth as Father, since you have only one Father and He is in Heaven.” – Matthew 23.9

“A priest, it was earlier said, is established as the mediator between God and the people. A person who stands in need of a mediator with God cannot appraoch God on his own.” – Aquinas (ST 3.22 a4r)

But. Thomas, you dumb ox, aren’t you a priest?

A priest can make Jesus appear. Nobody else can, but any priest can.

The Mass is a re-enactment of the Passion, from which all the graces and sacraments are derived in the Thomist system.

Only the priest drank the wine, not the laity.

Yeah, and the altar boys back in the sacristy.

Do not chew the host. If you chew the host, you will go to Hell.

Ok, he wouldn’t chew it. But then a terrible thing began to happen. He couldn’t swallow it. He couldn’t swallow the damn thing.

The effort to turn transubstantiation from metaphorical reality into literal reality was patently absurd.

You cannot go to communion if you’ve eaten.

What?

That day.

And you can’t take communion if you’ve committed a mortal sin. You’d have to go to confession and confess your mortal sin before you could take communion again, and if you do take communion when you’ve committed a mortal sin and not been forgiven, which the priest wouldn’t know about because he can’t read minds or anything, just turn bread and wine into body and blood and make Jesus be alive inside you, anyway, if you made the priest give you communion while you had committed a mortal sin and not been forgiven, it would be another mortal sin on your soul, plus that of the priest for giving it to you, for which you were to be held responsible for all eternity, and it only took one mortal sin to send you to Hell, so you would be doubly fucked, best just never to take communion again, if you could live without Jesus being alive inside of you, but once he was in you, why would have to go again anyway?

The Chicago Fire burned down the whole town in 1871, so it hadn’t even been a century since its last immolation.

The host was kept in a tabernacle in the sacristy, but it could be put into a little to-go box called a pyx if the priest had to take it to somebody who was sick and needed Jesus in their mouth, or the priest could put the host in a monstrance, like a trophy, and hold it up to people at a benediction.

The Mohawks cut a priest’s fingers off, so he couldn’t celebrate mass anymore because he didn’t have his consecrated fingers anymore to hold the host.

Paraclete

Roman collar. Bicetta ( a hard square hat with projecting vanes).

Brown robe and cowl, with cincture with large rosary dangling.

Dominicans, white and black habit.

Benedictine, black habit and cowl.

Layer by layer the priest got dressed for Mass, saying magic words with each garment, kissing them before putting them on, the pure white nightgown, and finally, the chasuble over the top, a very fancy robe with the sides cut out, no sleeves, embroidered with gold thread and changing colors with the season. There were all sorts of hats and capes and gloves and do-dads, sashes, all color-coordinated and tricked up with designs and symbols to indicate a hierarchy, ascending to a higher plane.

Monsignor Prince Gerald in his black button-up cassock with its blood-red lining.

The Pope was wearing a crown that was three crowns stacked on top of each other, a triple-decker crown.

Listen, you’ve got to hold the paten just under their chin –

Hold the what?

The paten, the skinny gold plate, in case the host should fall when the priest is putting it on somebody’s tongue.

All of these people lined up, kneeling down, and then one by one, with their eyes closed, sticking out their tongue.

There was a fine art to mumbling a bunch of shit that sounded like Latin.

But really it was just that nobody cared.

The communion rail between the priest and the communicants.

The nuns were in charge of the school, but the priests would drop by and everything would stop.

Aquinas commentary on the Sentences of Peter Lombard, Bk 4, distinction 10, question 1, article 4c.

If you choked on the host it was because you were unworthy, and Dan was choking on the host.

Mortoreno must have wanted to kick past Dead-man, but he just couldn’t do it. Whatever was left of his once mighty kick dribbled out over the open field and he was fading all the way to the end, losing ground to Dead-man, steady as a metronome.

Veronica wipes the face of Jesus.

Ronnie lived in Cicero.

The angels didn’t exactly have bodies, but they came exactly to a point, and that was why scholastic theologians could argue about how many angels could fit on the head of a pin.

Kids were trying to see how many of them could jam into a phone booth.

There was no other way to explain it finally, although Aquinas appealed to no less than Aristotle, than as a miracle. But that would be contrary to the nature of God, who would not be God if had to resort to miracles.

A special dispensation.

The Church or the Pope or God or whoever was running Catholicism, decided that Aquinas was going to be incorporated into the Truth, into True Doctrine, but that didn’t mean that Aristotle was infallible, although, by implication, it did.

Explaining how the metaphorical is really literal become quickly more and more absurd. Jesus as Bread and Wine. Think about it. Now think about it with all the rational thought of western civilization gathered into a wrecking ball and swing it at shit and see what you get.

Or, you can just accept it, believe it, go thy way and sin no more.

If God and the Church were one and you were commanded to believe in miracles, even though miracles would only prove that God was not God, how could you believe it, how could you rationalize it, how could you reconcile the blatant contradiction?

Raphael’s Disputa

Augustine had preceded Aquinas, and Augustine was Plato’s man, and Augustine held that the people, the faithful, wre the body of Christ, and the communion wafer was a sign of that body, and you ate it, like food, and the people were agthered together for a meal, to share a meal, which is what the followers of Jesus did to remember him, whenever two or more of them gathered together, he ws there. He told them so at the Last Supper. Do this in remembrance of him.

The logos became flesh in Jesus.

And thus we Eat Our Words.

Augustine was reasserting himself in the second Vatican Council, the Ecumenical Council, a party hosted by the jolly pontiff John XXIII. Everyone loved him except assholes.

After Vatican Two, the altar turned around and the priest turned around and the words were English instead of Latin and you had to turn and greet your neighbor by saying to one another: “Peace be with you.” “And with your spirit.”

The Mass wasn’t about other people. It was about taking Jesus into your life. It was between you and him, or you and the trinity, if you could sort that out.

John XXIII died and the College of Cardinals met in the Sistine Chapel to choose the new pope.

Dan’s circle of friends began with Gene and Mary Jewel. Then came the Lambs across the street.

At Ascension, Dan didn’t befriend Gas-Man until toward the end.

God and Man at Yale

Goldwater

There were Roger Reynolds and David DeCleene and all their brothers and sisters. The cool cats were Paul Gearen and Shocker Kolovitz and Rug Olson and Larry Sullivan.

Then there were the Clarence alley boys, Gump and Johnduff and Jack Leper, who didn’t like Dan for some reason. Guys called him Jack Strap, and so did Dan, so maybe that was it.

Eddie LaPoint would pretend to be Steve Allen doing his man on the street interviews and generally conducted himself in public as if he were hosting a talk show, and he would broadcast wherever he went. If you walked around with him, you became his second banana.

Paulie Wagner, Kenny Gretz, the sap Charlie McCallister.

The staging of the Uncle Freddie Show for Mission Day

A magical event was about to take place and everyone was saving their pennies for it. Mission Day was coming, when the entire school would turn into a great carnival, no classes, and the gym became a fair ground, lined with booths of games, prizes, candy, popcorn, soda, to raise money for the Ursuline nuns to cover the earth with the grace of the sacred heart of Jesus.

Jesus was both man and God, but human Jesus was a really nice guy, whereas divine Jesus was a shit-kicker.

Education at the feet of the nuns at Ascension. But there was also Miss Parelli and Miss Kelly and Mrs. Cannon. At Fenwick there were the priests and monks, and there was one young blond woman, quite pretty, who worked as an assistant in the library, and she never left the library. The students knew she was there, while he was at his desk, that there she was on the floor below, while under his desk his hard-on rose. The priests had to know that as they looked out onto a classroom that at any given moment the desks were hiding perhaps a dozen hard dicks.

Priests and nuns and bishops and monsignors and cardinals and popes weren’t just unnecessary appendices, they were tumors, some benign, some malignant, but it only took one of those to kill you.

Projects Update

7 Sides of Shakespeare

Performance TBA

The inside scoop on this show is that it is being produced by none other than Michael Presley Bobbitt, the well-known playwright, who is producing Seven Sides of Shakespeare, which has no set, no props, and no royalties to pay, in the sense that we have in mind a venue, wherein celebration of the Bard has become a summer ritual, and at the appointed day and hour, Michael Presley Bobbitt will produce me and I’ll do the play for you and we’ll all have a jolly good time.

https://shamrockmcshane.wordpress.com/2019/04/26/seven-sides-of-shakespeare-can-be-yours/?fbclid=IwAR34MuQ_tNMFDBHOHnWE8eZW9RvOxp4EwZFunICrwa5NcXAHIxeMUmLmf3E

Audience

A play/film

By Tom Miller

https://shamrockmcshane.wordpress.com/2018/11/28/tom-millers-audience/

Sunset Village

Auditions GCP July 14 – 15

Performance GCP September 13 -29

https://www.michaelpresleybobbitt.com/

Florida Man

Auditions ART September 15 -16

Performance ART October 25 – November 10

Two Trains Running

E. Stanley Richardson as Big Daddy
Amanda Edwards as Maggie the Cat

Auditions ART January 19 -20, 2020

Performance ART February 28 – March 15, 2020

I will have the honor and pleasure of assisting Carol Velasques Richardson when she directs Two Trains Running, the play in which August Wilson’s Pittsburgh Cycle  slams into the sixties, and the buzz on this one is that Stan Richardson and Amanda Edwards will share the stage again.

Hall of Fools

https://www.amazon.com/Hall-Fools-Shamrock-McShane/dp/1542928419

Hall of Fools is a nonfiction novel about American public education. If you want to know what it’s like to teach in a public school for one whole year – or thirty – or any number in between, if you want to know if your children are safe in school, or if they’re learning anything and who is teaching it to them, if you’re brave enough, enter the Hall of Fools.

Hall of Fools is the story of public education, seen through the prism of a thirty-year career teaching Language Arts in middle school. This searing first-hand account of writing in the trenches finds its literary kin in Hemingway, Proust, Marx, a noble heritage extending to the ancients, enlisted to battle in the war on ignorance. Race, politics, philosophy, aesthetics, religion, unions, sex, gender, violence, crime, love, hate, history, all must pass through the Hall of Fools.

You should read this book before you send your kid to school, before you run for office, before you decide to be a teacher, before your next faculty meeting, before you write a book, before you read Proust.

135,000 words

Born in Oak Park, Illinois in 1951, Shamrock McShane was sports editor for the Oak Leaves before moving to Key West in 1978. He has lived in Gainesville, Florida since 1983, teaching Language Arts in public schools, as well as writing, acting, and making movies. Shamrock McShane, writer, actor, teacher, taught Language Arts in Florida public schools for 30 years. He  studied with Padgett Powell, Harry Crews, and Donald Justice and was a Henfield Award nominee at the University of Florida (MFA).  His work has appeared in Exquisite Corpse, Long Shot, Steel Toe Review, and The English Journal.  A Shakespearean-trained actor as well as a prize-winning playwright, his roles include Mercutio, Macbeth, Prospero, and most recently Willy Loman in Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman. He is the author of Rock Beauty and the non-fiction novel Hall of Fools. As a screenwriter collaborating with his son, the director Mike McShane, his films include The Votive Pit, You Are Not Frank Sinatra, and It’s All Good. .shamrockmcshane.wordpress.com

Visit us at shamrockmcshane.wordpress.com 

 www.sonofsham.com.

Watch and like our Youtube Channel 

http://www.youtube.com/user/youngdirector2000

You Are Not Frank Sinatra

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt1370816/videoplayer/vi2031158041?ref_=tt_ov_vi

The Inner Lives of Lovebugs

The Inner Lives of Lovebugs

Lovebugs came to Hogtown from Central America on a summer’s day in the bicentennial year of 1976.  They flew in on that scant inland breeze, hooking themselves together as couples at the tail. The female is larger than the male. Birds, frogs, lizards – don’t much like lovebugs. Lovebugs. They fill the air. The female lives three days, the male lives five. Which presents a certain awkwardness.

It turns out that life is not such a blank and desperate thing after all, but rather an intense and bewildering pleasure. And you choose to live your inner life instead. But still, you live it concurrently with reality. We use our dreams to figure out our lives. Instead of just living in them. That’s your inner life. It’s who you really are. It’s you.  Why pretend to be somebody else?

Seven Sides of Shakespeare Can be Yours

It works. My collaborator, the renown playwright and poet Will Shakespeare, and I have penned a play that people like. It’s called Seven Sides of Shakespeare, and in it I play Mercutio, Oberon, Malvolio, Macbeth, Julius Caesar, Jaques, and Prospero.

Romeo and Juliet and Midsummer Night’s Dream are among Shakespeare’s early plays, written either concurrently or back to back in 1595 or 1596. He wrote Julius Caesar, As You Like It, and Twelfth Night, in that order, between 1599 and 1600, and they are, respectively, my fifth, sixth, and third characters. Macbeth, the centerpiece of my Seven Sides, was written in 1606. The Tempest was written in 1611.

In re-creating the roles and studying the plays, I found our 1997 Everyday Theater production of Macbeth newly validated. We got it so right.

There is no villain in Macbeth. Instead there are three protagonists: Macbeth, Lady Macbeth, and Evil.

So, Seven Sides encompasses Shakespeare’s entire career, beginning, middle, and end, and it makes chronological sense, for the plays, playwright, characters, and me. My performances stretch from 1974 to 2011, a period of 37 years, from age 23 to 60.

It was like finding a vintage car in a junkyard – and just happening to be an expert mechanic.

To put Seven Sides together actually took 37 years, plus an additional seven years to think of it, for a total of 44 years, so what you see is just the tip of the iceberg.

Practicing my one-man show by myself on my side porch made me feel at times like the Dude’s landlord in The Big Lebowski.

For the separate speeches to have any validity, a full production has to lie behind it. And I’ve got that. I have played each these parts all the way through with a company of actors in front of a paying audience for a full run.

You’ll learn about Shakespeare and how his plays and characters continue to shape and augment and affect our lives, and mine in particular, as a writer, an actor, a teacher, and a human being. It’s funny, it’s tragic, it’s unpredictable, and beautifully poetic (Will’s bits especially).

The rehearsal period was 37 days, straight, the company worked on the play every single day, cast and director, but, considering my familiarity with the material going back years and years, and the fact that Will made his lines learnable in the most ingenious ways, I ended up knowing this play as well as anything ever, maybe better.

But you don’t know for sure until you try it in front of an audience.

Now I know I know.

The attendees were: Michael Bobbitt, Laura Jackson, Andrew Jean, Scot Davis, Cheryl Valantis, Chantarelle Davis, Crew Kinnard, Derek Wohlust and his son Fox, noble and enlightened cognoscenti all, assembled on short notice after my grand plans for a premiere on Shakespeare’s Birthday in an artist’s studio downtown fell through less than 48 hours before curtain.

I wanted to do the show on Shakespeare’s birthday, and thankfully, Scot Davis, the dean of the school of drama at Expressions Learning Arts Academy, was able to open the doors of Expressions for me and Shakespeare.

(That studio downtown is still a wonderful venue for Seven Sides, it is a little cathedral to art, visually stunning, and the acoustics are unparalleled, and I hope we can make a gathering or two happen there in the future.)

This is my Shakespeare play,  my Seven Sides of Shakespeare, comprised of seven sides of my being, as well as Will’s, my growth, my beginning, middle, and, dare I say, end, so be it, I’ll have my say, well, Will and I will. But it only makes sense if I say it. It’s a one-man show, and I’m the man.

Seven Sides of Shakespeare is available for bookings. Contact me on Facebook.

Here’s a recommendation from playwright Michael Presley Bobbitt:

Shamrock McShane has written and stars in a one-man show called Seven Sides of Shakespeare wherein he blends monologues from seven Shakespeare plays with an autobiographical narrative of his time learning, teaching, and performing the great plays on stages from Chicago to Key West to Gainesville. Full disclosure: One-person shows are unbearably dull to me. No matter how great the actor or story, I typically try to avoid them at all costs. But Shamrock McShane is so much more than just a great actor, and the combined story of his life in the theater set against the backdrop of the characters he has inhabited quickly overcame my bias against the format.

I have only ever known Mr. McShane as an elder statesman in the theater community– someone who has forgotten more about theater than I could ever hope to learn. Imagine my surprise when he took an interest in my own playwrighting a few years back. Shakespeare had a habit of writing characters for the actors he intended to play them. After my first opportunity to have Mr. McShane star in one of my plays, I have seldom dared to write another without his spirit infiltrating the characters I create. As an actor he has a way of commanding a room, a scene, a place– without overtaking it. As a lay-scholar of Shakespeare, his grip on the material is as rooted in everyday life as it is in high-minded analysis of the text. He digs his hands into the guts of a play like a hunter field dressing a buck. If Sid Homan is the preeminent Shakespeare scholar of our university community and our time, then certainly Shamrock McShane is our battle-hardened sergeant, marching headlong into the meatiest of roles, trampling artifice as he goes.

In Seven Sides of Shakespeare, we first hear a tale of a 23-year-old McShane playing the role of Romeo’s best friend Mercutio, who faces death with the misguided honor of youth. This was McShane’s first Shakespeare role and he had no idea what he was doing. Neither did Mercucio, so it worked out. As McShane aged, his characters did so as well. He made a go at the professional theater scene in Chicago, mingling with William H. Macy at the Steppenwolf. McShane’s trajectory there was less meteoric than he wanted but higher than yours or mine or anyone we know. He rambled down to Key West for 7 years, found refuge in Oberon during a Midsummer Night’s Dream, and felt himself slipping off the planet on those tiny islands before heading north. Macbeth, drunk with ambition, haunted McShane’s day job teaching public school and standing still. Prospero, infected with the low-calling of vengeance, stirring up his own personal Tempest of existential dread in Hoggetown. This bold new play takes us from infancy through the seven stages of a man’s life– McShane’s own with a few yet to unfold– as we feel the deep truths of the great stories in a way that is as familiar as our own lives.

That’s a hell of a thing, even for my theater hero.

A room of disparate people, ranging from a self-aggrandizing Libertarian to a 10-year-old boy, all sat rapt in the palm of Mr. McShane’s hand, laughing and marveling at stories they didn’t know they knew so well. From Mercutio to Prospero by way of Chicago, Macbeth in Key West and and now a powerful amalgam of so many great characters and living here among us in the swamp– Shamrock McShane is a treasure.

Lucky me, he’s also my friend.

If Seven Sides of Shakespeare goes up again, do your self a favor and make a way to be in the audience. You won’t regret it.