Life is brief

Life is brief

As I wrote on Monday, life is short and we need to make the most of the one we have. As yet another celebrity’s death is announced, I’m reminded of the first play that I saw Alan Rickman perform in. I was still at school, studying for my A’Levels. It was 1985 or perhaps 1986 – I’m not sure which, he was playing Jaques in “As You Like It” at the RSC in Stratford.

I had the impression that my English teacher was rather taken with one of his speeches…. one that is perhaps one of the most famous Shakespeare quotes. It was apparent to anyone in the audience that Rickman (and Juliet Stevenson with whom the stage was shared and they later collaborated in Truly Madly Deeply) was a great actor with a bright future and this was shortly followed up with a Tony award nomination performance in Les Liaisons Dangereuses, which I was also lucky to see, I think in London.

Shakespeare’s words were brought to life for me on that day, by some great actors, Alan Rickman being one of the very best. I last saw him at the London BFI Film Festival, where he was presenting his film “A Little Chaos” which is good little film.

All the world’s a stage..

All the world’s a stage,

And all the men and women merely players:
They have their exits and their entrances;
And one man in his time plays many parts,
His acts being seven ages. At first the infant,
Mewling and puking in the nurse’s arms.

And then the whining school-boy, with his satchel
And shining morning face, creeping like snail
Unwillingly to school. And then the lover,
Sighing like furnace, with a woeful ballad
Made to his mistress’ eyebrow.

Then a soldier,
Full of strange oaths and bearded like the pard,
Jealous in honour, sudden and quick in quarrel,
Seeking the bubble reputation
Even in the cannon’s mouth. And then the justice,
In fair round belly with good capon lined,
With eyes severe and beard of formal cut,
Full of wise saws and modern instances;
And so he plays his part.

The sixth age shifts
Into the lean and slipper’d pantaloon,
With spectacles on nose and pouch on side,
His youthful hose, well 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 taste, sans everything.

Dominic Thomas
Solomons IFA

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