Love and scandal are the best sweeteners of tea. —Henry Fielding

17 April 2012

Big River: the Adventures of the Thane of Cawdor

Two of the shows in Endstation's Blue Ridge Summer Theatre Festival merged in a weird way for me this week.

I am re-reading The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn in preparation for our production of Roger Miller's musical Big Riverit is extraordinarily good fun, in case you had forgotten – and what do I come across but a passage where the duke teaches the king "Hamlet's soliloquy". This is what he teaches him:

To be, or not to be; that is the bare bodkin.
That makes calamity of so long life;
For who would fardels bear, till Birnam Wood do come to Dunsinane,
But that the fear of something after death
Murders the innocent sleep,
Great nature's second course,
And makes us rather sling the arrows of outrageous fortune
Than fly to others we know not of.
There's the respect must give us pause.
Wake Duncan with thy knocking! I would thou couldst;
For who would bear the whips and scorns of time;
The oppressor's wrong, the proud man's contumely,
The law's delay, and the quietus which his pangs might take,
In the dead waste and middle of the night, when church-yards yawn
In customary suits of solemn black,
But that the undiscovered country from whose bourne no traveler returns
Breathes forth contagion on the world,
And thus the native hue of resolution, like the poor cat i'the adage,
Is sicklied o'er with care,
And all the clouds that lowered o'er our housetops,
With this regard their currents turn awry,
And lose the name of action.
'Tis a consummation devoutly to be wished. But soft you, the fair Ophelia:
Ope not thy ponderous and marble jaws,
But get thee to a nunnery – go!

There is a little Richard III in there. Most of it is, of course, from Hamlet, although not all of it is from the scene the duke says it is, but the stuff in bold is from Macbeth, which is one of the other shows I'm working on this season. Very cool.