Friday, September 18, 2009

give to airy nothing a local habitation and a name

I love this quote.... It's from A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM.

Shakespeare's line is spoken by Theseus: ". . . as imagination bodies forth/ The forms of things unknown, the poet’s pen/ Turns them to shapes, and gives to airy nothing/ A local habitation and a name."

This is what artists, poets, musicians, actors do. They use their art to create a world within the piece they're working on. I'm more familiar with this in the theatre. Each show I've performed in or directed, we created our own world, our "habitation" in which to tell the story. And for the time we're working on the play, it becomes very real to us. I've been thinking about this as I prepare to start directing another play. It's my job to help the actors find their way into that habitation; to take the words on the page and give them a "name."

But don't we, to some extent, do that in our real lives too. We create a world within the larger one--a local habitation. Our family and friends are our world. For them we want things to always be happy and wonderful. And sometimes we invent things to protect them from the harsh realities of real life. Which may not be a good thing. We need to know about the bad things to know how to protect ourselves. I've seen so many adults who have no coping mechanisms because they were too sheltered growing up. I wanted to keep my kids from ever getting hurt or knowing about evil, but I would have done them a great disservice if I had. It was my obligation as a parent to give them the tools they needed to function on there own. In a sense it was my duty to make myself obsolete.

Of course, as a parent you're never really obsolete. Your kids always need you there in the background supporting them. Just like my actors need me to parent them through the story.

Maybe that's why I love directing so much--I get to be "mom" over and over again--without the potty training.

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