The best actors in the world, either for tragedy,comedy, history, pastoral, pastoral-comical, historical-pastoral, tragical-historical, tragical- comical-historical-pastoral, scene individable, or poem unlimited.

It’s funny that we don’t use Shakespeare’s own categories to classify his works. Why, for example, do we call a play like A Winter’s Tale a Romance when it might more descriptively called a pastoral? Or more accurately tragical-pastoral-comical? I think Cymbeline might be best represented by that last definition of tragical-comical-historical-pastoral (though not necessarily in that order).

If we used these classifications maybe we could stop talking about Cymbeline and Pericles as messes. (This is a giant pet peeve of mine. The program notes for one production were so full of “This Play is a Mess!” quotes that it made me want to throw something at the stage while shouting “If you guys think this play is such a mess, why the hell are you doing it?!”) Personally, I love a tragical-comical-historical-pastoral. I love not knowing what might happen next. I love when the tone switches from one category to the next. I love not being sure if I should laugh or cry.

My life is like that too. It is also a scene relatively indivisible and a poem unlimited (except, of course by the end).


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