Bestow this place on us a little while.

In Rebecca Sonit’s essay, “Pandora’s Box and the Volunteer Police Force” she mentioned a feminist art exhibit from the 70s called “Your 5000 years are up.”
It makes me think of the conversation that Jill Soloway has started about maybe just making women’s movies for a little while – to just get the female gaze for a bit. Men had 5000 years in charge and the entire history of film so far – let’s switch it up – get just women’s voices for a bit. Like when Ruth Bader Ginsberg said we’d have actual equality on the Supreme Court when ALL of the justices were women.
There is something very appealing about all of these visions of the world –a world where we might rule for a bit – where the next 5000 years would be ours. We tried asking for equality. We were nice about it. We said we’d share. But….


‘Tis so concluded on.

The board of my college voted to dismantle their study abroad program in Florence, despite a torrent of protest from alumni, despite student dissent, despite faculty support, despite 29 years of success and international commendation.

We realized that the decision had actually been made long before and that the vote was simply a formality. It had been concluded before it even began. That’s how Boards do their dirty work.

Alack, I had forgot.

I’m curious about this “Alack.”
Is she distraught because Hamlet’s being sent away?
If so – why was she not distraught about it before?
Is there a way his leaving suddenly feels like abandonment – despite the fact that he’s just been pretty horrible to her? Has he convinced her so thoroughly of Claudius’ ills that she doesn’t want to be left alone?
And why is Hamlet so concerned about her not telling Claudius that he’s only pretending to be mad when he won’t even be around?
His plans for escaping the English ship must already be in place. Which is funny because his escape does involve a chance meeting with pirates. Maybe that meeting is not such an accident. Maybe Hamlet has a pirate friend.
I wouldn’t put it past him.

Be thou assured, if words be made of breath, And breath of life, I have no life to breath What thou hast said to me.

In other words: you’re killin’ me, kid. You’re killin’ me.

This scene is so horrible from Gertrude’s perspective. First, she’s the witness to her son killing a high ranking official before her very eyes. Then over the corpse of that man, her son proceeds to berate her and see a ghost and then berates her some more.
I would play this scene so differently now than I did at 22. I would not let myself forget the dead man in his blood on the floor. I would escalate my emotional state – vibrate it so high it would be hard to stay in it. But it would be worth it. Because I think this scene must be torture for her.

What shall I do?

It would appear that the Queen has learned some helplessness throughout the course of this scene – maybe this play. She’s not a wilting wallflower. She’s not a shrinking violet. She’s got a lot of fierce regality earlier in the play but now, suddenly, she’s all, “What shall I do?”
And it makes me think of my youth – when I was constantly hoping to give over my authority to other people. I’d learned I had not much to speak of – so in many matters, I would ask to be told what to do. For me, it was usually matters of not much consequence, like where to have lunch.

It seems that now a lot young people, male and female have learned helplessness as well. Even Ivy League kids (maybe especially?) don’t have their own compass, they just want instructions – not just for where to have lunch but on what to study and how and where. They’ve learned to just follow – and never seem to access their own inner compasses. It’s a little bit terrifying.

O Hamlet, thou hast cleft my heart in twain.

I have had my heart broken, though not cut in two. Gratefully.
It does feel quite a bit more dramatic to have a heart cleaved than broken or cracked.

Today I found myself with heart aching for a small boy on a marvelous train. The train is from decades and decades ago. It features sights, sounds and feelings from long ago. There is something to wonder at every turn. If not the train-car itself than the people dressed up in the car or the people watching it with astonishment as it arrives. There are no shortage of ways to receive magic. And this small boy had a smartphone on which he played a game and never looked up.

It’s not a heart cleaving so much. He’s not my small boy. But to think that a small boy is already so immune to wonder, to think that he will grow up and never learn how to marvel at anything, well it does make my heart ache for him, his future and all the little ones like him who will only find patterns in front of them to look at.

This bodiless creation ecstasy Is very cunning in.

Back when I played this part, I found this line very challenging – but looking at it now – I think if I just re-punctuated it –
With a dash
Instead of a period
It’s really just the weird ending with that “in”
But if it’s meant to go on…
Well…the ecstasy is very cunning in fooling your brain or showing you something – but she doesn’t get to say what the ecstasy is cunning in because Hamlet cuts in.
It’s the sort of thing I could do as an actor without having to actually re-punctuate. I could just think that I’m about to say more and all that anxiety I had about this line would have vanished.

This is the very coinage of your brain.

It would be very cool if our brains could actually coin money. Like, if you could just think yourself solvent? Manufacture dollar coins by picturing them? Or, more efficiently, gold ones you could sell?
So many traditions try and convince us we can think ourselves into wealth.
Just picture your bank account growing.
Just create a vision board
Just chant enough times a day
Just believe hard enough
Just be grateful for what you have – cherish every penny that comes into your possession
But to actually be able to coin money with your brain? That would save you a whole lot of trouble.

No, nothing but ourselves.

Others have houses and cars. They have children and rooms to put their children in. They have basements full of things they don’t really use but aspire to one day. They have vacations and trips to the country for the weekend.

All of which seems wondrous – and yet I recognize that all of those things could be mine, as well, should I choose them. I choose something else – something to the side – something that I didn’t realize was to the side when I chose it – but I recognize it now. I choose art and a kind of wild integrity to who I am. I choose a continual realignment with my values. I choose only that which leads to further integrity and better art. It’s probably crazy. And probably that is nothing. But I choose it with another artist who has made similar choices in life and so here we are with nothing but ourselves. But ourselves are not insignificant.

Yet all that is I see.

In the transcript of one of his eye lessons, Dr. Feldenkrais talks about the ways we habitually limit our vision. We tend to only look at things from angles that are familiar, so we are always getting a partial view. We improve our vision by expanding the possibilities of movement of the eyes. We learn to see more, to see the middle, to see where we typically skip over, see what’s been hiding in our blind spots.
We see more and more and more.
Expanding our potential with each layer of seeing.
To see it all, truly, instead of just thinking I see it all, would be powerful.