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Will the Player

domingo, 22 de junio de 2014

Will the Player

Habla aquí Shakespeare el actor, en el teatro del mundo, también hombre de teatro cuando se bajaba de las tablas. Este párrafo sobre la teatralidad de nuestro yo y de la vida cotidiana viene de la magnífica novela Will, de Christopher Rush (2007). Es este libro una especie de testamento vital de Shakespeare—escrito un poco a modo de concordance novel, redistribuyendo las palabras de las obras de Shakespeare para recontar su vida. Aquí habla desde el trasmundo, después de contar su muerte en primera persona. Pero lo que dice sobre su drama personal ni siquiera Shakespeare lo dijo tan bien, aunque todo ya lo dijo Shakespeare antes.

Those who knew me often called me gentle — affable, amusing, urbane, a perfectly charming man. And such was my London self. It was a costume, which on this occasion I have chosen not to wear, though many have dressed me up in their own ignorance. You, my masters, are among the chosen few. You have seen something of Will, without the daily beauty wear. You’ve seen something of my feet of clay. I could tell you more. I was fastidious, over sensitive for my age — and Age — to many things. I loathed smoky lamps, greasy dishes, sickly foods, untidiness, sweaty armpits, bad breath, unwiped arses, dribbling dicks, lickspittlesjagl2007, lackeys, hypocrites, Hooray-Henrys, King Henrys, beadles and bullies, dogs obeyed in office, Puritans. I abhorred the abuser of power, the perverter of justice, the mob, instability. What else? A hatred of hunting, of violence, especially committed against all those who are weak and vulnerable — animals, children, the poor. Also a suspicion of change, a respect for the social order. Love may be an illusion, sex a cesspit, politis a bear-pit, religion a fairy-tale and chivalry a shadow and a dream. I had little time for such abstractions. But I never lost faith in the social nuts and bolts, in the lives of ordinary people, just living, just living.

As for the extraordinary ones, the movers and shakers, history for me was a rogues’ gallery. The angel of history is the angel of death. Idealists sooon become tyrants and cheats, as power corrupts. Listen to them whine and bark. Their convictions divide the world and only an honest doubt can unite it again. But their minds are closed and moulded, they have none — no honest doubt — and that’s what makes them dangerous. Certainty is lethal. Conviction kills. That’s my credo. All I know is that I know nothing, and that truth is like January, Janus-faced, looking to a lost year and one to come. My father wore a Protestat face and my mother kept on her own face at home while her husband made his a vizor to his heart, so they were split, as man and wife often are, and he was fractured too, public and private, outward and real. And that split is the best keys to the plays his son came to write. I saw that it was possible to be two people at once, to lead a double life, and out of this came Hamlet, Iago, Hal, and many others, good and bad, including me, who mocked authority, aristocrats, land-grabbers, players, but strove for substance, standing, armorial bearings and theatrical assets, while regretting every inch that staged me to the public view and turned my art to profit.

And so the exterior me — discretion, moderation, and reserve. How careful was I when I took my way, each trifle under truest bars to trust. I hid my beliefs in history, buried my voice in time and place, like the Bay of Portugal had an unknown bottom. I was ever unquarrelsome — even abject, some would say, still begging each treacherous friend to spare me some crumb of love. Not one whose help you could clearly count on, because much of the time the man you thought you saw was never there. A playmaker who avoided the first person and in so doing became no person. A man who in writing about other men reprieved himself from the man he was. A man wanting a litle self-confidence perhaps, except in plays. And outside the making of plays, a man even wanting in imagination, a compulsive acquirer, a land man, an Osric, burying his personal flaws in property, the safe palpabilities of earth and income, bricks and mortar, stocks and stones. A reversion, if you like, and a regression, back to the sucking dung that had clung to me and from which I’d longed to escape. The simple life. Yes, I could always smell the countryside through the squalor and the stench of London and the suffocating falsities of the court.

Yet, I longed for play, like any actor, and I longed for land, like any peasant. I loved beauty, especially woman’s, and I paid for the pleasure, loved children and birds and plants for their simplicity and innocence, and all who kept boredom at bay and conquered the empire fo dullness. Life itself I found far more interesting than anyone’s opinions about it. I loved the surface of the earth and the whole process of human existence, which never ceased to fascinate me. I was enchanted by the maltworms and by the tapsters who served them. The human story was meat and drink to me. Osmotic, omnivorous, endlessly curious, that was me, that was your Will.
Of what manner of man is he, then, your Will? Why, of mankind. If your really want an image of myself as I was, look in the mirror and there you’ll seem me, rather sadder and wiser than I’d have elected to be at my age, or you at yours. One of yourselves, that’s all, one of the race of human beings, good enough for neither animals in their innocence nor gods in their wisdom. I was marked out not in appearance but in fortune—which buckled a talent on my back, a talent for words. I died in words and rose again like the phoenix, transformed.


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