Happy Birthday to the Bard

Today is Shakespeare’s birthday and the internet is full of his phrases and terms that have become part of our cultural speech.

“Vanished into thin air.”

“It’s Greek to me.”

“Danced attendance on.”

“Budged an inch.”

“Dead as a doornail.”

I was never fond of the bard. In school one had to study hard to determine what he was talking about. Speaking his lines was particularly difficult. Where do you put the inflection in “Romeo, oh Romeo. Wherefore art thou Romeo?”

Then something happened to make me appreciate old Willy. Captain Mark, my dear spouse, became a summer Shakespeare actor.

It was a fluke. He’d imbibed too much beer at Murphy’s Irish Pub in Sonoma and one of the actors in Avalon Players told him he’d be perfect for a brief part with only one line in their upcoming play. He agreed.

He stayed with the company for twelve seasons, moving from cameo parts to hefty supporting roles and a couple of starring ones. I loved the comedies best. The director, who always cut the plays down to size and took a bit of license with her interpretations, put him in crazy costumes and capitalized on his comedic facial expressions.

I went to most of the performances, sitting in the front row, laughing my fool head off. (I wonder if that’s a Shakespeare phrase.) It amused me to see the shy, retiring, civil engineer in a totally different environment, acting like he was a different person. On stage, he was.

The day came when the call of the sea was stronger than the call of the stage. The best cruising weather is in the summer and he gave up acting so we could do our cruising.

I’ll never forget Mark as Sir Andrew Aguecheek in Twelfth Night or one of the Antipholus twins in Comedy of Errors. Thinking about his antics on stage always made me laugh. When I was getting radiation treatments for breast cancer that made me want to cry, I would think about his wonderful stage antics and laugh instead.

So happy birthday Mr. William. Long ago I changed into a fan. May you have many happy returns.

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