Story telling from Australia
It was William Shakespeare’s birthday this week. He was born 450 years ago and I’m a big fan. I could go on (and on) about the beauty of his poetry, the drama of his storytelling and the unsurpassed versatility of his language but I won’t. I’ll let him tell you, in the quote at the bottom of this page.
Before you start wondering what has this got to do with strawberries in the desert, one of the most memorable nights I ever spent in Broken Hill was the night I joined a bunch of brave friends (none of them professional actors) and Julius Caesar in a creek bed.
With wine for courage and head torches for illumination we sat around a campfire built from the fallen branches of a coolabah tree and we read the play out loud, from start to finish.
Some passages were funny and some incomprehensible, others were stirring and some were surprisingly moving. It was Shakespeare in the raw; performances fuelled in the same way that filmmakers would have us believe he wrote – in his cups.
The leadership battles, political coups and assassination plots Shakespeare wrote about haven’t changed – slightly less bloody perhaps, but only in countries where killing people normally leads to a jail sentence. After four hundred and fifty years I’d like to think Shakespeare would have been pleased to hear his words resonate across an empty desert, in a land far removed from his birthplace.
I know I was. That night will stay in my memory for a long time.
May 1st marks the official publication of Love in the Outback, a deeply personal book that, for better or worse, is about to be shared, so I’ll leave you with this quote from Julius Caesar.
There is a tide in the affairs of men
Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune;
Omitted, all the voyage of their life
Is bound in shallows and in miseries.
On such a full sea are we now afloat;
And we must take the current when it serves,
Or lose our ventures.
I’ve spent many a long year bound in shallows and miseries, it’s time to ‘take the current when it serves’ and trust the book can sail on a full sea…