All the world is a stage and more

Published 10:27am Thursday, March 6, 2014

Total immersion – they say that’s the best way to learn a language, you know. Lately I’ve been immersed in a bit of Shakespeare, who, although he was English, wrote in a language not altogether familiar to me – “thees” and “thous” and “methinks” and such.

Over at the Mississippi School of the Arts, Samantha Yates has spent more than a year perfecting a monologue from “Two Gentlemen from Vernona.” I saw Samantha perform it recently – she was in full Renaissance costume – and I found it easy to see why she took a top spot in a Shakespeare contest a few weeks ago. I also understand that Sonnet 19, which I was not privy to see her recite, was part of her repertoire at the annual statewide event as well.

“I was very excited about placing,” the senior shares, giving credit to one of her mentors at the school, Dr. Robert Brooks, for helping her prepare for the competition.

As part of my own immersion experience I’ve been surprised to learn that quite a few of our everyday phrases are borrowed from the bard himself.

Who knew that when you say “KNOCK, KNOCK. WHO’S THERE?” you’re actually quoting Shakespeare? Or FIGHT FIRE WITH FIRE? And GOOD RIDDANCE? FANCY FREE?

In fact, if my research is correct, Shakespeare contributed more sayings to the English language than any other individual. So bear with me as I describe our recent trip to see a production of his Hamlet, the most performed play of all times, using his phrases. I assure you, THERE’S METHOD IN MY MADNESS.

More than 30 of us traveled from ALL CORNERS OF THE WORLD (that would be Lawrence, Lincoln, and Copiah counties) to Mississippi College’s Aven Little Theater. After a WILD GOOSE CHASE to find parking, we took our seats.

Mine happened to be beside the play’s adaptation writer, a college chum who recently returned after spending 15 years on Los Angeles stages. She filled me in on the scenes that would SET YOUR TEETH ON EDGE. For the most part, though, IT WAS GREEK TO ME.

But just knowing my children were getting this cultural exposure satisfied me to my HEART’S CONTENT. They, of course, probably thought it was TOO MUCH OF A GOOD THING and worried that the play would last FOR EVER AND A DAY. When the lights dimmed, though, we all waited with BAITED BREATH. The actors appeared and quickly had us IN STITCHES. And the king’s ghost – A SORRY SIGHT – well, he was sure to MAKE YOUR HAIR STAND ON END before the scene called for him to VANISH INTO THIN AIR.

Indeed, some of the FOUL PLAY frightened younger audience members, and even I preferred to watch the “LOVE IS BLIND” romance of Hamlet and Ophelia. But before we knew it the play was over. Hamlet was as DEAD AS A DOOR NAIL. He had BREATHED HIS LAST, but at least Horatio was left to tell the story, and ALL’S WELL THAT ENDS WELL.

So the play served as the culmination of our study. WHAT’S DONE IS DONE, and I must end this column as well. After all, BREVITY IS THE SOUL OF WIT. Methinks even Shakespeare must have had word count worries, too.

Wesson resident Kim Henderson is a freelance writer who writes for The Daily Leader. Contact her at