Brush Up Your Shakespeare!



We were doing an extended engagement in NYC a few years ago and, as we often do when working there, we played what we call Broadway Roulette. Show up at Duffy Square a half hour before curtain time and see what tickets are left, buy a couple and head off to a show. We happened one evening on the revival of Kiss Me, Kate, and were delighted. This one piece (in the above YouTube video), where two hoodlums, backstage to shakedown the male lead for gambling debts "accidently" wander on stage during a performance, was the highlight of the show for me, because it reminded me that whatever truth we might nudge out at the client's shop, we needed to respect their traditions, or, more to the point, Brush Up Our Shakespeare.

Of course, it's silly that merely reciting the Bard would make the difference our clients sought, but not knowing the Bard might well prevent the change we all aspired to.

We've all been subjected to the next best thing, delivered by someone clueless about the present history supporting everything. We can't really ditch what we've always been. Change, whatever its intent, needs to be melded with the familiar status quo if it is to be meaningful and successful.

So, the next time I (even you) intend to make something different, remember to brush up on whatever amounts to Shakespeare there first. As Virginia Satir said a very long time ago, "Change rests upon the full, albeit temporary acknowledgment of the way things are." And always have been.

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