In my last post I mentioned the dream that waited and waited and waited. It feels as if I have wanted to do something with my enjoyment of Shakespeare for the longest time but I’ve been unsure of how that was going to unfold, when it was going to unfold. Often times life gets in the way as we defer things that would make us happy and feed the should because the right things has to happen for the betterment of the whole. In 2005 I became a mum, a single mum, and all of life stood still to care for and protect my girl. I’ve not stopped living, don’t get me wrong, but in many ways my desire to care for another put me on hold so that the future and care for another could be the focus.
There are those that would say by putting me on hold I gave my daughter a bad example and that by not pursuing my dreams I taught there that self-care is not important. On that I disagree. What I told her was that there would come a time when she wouldn’t need me as much and then I could go back to my dreams and dust them off, but until such time SHE was the important focus of my life. I took an evening acting class once a week when she was around 6 years old. It was tough not to be around to tuck her in but I wanted to see if I could do it and what I could learn. It was a challenge and people told me I should be dragging her along for my scene partner rehearsals, but the scenes I worked on were definitely 6 year old material – Angelina Ballerina and Postman Pat they were not. I couldn’t see myself dragging her along to suffer through several hours of rehearsal time because I needed her to “suck it up and deal”. So, I learned that I wasn’t willing to sacrifice my girl for my dream. I was, in the words of Aaron Burr in Lin-Manuel Miranda’s “Hamilton”, I was willing to “wait for it”.
Time went on and life started to feel like I might be able to start looking for possibilities and then my Dad’s health took a turn and the dream went back up on the shelf. I won’t go into details, it’s not important in the narrative here. Last year he died and it was a blow but a mercy as well. I miss him somethin’ fierce sometimes. When he died I wasn’t expecting a legacy. We spent so much on getting him into a retirement facility that could take care of him so I knew better than to expect anything from him. But oddly enough something did come. When it did it was a complete and utter shock. When I told my mum about it she told me that I wasn’t to put it away into savings.
Seriously?!? I should put it away and let it grow.
No. You must use it on yourself. It’s what your dad wants. Use it.
You know what you need to use it for.
??? … blink, blink.
Use it for study.
Study? What should I go study? Study?
Yes, study. And you know what to study.
Shakespeare. Find a program and let’s make it happen.
So, I found a program. I knew exactly the program. I’ve been following the Shakespeare Institute for years. So I started there. Why? Well, besides the course of study they work extensively with the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC). So, theatre and Shakespeare together developing into something I know not what but know I want to explore with guidance and support for those that can see where I might be headed before I even do and can help me focus my currently scattered thoughts and ideas. I took a deep breath and pulled out a couple of old essays on Shakespeare from university days and decided on a play, ordered a new version to read and annotate for myself, scoured JSTOR for articles on my thesis and characters, rolled up my preverbal sleeves and got to work. It felt wonderful to exercise the brain in this particular way once again. It felt so good to be thinking and writing, and exploring in a way I haven’t in too many years. In the meantime, I participated in online inquiry sessions about the program and figured out which program I wanted to apply for. The Institute has three different MA programs: Shakespeare and: Teaching, Creativity, or Theatre. As a teacher there was the thought to go in that direction. As someone interested in the theatre there was the thought of go in that direction. I chose creativity as I felt it would give me a broad brush to paint with and explore either of the other two within a space that might have me thinking in a different way than if I had been more specific. Finally getting the essay into shape I sent in the application and then tried not to think on it too much. Waiting can be very nerve wracking.
And then COVID hit. A worldwide pandemic of proportions we haven’t seen since the Spanish Flu in 1918 to 1920 and effected 500 million people globally. And the world stood still – literally. The world went into lockdown. Well, not all of it but we watched as nations shutdown to keep their people alive, safe, and well. And we waited and watched and hoped.
Getting admitted was wonderful, a great feeling of achievement for me having been away from academia for mumble mumble years. But then the questions started….
Is this really going to happen? Will it be safe enough to go? Will this have to be online? Will I still have the chance to work with the RSC? How is this going to look? What about school for my girl? And on and on….
COVID is still very much a reality. Thinking otherwise is dangerous. Everything from now on has to be thought of with regard to this virus that has stolen so much from so many. Futures dreamed of are gone. Lives lived are gone. Jobs gone or taken online for the fortunate. Suddenly people were essential or not in ways they weren’t before. Privilege highlighted in new ways. Families separated by social distance or death. Weddings postponed. Funerals performed with no one there to mourn with the immediate family. It’s all still happening. And yet life goes one, but defined in new ways, sometimes unsatisfactory ways.
And then the RSC closed and cancelled the rest of the season to keep everyone safe. And the landscape of what I had thought would be happening changed. What it has changed into I do not know but we, my family and I, decided to do was go on. If the campus was going to open, then we’d go. If this, having to lockdown from time-to-time, wearing a face mask out, having limited access to people, is going to be the reality for who knows how long, then why not be part of the thinking? Why not go and be part of the creation of ideas on how to do whatever we can however we can until such time as we can gather as before and not as before. There will be so much to explore and work out — I want to be part of that. And so we go.