As You Like It: Shakespeare In The Park

A man of the world who, notoriously or not, was one of the translators of the Bible for King James is the subject here. In most of his plays that have transcended the ages almost as well as Bible literature, he uses scripture
passages very often biblical themes, and varying degrees of Christian characters.
William Shakespeare knew Scripture well enough to finesse it into his playwriting. He had a grand sweeping view relating wide experiences of life. His sonnets reveal a deep sensitivity for love and the affairs of the heart in life.
In Nashville of all places we have a very committed band of thespians that bring a free show to Centennial Park in August and September. For the last fourteen years Shakespeare in the Park is, in my humble opinion, a
piece of world class culture, a golden needle in a haystack of Nashville.
My Family has religiously attended The Tempest, Twelfth Night, Othello, Midsummer-nights Dream, and now As You Like It!
As usual there are very colorful cast of characters. And for the first time since I know of, they used an old western town as a setting. But more interestingly in their midst this time are two who experience salvation
and subsequently changed lives as part of the plot…
The character of Jacque (Jack, in this Western motif) who early on is presented (even comically so) with a tender heart toward animals and full of melancholy, still not without a passion for life. He was the one assigned to deliver one of Shakespeare’s greatest soliliquoys. “All the world is a stage.” What follows is profound insight into seven stages of life described with disturbing precision. At the end he is the one to give in to the
call to a completely devoted life in sequester with God with great reverence and respect from all.
The cruelest character, an evil duke at the beginning, in the end on his way to chase and kill some disagreeable relative to him, meets an old religious
man, relinquishes all his worldly goods to his hated brother to devote himself to monastery life.
Both of these characters are played by the same actor.
That is in fact as we like it, irony or not.
This is not a comprehensive review. Shakespeare isn’t really in pop culture right now, nor is the Bible, to our shame.
Pop culture is fickle. Christian pop literature is hopefully a step ahead, but the plethora of popular
self-help books dilutes our palette and sensitivities.
My challenge to the reader here is, the next time temptation calls in the form of the next “powerful wordsmith” in print, think of this. There is
a list of the one hundred most important books in history that include The Bible and the Complete Works of Shakespeare. How much time do you have? Self-help happens as we help others – we are to study to show ourselves approved.


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