Monday, August 3, 2015


We hear a lot these days about driving highly curated content and story-telling conversations across channels in the new media landscape.

I guess I did some of that on Saturday night when my wife and I walked over to the Delacorte Theatre in Central Park to see Shakespeare's "Cymbeline."

If you don't remember back to Saturday night, or if you're not from New York, the weather that evening was dead solid perfect. It was in the mid-70s, with low-humidity and even the bugs and mosquitoes had flown out to the Hamptons for the weekend.

Speaking of bugs, the politicians who came to capitalize on the event with speeches were mercifully short. Chuck Schumer, New York's Senator was there and blasted the political "yahoos" who want to cut arts fundings. And even the before-performance commercial from the Bank of America--praising themselves for their oh-so-generous support of the arts (while ignoring the fact that they nearly brought down the world's economic system) was nearly palatable, though, I admit I booed a boo that sounded like 500 boos. Keep your dirty dishonest dealings off my Public Theatre and go back to your rat's nest and your billions in extortionate profits and your million dollar taxpayer-financed bonuses and your $17,000 wastebaskets decorating executive offices. Keep all that to yourself, and go on not paying taxes or livable wages, just leave the Bard alone.

But back to the evening.

We had nearly perfect seats in a theatre that has nearly 1500 of them. We were in the fourth row, stage left, close enough to the surpassing cast of actors to see them spit their Ps. 

The play for better or worse was classic Shakespeare. By turns convoluted, contrived and corny. And by other turns brilliant, insightful and hilarious. After 20 minutes or so of hearing Elizabethan English, your brain adjusts and you're able to understand what's happening. You know who's good, who's evil, who's wise and who's the fool. Before long you're not watching a five-century-old play, you're just seeing something wonderful and enjoyable.

Near the end of the third act, a nearly full moon rose over the trees that surround the theatre. It was one day after the highly-publicized "blue moon," and this moonrise was doing its best to show off its stuff. It was serene, majestic and beautiful. I could have closed my eyes and slept in the moonglow and all would have been right with the world.

The play ended. The cast and the band took their bows and applause. The audience spilled out of the old open-air playhouse and into the park.

In less placid times the police would set up Klieg lights to guide the masses. There would be cops everywhere, police cruisers patrolling. But these are peaceful days in New York, and we walked through the park unaccosted and unaccompanied. If you listened closely, you might have heard some long lost relative of Chester, the cricket from Times Square, chirping his chirp.

We think the world is new and communication and human truths and interactions are being reinvented because of ones and zeroes. We think change happens in a nanosecond and that everything is mutable.

We think we invented the notion of storytelling, and sex, and even humor.

No. To my mind, very little has changed since the 16th Century.

Especially on a perfect Saturday night in New York, the first of August.

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