Untitled (Shakespeare’s Globe), 2021. Digital collage using found photographs.

“All the World’s a stage. And all the Men and Women merely players;” – So begins line 139 of Act 2, Scene 7, of William Shakespeare’s As You Like It (1599) – A play about political corruption, folly and redemption.

In that first line, Jaques (an outcast Lord wandering about the woods), is effectively breaking the fourth wall. And in my interpretation, declaring that what’s happening on stage is as real as what was happening in the lives of the groundlings surrounding the stage. And vice-versa.

That the World around us is theatre. Shadowy figures watch from the wings, nothing is as it seems, and most likely isn’t what you were told.

Bearing in mind that Jaques and his master, Duke Senior have just been ousted in a political coup-d’etat, more than one contemporary parallel can be drawn with those sentiments.

Touchstone is a character whose experience mirrors that of many people today. People who ask questions and think for themselves. An intelligent fool; A wise jester who sees through the lies, corruption and hypocrisy of his patron, the usurper Duke Frederick. Seen as an idiot and disregarded by most, he just so happens to be the cleverest guy in the room. An all too familiar predicament.

We’ve taken our eye off the ball.

“That ends this strange eventful history,
Is second childishness and mere oblivion;
Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything.”

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