BWW Blog: Well Aimed of Such a Young One
I have never been in the habit of speaking Shakespeare's text on purpose in my everyday life. Of course, we all use his creations daily, but often only in the natural course of conversation.
It was surprising to me, then, to hear one of my twin three-year-old sons speak a Shakespeare sentence to me. And not just the sentence, but legitimately as Shakespeare's character might speak it, and with beautiful timing. It is one of my favorite funny lines, not because of the face-value of the text, but because of who speaks it and why.
A couple of weeks ago I wrote about the role of music in preparing to direct a Shakespeare play. We currently are preparing to produce The Taming of the Shrew at Tennessee Shakespeare Company, and last week I spent the afternoon with our music director, Steven DeBlasi. We played and sang over 25 tunes from the 1920s, including those by Rodgers and Hart, Gershwin, Berlin, and Jolson. I was looking for one or two slightly more tawdry tunes to mix in, but the ones in mind weren't quite in our production's era. Still, we played through a few, including "Lydia, the Tatooed Lady." Groucho made it famous for most of us.
So, the full song stayed with me that night.
I occasionally sing the first verse to my sons as something funny to keep them occupied in the bathtub. The first verse is all I've remembered for years. But that particular night following the music session, I kept singing the later verses plus the bridge. In so doing, I unintentionally was omitting:
"On her back is the Battle of Waterloo.
Beside it The Wreck of the Hesperus, too.
And proudly above waves the Red, White, and Blue,
You can learn a lot from Lydia."
Collins and Sullivan have shocking memories and attentiveness. Shocking because they rarely appear to be paying attention whatsoever. This is certainly the case when I sing, and who can blame them. But hearing me peal through the lyrics that night in the tub, Sullivan kept looking at me intently. Finally, during my mid-throttling of a high note, Sullivan critically jabbed at me with his soapy finger and spoke this four-word Shakespeare sentence about music.
Two tickets to TSC's Taming of the Shrew for the first person to email me with the correct four-word text and character name.