Tuesday, September 1, 2015


 “Men should be what they seem;
Or those that be not, would they might seem none!”  -Iago

This year’s dual production of Shakespeare’s Othello & Taming of the Shrew began actually as a failed attempt to add an autumn performance of the American musical Grease to the schedule.  
 “Good name in man and woman, dear my lord,
Is the immediate jewel of their souls.”  -Iago

I love Grease!   I love the music.  I love the style.  I love Sandy, coming out at graduation in black leather smoking… “Tell me about it, stud!”  (Oh, I get chills and they are multiplying.)  I can sing those songs backwards.  When I was a kid on Sundays coming home from church, we would stop in Gladstone just off McLoughlin Blvd. at this little Gas N Sip, and I would blow a quarter on trading cards with that pink stick of unbreakable gum  tightly wound in wax paper.  Star Wars, Close Encounter of the Third Kind, and Battle Star Gallactica along with baseball and football and basketball cards that are worthless today because I slept with them under my pillow… and there were Grease cards as well.
 “Who steals my purse steals trash; 'tis something, nothing;
’Twas mine, 'tis his, and has been slave to thousands.”  -Iago

I had been heavily inspired also by the Pitch Perfect movies and had amended a Grease script with original music fused with popular modern songs:  Bruno Mars and Taylor Swift and Kanye West… (stuff the students liked that … I adjusted to).  That’s what this job is about, adjusting.
 “But he that filches from me my good name,
Robs me of that which not enriches him,
And makes me poor indeed.”  -Iago

The abridged “GREASE-PERFECT” was set for production, the script finished, the students cast, we had even begun practicing in class… when the school shut it down.  
 “Heaven is my judge, not I for love and duty,
But seeming so, for my peculiar end.”  -Iago

They said it was too many performances.  That the parents would complain  too much time was spent on theater and not enough on vital math and Chinese language study.  Many of the teachers were bitterly complaining behind the scenes that students were singing in class and unfocused on their courses.  I’ve been teaching in Asia long enough to know… they were being polite in shutting me down.  If I pushed, I would have “lost face,” and so we focused on preparing for Shakespeare in the spring.  But I didn’t forget… and I put a couple songs in Taming of the Shrew just for fun.  You can only keep a good man down for so long.
“But I will wear my heart upon my sleeve
For daws to peck at: I am not what I am.”  -Iago

I've discovered, that after all these years, there's a sinister duplicity to this job, a hidden element sneaking behind you with a knife in their teeth.  The greater you are, the greater the target.  The larger the life, the closer the weasels cling.  We've all made mistakes and we all pay in our own way.  But finding you can trust no one but yourself... is always the last lesson we learn.

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