A friend of mine invited me to join the March for Our Lives in St. Paul. As a teacher, I supported the students’ desire for safe schools. However, as a person with a physical disability, many questions circled through my mind. How will I get there? Will it be accessible? Will it be safe? Should I bring my wheelchair? These were questions I had to confront as I tried to decide ‘to march or not to march’
As I tried to make my decision, I realize that it is like Hamlet’s question “to be or not be.” In high school, I never really gravitated towards Shakespeare. The iambic pentameter was difficult to follow, and the Elizabethan English was like a foreign language. However, when a friend asked me to see Hamlet last week I of course said ‘yes.’ Any eagerness I had was less about Hamlet than in about enjoying a play with a friend at the James J. Hill House! How cool would that be! I love the fact that this show would be in such an iconic location and at location, none the less, where you get to walk room to room to experience the play.
Death. Love. Comedic Tension. Questions. Conflict. Truth. Justice. It had it all. There were two aspects of this production that stood out. First, the acting was very strong. Each actor played his role convincingly, especially the leads! At the James J. Hill House, the action happens right in front of you. The theatergoers are immersed in the play. The nearness to the actors really helps the audience to become involved in and understand the story. Each moment was riveting and right in front of you.
The second interesting aspect was the way the production used James J Hill House as the stage. The play moved through three different rooms while the actors moved around the audience. The rooms themselves enhanced the mood, from the elegance of the main floor to the dark reaches of the basement.
There are three more shows of Hamlet at the James J. Hill House. The show closes on March 31st. Whether you’re a Shakespeare fan or not, I encourage you to go. This play has depth, meaning, and light. But keep in mind, you are in for a long adventure as you will be sitting for three and a half hours. The play is engaging even if you aren’t a Shakespeare fan, but consider reading the cliff notes if you haven’t read Hamlet. And be prepared for everything from comedy and thrills, to questions of life and death.
The march on Washington was inspiring and as I sat watching the TV, sniffing back tears, I realized ‘yes’ to march. As I scrolled my Facebook page and saw the signs that people were holding, wow was it powerful. It gave people something to believe in. ‘This will go down in history books’ a friend of mine said. I believe that is true. Enough is enough. We choose life.
Hamlet questions life when he states his famous ‘to be or not to be, that is the question’ monologue. Every day there are questions of to be __________ or not to be ______________. Simple things like to be going ‘to a Target run that is the question.’ Yeah, I know simple right. But truth be told, we ask ourselves this all the time. People, enough is enough. Let’s fight. Let’s stand together. We choose life. I stand with you.
This week we had to ask ourselves the question “to march or not march.” And for the students, this question really is about life and death. So, to you I ask, ‘to march or not to march?’