In Shakespeare’s three plays Henry IV Part 1, Henry IV Part 11 and Henry V Shakespeare follows the journey of Prince Hal from being a jovial prankster at the Boar’s Head Inn, friend of the rogue Falstaff, whores and thieves to becoming a great king as Henry V. As a prodigal son to his father who is challenged by rebels, when Hal saves his life in the Battle of Shrewsbury and kills his fierce rival Percy, he lives out the classic theme of redemption. In this monologue from Henry IV Part I, Hal shows his intention to reform and perform brave deeds that like the bright sun breaking through the clouds will offset his bad reputation. In our world today where the scandalous crimes of the powerful shock us daily, their offenses seem to increase in the wake of the solar eclipse rather than decline. We can only hope that the planets will herald a crop better leaders
In my play “SHAKESPEARE ON THE ROCKS“ Alex Don Baron, an aging Shakespearean actor, returns to his London flat in the aftermath of hurricane Sandy that flooded his Greenwich Village brownstone. When he finds his scrapbook he reminisces on his life and career.
ALEX RIFFS ON HIS FATHER AND REDEMPTION
(ALEX sits on his sofa and leafs through his scrapbook. He stops at photos of his mother and father. Back screen projection of photo of his mother and father.)
There’s my father – big drinker - my dear, dear mother whom he abused. This flat was hers. She came here from Vienna to escape the Holocaust - then to Quebec. She taught me theatre - Shakespeare – her love.
(ALEX turns to a picture of Banff Mountains, the Canadian Rockies.)
When I grew up in Quebec, I used to climb in Banff Mountains, the Canadian Rockies. Breathing the snow-scented air, looking down across the vast terrain – from the valley trees to the crystal lake reflecting clouds dancing in a blue sky – the winds echoing in stone caves far away. I remembered this view when I played Royalty. I stood majestically and looked down over my vast kingdom – the pit a ravine – the audience my people – the domed ceiling - my golden crown.
One day my father and I hiked along the trail, then up to a small cliff near the mountain. When we sat down, he pulled one beer after another out of his backpack and began insulting me – “Why was I acting and dancing in tights in front of his friends – reading airy fairy plays with my mother and traveling to London to go to the theatre with prigs.” I left him lying in a stupor and began climbing up the rock sides. He yelled at me, “I married your mother to save her – Damn you - you owe it to me to be a man and join the army.” So I stood on a high ledge and just like Prince Hal in Henry the Fourth who wanted respect I shouted from the mountain.
There I am reciting “Shakespeare on the Rocks.”
“Herein will I imitate the sun,
Who doth permit the base contagious clouds
To smother up his beauty from the world,
That when he please again to be himself,
Being wanted, he may be more wondered at
By breaking through the foul and ugly mists
Of vapours that did seem to strangle him.
Then like bright metal on a sullen ground,
My reformation, glitt’ring o’er my fault,
Shall show more goodly and attract more eyes
Than that which hath no foil to set it off.
I’ll so offend to make offence a skill,
Redeeming time when men think least I will.”
(Shakespeare Henry IV – Prince Hal)
On the way down my father tripped and broke his leg. I had to carry him back. I never cared what he thought of me and soon left for New York to study the Method. But the only thing in life I’d like to pass on is - Never insult a Mountain. A Mountain is a She-Bitch who demands respect – no imbibing - no swearing - no fornication – no mining – no deforestation – or she’ll push you off - come down on you with rockslides – mud flows – avalanches – hot lava. If only I knew the secret of hurricanes I wouldn’t be here.