A Shakespearean Workforce

We seem to celebrate mediocrity and excuses allowing our colleaugues to succeed without merit or production. In the world of theater, that would not be tolerated. An actor not knowing his lines. A lighting designer not illumintating the stage. They would be fired. We should stand up and fire those who are unable to do their jobs and fill their positions with those who are qualified and willing.

To be or not to be is the question that was posited many years ago, and millions daily, still ask. Should I be this or that. Who am I? To thine own self be true is probably the closest that we can come to arriving at an answer. It’s simple and clear.

Shakespeare is relevant and will always be. Whether or not you can read him or not is a language acquisition issue, not a content one. Disregarding him because you don’t have the tools to read his work is the equivalent of casting aside all written work in other languages believing they lack no merit becasue you don’t understand the tongue. It is false logic. Sorry.

Aside from being one of the geniuses of history, Shakespeare was also a member of the theater and the theater is a special place which I believe Shakespeare in Love touches upon well. Yes, the producer is a creep but the film stands in my opinion as a work worth watching.

The reason why the film resonates with me is not the parallel to Romeo and Juliet. It resonates with me because it illustrates how the theater works and how work should work. Geofrey Rush’s quote from the film that is repeated often is “Who knows? It’s a mystery” referring to how live performances usually work out. The show must go on.

But it’s not really a mystery. The theater, not film and TV, is a work place in which all players or members cast aside their differences to put on a show. People may not get along but once they have agreed to be a part of the show, opening night becomes a do or die moment on the horizon.

Furthermore, I think Shakespeare knew this. He understood that the theater was a different breed of workplace than the farm or the tailor. So he did his best as a writer, to help the play get off its feet and be ready when the first curtain was raised. 

Afterall, Shakespeare was a writer, actor, producer and director. He did it all or had his hands in getting it all done. We respect the boss that has been in the trenches more than the boss who has risen through nepotism, familial connections or wealth. They have worn the shoes of the lackey making them more empathetic to the voice at teh bottom.

Bosses who have never worked in the trenches don’t understand the trench and the temperament or the conditions of the trenches. Classrooms and ERs are good examples of modern day trenches. They are places where failure may happen but is not permitted and it is the mind-set of those who work and succeed there and the worst bosses are those with purely administration degrees. They have never been a teacher or a doctor or nurse. The have risen through the ranks based on pedigree.

The theater is the same. Even in High School theater we see this. Different personalities casting aside their differences for the greater good of the show. If opening night is January 1st, then ALL accept that their piece of the puzzle needs to be done by then.


Now, is it perfect? No. Many opening nights are under the smell of wet paint and stapled costumes. and the flurry of action behind the scenes is laced with profanities and anger. Yet, once the curtain is raised, it’s action. The store is open and all is forgiven. Then, once the curtain is closed, it is time for a beer and a few laughs..

The theater is a beautiful place. You may be screaming at someone hours or days before opening night only to put your arm around that same person, clink glasses and laugh about the experience at the curtain call on opening night.

That’s how the adult world should be. When we decide to accept a position and its conditions including end or start date, however you want to look at it, we complete the task. It is simple. It is our job. If we say yes, we complete the task within the timeframe. 

But more often than not, yes has become a maybe and no has become a word that signifies a bad actor or employee. It should not be the case. Shakespeare would agree. Words have meanings and those meanings should be adhered to or we need to create new words to get rid of missed meanings and unclear intentions.

That is why the theater succeeds. Those in the theater agree to a logical set of terms. Film and TV are different. Budgets are always going over. Time frames are always being extended. People are always failing at even the basic job because yes and no has lost its meaning.

 Again, film and tv are different from theater. Theater is like an ER. The smallest mistake will shorten the lifespan of the show and the prosperity of those who rely on the income. That’s why Shakespeare was a genius. He wrote into his plays stage directions, rhymes to help memorization and detailed descriptions of props and locations needed to succeed.

I wish the working world was more like the theatre. Get it done. Get it done well. Screw collegiality and only say yes when you can get it done. Apologies can be made after the curtain. 

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